Monday, June 25, 2007

The BMW 7 series... A used car review.

For the first in my series of car reviews I'm going to tell you all about a stock 1997(ish) bmw 730 iL. This was kindly loaned to us by a friend with more generosity than common sense. Already I have managed to flatten a tyre, and scratch the hell out of it. R, thank you for your generosity in our time of need, when I get my stylee new wheels you'll be the first to take them for a spin.

On first inspection, and for the first week, I LOVED THIS CAR. I was riding around in the back of it like a foreign ambassador. There was leg room galore, rear air conditioning, comfortable seat belts, and a soft relaxing ride. It's solid and quiet on the road, like taking a first class flight from Athaiba to MQ but without the free Champagne or obnoxious guy in the seat next to me. I loved it so much that I begged my husband to buy it for me Right. This. Minute.

But then I drove it. And slowly, in painful incremental steps, much like a spring romance or a holiday fling, I fell out of love.

From the drivers seat, it's a hodgepodge of too many buttons to control the smallest detail of the driving experience. So many little drawers and cabinets to break and then replace at what I can only assume is a vast cost. I honestly wonder if this car was designed to sell obscure spare parts. Annoying features include:
  • a lazy susan thing that spins out of the dash for holding parking money.
  • a button that slowly ejects the ash tray for emptying
  • a thingy that appears to be for storing six cassette tapes. Each with thier own individual spring loaded cassette tape bed and breakable flap in the front to keep them dust free.
  • A light sensitive rear view mirror that dims itself when there are cars behind you. I found it to be a little too sensitive and eager to dim.
  • a Hydraulic or pneumatic boot catch. I assume it cranks itself down to make the boot air-tight.
  • odd sized pockets and drawers that don't fit anything that I would usually carry.
  • a climate control and stereo system that features no less than fifty separate, tiny buttons, all lit up like the atlantis space shuttle when you are driving.
  • A computer that blings and flashes random messages at you while driving. none of them accurate. "release parking brake""check tail lights" "Fasten passenger seatbelt"etc...

The acceleration however is exactly what you would expect from a BMW. Flawless, swift and controlled it lends new insight to why I get the pants scared out of me by BMW drivers everywhere. A light press of the accelerator and the transmission kicks down and rockets the car forward sucking me back into the soft confines of the gorgeous seats. Once rolling, it glides along the highway, sashaying between cars and executing relaxed lane changes with grace. Most importantly, the brakes are responsive, powerful and sharp. The anti-lock system works great, and has clearly evolved from the terrifying creaky abs of years past. It's saved my life once already.

The Handling is another story. With a long wheel base and squichy suspension the ride is luxurious for the passengers but harrowing for the driver. The car sways here and there, and it drifts in roundabouts or on dusty tarmac. the responsiveness is akin to driving a boat, where you have to turn well ahead of time because the car takes a long time to respond. If I were to buy this I'd have the suspension replaced with something stiffer, install uprated sway bars, and replace the frame, body, and sway bar bushings with polyurethane ones. I would also put uprated rims and very sticky low-profile tyres on it.

Not that we need to worry about it in Oman, but it sucks fuel. It uses an astonishing amount of petrol and has a smallish fuel tank so I'm filling it up twice a week at least.

the interior is luxurious and well insulated so the ride is quiet. The stereo is fantastic. The A/C is heavenly. The headlights are bright and perfectly focused. The reading lamps are great. The thing that killed me though is the following; In a car with every feature under the sun and more... There are no cup holders. Not one. I have to hold my bottled water between my knees as I drive, and it makes them cold and the water warm.

My Rating- Four out of a possible Ten.

Tune in in a few days for the coming reviews of other borrowed cars... including a daihatsu runabout thingy, two different Jeep Wranglers, a 2003 Toyota Echo, a 2009 Toyota Prado, and a rental Mitsubishi Lancer.


Anonymous said...

You'd probably prefer the 3 series Suburban - sporty and quick, half the size with the same engine. I think officially you can't even buy a BMW 7 series unless you're over 50, male and wearing a cardigan.

Oh, and you've got to play golf.
:-/ That's why the boot's so huge.


Blue Chi said...

I really love the way you write, it is really hilarious and very dramatic. You should write a book!

Amjad said...

I'm in love with BMW 7 series models between 1995 - 2000. The new shape of the 7 series sucks big time and I prefer the old shape.

Few months back I got the chance to test drive a BMW 750iL model 1997 of my friend.. V12!! :-D.. I felt the power, lol. It was an amazing ride!!! unforgettable one.

Suburban said...

JP---I do feel a little like an old man driving it! To be honest, I think I would rather have a Mitsubishi Evolution or a Subaru Impreza. A rally spec- 2.0 and turbo would do me nicely.

Blue Chi--Thanks for the complement, it means a lot coming from someone so articulate. I think before I publish anything I need to learn to spell. And maybe speak english better. Blogging is good english practice.

Amjad-- Hope my review didn't squash your thunder on the BMW front. I hated it because it's not right for me at all. In my review I neglected to mention the styling. It's sleek, subdued, and expensive looking. Good luck with your motoring ambitions.

Does anyone out there own a Dodge Charger I could drive for a couple of days? Those things look so sexy, and purr so quietly, and have such a bad-ass stance... Like a new father staring in the window of the nursery at his newborn child, I often stand outside the Zubair showroom late at night and stare in at them, heart breaking with longing... just waiting for the day I can take one home.

Pathetic? maybe.