Thursday, December 14, 2006

Review: BMW 120d

A rental car company gave me the opportunity to drive a BMW 120d with an automatic transmission. The car was brand new (3 km on the clock).

There was enough luggage space for two small suitcases (the type airlines will let you take on board) and a rucksack of similar size. The seats in the front where very comfortable, there was definitely insufficient leg room in the back.

The engine - which BMW is generally very proud of - was rather loud but smooth for a diesel. Despite being rated at 120 kW I found the performance of the car rather disappointing. Average (diesel) fuel consumption was 8.8 l/100 km, which is excessive seeing how I did not push the engine hard at any time.

The suspension was superb. I drove some kilometers across road surfaces that left a lot to be desired and hardly felt a jolt. At the same time I got a reasonable feedback from the road. This changed when I had to travel a short distance over a bumpy dirt road, where the ride was extremely harsh despite my low speed.

Steering felt light and direct. I could simply point the car and it would do what I intended. For some reason handling was the least like a rear-wheel drive car that I have ever experienced in such a vehicle. No tendency to over steer and also none of that wonderful feeling of the car setting down in the back during acceleration to increase traction. I found this quite disappointing as I like rear-wheel drive.

So far, I would rate the car as competent, but not great. I then tried the iDrive to use the satnav. O dear! Fortunately, I was standing still, I have never experienced anything this hazardous in a motor vehicle. The controller did not do what I expected, forcing me to pay a lot of attention to the user interface instead of just getting on with driving.

The stalk used to control the wipers was similar in design: push up once, twice, three times to get the wiper into interval mode, slow, and fast wipe. Then push down to go back down in modes. Push a little button in for automatic mode. Pull the lever to spray fluid on the windshield, push to spray the rear window. Push the lever back some more to get the rear wiper engaged. Confused yet? I was until I read the manual.

I do consider myself rather tech-savvy, but this is the first car that I simply did not get. I gave up on most of the goodies rather quickly. I found the iDrive to be a real killer - unfortunately, it might have been me that got killed if I had used it.

The engine is adequate but loud and very thirsty, the suspension is a real plus. It was not really a fun car to drive.

No, I certainly will not put this car onto the short list of desirable vehicles. Rated 2 out of 5 stars.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Christmas Bazar Photos

I spent all day taking pictures at the Christmas bazar yesterday. We gave children, adults, and families the opportunity to dress up as angels, shepherds, or as Santa's elves. I then took pictures against a nice background and we made whatever prints the clients wanted.
What a huge number of smiles that day!