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Alf McQueef

BMW 116d

Got this as a loaner on Friday and kept it over the weekend, using it quite a lot on Friday and Monday for work. It was pretty much brand new and no looker, a basic variant in a light blue colour which made it look quite effeminate.

This time, I liked the compact interior, especially the seats, and was again very impressed with the refinement - better than the new 3 I had recently (which seemed to have very noisy tyres). iDrive, though, is a ball ache to quickly get to terms with, for me anyway. It took me ages to pair my phone as I kept typing in the code but not knowing that I had to hit some little symbol afterwards. Even after a few days with it I prefer the old radio-based phone menus. It did not play music via USB from my phone either. The "lots of buttons" solution in the C Max is a lot better for me, though I know some journos hate it (Evo's long term Focus test for example). The Fors/Sony system plays music via USB and controls the iPhone through the stereo as well, out of the box. Using a headphone cable is so last decade.

I remembered to reset the MPG this time and straight onto the M3 in traffic was impressed to see it immediately hit the high 50's. My car takes some time to creep above 30 mpg from cold, and a long trip to reach high 30's. I drove it exactly as I would mine, on an economical day, that is to say cruising at an indicated 75-80 and very steady acceleration. Unfortunately it stayed steadfastly at 56MPG after 450 miles of such driving, driving for which I would expect to see 38+ from my car (4 long mostly motorway trips basically).

This seems to be the central issue for my usage patterns of modern highly efficient cars. Pushing them along at a steady 70+ clearly takes a certain amount of energy, and bigger engines seem able to do better than expected in such conditions. This is why I would countenance something even of a silly size as long as it can do a half decent MPG in a cruise (as even things like a C63 or XFR or V8 M3 seem to, in modern versions). Especially if fuel prices stay lower.

The flip side is days like yesterday, when I had to travel into and out of Basingstoke at rush hour in heavy traffic, doing not much more than 30 miles in two 35 min trips and averaging 26MPG. I bet the 116d would still be 50 odd then - but although this is the sort of driving a lot of working people do, I very seldom do it.

MPG and good refinement aside it was a pretty joyless thing - not gutless, but the gear change is a little vague, the gear stick has a horrible death rattle when the start-stop restarts the engine, exactly as you grab it to select a gear (a little thing but a nasty one) and the engine note, cold or warm, at idle or moving, is always very strongly of the devil's fuel. The large steering wheel has a vague steering feel that I find far worse than the much meatier feel of my 1st gen electric steering. And when we took a brief family trip out in it on Sunday, it felt very cramped - it would not have made a good Mrs ALF car.  For me by myself though, I can see how an M135i would be a lovely thing, I'm just note sure I would get any advantage from the small size over a 3 series sized car.

All in all I considered whether I would rather have done those long journeys in this, or our C Max, and I concluded that the far nicer engine, equally good refinement, better ride and much better steering and gear chamge of the C Max would have easily won the day.
Martin

I doubt a basic 116d is the sweet spot in the range, but an interesting write up and sounds like it's helped you with your thinking.  The economy you saw is normal for that type of diesel engine in my experience, the 520d was happiest 50-60mph, dropping off over that speed and really starting to drop (low 40s) over 85.  The 535d isn't especially happy at A road speeds, it's much more economical on the Motorway.

I thought all new BMWs had Bluetooth audio.  All I had to do with mine is select find device in the Bluetooth menu and select OK on both the phone and car (didn't have to key in a code, just make sure the codes on both screens matched.  It selected BT audio automatically and I even get the album artwork on the screen.  I went into Spoitify on my phone for the first time in the car today and instead of it coming up on the screen, I got a BMW Logo and full Spotify functionality came up on the central display screen.  Very cool.

You'd quickly get used to iDrive and never look back!
Alf McQueef

I thought you might say that! Give me a forest of buttons any day.

As a long time user of fairly powerful petrol engines I am always surprised how much the MPG drops away with an increase in speed, even at a steady cruise, on smaller engines. When we had the Plus 1.6FSi petrol there was a crossover beyond about 80mph indicated whereby the 330 became more efficient...

The C Max is only showing a lifetime MPG of 35 but we caned it with the bikes on the roof in hilly areas of Cornwall for the first couple of thousand miles, and it has done a lot of short trips since, so that's not too bad - the Plus was on about 38 average for the time we had it. For what feels like half again as much BHP and twice the low rev torque I'll take that.
Frank Bullitt

Alf McQueef wrote:
I thought you might say that! Give me a forest of buttons any day.

As a long time user of fairly powerful petrol engines I am always surprised how much the MPG drops away with an increase in speed, even at a steady cruise, on smaller engines. When we had the Plus 1.6FSi petrol there was a crossover beyond about 80mph indicated whereby the 330 became more efficient...

The C Max is only showing a lifetime MPG of 35 but we caned it with the bikes on the roof in hilly areas of Cornwall for the first couple of thousand miles, and it has done a lot of short trips since, so that's not too bad - the Plus was on about 38 average for the time we had it. For what feels like half again as much BHP and twice the low rev torque I'll take that.


I'd imagine drag is a major player here as most cars cruising use little power (or rather the effort they are using when not changing speed is related to drag rather than outright performance ultimately available); it's more complex than this of course as gearing, engine speed etc. all matter of course (higher engine speeds create more drag)
Martin

Alf McQueef wrote:
I thought you might say that! Give me a forest of buttons any day.




I prefer a cleaner looking dashboard, but I wouldn't want every function on the screen, adding the shortcut buttons was a big improvement.

I've moved on from the totary controller (for now!), as I'm getting into voice control!  It understands me perfectly, which actually makes it very useful and safer when on the move.  I've just got to learn all the things I can do.

It's a huge improvement on the partial voice control in the old car, which was basically just voice dialling for the phone, but you had to store all the names/numbers you wanted to use (by voice, which took ages)!  All I do now is press the button on the steering wheel, say "Call Fred Bloggs", "yes" to confirm then we're off.  If I want to access the trip computer, "trip computer" (helpfully simple) and up it comes on the screen etc.
Alf McQueef

The C Max does that. It is awesome. Press a button and just say the command - with no training at all - it understands Mrs ALF perfectly.

Something has to.
Martin

Alf McQueef wrote:
The C Max does that. It is awesome. Press a button and just say the command - with no training at all - it understands Mrs ALF perfectly.

Something has to.




That's because it's not having to interpret the meaning from what she says!
PG

Alf McQueef wrote:
The C Max does that. It is awesome. Press a button and just say the command - with no training at all - it understands Mrs ALF perfectly.

Something has to.


When she tells it to set the climate control to as high as possible when it is cold (so the interior heats up quicker - what are you men, stupid or something???), does it say "no"  
PG

Frank Bullitt wrote:
I'd imagine drag is a major player here as most cars cruising use little power (or rather the effort they are using when not changing speed is related to drag rather than outright performance ultimately available); it's more complex than this of course as gearing, engine speed etc. all matter of course (higher engine speeds create more drag)


Even at a constant speed, the energy needed to move the air out of the way is far higher at 80mph than 70mph and and so on. So most cars have a sweet spot - the speed at which an unstressed engine can easily move the air out of the way so deliver maximum fuel economy. With a small engine that might be uber-efficient at 60 mph that could easily tail off very quickly as speed increases.
Martin

PG wrote:
Alf McQueef wrote:
The C Max does that. It is awesome. Press a button and just say the command - with no training at all - it understands Mrs ALF perfectly.

Something has to.


When she tells it to set the climate control to as high as possible when it is cold (so the interior heats up quicker - what are you men, stupid or something???), does it say "no"  




My Dad was telling me my sister kept doing that when they took her and her boys to Cardiff for a couple of days in half term, it drove him mad but she wasn't having any of it!  I showed him how he could disable the controls for the rear climate (it has 4 zone climate) in the settings menu, which he was delighted about!

Lindsay understands how it works, as it was carefully explained to her!
Martin

PG wrote:
Even at a constant speed, the energy needed to move the air out of the way is far higher at 80mph than 70mph and and so on. So most cars have a sweet spot - the speed at which an unstressed engine can easily move the air out of the way so deliver maximum fuel economy. With a small engine that might be uber-efficient at 60 mph that could easily tail off very quickly as speed increases.


Not desperately interesting to most, but I'll be able find ouy how much power and torque I'm using at different cruising speeds because I've got what's called a 'Sports Display'.  I've only looked at it a couple of times and was surprised to see I was only using about 60hp and 120lb ft torque at steady speed on an A Road.  The second time was to make sure I used all 465lb ft!
Giant

Martin wrote:

Lindsay understands how it works, as it was carefully explained to her!


So she listened to what you said, understood AND reacted to your explanation?! Of heating controls of all things?!  She is a keeper!  
Martin

She is, definately!
Roadsterstu

Martin wrote:
PG wrote:
Even at a constant speed, the energy needed to move the air out of the way is far higher at 80mph than 70mph and and so on. So most cars have a sweet spot - the speed at which an unstressed engine can easily move the air out of the way so deliver maximum fuel economy. With a small engine that might be uber-efficient at 60 mph that could easily tail off very quickly as speed increases.


Not desperately interesting to most, but I'll be able find ouy how much power and torque I'm using at different cruising speeds because I've got what's called a 'Sports Display'.  I've only looked at it a couple of times and was surprised to see I was only using about 60hp and 120lb ft torque at steady speed on an A Road.  The second time was to make sure I used all 465lb ft!


If you are going to keep doing this, can you please do it in a seperate thread?  
Roadsterstu

I'm sorry, Martin, I just couldn't resist!!
Martin

Roadsterstu wrote:
I'm sorry, Martin, I just couldn't resist!!




No, you're quite right, there is a thread for this sort of thing that you can ignore more easily!  I did try to keep everything in there....honestly!  It's not been a week yet, the excitement will die down soon (2015?)  
Frank Bullitt

PG wrote:
Frank Bullitt wrote:
I'd imagine drag is a major player here as most cars cruising use little power (or rather the effort they are using when not changing speed is related to drag rather than outright performance ultimately available); it's more complex than this of course as gearing, engine speed etc. all matter of course (higher engine speeds create more drag)


Even at a constant speed, the energy needed to move the air out of the way is far higher at 80mph than 70mph and and so on. So most cars have a sweet spot - the speed at which an unstressed engine can easily move the air out of the way so deliver maximum fuel economy. With a small engine that might be uber-efficient at 60 mph that could easily tail off very quickly as speed increases.


Exactly, given Martin's example his car is probably turning over at 1200rpm to deliver this power and torque where as Mrs Alf's old Golf Plus would have to be working at higher engine speeds, thus more internal friction etc especially with the greater frontal area. In the Picasso I noticed driving at 80mph through France the economy would tail off notably (42-43mpg) compared to driving at 70mph (low 50's), the A2 does the same; it's aerodynamic but geared to 2700rpm at 70 (quite high for a diesel) so go towards 80mph and it starts to drop away notably.
PG

Re: BMW 116d

Alf McQueef wrote:
MPG and good refinement aside it was a pretty joyless thing.....


Back to the OP, this phrase seems to sum up so many "efficient" cars. I fear it is the future of motoring.
Roadsterstu

Martin wrote:
Roadsterstu wrote:
I'm sorry, Martin, I just couldn't resist!!




No, you're quite right, there is a thread for this sort of thing that you can ignore more easily!  I did try to keep everything in there....honestly!  It's not been a week yet, the excitement will die down soon (2015?)  


2018, when its replacement is imminent!
Martin

I really hope so!

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