In a hitherto unknown level of trust, Lady M has allowed me to drive her car as we’ve travelled North for Christmas. I know, you’d think the car I normally drive round the local area was on its last legs or something, right?
Certainly the thought of driving six or seven hours up the M1 in a sixteen year old Ford Focus gave us both pause for thought; so after several enquiries with her company, the filling out of several extra forms, the generation of a one-time access code via the Gov.uk website so her employers could read my driving license and history, and a certain amount of finger crossing we heard last night that her employers would not send out a crack death squad if I touched her brand new BMW 2 Series SE Grand Tourer.
I think I got the bits of that name in the right order. Maybe, I don’t know, it has four wheels and more displays than the bloody space shuttle…
Lady M will be the first to tell you I have only a passing interest in cars beyond “will it move if I stamp on this pedal?”, and “it had better bloody shift if I stamp on this pedal.” She will not only tell you this, but also her shame that she is the resident petrol head in our house and that I don’t have a wish list of expensive vehicles to own (apart from the DB-9, because I’m not a total moron).
So where better to present my first vehicle review than here? Oh wait, no, I have actually written car reviews for money before as a ghost writer, but they weren’t for very good cars or very good money and I won’t tell you what they were or for who. (Disclaimer, I did have to ask Lady M what some of the model names meant)
So, what were my impressions of driving this beastie, compared to an old Ford Focus? Well, I was most vocal about how I felt I was going to break it, compared to how I have to work to get the old rustbucket to move. This is actually a good thing, believe it or not. To get the same performance out of the BMW 2 Series as I do out of the Focus, I have to treat it like it’s made of very very fragile things – so it feels like the slightest bit of brute force will snap the accelerator pedal off, or make the steering wheel melt.
The truth of course is that if I were to treat the BMW 2 Series the same way I do the old rustbucket, I’d have made the journey up here in half the time, chased the entire way by several police constabularies, and covered in the debris of numerous vehicles through which I had driven.
Oh, and don’t get me started on the bloody indicators. There’s a reason BMW drivers famously don’t use them, and that’s because they’re crap. If you tap them you’ll get a couple of seconds flash and off, but if you hold them they’ll start flashing and never turn off again until you’ve over compensated, flashed several directions in one go, caused a three lane pile-up and got evil glares from traffic police in three counties.
BMW indicators are designed to do this. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature – like early 90s computer security or self-detonating Galaxy Note 7s.
You may be forgiven for thinking I haven’t enjoyed driving Lady M’s car. It is a good drive, but the transition to sports brakes and suspension is rather a large leap – similar to the one I made from learning to drive in an Austin Allegro to driving in a Nissan Primera and suddenly discovering power steering.
My initial thoughts were that it felt rather similar to driving an automatic a couple of years ago in Florida. It was less an experience of making the decision to move as managing a vehicle that wanted to move by default.
Perhaps that says more about me than it does about the vehicle, and about the level of control I expect to have. All in all, as much as I’ve found it a strange experience, I have generally enjoyed it. I may even give the car back at some point.