Apart from the very precise and informative steering, we mostly liked the engine's capabilities, both in performance and efficiency. Between 2000 and 3500 rpm the car kicks like a mule, making you feel like you're driving something much lighter and less family friendly.
Its only major downside is to be found in the noise and vibrations area. In the few times we drove it without the Auto Start Stop system, while idling the engine made the gear shifter vibrate like an out of control vibrator on its highest speed. Despite that our female colleague probably appreciated this “quality”, we didn't quite establish a connection with the way the engine interacted with the interior at idle.
Also, the sound it makes is nothing like a modern common rail but close to an oldschool Volkswagen pompe duse engine, which didn't exactly tickle our “performance for the win!” gland. On the good side, it sips fuel like an Englishman over-saturated with tea would finish a 5 liter bottle of Nestea at breakfast. Plus, it helps haul the all wheel drive wagon from naught to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just a bit over 8 seconds.
The xDrive system is probably the only reason some of us would drive a BMW during a hard winter. It's not exactly a life saver if you intend to only rely on it and switch off the traction and stability controls, but it sure helps a lot against all the skidding and tree-hitting experienced by some of the more “courageous” BMW drivers.
The six-speed manual transmission is precise and with some very acceleration-friendly gear ratios. The only quarrel we had (actually our female colleague, not us) with it was the very BMW-like way to put it into reverse. Since females are less muscle dependent when they move, it was a bit hard on her to pull the gear shifter into reverse. Boo hoo.
On the whole, as it was to be expected, the techy bits are more than OK on just about any BMW, our test car included. We didn't get to witness the sensations induced by a howling over-revved inline six-cylinder under the hood, but this was pretty OK nonetheless. Continue reading