Blog: Dave LeggettGotland Ring

Dave Leggett | 31 October 2007

Gotland Ring? Sounds a bit like something out of Tolkien. Gotland is an island in the Baltic Sea (a surprisingly big one actually – 100km length and with 57,000 inhabitants). BMW flew us there yesterday for a good go in the BMW 1 Series Coupe on a Race/Test Circuit called Gotland Ring. It’s next to a huge limestone quarry and is still being developed. The owners say it will be FIA inspected for international racing at the highest level next year. The schedule of things to be done between now and 2012 looks extensive and ambitious. Have a look yourself.

What was the experience like yesterday? The 135i I had to drive was a very good car. The fact that I kept it facing the right way has more to do with the car’s electronic traction control than my driving skills. The drizzle got harder and more relentless as the day wore on. But the car? Nimble handling, great engine and the cabin seemed a lot less claustrophobic than the 1 Series hatchback’s. Hit I think.

It's not cheap, but it is a premium brand compact coupe and if you're selling in the US where the dollar is horribly weak, why not go high on the price to start and try make a decent margin? What's to lose on a model like this that's new to segment? The price-volume mix can always be massaged a bit, if necessary, later.

Styling is superb. It doesn’t look like someone in the design process said, ‘like where you’re coming from, like what you’re trying to do, where you’re going……but can we just kind of squash it a bit, oh, and chop the rear end off while we’re at it?’.

Despite the rain it was seriously good fun, I must admit, even if it did mean I lived in fear of the trackside kitty litter and had to get on and off three planes in one day.

The evening before was certainly a bit different for a new model rollout to journalists. It took place in what appeared to be a warehouse with a few freight containers thrown in.

Worked well though, and we got some access to Michael Ganal as well as other pertinent BMW people involved specifically with the development of the car.

A marketing bod gave a very informative presentation on how BMW views ‘new media’ as part of the marketing process. There are people inside BMW spending plenty of time investigating blogs, networking communities, YouTube and so on and looking at the best ways to create interest and a bit of a buzz around the brand and new product. It was an eye-opener.

I’d never heard anything quite like it from a vehicle manufacturer and it confirms that the ground is still shifting in medialand. Later on over a refreshing glass of Carlsberg in the hotel bar (it had to be done), David Gow, The Guardian newspaper’s European Business Editor, reflected on the fact that his newspaper has five times more hits on its website from US-based surfers than it has UK readers for its daily print edition. The times, they be a changin’.

London or Copenhagen?
BMW's 1960s 02 Series was described as inspiration for 1 Series Coupe
Gotland Ringing in the rain

DENMARK: BMW targets US with 1 Series Coupe


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