Image: Wheels24 / Janine Van der Post
Wheels24's Janine Van der Post shares why the BMW M140i is not her 'cup of tea' as a daily drive.
Cape Town - Don't get me wrong, the BMW 140i is a marvelous little car that any petrolhead would love to drive.
It's fitted with an 'M' package for goodness sake! It's thrilling to drive, agile and mighty powerful for its compact size.
Sadly this only rings true for single folk, or young couples without the sprog (or two).
Its engine delivers 250kW/500Nm and will have you feeling invincible. But as was foretold in 'Spiderman', "with great power comes great responsibility. The car is so responsive, and much lighter than larger M-cars, it could mean driving dangerously if you don't know what you're doing behind the wheel.
I wouldn't even dare turn the traction control off because its rear-end wants to spin out at every opportunity with that much torque available. Who wouldn't want to revel in that sweet M Performance TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder petrol engine? Whenever no one was paying any attention, I'd give the 140i a little more throttle just to hear that engine revving.
My problem is that I'm not a single petrolhead anymore. When it's just my spouse and toddler, the BMW 140i can very well make for an awesome family car - if that's what you wanted. But it's simply not my cup of tea, at least not anymore as my requirements for a car has changed dramatically a few years ago.
Here's a practical scenario: I had to drive my mother and her sister towards Saldanha Bay, and then drop said family back in Paarl on the way home to Somerset West. Needless to say the M140i has no mode settings to change the suspension from Comfortable, Normal or Sport - an optional nicety most BMW drivers have access to purchasing their vehicles.
It's in permanent M Sport suspension and that translates to a very track-friendly (read - harsh) ride. Every bump and undulation can be felt from inside the car, especially when you're a passenger in the back seat. I know this since my passengers kept reminding me of its harsh suspension at every opportunity, despite my actual enjoyment of the drive on the open road.
Image: Clavern Van der Post
Limited on space
The other issue is its limited space. It's mandatory that my daughter is always strapped into her petrolhead-inspired car seat wherever we go. This trip was not going to be any different but due to the compact hatchback's size, rear legroom, headroom and every other kind of 'room' is limited and passengers are packed as tightly as sardines in a can. The drive for rear passengers, especially, was far from comfortable.
The boot is a different story. When I had picked my mother up the morning, I was forced to accommodate loads of luggage which needed to be packed into the car for the trip - my aunt's luggage, treats for their sister in the Bay, and who knows what else. I asked her a couple of times if there would be even more goods coming home. She said no, but I knew the real answer to that question...
The trip home, after a family visit to a 70th birthday party, included more items to the boot, including 'barakat' parcels for not only my mom but my aunt too and my own family. Since we were in Saldanha Bay, known for its heavenly seafood - and being the offspring of a fisherman, we went shopping for the upcoming Easter holidays, synonymous with pickled fish and hot-cross buns. The little Beemer's boot handled ALL of that, and it left me impressed.
I was relieved to be home and out of the car, but probably not as much as my little girl after being strapped into her car seat for nearly three hours.
Did I enjoy the car? Of course I did - whenever I was driving it alone and didn't have my mother reminding of the numerous speed cameras along the way. When there was no child in the car, or my husband or mother reminding me of my responsibilities - I could drive the M140i the way it's meant to be - no holding back - albeit in a conservative, law-abiding manner of course.