The day I had $60k to drop on a new car, I went shopping for a Golf. I wanted a multi-use hatchback.
The key criteria was 'that a lawnmower would go cleanly into the back'. I test drove a Golf, only to discover the car had been designed such that the dash, clocks and gauges were outside my visual range. I couldn't even read the speedo!
So I went for a peep at the 1 Series Hatch. Drove it. LOVE!
The dealership treated me as if I were buying a 7 Series. Impeccable service. Because 'my car' was the first iteration of the 1 Series, they hadn't started to bundle options, which meant I got to cherry-pick.
I opted for M3 electric sports seats, leather interior, professional sound, bi-xenon headlights, asymmetric factory wides wheels (which BMW went to the trouble of ensuring were shod with Pirellis, not Bridgestones.) And finally, and much to the Service Manager's disgust, a tow-bar!
I've now owned my Beemer for 11 years, and it has 112,000km on it. The only thing I've had done to it is to have found a wheel-alignment genius, and get the mild push-understeer dialled out.
There's nothing about my car I dislike. I love the design language – it's one of the prettiest cars on the road, in my opinion. I love my sports seats – I can sit in them for hours. And I love the performance, and that (shhhh) if one is doing, let's say, more than the speed limit, you mash the accelerator at that point, it will in fact kick down, grab fifth, and gallop around to warp speed , before taking up top gear again. In a 2.0-litre? Magic.
I will say that I have done Advanced Driver Training, and I can drive better than this car will go – so another 20 to 30 horsepower would be nice. But I'm only nit-picking.
I accept that the back seat room is a bit tight, but I don't give a rats, because I only put the dogs in there.
With the seats down, the boot is great. I've variously had lawnmowers, a builder's barrow, a 220-litre fridge, planks of timber, bricks and sundry luggage in it. I'm sure that when the need arises, a body will be no trouble... (jokes).
My car drives like a tight, sharp BMW. It's nimble, changes direction beautifully, and it's quick. The brakes are great – I brake it like a motorbike; real late.
I've cleaned up an FPV Falcon, numerous other BMWs and Mercs, and a Porsche. And obviously – every Lexus ever. The only guy who has bested me at discreet sports driving was a committed soul in a C63.
I keep my eye on the new cars coming through, and there are several I'd consider as a second car –Wraith, Bentley GT, M760xDrive – but I can't see me ever getting rid of this little engineering gem.
A note on so-called Connectivity – I drive, and have always driven with the radio, and other distractions OFF. I focus on the road, the sound of the car, and the sound of the odd siren. I am fully engaged with the (joyful) task at hand, and have never had a prang, nor lost control of a car. Charmed – perhaps. 110 per cent alert and aware, every damn time.
Note: Stock image used for illustration purposes.