A Fond Farewell

My130i2_4f198704ce96b-lightboxGoodbye to a car that took us all over the country and all around Europe, up to 155mph on an airfield, lugged windsurfing equipment down to the coast, moved house, carried our first child, blasted round the Nurburgring, mixed it with supercars on the Bedford Autodrome and  even did a  few trips to the dump!. Cracking car.

I bid it a fond farewell last week, having tearfully handed over the keys to its new owner (OK, there were no tears, but I was genuinely sorry to see it go). I really struggled to find a suitable replacement as it was just such a brilliant all rounder. The beauty of the 130i is that it felt special every time you started up (owing to its rich, classy, expensive sounding straight six), went like a bat out of hell, but as it was a hatch was still useable enough everyday to do the practical stuff.

Still, I’m more than happy with its replacement……….I’m just not going to tell you what it is yet, you’ll have to read on to find out!

The 130i spent almost 6 years with me and didn’t blot its copy book once. The only issues I had with it were squeaky window seals and rattling rear seats (fixed by BMW under warranty), and a faulty £10 fuel tank sensor that allowed the tank to be overfilled causing a smell of petrol for the first few miles after fill up. Otherwise, it was faultlessly reliable. The interior held up very well to regular use, the Professional Stereo (with under-seat sub-woofer) was fantastically powerful and clean sounding, and the car averaged 29.4mpg over 78000 miles. That’s brilliant economy I reckon for such a quick car.

The only things that grated over time were down to BMW. First, a car of this power really needs a standard-fit limited slip differential in order to put its power down effectively. Second, the ride on the standard fit Run Flat (RFT) tyres is on the firm side. You can resolve the crashy ride by fitting non-run flat tyres, but then you have to carry around tyre sealant and a compressor, or a space saver. I elected to keep it on its RFT tyres as although the ride is firm, the turn-in response on the stiff sidewalls makes the car feel more agile than standard rubber.

Of course, Birds of Uxbridge can do an aftermarket Quaife LSD to solve the first problem, but by the time I considered having it fitted, I had already decided  I wasn’t going to keep the car for too much longer . So, – what to replace it with. Well the test drive list was long and varied. I drove an 06 Cayman S, an 08 313Bhp 350Z, a 2005 M3 CS, a 2009 Mx5 Sport Tech, an 08 R32 DSG, an 08 MINI JCW,  a Clio Sport 200 Cup,  and a Honda S2000. After much deliberation I decided the next car had to be rear drive, comfortable on the motorway (which struck the 350Z off my list as tyre roar at speed was phenomenal!), well built, have an Auto/Dual Clutch Gearbox (as I spend a lot of time in heavy West London traffic), sound good, not cost the earth to run and maintain, have a decent stereo and above all, be fun to drive.

So, after months of research, I’ve ended up with the final car that I test drove, a 2010 BMW 135i DCT Coupe. It’s in Space Grey metallic, has Leather, heated seats, Xenons, Pro Navigation, Bluetooth, BMW Assist, BMW Online, Cruise Control, Parking Sensors, iphone integration etc etc! It really is stacked with tech.

1st impressions are that it rides better than the 130i, stops better (with its 6 piston Brembo sourced calipers), goes a lot faster and changes gear like a race car. It’s a mini GTR! Put your foot down and the exhaust makes a very fruity “V6-like” blare, and off you go, surfing a huge wave of torque that punts you from 0-100 in 10 seconds. I know I made the right decision for me and I’ll put more thoughts to paper soon. Stay tuned!

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David Knott