My first ever new car after 30 years of motoring - well worth waiting for.
The car fully lives up to BMW's claims of superb build quality and excellent ergonomics.
Despite being heavy - the body is heavily reinforced and the convertible weighs some 150kg more than the saloon - the 2 litre engine delivers more than enough power and torque for my driving style, even through the automatic gearbox.
The auto 'box is smooth and well suited to the engine whether using normal or sports mode. I have had little cause to use the manual facility as yet.
A 6500 mile touring holiday in Eastern Europe gave me plenty of scope to try the car out in varying traffic conditions on a wide variety of road surfaces, and I never found it wanting. The optional sports suspension coped well on uneven surfaces, even cobbled streets in Poland.
Being a convertible, rear three-quarter visibility is appalling with the roof up, but the fully automatic powered roof, combined with the powerful heating/climate control and the optional heated seats, mean that roof-down driving is a practical proposition for much of the year - so long as it isn't raining! The optional wind deflector works well at speed making roof-down motorway driving comfortable.
One problem which I have encountered is not a fault with my car, but an apparent design fault. I specified Bi-Xenon headlamps as I do a lot of country driving. There is a procedure in the owner's handbook for switching these lights over from RHD to LHD - unfortunately the procedure doesn't work. My dealers are investigating the problem, but it looks as though the headlights may have to be replaced by the standard units as I intend to do a lot of touring in mainland Europe.
Economy at the moment is reasonable and improving. Over my 6500 mile holiday I averaged 36 miles per imperial gallon, recording over 40 mpg when driving very gently. It was apparent that the fuel consumption improved as the engine bedded in. Driving with the roof down appears to increase the fuel consumption by about 10%
To be fair, these figures are pretty good for a 143 BHP, 2 litre engine in a heavy car - it's just that the BMW figures led me to believe that I would do better.
There is a huge amount of room in the front for the driver and front-seat passenger and the 10-way electrically adjustable seats should accommodate most drivers. I find the seats a bit hard - maybe this is a result of driving Citroens for the preceding 12 years!
There is not a lot of room in the back seats - they're OK for children, but two full sized adults would be fairly cramped. Access to the back seats with the roof up is a bit tortuous (although my 80-year-old Mother has managed it a couple of times).
Similarly the boot is good for a convertible, but still quite small. It can be extended by folding away the roof box when the roof is up; of course, you can't put the roof down in this configuration so I only use the facility to help when loading and unloading the boot.
Finally, I had the misfortune to put the crash-worthiness of the car to the test when I was hit on the left hand door on a French motorway. Despite a heavy impact, the side impact protection worked as advertised, as did the pop-up roll-over bars in the rear-seat headrests which were deployed by the impact. Even better, the impact barely threw the car off line at all and I was able to maintain control with no effort.
In summary, the BMW is exactly what I wanted - a superb car for day-to-day use and for long distance 1-up or 2-up touring; a truly practical convertible and worth every penny.
16th Sep 2003, 17:33
Update after nine months of ownership. The fuel gauge became inaccurate, and I ran out of gas with the gauge still indicating a quarter of a tank. I managed to get to a gas station, but not to the pump, and had to push my shiny new car the last ten feet. I felt like an idiot. Fixed by the dealer at no charge.
The interior sliding cover for the moonroof broke some part and came off its tracks. Fixed by the dealer at no charge.
The vanity light over the passenger-side visor turns on even when the mirror slide is closed. Part ordered; will be fixed at no charge.
The air conditioning accumulates moisture and creates a medium for growing smelly mold. The dealer cleaned this once at no charge as a "customer courtesy", but if it gets bad again, they won't do it gratis.
Every once in a while, the second press of the "unlock" remote button fails to unlock the passenger doors. Usually re-locking the driver's door and trying again makes it work (and of course the front passenger door can be opened with the key). Dealer could not duplicate the problem.
None of these problems (except the fuel gauge indirectly) interfere with the pleasure of driving the car. The problems are irritating, but I'm still very glad I have the car.