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Not Piers experience, and a close escape

Well today I also got my car serviced.

Not for me a BMW dealer, but a local MB specialist, who it turns out do a lot of work from MB Milton Keynes.

I'd also booked a loan car, and had no clue what I was going to get. Due to use of specialists/local garages my recent loaners had been a very old Punto, a very leggy 316i SE (not bad for it's 150k+ miles), the owners 3 yr old 520d and a Corsa Van.

Anyway it turned out to be a W Plate C180 Sport....Auto.

The car itself was fairly nice, but not a patch on an E36 I'd have said. However I'd forgotten how bad an automatic is with a small engine. Burying your foot to the carpet brought a lot of revs and gradually forward motion.
Whereas with a big engine you can use the throttle to control the box, with this the gearbox seemed to have a mind of it's own. I did actually have to check it was a 5 speeder as it reminded me of driving 3 speeders in America a couple of decades ago. I guess my E30 Cabriolet was similarly poor but that car was a lot less powerful, a lot heavier (I think) and only a 4 speed box.

The close escape is that in 1998 I had a 318 Touring on order when I colleague resigned having just taken delivery of a C180 in Burgundy with beige interior. Another colleague also had an Alfa 156 on order and we were told one of us had to have the Merc. After each of us put our case as to why the other should have it we ended up tossing a coin to not have the car. Fortunately I won, and I realised today how much better the E36 318 was.

That Mercedes engine is shit from what I remember.

Years ago I had a '93 E36 318i SE and when it came time to change, I test drove an Alfa Romeo 156 2.0 Twin Spark. It was certainly quicker than the BMW but nowhere near as refined. In fact, to get the extra performance, it had to be thrashed which isn't always fun day to day.

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