Under the threat of redundancy, I’d pretty much decided that when the company car went back that I’d have to replace it with a more modest second hand vehicle.
With the inevitability my early death Chris, over a pre-match KFC, threw in the idea of blasting off the planet in a treat of a car. Let’s face it, as long as I avoid financial ruin before I go he had a point.
So today’s main task, other than checking I’ve got everything in place for tomorrow’s drive to Luton Airport and subsequent flight to Ljubljana, is to empty the contents of the Insignia into either the dustbin or my brand new BMW320i Sport. And then ring Fleet Services at work and arrange for them to collect my workhorse of a Vauxhall that never let me down. Except when it allowed me to reverse into a pillar on Manchester Airport’s T3 short stay car park.
The picture above was one of the nice touches the dealer had yesterday. I also liked the magician style covering of my new car in a black cloth. And £40 of fuel generously loaded into the tank.
After taking the final hit on my credit card, and being given a demonstration of how to drive and control my dark blue beauty, I headed off into the wilds of the M62. Alas, it was busy so it not quite the blitz down the highway I wanted. But it was a start.
It’s certainly a lovely thing to drive. Quieter than the diesel I’d had previously. Cornering beautifully, accelerating just that little bit more smoothly than any car I’d driven before.
Only now did I begin to compare the new against the old. And it’s this point where I realised I rather liked the soon to be auctioned off Insigna! Not to the point of regretting my decision to return to a Beamer. But certainly a moment or two where I appreciated some of the layout of what was now lost.
Part of this is down to me being a man. So the likelihood of actually reading the instruction manual is close to zero. But I do need to adjust my seat to a higher position because at present half the dashboard information is hidden behind the steering wheel. Oh, and it’s a bit of a struggle to get my diseased body out of car!
I did learn that adjusting my seat position with controls and levers I’m not used to while doing 50mph on one of West Yorksire’s darkened country roads is inappropriate. Lever one throwing the back of the seat thirty degrees backwards and lever two tilting the seat to an angle which had me staring out of an imaginary sun roof rather than focusing on the giant Sainsburys truck just ahead.
Then there’s the storage space. I need to ditch some of the junk that lives in the cockpit with me in old car world. I’m convinced BMW have a better engineering achievement here than the Insigna, but little nooks and crannies to keep your loose change in, store some tissues and keep your Bell’s palsy essential eye drops handy clearly never entered the head of Fritz when he was putting this beauty together. And I assume Germans don’t ever drive with glasses cases and disabled badges. And where the hell do I put my mobile phone now that it’s six points for holding it?
Only one USB socket seems a little mean. Although Bluetooth means my phone can remain connected hands free to take the three calls a year I get when driving. I’ve not actually got any idea how to answer an incoming call but the control knob in the centre console does appear to be quite intuitive and may have the capability to Nuke Trump once I’ve worked things out.
The sat nav proved interesting. “Prepare to turn left” doesn’t mean take the next left turn. And the advance screen warning I’m used to showing the next manoeuvre is now verbal. So I’m going to have to listen to what that bloody woman tells me! Including her “take the A6177 to Ring Road “. Ring Road is not a town dear! Although driving around Milan I did once ponder why the hell Tangenziale kept appearing on road signs as surely we must have past it miles earlier!
My toughest adjustment is a return to the handbrake. I’m genuinely gobsmacked that BMW has these in their most recent 3 series. I’m used to flicking a little switch and having the car recognise handbrake release by my use of clutch and accelerator. BMW is still in the dark ages here. Although I’ll never forgive Vauxhall for using the space freed up by not needing a handbrake to incorporate a useless touch pad where the only purpose was to be accidentally touch it and destroy whatever settings I’d put in place for sat nav or radio.
Theres a lot of adjustment to come. Not least the seat. But I’m going to have a blast!