I've been on the Mercedes side of the war for as long as I can remember. Don't get me wrong, I think most German cars are great, but BMWs were just not my style.
I prefer the classic styling and understated power of a Merc, but when I decided to buy my fiancée a newer car she only wanted one brand - BMW.
From the first test drive, I was impressed by the easy driving and the superb handling. I see myself as a "better than most" driver (like most men do!) and revelled in the fact that the car goes where it is pointed.
The 205/45/R16 Bridgestone tyres would make turning difficult without the help of power assisted steering. The power steering is fantastic, helping you just enough to make the car easy to drive, but not taking away the feeling of being in command. The car's handling begs you to be unlawful and every now and then you must give in.
The car has a 1995 cm3, four-cylinder petrol engine with 105 kW and 200 Nm of torque. A 0-100km/h time of 10.9 for the automatic is not blistering quick, but adequate. The first three gears have rather long ratios with 120km/h reached in third at maximum r/min.
Average fuel consumption is around 12l/100km under full throttle/full brake driving conditions. The automatic gearbox works well and the sport setting actually does alter the gearbox's character.
In the tip shift setting the gearbox will shift up automatically when the rev-limiter is reached and shift down from a higher gear when accelerating at full throttle.
To add to the thrill of driving, the car gives a polite exhaust rumble when prompted. After three months of weekend driving I am still eager to drive my fiancée's car at every opportunity I get!
The pistachio green (gold to mere mortals) looks great on the coupe shape and driving the car gives you the same feeling as walking hand-in-hand with a beautiful woman. However, she's not entirely perfect...
Most things work most of the time
The front doors are very long and opening them in narrow parking spots is a nuisance. The rear accommodation is the same as the sedan 3 Series and can be described as restricted, even at the best of times.
Inside the cabin, the black leather adds to the executive feeling, but the seatbelts are rather difficult to grab hold of as they are positioned far back. And the handle that is meant to keep them within easy reach works about one in every three times.
The optional sunroof is of high quality with no wind noise at high speeds when closed. The six-disk CD shuttle will keep operating normally even when driving on a brutal dirt road. The rear seat has a 60:40 split and folded down the luggage space is very generous.
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