Blog: BMW's Sure Thing
Dave Leggett | 13 March 2007
I am back from a brief sojourn to Spain to try out the new BMW 3 Series Convertible and, well, you probably won't be surprised to learn that the car checks all the usual BMW boxes. Back of the net, as that chap with a penchant for Lexi would say.
Will BMW traditional 3 coupe customers be tempted to go for the convertible with it's folding metal roof? Maybe, but the BMW people say that the coupe and convertible attract discrete customer groups and they expect that to continue. Coupe customers are more 'hardcore' in terms of performance requirements. Convertible types have more money to spend. Should be interesting to see how that one pans out.
Other assorted points from the 24-hour jaunt to Valencia (a proper article/feature on the car itself will follow in the news, by the way):
- Weather same as here - nice and sunny, warm during day but quite cool in the evening. A few of us wondered how much longer manufacturers will be prepared to fly 30 British journalists out to somewhere like Valencia for a trip like this. Not all that CO2 friendly.
- Fantastic driving route - twisty bits with some good straights. Nice countryside with dramatic fall-offs and epic vistas.
- Plenty of high-revving fun to be had in the 325i with manual gearbox. Nice engine note too. Seemed like the one to have. Loaded up 335i had a price tag of GBP45,000. Ouch.
- Deserted but high quality roads (paid for by British taxpayers - nice that we get to use 'em too).
- Picturesque villages seemed devoid of human habitation mid-afternoon. What do the people do? Are they sleeping? Maybe they work in the great big nuclear power station we passed...
- Police roadblock in the middle of nowhere looked like it would be handing out speeding tickets and hefty fines but had more to do with high security on the third anniversary of the Madrid train bombings. The convoy of RHD British spec BMWs was waived through - not exactly with a smile though - and habitual speeding resumed (the other cars, I mean, obviously).
- 'Almond milkshake' at the coffee stop was to die for. Real good. The fat-bottomed locusts descended on the nibbles and I wondered whether one or two esteemed colleagues had actually ever seen pastries before. 'Just because they are there' doesn't work as a justification in my book. We're not talking Everest.
- Contrary to impressions from media reports, there seemed to be plenty of snow on the Pyrenees when we flew over them.
- Fab Austrian (Tyrolean Air or something like that) female pilot greeted everyone with a smile and helped put the bags in the hold. Nice lady.
- Despite the exercise of some admirable self-control at times (thank you, but I don't need a chocolate bar prior to landing), 'launch paunch' temptations at dinner in the golf/spa hotel resort thingy last night were hard to resist, as ever. There was a nice fish soup and the duck main course hit the spot. Two days bread and water for you now Leggett.
- Building sites are everywhere. But they are not exactly a hive of activity. It was said by someone that a new Spanish law means that building footings for projects have to be in place by April and then no more construction will be allowed for three years. But hasn't Spanish development always been like that? Tax reasons? And just where are all the people? Or is it just that England has become ridiculously overcrowded?
- The America's Cup is on. It's to do with sailing boats but corporate sponsorship has taken over as a driver from the old national rivalries a little bit (at least that's the impression I have). BMW says its involvement is yielding technology stuff applicable to cars (eg carbon-fibre stuctures). I'm sure the engineers have fun and yachts are the right thing to be associated with, as a premium marque. Hey, BMW makes decent profits and can indulge in discretionary expenditure to some extent, but it's basically good to see BMW sponsoring worthwhile things...
- ...which brings me on to something a little closer to home. I would like to express my thanks here to BMW's UK PR people for making a generous donation in aid of Cancer Research UK and sponsoring me to run a half-marathon (no, I'm not joking).
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