Fast and oddly practical, head turning BMW
Clutch slave cylinder failed.
Slow driver's side electric window.
This car is not what you expect when you look at it. It looks unusual next to a standard hatchback or saloon; it's short and narrow with wide wheels and a long bonnet. People stop and ask what it is, people who know what it is tell you how much they want one. It looks sporty and aggressive, and you'd imagine it's a handful to drive, but that's not really the truth.
The factory suspension is quite soft, the ride is really comfortable, long journeys are easy except for the tiny fuel tank, and the cabin is quiet.
The steering wheel has too many turns lock to lock for my liking, but combined with the soft suspension, means that for you to lose the back end of this car in the dry, you probably weren't driving sensibly. You have to be aggressive and blunt in your steering and pedal actions to provoke a reaction from the back wheels, and despite the short wheel base, when it goes, you sit so far back that you can feel it happening and catch it.
In the wet or snow (I've driven it in snow, and it's not something I'd recommend) you need to be respectful to the limited grip available. My 1999 S50 M Coupe has no traction control, and you only notice this in the wet; if you don't drive smoothly, especially while cornering hard, the back will slide. In icy conditions, you will need good throttle control to keep it in a straight line, and in snow, you're better off walking.
The interior is near perfect. The steering wheel doesn't adjust, but the seats have a decent range of positions, and are electric and leather.
The interior feels well put together; it's comfortable, and looks sporty with an element of luxury. Mine is the all black interior.
The factory stereo sounds worse than it should; upgrade it with a decent aftermarket unit, and even if you leave the speakers, it will sound better, or at least it did for me.
Some complain about the rear view mirror, but I'm 5'8" and it's perfect for me when I drive. The rear window heater switch is impossible to reach safely while driving, as it's hidden by the gear stick.
Some of the metal centre console covering reflects the sun into your eyes if the sun is behind you, and I defy anyone to locate the rear fog light switch while driving, even if you know where it is.
The boot is the real surprise; you can get the weekly shopping in the back, and considering this is a two seater car, it's really quite practical.
Performance from the 321 bhp engine is more than enough for the road. The acceleration is savage from a standing start, and 3rd gear is amazing. The car is fast, standard brakes are OK. Handling wise the car has more roll than you'd expect, but this is what makes it comfortable. The engine note is restrained below 5000 revs; after that the noise is addictive.
It's a BMW, so parts are easy to get, but not very cheap. Insurance is expensive; it's a group 20 car, and the mpg isn't impressive if you drive it quickly, but that's no surprise, and the fuel tank is small, so you will be filling up often.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 19th June, 2010