Original poster here again:
Three months and 5000 miles, and this car continues to get better and better. The engine is remarkably smoother than when new, and fuel consumption now runs at 45mpg in overall hard (ish) use.
Both front seats can be set further forward than in many cars very comfortably, owing to deep leg tunnels. This unleashes cavernous space for rear passengers.
Comfort is very good, even on long, dull motorway trips. I have driven a full tank of 600 miles in a single sitting and emerged amazingly fresh.
Bad stuff? The gap between gear ratios is too wide for town use. It means hunting for gears happens more often than I'd like. That about it to be honest.
It's a well built, comfortable, quick, good handling estate that feels like it will last many many tens of thousands of miles. Recommended.
Original poster back again :
Seven months and ten thousand miles. Fuel economy is up to 42 MPG city usage, and almost sixty MPG on the highway. Brilliant.
Load space has proved to be large and flexible, if not particularly hard-wearing. There are a few marks on the rear seat backs that would not have occurred in my old Pathfinder, but nothing terrible.
Its hard to fault this car, compromised as it is by a small four cylinder engine for tax reasons. The engine pulls hard and strong, belying its "taxi engine" roots, but a six would surely be a more satisfying lump for this fine car. The gear ratios are still too high and too wide: there is room for a whole other ratio between 2nd and 3rd, and 3rd and 4th. Fortunately the engine like revs more than any diesel I have driven without fuel consumption penalty.
Other faults? Well the luggage space tonneau cover creaks, which is noticeable in an other exceptionally built and quiet car.
But these are niggles, this is a magnificent executive estate, that is amazingly capable, commodious and yet fun to drive. Highly recommended, especially with the panoramic sunroof option, which transforms the ambiance of the car.
Original poster here again.
Well the new company car is ordered and I'm on the home straight of BMW 520 Touring ownership. Approaching 40,000 miles and three years old.
This has been a pain-free experience, with the BMW doing everything that could be asked of it. Quiet, quick, very spacious, well built, great handling and economical; it's pretty hard to fault this car. The boot is enormous and has been used to shift everything from marquees to haylage bales. Average motorway economy is 58 MPG, overall 42.
It's just, well, a bit joyless. It's competent but a bit grey. The best thing about this car over three years has been the panoramic sunroof. It makes the interior so airy and bright that any journey is made easier. Worst thing has been the gear ratios, which seemingly have been set for magazine economy tests, not for practical driving. 2nd, 3rd and 4th are far too high and far apart for town use.
It washes up like new every time, and I really cannot do anything but commend this to anyone who wants MPV space in a car with more cachet. I shall miss the many benefits of the car when it goes back, but I do hope the replacement offers a bit more of a special ownership experience.
Original poster here again:
The Five's swansong was a family trip to Dunbar for a wedding at Easter. Four big adults and luggage piled into the Five for a six hour drive each way.
I can hardly imagine a better companion for this journey than the Five. The cabin is spacious and feels even more so with all the glass area or the panoramic sunroof. Sat at just under eighty on the motorway using cruise control, the car is near silent, and delivers 60 MPG. Off the motorway on Scottish twisting roads, the Five becomes a sports car, with fine body control and a decent turn of pace.
The whole return journey was completed painlessly, with a 58 MPG average (better than my wife's Fiat 500) and just a little fun.
A really brilliant appliance, but just a bit... humourless. I'll miss it.
Replacement car will be a Citroen DS5 Hybrid DSport - pretty much the opposite to this Five!