Archive for The Motor Forum "We are mature men in the highest cadres of our careers"
 


       The Motor Forum Forum Index -> Test Driven
Martin

Test sits and drives

I wasnít going to waffle on about my test drives as writing reports isnít one of my strengths, but I was asked a couple of times, so here goesÖ..

After a lot of thought, Iíd come up with the following list, which we worked on narrowing down before arranging some test drives:

M135i/M235i (New)
Golf GTI PP (New)
Z4 3.0i / 35i (2009-2010)
SLK 350 (2010) or possibly an older SLK55
Boxster 2.9 / 3.2S (2009)
330i / 335i coupe or convertible (2010)
Audi A5/S5 coupe or convertible

The Golf was quickly discounted and Lindsay wanted to take the M135i off the list as well (didnít want a hatchback and didnít like the looks), but I insisted on a test drive as it felt like the most sensible (least risky from a cost perspective) option and she liked the M235i, so it made sense to try one.  Nothing to do with me being wanting to drive one and compare it back to the 130i at all!  

Some brief thoughts on what we looked at and drove, grouped into some sort of sensible order.  Iíll try not to go into great detail on the ones I didnít drive!

SLK 350

Our local Mercedes dealer had a couple, a 2009 SLK 350 in standard trim and a 2010 SLK 300 in AMG Sport trim.  Compared to the direct competition, they look great value, the 350 was only £15,500 which is probably £5,000 less than a similarly equipped Z4.  However, we didnít like either enough to go for a drive at that point, deciding to move on and maybe come back at a later date.  

Audi A5/S5 and 3 Series

Iíll cover these both off together.  The halfway house option, as theyíre both something thatís a bit more interesting (visually) than a saloon, but has 4 seats so relatively sensible.  We didnít look at exactly the right models, because I thought it would be better to look at something local that was as close as possible and then decide whether to go further afield to look at the right car.  

We looked at a 2011 A5 2.0T S line at the local VW dealer and a 2013 320d M Sport in Bedford.  Both were really nice cars and ticked a lot of the boxes, but the more cars we looked at the more we were both leaning towards getting something that would feel a bit special.   On a nice sunny day they may well do that, but thatís not every day and they both felt a bit dated from the driverís seat as well as it just feeling like you were in a base saloon.

BMW M135i

Iíll cut to the chase, what a cracking car!  Our local dealer has a blue 3 door manual, so it would have been rude not to have a go.   It was no surprise to find out that itís a seriously (and deceptively) quick car, even within the limits of a test drive, it put a very big smile on my face.   It felt a fair bit more grown up than the 130i and rode better in comfort mode, but whereas the 130i felt like a small car with a big engine, the M135i feels like a big exec thatís shrunk in the wash if that makes sense?  

Unsurprisingly, Racing was spot on in his thoughts on the car, the M135i is without doubt a fantastic car, but (drivetrain apart) it doesnít feel all that special when youíre not giving it full throttle.  I think I would drive it a lot early on, then start to use it less and less as the novelty wore off, which is pretty much what happened with the 130i.   I canít deny that the looks are a real issue too, it hasnít grown on me in the way the original 1 series did.  The M235i solves the aesthetic issues (itís still no stunner), but I still think it would turn out the same way.  

We discussed figures with the salesman and he was pretty close to the £5,000 discount showing on Broadspeed, which made a well specified new car seem like good value, especially when you take into account the warranty, service pack and relatively low running costs.   We also talked about the M235i price and that worked out about £80-90 a month more on a PCP, which isnít too bad.  

Z4
I love the way the Z4 looks with the right colour/wheel combination and the full nappa leather interior is really nice.  However, the seat didnít really go back quite far enough for me and when itís in the rearmost position it rubbed against the bulkhead and squeaked, so I had to move it forward which made the driving position even worse.  The other concern at that stage was the length of the bonnet and how much of it you can see (Lindsay was not happy), front parking sensors would be essential!  The access to the boot is really poor with the roof down, but itís not too bad a size with the roof up.

More test drives!  We looked at and drove a 3.0i M Sport and 35i and the best car would have been a combination of the two.  I was a little disappointed with the 35i as while it is quick, the engine doesnít really suit the type of car.  The 3.0i engine suits a roadster much better, it sounds better for a start and although you need to rev it more to get the same performance, thatís no bad thing in a sports car.  The DCT gearbox in the 35i was really good, very quick and smooth changes, but it felt better in manual mode and after trying it, we still both wanted a manual.   The biggest problem with the Z4 is the ride, especially in the M Sport (19Ē wheels) which was borderline too uncomfortable on bumpy roads and it seemed to hop from one bump to the next which wasnít the best feeling!  The 35i on standard suspension (but still 19Ē wheels) was better, but then it moved around more and was still pretty uncomfortable, so it was neither one thing nor the other.  Maybe the adaptive suspension is the answer?  Or maybe it just doesnít ride well?!

Despite the disappointing ride/handling, it was still the front runner at this stage, as it did feel a bit special.  We loved the way it burst into life, my memories of the 130i came flooding back!

Boxster

I think Iíve written enough about the Boxster, it really is fantastic and with the sports exhaust switched on, it sounds amazing, so much better in every way than anything else I drove.  Sold!
Alf McQueef

Sounds like you needed a Z4 on 18" wheels and standard suspension  

It's a shame about the Z4 as the last one also received criticism for exactly the same thing. Evo preferred the non-M Sport 3.0i for that reason. I'd still have a Z4M at the right price, mind, but not as an everyday car...

You made the right choice! Not the cheapest, but the best...
Giant

Sounds like your short listers all eliminated themselves, leaving no choice to be made! People complain that group tests involving Boxmen are predictable and they are the default choice but it seems it's all for a reason.
Martin

Alf McQueef wrote:
Sounds like you needed a Z4 on 18" wheels and standard suspension †

It's a shame about the Z4 as the last one also received criticism for exactly the same thing. Evo preferred the non-M Sport 3.0i for that reason. I'd still have a Z4M at the right price, mind, but not as an everyday car...

You made the right choice! Not the cheapest, but the best...


I don't think that's the right combination, I think 18" wheels with adaptive suspension would be the best option.

I would have been interested in a Z4M as a weekend toy too, could well have got one if Lindsay had wanted a hot hatch instead.

Definitely made the right choice without a doubt, it's well worth the extra cost!
Andy C

Thanks for that. Interesting read.
Stuntman

I'm still loving my silver car, and it will be 8 years old in less than 2 weeks' time.  79k on the clock.
Frank Bullitt

Stuntman wrote:
I'm still loving my silver car, and it will be 8 years old in less than 2 weeks' time. †79k on the clock.


You drive a modern classic - I hope Martin keeps his for just as long (unless he swaps it for an S-Max...)
Martin

I don't know which thought is the less likely!

       The Motor Forum Forum Index -> Test Driven
Page 1 of 1
Create your own free forum | Buy a domain to use with your forum