BMW M140i update

It’s been a while since I shared an update on the M140i.

So the car is almost a year old, only a month and a half to go and already we have covered just shy of 20k…. as I said all along the car was bought to be used and that has very much been the case for the first 12 months

Now this got me wondering, is this car really that suitable if you cover 20k+ a year?

In short, yes. You could quite easily justify a diesel when you are doing that sort of mileage but it just doesn’t offer the same smile factor. In fact, the 123d is an extremely quick and fun car to drive with its huge amount of torque. However, I don’t care how quick a car is if I can’t really connect with it.

Now what I mean by this is you can connect with cars for many different reasons whether thats the steering is superb, the ride set up is unreal or the car sings to you as you press on, are a few examples.

So you see, for me, personally having that lovely six cylinder note to accompany you when you are pressing on adds another dimension to the M140i and allows you to make an emotional connection with the car, so even if a 123d was as quick (which it isn’t) I still would never choose it.

My problem is it’s always smiles over mpg. Always.

So what has the M140i cost so far?

Well we have averaged 32mpg over the 19k or so miles covered in the car, which all things considered is bloody brilliant! If you do a lot of motorway miles as well I’ve calculated tank to tank to come out at anything from 36-38mpg. Now that is impressive!

Doing a quick bit of math I think we have spent in the region of £2800-£3000 over the last 12 months on fuel, which is no small amount. But in comparison using a VW Golf 2.0tdi it would have cost roughly around £2000-£2300; which considering the fun factor difference, is well worth the money.

The car has the service pack which costs £299 and covers 3 years or 36,000 miles. So effectively because the amount of mileage the car is doing we will get the minor service (which it has just been in and had) the major service, which costs around £500 and a brake fluid change, which I believe costs around £120. All in all, we are saving quite a bit of money (around £600) by purchasing the service pack. So money well spent.

No road tax as of yet but even still that will only be £190 for the year.

So really, looking at it the car hasn’t cost the earth to run, yes its expensive but all things considered…there are no complaints here.

Have any changes been made to the car?

I will be honest on this, life has got in the way and needing to spend money on other commitments. So far we have the M Performance Exhaust and carbon fibre wing mirrors fitted and that is it.

I am planning on changing the front grille to the black M Performance grille to tie it all together a bit better now the silver mirror covers have gone and may look the suspension down the line, although that is going to be an expensive change so just holding off for a bit yet.

For the time being, I’m pretty happy with where the car is at. I’ve thought about modding so many times and there is so much you CAN do but for time being I can’t justify the expense when on the road the car is plenty quick enough anyway.

I have also coded a few little options in such as rear DRL’s active (pic below), which looks much better, digital speed display and the M Performance startup screen to name a few.

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The drive

I’ll be honest nothing has really changed on this front, the set up still has its shortcomings especially on the limit, it is incredibly snappy and gets very upset over bumpy roads.

Other than that the car is a dream to drive, the drivetrain is unreal and despite what others say I actually think the B58 engine sounds better than the S55 found in the F series M3/4 – subjective I know but I just prefer the tone.

Steering is still probably the cars weakest point, just due to the fact there is little to no feedback from the front axle, which when I think back to my 335i, which had hydraulic steering, leaves me wondering why they had to go electric.

Aside from that the car is a pleasure on day to day use or going out for a drive and finding some tasty B roads. I still stand by this is the best value for money car you can buy.

Wrapping up

Well as we approach 12 months old I thought it was good to look back and see if the car is still within expectations.

I think because I don’t use the car every single day, when I do get in it still feels like a nice place to be and plenty quick enough for road use.

There are just a few little tweaks (coilovers, LSD and brakes) that would take it to that next level. But after 12 months, I still cant think of another hatch I would swap it for. I would miss that 6 cylinder noise too much.

 

 

 

 

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Has xDrive ruined BMW’s?

Do you remember the days when if you wanted a four wheel drive car, you would automatically think Audi Quattro?

Well now BMW have developed a system to rival Audi’s quattro system, called xDrive. For the purist this takes away a large part of what BMW have built their brand and their following on, which is rear wheel drive (as well as a sweet straight six..).

So what is xDrive?

xDrive is BMW’s implementation of a four wheel drive system.

It splits the available torque between the front and rear axles through a multi-plate wet clutch. It will modulate the torque split between the front and rear axles dependant on slip but normally the split is 40:60 ratio front to rear.

If the car detects any wheel slip, the xDrive system can react within a tenth of a second to redistribute 100% of the power to the front or rear axle.

What is an xDrive car like to drive?

I’ve driven a couple of different cars (X5, 335d, 430d and 220d GT) fitted with xDrive and there are some subtle differences. Lets look at these in more detail:

220d GT xDrive

First off the 220d GT, this car is one of the applications where xDrive is based on being permanently front wheel drive, unless slip is detected then it will transfer power to the rear. It is very similar to the Haldex system used by Audi on their smaller cars.

It primarily, in day-to-day driving, feels like a front wheel drive car. When you really push on you can feel the xDrive system shuffling the power round to try and get you the most possible grip. Being honest it feels unnatural and sometimes a little unpredictable which can make it feel snappy. But for general driving, you probably won’t even notice.

430d/335d xDrive

On the 3/4 series the xDrive system is the one mentioned above, so generally sits with a 40:60 power split for driving, with the ability to push 100% of power to either the front or the rear.

On the road when driving, you can really feel that rear bias. That’s not to say it feel rear wheel driven, because well let’s be honest it doesn’t. BUT it does feel more natural and when you push on you can really get the car rotating and really feel that rear bias.

If you have any steering lock applied and plant your foot (particularly in Sport+) you will find that rear end feeling a little loose and the car starting to rotate. It never feels out of control and can quite often make you look like you have way more skills than you actually do.

I’ve recently been out in a 335d xDrive, to watch that video click here.

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X5 40d xDrive

The xDrive in the X5 felt completely different again, I’m not certain what the difference in programming is but it just felt like it was 100% on rails and nothing was going to upset it.

It felt very similar to driving a Torsen based Audi. Very numb but when you learnt to trust it, the car would go wherever you wanted it to.

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In conclusion

Do I think xDrive has ruined BMW’s?

I certainly don’t think so in this country (UK).

It does take away some of the ‘fun’ for me personally as I like having to look after your right foot when cornering, but for some people point to point speed is more ‘fun’. So it’s going to be subjective.

I think by offering 30d’s in RWD and xDrive it offers you the choice depending on what you want. My only disappointment is that 35d’s are only available as xDrive.

I think BMW have implemented the xDrive system well and you can really feel the rear bias. xDrive isn’t going anywhere so we may as well get used to it.

 

Top 5 experiences from 2017

Well it’s been a while and for that I apologise, a mix of personal circumstances and family stuff has meant that this and my YouTube filming and blogging has had to take a back seat for a month or two.

However, things are starting to feel like they are returning to normal. So I wanted to just take this time to reflect on some of the amazing things I was able to do throughout 2017.

Highlights of 2017

Looking back I realised I had an awful lot to be thankful for in 2017, so lets take a look at what my top 5 standout experiences were…

1. BMW M140i collection weekend

This has to be the number one because as far as new car collections go, it was faultless. Anyone looking at getting a BMW Mx40i, I would highly recommend getting in touch with TRL @ Berry Heathrow!

Following the smooth collection; we then had the opportunity to spend the weekend driving through Wales on some of the best driving roads, getting to know the car whilst simultaneously running it in – this has forever changed future car collections for me.

I would recommend to anyone, if they have the time, to spend a weekend getting to know your new cars.

 

Collection blog – https://stsupercarsblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/bmw-m140i-collection-and-first-impressions-after-1200-miles/

2. Driving the BMW M4, BMW M6 and Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Being given the opportunity to drive and experience two completely different but equally as brilliant cars was a real treat.

The M4 was a step forward from the e92 M3, yes it lacks a really good exhaust note but if you forgot that. The engine has been mapped in a way that makes the power extremely usable day to day and means you no longer have to live for the redline. So actually day-to-day, is probably easier to drive.

The M6 felt nowhere near as big as I thought it would and wow, was that car quick! The V8, although turbocharged, sounds very good. Would make the perfect cruiser, although I think that the M5 would be my pick.

The Alfa really deserved its own spot on this list because it is just THAT good, but due to an amazing year I cant spare a spot. The Alfa is probably my favourite car I have driven to date. It is an absolute riot. Sounds insane, drives very predictably and its insanely powerful for what is, a family saloon.

Anyone in the market for one, I have to say please go and drive one so you can see for yourself how great it really is.

If you want to read more on the two cars:

BMW M4 – https://stsupercarsblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/16/bmw-m4-is-it-the-true-m-car-you-expect/

BMW M6 – https://stsupercarsblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/25/the-bmw-m6-driven/

If you want to read a more in-depth overview of the Quadrifoglio or want to hear what the monster sounds like – https://stsupercarsblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/alfa-romeo-giulia-quadrifoglio-whats-it-really-like/

 

3. Black mountain driving weekend

I was fortunate enough to spend a weekend in the Brecon Beacons, driving some pretty amazing roads in a convoy of some pretty awesome machinery.

This included bumping in to someone we knew who had a very nice Jaguar F-Type SVR.

All in all, a fantastic weekend driving a range of cars. The SVR turning up was just the icing on the cake.

The BMW M140i was faultless all weekend and took a few people by surprise with just how easy it was to drive briskly (until you reach the limit).

 

4. Geneva Motor Show

I was fortunate enough to take a day trip over to Geneva Motor Show. Whilst deciding to change my runabout cars brake callipers and carriers all round the day before we flew out at 5.30am, was probably not the best idea.

It meant I ended up rolling around on my garage floor until 1am, before accepting it wasn’t going to happen and having to leave the car up on axle stands and try and get a few hours sleep before needing to head to the airport.

Putting that aside the actual motor show was amazing, getting to see the upcoming cars for the year including the Huracan Performante, the 812 Superfast and 720S; which were amongst the many fantastic cars on show. I think what surprised me the most was the willingness of everyone there to talk about all things car/automotive.

I look forward to the day where I can go and get invited on stand…it may happen, you never know.

My key highlights – https://stsupercarsblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/geneva-motor-show-2017-my-thoughts/

5. European road trip

So I’ve saved the best/my favourite experience for last. I’ve cheated a little bit because actually this was almost 3 weeks of amazing experiences, day after day. So technically I should probably single out experiences.

However, I can’t. Simple as that.

The entire road trip from driving down to Dover, driving through France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and finally driving back through the UK; was absolutely incredible.

If I had to single out an experience from the trip, it would be driving across the alps from France near Annecy to Bormio (near Stelvio pass) on the other side. It took a lot longer than expected and we faced real adverse conditions up a few passes and sadly, Furka Pass was closed. But being up in the clouds for most of the day, driving hairpin and hairpin, was my idea of heaven.

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for so long and I have to thank my partner for doing it with me and letting me run riot through the alps in the car and dragging her round Maranello spotting ALL of the Ferrari’s, as well as many other drives where I couldn’t help myself and made her feel a little car sick.

2017 roundup

Well that covers my top 5 experiences from 2017. I hope everyone had a lovely 2017.

Now just to try and top it this year….

 

 

Top tips for anyone who wants to do a road trip

Tips

Accommodation

This was our biggest expense of the trip. I thought I would quickly write about my learnings so for anyone wanting to do a road trip they can consider it.

We looked at purely hotels when we were planning but on average for a 3/4 star hotel you were looking at anywhere between £100-150 per night.

So, as an alternative, we decided to book all of our accommodation using Airbnb. I imagine most people know what this is but for those who don’t basically people rent their holiday homes/second homes/rooms out on it for people to use.

My advice would be to filter any search by looking for the entire place. Doing it this way meant on average we were able to book for £50 per night, with the exception of Zurich that was £75. But what this did mean is we had an entire home to ourselves, so we saved money on eating out as we cooked every night.

Some of the places we managed to secure were amazing, large spaces too. So I would highly recommend using Airbnb.

Fuel

Fuel on the continent is expensive.

There is no way around it but in France, Switzerland and Italy it was roughly around €1.50 per litre. So my advice is fill up in Dover and then make sure you budget for the fuel you need for the trip.

Driving

My only advice is love driving and be prepared to do a lot of it (obvious statement I know). But quite often on the trip we planned for much shorter journeys than it actually transpired to be.

Make sure you have plenty of water and food for long journeys as quite often you don’t pass anywhere to stop for some distances, particularly in the alps. Also, don’t forget that Sundays means most places are shut. We found that one out when it was too late!

Plan

Now this doesn’t mean plan everything to the final detail. But go with an idea of where you’re going to go. We actually booked accommodation as we went. It was a slightly more expensive way of doing it but meant we didn’t have a strict schedule to stick to.

And finally……

Enjoy it

Its over far too quickly, so just enjoy every moment.

BMW M140i – covering 3.5k miles in 2 and half weeks

For those who follow me on social media, you will know we embarked on a European road trip recently.

We covered around three and a half thousand miles, spent around 90 hours in the car and averaged and amazing 35mpg.

Some people will say I am mad, but I loved every minute of it.

In this blog I am going to cover where we went, what we did and how the car performed (BMW M140i).

This is going to end up quite a long blog so feel free to skip ahead to the bits which you are interested in.

How did the car Perform?

In a word, faultlessly.

In the three and a half thousand miles, the car didn’t miss a beat. It cruised motorways, got driven hard on alpine passes and drove around cities, without batting an eyelid.

The only thing we picked up on is that it doesn’t really like 95 Ron fuel. So wherever possible, use 98 or higher. We even managed to fill up with 102 Ron in Germany and the car definitely felt like it had a little more poke about it.

Also, I was able to get a top speed run on the autobahn which is definitely recommended!

Obviously, as you would imagine, my favourite part was driving it in twisty roads on national parks.

I think the most amazing thing is that we even managed to average 35mpg…yes that right! 35 mpg!!

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We forgot to reset it for the first 550 miles, but considering it was all a motorway cruise, I can’t see it forcing the average mpg below 35mpg.

Where did we go?

Well we covered some ground in the two and a half weeks, so I will give a brief over view of where we visited.

France:

Dijon was our first stop, so we spent the day exploring the city which included climbing many, many stairs and getting a full 360 view of Dijon.

Annecy was one of my favourite stops of the trip, the lake is like no other. Stunning place and one I would highly recommend to anyone. I’ve never seen a lake that colour and being surrounded by mountain, its an absolutely gorgeous setting to spend time.

I can highly recommend the ice cream shop to the left of the old church (pictured below).

Switzerland:

Geneva was such a hot spot for car, was lucky enough to see so many amazing cars. Some I got a picture of other, like the Aventador, I wasn’t quick enough. But in terms of Geneva as a place to visit, there is a lot more to it than just the lake. The Lake is nice, and you can walk down Jet D’eau out in to the lake, or you can stroll round it as far as you can be bothered. There is also lots of other things to do, we went to the cathedral and gardens, both which were stunning.

You can spend a lot of time walking around the shopping district. I seemed to spend a lot of time drooling over timepieces!

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The drive through the heart of the alps, which took actually took us an extra 4 hours than planned. So in total took 14 hours. It was worth it though, the views were incredible! Just a shame that Furka pass was closed..

I could have spent the entire time in the Alps, its just stunning. I love mountains and being up in the snow was surreal. There are so many different passes to drive and so much fun to be had.

What more needs to be said.

Italy:

Bormio was supposed to be our stop before driving Stelvio Pass, however the day before we arrived between 30-60cm of snow fell which meant that the pass was closed. So instead we took the opportunity to check out Bormio itself and hit the road earlier than planned to get to Italy and our next stop.

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Lama Mocogno was our stop in the national park near Maranello, it was stunning and a great drive to and from Maranello, lots of hairpins and windy roads.

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Maranello. What more needs to be said? The home of Ferrari, a quaint little town put on the map because of this heritage. We saw so many Ferrari’s, visited the museum and stalked the factory, getting to see some new Ferrari’s including what looked like a 488 Speciale, a Laferrari and a Portifino.

All in all, it was absolute car heaven. I could have spent days just watching Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s and Porsche’s drive round for days!

Florence was absolutely remarkable as a city. We hadn’t planned stopping here but decided we had some time so why not and wow, I am glad we did. The cathedral is beyond anything I have ever seen.

There was so much to do and see, we didn’t have time to do it all. It’s somewhere I want to go back and spend more time.

Tuscany hills was our stopping point acting as a base to make the trip to Rome and have a day to chill out by the pool. We were off the beaten track, up in the hills and surrounded by grape and olive oil fields. Bliss.

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Rome was a whirlwind of a day, getting up at 6am and getting back at 1.30am. I would say anyone who wants to do Rome, I would highly recommend more than a day. We barely got round the Vatican and the Coliseum, yet there is so much more to see.

I think realistically you need 3/4 days of solid walking around the city.

Pisa, La Spezia and Piemonte were three great stops. The tower in Pisa actually leans more than any pictures can do it justice. But honestly outside of the tower and surrounding grounds, there isn’t much else to Pisa. We struggled to spend any more time than an hour or two in Pisa and that was why we ended up driving to La Spezia Port. La Spezia, again, didn’t live up to expectations.

 

Lombardia (on Verbania lake) was our next stop, the drive from Piemonte to Lombardia was fantastic, we pretty much took all country lanes avoiding toll roads. It was a great drive and Verbania Lake was stunning. There isn’t much else to do there though, other than a nice walk around a section of the lake watching the clouds roll over the mountains in the distance.

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Switzerland:

Zurich was our next stop. The drive was amazing, started driving round the lake and then up through Switzerland, which is probably my favourite country of our trip. So green and so much amazing scenery.

Zurich, as a city, was beautiful. It was nicer than Geneva. The amount of nice cars that I saw was incredible. But the setting of Zurich is more green than Geneva, although it doesn’t have all of the nice timepiece shops. It does however, have the most expensive high street in the world.

 

Germany:

Stuttgart. Being honest we didn’t see too much of Stuttgart other than driving to the Porsche Museum and then from there to the Mercedes Benz museum, but what entering Germany did mean was the opportunity to do some high speed runs on the Autobahn.

The first run was 140mph, the second was 160mph and the final run 155mph. All indicated on the speedo not GPS data. Which considering the car was full to the brim and had two people in it, it was still pulling when it hit the limiter…

However, I digress. The Porsche Museum is a must for anyone interested in engineering, not just cars. Porsche have helped and still help so many different industries it was amazing to see all of the history, as well as their entire road and race car history! Highly recommend it.

We weren’t lucky enough to go in to the Mercedes Benz Museum, I can’t tell you why because the very ‘friendly’ woman just said no and schued us away!

We did however spot a brand new GT2 RS on the road!!

Luxembourg:

Luxembourg City, which is probably the only actual city in Luxembourg, was small but a nice place to see. It has the Notre Dame Cathedral that is very grand.

We didn’t actually stay in Luxembourg for the night, we stayed just in Belgium in a place called Mellier.

Belgium:

Bruges took us a fair longer to get to than expected due to horrendous traffic on the motorway around Brussels, which apparently is always the case so if possible avoid it!

We actually decided rather than driving in to Bruges and struggling to find parking, we decided to go straight to our accommodation and then cycle in to the city centre. We stayed about 6/7 miles from the centre so it didn’t take too long to cycle in.

Bruges as a city is was better than I expected (based on the film in Bruges), the only way I can describe it is picturesque. Almost every building looks beautiful, even just shops and bars and with the canals running through the city add to it.

Then sadly it was time to head to Calais and make the long drive home.

It brought an end to the trip of a lifetime.

To sum up

If anyone is thinking of doing a road trip, just do it.

You won’t regret it.

Roadtrip vlogs can be seen here if you want to see more of each place:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 months in a BMW M140i

Doesn’t time fly, who can believe it’s been 6 months since first collecting the BMW M140i? I certainly can’t.

Sometimes I sit there and wonder, in a fleeting moment, was it the right choice?

Well 6 months on I thought it was about time to share how the first 6 months of ownership have been.

Steering

My opinion on the steering hasn’t changed from day 1, I still think its too light in comfort and the ‘fake weight’ added in sport is better and offers a more precise turn in but there is still no real feedback from the front end through the steering.

The only thing I would add after spending significantly more time behind the wheel is that comfort makes sense when driving round town, it makes tight manoeuvring easier.

The biggest thing you learn is to trust that the car will turn in very well, when the tyres are warm at least anyway.

Balance/handling/ride

For what is a relatively big and practical car, the balance still impresses me.

Now I’ve had the opportunity to push the car a lot more, I do find it is very snappy when you get up to 8 or 9/10ths. I think a lot of that comes down to the lack of LSD, which can be changed if you’re willing to spend money.

I still find when you do turn in you can feel the car start to rotate around the centre, allowing you to use the accelerator to control your exit.

The tyres. I cannot praise the Michelin Pilot Super Sports enough. It’s a shame they have been superseded with the Pilot Sports 4/4S, however from everything I have read it seems like they are a little bit better in the wet and almost as good in the dry.

The only thing that has become very evident over the first 6 months is the need for a change in damping set up, the ride is very unforgiving and struggles over uneven road surfaces when pushing on. I believe the adaptive dampers help with this and if I were to re-spec I would be ticking the adaptive dampers.

Engine

The engine is still the star of the show in the car.

The B58 is absolutely marvellous.

Performance

The performance of the car in terms of power and torque has never been an issue from day 1.

You can easily ride the available torque in any gear and not change down. Although, where’s the fun in that?

The M140i has been able to keep up (just about) with some pretty big boys this year and when we had the M4 meet, it was voted as the best all round car of the weekend. Which considering there was an M4 and Audi S4 there, it can contend amongst the big boys.

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Noise

Noise is subjective as I actually think the tone of the B58 is nicer than the S55 in the F80/82/83 and the N55.

It may not be anywhere near as loud, which would be my only complaint. However an exhaust upgrade could resolve that.

But the tone of the engine, in my opinion, is better.

If you want to hear what the B58 sounds like head over to my youtube channel – http://www.youtube.com/stsupercars

Gearbox

Having now driven both the manual and owning the auto, my preference would definitely be the manual gearbox.

I thought the manual was initially a little bit notchy but as it warmed up it got slicker and offered a nice positive gear change. But I just found the extra engagement of the manual to be much more fun.

On the other hand, owning a car with the ZF 8 Speed I have really grown to respect BMW’s application of this. Having driven other cars with it in, I find the version in the 140i to be brilliant.

For every day use you really cannot knock the auto. It offers effortless driving in traffic and then full control in manual mode when you want to push on.

Brakes

The only thing to say on the brakes is that I’ve found them brilliant, they have taken repeated abuse up and down mountain passes, with almost no fade.

They offer a good initial bite with nice progressive stopping power.

Pad wear rate is a little higher than usual but that probably has more to do with how the car is driven.

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Interior

No real complaints about the interior, although having had a few without Professional Media, for me I wouldn’t have a car without it.

I think it adds a more premium feel to the cabin.

I find the seats great, offer the right amount of support and are relatively comfortable. Although my partner really struggles on long journeys as she is quite a bit smaller than me and finds the base of the seat too long so finds it digs in to her legs or she has to slide forward which then compromises her back support.

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What issues have we faced

Based on my ownership experience of the car so far, there are a few issues we have faced.

Exhaust rattle

This is the biggest bug bear and a problem that is well documented online.

Our first exhaust backbox changed under warranty, then within 6 days the rattle was back and it was actually worse than the initial rattle.

Here’s a video clip of it – https://youtu.be/HOKOlIb3dqU?t=15m53s

It’s now going back in to BMW, supposedly to get a valveless system. But more on that at a later date.

Door seals rubbing

Only other real issue is that being an F21 the door seals rub, to the point where its quite significantly wearing away the top coat on the paintwork.

Not really good enough on any BMW, entry level or not.

Overall

Overall I think choosing the M140i was the best choice in that market.

It’s not the quickest, it doesn’t have the most power; but I still believe it offer the best value for money and best of all still has a 6 cylinder engine and is rear wheel drive.

Anyone who is undecided; my advice would be get one while you can, before BMW drop the 6 cylinder and rear wheel drive in favour for a 4 pot and four wheel drive.

Then it just becomes basically the same as all the other offers on the market and for me the build quality, particularly the interior, wouldn’t be good enough when you have cars like the Audi S3 available with a very similar drivetrain.

Check out the 6 months of ownership video:

Porsche Boxster S 986 – driven

For those who keep up with my youtube journey (click here), you will know that I have driven the 986 Porsche Boxster S a fair bit and shared what I think on camera.

But I always enjoy taking some time away after driving a car to really think about the experience and how best to convey that into to words.

It can be quite easy to get lost when you are filming in a car, particularly if it’s your only 15 minutes in the car and you also have to produce something watchable… anyway I digress.

So yes it’s been a while now since I drove the Boxster but last night I was sat there thinking how great that car is, the driving experience it offers and the feeling you get when driving it.

Even to date I still don’t think there is anything I have driven that is quite as much of an experience. With prices basically bottomed out, meaning you can pick one up for £5k upwards. They really have become an absolute bargain.

What’s it like to drive?

Honestly, if you like driving and haven’t driven one yet please go and do it.

Steering

In a world of ePAS and numb steering, it is a revelation to drive and steer the Boxster. With its well weighted hydraulic steering, it constantly communicates with you what is happening over the front axle.

You know exactly where you stand, at all times. It is a joy to steer.

It is very direct and really allows you to place the car, exactly where you want.

Turn in is fantastic, I think a combination of a relatively short wheel base and a very light car means it will turn in beautifully.

Balance/handling/ride

This is where a mid-engined car really comes in to its own.

For those who don’t know the Boxster and the later introduced Cayman are both mid engined, meaning the engine sits in the middle of the car, AKA right behind your seat. Whereas, for example, a 911 is rear engined and has its engine over the rear axle.

By putting the engine in the centre, it means the car is wonderfully balanced and very, very controllable.

Our car doesn’t have ESP or ABS or in fact any real kind of safety net, but you know what it makes it all the more fun to drive. You know the car is only doing what it’s doing, because of the inputs your giving. If you want to make the back end step out, you can do so, or alternatively if you just want to be neat, tidy and fast you can also easily do that.

The Boxster S is a light car which also helps with its handling, allowing it to easily make direction changes without upsetting the balance of the car.

The actual ride is stiff, as to be expected. But how else would you feel everything through your bum to know exactly what is going on.

Engine

Upon launch the Boxster was give a 2.5 litre flat six which had 205PS.

In 1999 Porsche introduced two new engines a 2.7 litre with 216bhp and the Boxster S variant with a 3.2 litre lump pushing out 252bhp.

This lineup was revised in 2002 with the 3.2 raising its output to 260bhp with 229lb ft torque and the 2.7 raising its output to 228bhp with 192 lb ft torque.

Our car has the facelifted 3.2 with 260bhp. The engine feels torquey almost anywhere in the rev range, even lower down, which is a bonus over the 2.7. It means it’s quick enough without have to rev it out, which helps if you plan to use daily.

The real power delivery however, is all at the top end. Meaning when you really want to shift you need to keep the car above 4500rpm and be utilising the 7000rpm redline. There is a real step shit in performance with a shove back in your seat at around 4500/5000rpm.

Performance

Well as you can see from above, the power figures aren’t massive in this day and age when we have hot hatches producing 400PS…

However in a car that weighs so little, there is more than enough power in the S. To be honest on the road, the 2.7 probably allows you to have a little more fun as the top end of 2nd in the Boxster S leaves you at around 65/70mph.

The performance this car offers for the money is truly brilliant. It’s not about chasing 0-62mph times in this car, It’s about the driving experience and the performance this car has on tap is a essential part of that winning formula.

Noise

A naturally aspirated flat 6.

Need I say any more? (to hear It In action – click here)

Gearbox

We have a manual version, although you can also get it in a Tip Auto.

However for me, it would have to be a manual, the added involvement of changing gears yourself and being able to nail a heel and toe downshift, is there a better feeling?

The manual box itself can be a little stiff when cold, making it a pain to get in to reverse, 1st or 2nd. But once it’s warm it is a joy to use. The close pedals makes heel and toeing a real joy.

Brakes

The brakes on the Boxster 986 are bloody excellent, although I will say, if you haven’t driven a Porsche before you may find they take a bit of getting used to.

They are not as heavily servo assisted as those used by most car manufacturers, meaning you have to actually use the brake pedal as it was designed. They come in to their own once they have some heat through them.

If you have any doubts about how well the brakes respond, head somewhere quiet  and try an emergency stop – honestly you will be surprised by just how effective they are once you really stamp the pedal.

Convertible

The added element of being able to put the roof down, just adds to the experience of the car.

On a summers day, attacking some lovely B roads with the roof down is bloody brilliant.

What issues should you look out for

This is just based on my ownership experience of the car, there are going to be more out there and are plenty of buying guides about. Just have a read of one before you go to buy.

General running costs

I would typically recommend budgeting around £1000 per year for maintenance. Some years it may be less, some more.

Servicing costs vary up and down the country but typically range from £300-600 + VAT depending on whether it is a major or minor service. Other serviceable items like brake fluid, spark plugs etc will also need to be budgeted for.

On a manual a typical clutch replacement is going to cost around £1k.

Another one to consider is an air conditioning rebuild (the condensers are in the front bumper and have a life of around 6-8 years) will cost around £1.2k.

Brake wear depends on driving style, but typically you should get 20-25k miles out of pads and disks. To replace the front discs, pads and pad wear sensors is going to cost around £600 with a similar amount for the rear axle.

IMS bearing

This is one of the most expensive problems you could encounter if you buy a Porsche Boxster 986. The intermediate shaft (IMS) bearing is prone to failure.

This problem is not as widespread as the horror stories on internet forums would have you believe, but that will be of little consolation if you suffer with it and are left with a bill to rebuild the engine that is higher than the value of the car. Trust me, we’ve been there.

RMS failure

The rear main oil seal (RMS) is also prone to failure on 986 Boxsters, which results in oil leaks. Although a new seal costs just a few pounds, the labour charge to replace it is high because the gearbox has to be removed to access it.

Luckily for us we got this done when we had the IMS bearing changed and the gearbox rebuilt.

Gearbox

We suffered with gearbox issues where it really didn’t like 1st or 2nd, sometimes refusing to go in.

So we sent it in for a new clutch, new suspension all round, IMS and RMS seals changed and a gearbox rebuild – yes that was one expensive trip to the garage!

Suspension

As with any car, suspension components will need to be replaced from time to time.

It’s not something that can be avoided, however if you notice anything or there is little or no history of a suspension refresh, I would re-consider your offer as this could quite easily set you back £1-2k.

 

Overall

Overall I think the Porsche Boxster S 986 deserves its status as a second-hand hero in my eyes.

Yes they can be costly to run and maintenance certainly isn’t cheap.

But the combination of noise, feel and involvement, especially when the roof is down is unrivalled.

There are cheaper alternatives, such as the BMW Z4 in 3.0 6 cylinder form or more expensive to purchase but cheaper to run in the form of Honda S2000 ( really want to drive one of these again).

But for me the mid-engined 6 cylinder Porsche, wins.

If you’re in the market, get out there and give one a drive. I wouldn’t even ignore the 2.5/2.7 either as more of the power can be utilised on the road.

Check out our videos with the Boxster  986 below:

Part 1 – https://youtu.be/84AbK_JKzwU

Part 2 – https://youtu.be/SQdhd-DdLC4