Car Reviews Commentary & Observations

Lockdown-Cars We Owned – 2007 BMW Z4 2.5si Convertible

The Lockdown series continues with me and my 2 driving buddies, Alfred & David, also sharing our experiences, comments and reflections of the different cars we have owned.

David’s 15th car, brings us back to the desire and the pleasure to own a “Convertible” again. The” last convertible dance” was with a Mazda MX-5. That as we recall, brought all the elements of driver involvement, engagement, feedback, the joys of a manual gearbox and the open-air feel of a convertible.

The BMW Z4 still has a terrific style and has aged well. BMW claims to sell the Ultimate Driving Machines. So, with a manual gearbox, a sweet revving 6 cylinder engine and car that James Bond was happy to drives in the first Z3 version it adds up and makes sense. However, life is full of grey and compromises. Sometimes you can’t get what you want. Sometimes the sum of the parts don’t make a greater whole. Sometimes past dreams are not attainable. Stiffer chassis, auto & electric steering in this case enjoyable but a bit short of driving expectation for David.

If this reminds you of a special car you have owned please share your experience or just name it or just “like” ours.

#mynextcarbuying #melbourne #automotiveadvocate #lockdown #carsweowned #bmw #bmwz4 #convertible #auto

David 15th

2007 BMW Z4 2.5si
160kW 250Nm
0-100km/h in 6.9 seconds

I have owned the Z4 for 12 months now. I love the styling and think it is one of the best looking and distinctive cars on the road. But I have a confession to make. I just have not connected with this car. It drives well but not in the way I look for in a car.

I would be the first to admit I have been spoiled by the effervescent handling of the MX5, 86 and Golf Type R. The Z4 feels more like it is “wafting” around, a formal and elegant waltz rather than a nimble tap dance. It really only comes alive above 80km/hr and unfortunately, I do not spend enough time on twisty roads at this speed. In the traffic it feels like my Dad’s old Mercedes SEC and I feel like an old man driving it. I love the convertible experience but find the electric roof fussy and ponderous. It is well made and luxurious but lacks the fun factor of the MX5. I still think it is a very, very, good car. The problem is it just doesn’t suit my driving style (I’m sorry dear, it’s me not you). I don’t feel the burning passion to drive it like some of the other cars I have owned.

Alfred comment:

I am devastated to hear that the passion and connection to drive the Z4 is not deep within you. Do you think the manual version would have made a degree of difference to possibly change your current feelings about the Z4? The natural question that comes to mind is if and when you sell it what convertible would you replace it with? Or is the answer another Toyota 86? I am disappointed to hear for your sake that the wow factor or what you expect out of the Z4 is not there for you.

David comment:

I’m not devastated. I still enjoy driving it and love the convertible experience. I’m sure a manual would help but is not the whole answer. Maybe I could play around with changing the suspension to coil overs or something but I don’t think I be bothered.

I would buy another convertible but what? New MX5 is too small. I’ve already had a NC and don’t feel like going back. 2 series BMW? I don’t know if it would give the driving experience I seek. Maybe the new 86 will come as a convertible!

Richard comment:

The convertible ownership experience is something to date I have not experienced. (I’m working on it) So driving your Z4 was an enjoyable experience of appreciating the sense of wind, sun, sound and the feeling of being more connected to my surroundings as I drive. The Z4 does this very well when in cruise mode. Walking up to and around it, the styling is appealing, aggressive and brings out the emotions that give you the desire to take the wheel and live out your driving dreams.

We know it was difficult to get the manual option. So, the compromise,knowing the excellent condition of the car and low kms, was to buy the Auto. The manual gearbox involvement is missing, so this car though very good lacks the connection we desire. We are hard task masters. The combination of stiff chassis, the first version of BMW’s electric steering and run flats dull the feedback. It’s not till you hit the hills and put some pressure of g-forces on the chassis that the car reveals it true character. Accurately setting up for each corner with a sweet, Beemer, six engine revving freely and happily as you engage the paddle shifts. Just not providing as much feedback as we desire.

Part of the driving journey is to experience different cars and each provides elements of what we desire, some more than others. It also reinforces as you move through to the next ownership driving experience, the things that are really important to you and that you are less willing to compromise next time. There is always the thrill of the chase and sharing the driving experience is always fun.

Lockdown-Cars We Owned- 2017 VW Golf R 7.5 7spd DSG

The Lockdown series continues with me and my 2 driving buddies, Alfred & David, also sharing our experiences, comments and reflections of the different cars we have owned.

David’s 14th car, brings us to our first 4WD “hot hatch”, the VW Golf R. The “all rounder”, the benchmark that other try and emulate. Some are more track focused such as the Renault Megane R.S. or the Ford Focus RS but off the track in daily commute can be a chore.

The Golf R is a 9/10ths car. It does well on the track, on the weekend mountain squirt and to the shops carrying out daily duties, fully compliant, comfortable, well finished and special.

A liveable day to day 4 door, genuine 4 adult seater, that can bring out the boy racer in you yet give you that feeling of protection and high limits with the 4WD grip. Feeling like you’re on rails that quickly brings out the best in your driving and a grin from ear to ear.

What the beauty of this hot hatch is it can be a bit of everything to all drivers. It also falls in as one of the most enjoyable and fun cars I have driven.

If this reminds you of a special car you have owned please share your experience or just name it or just “like” ours.

#mynextcarbuying #melbourne #automotiveadvocate #lockdown #carsweowned #volkswagen #vwgolfr #volkswagengolfr #golfr #4wd #turbo

2017 Golf R series 7.5
213kW 380Nm 7 speed DSG
0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds

With the MX5 I might have written that you don’t have to have aggression in a sports car. But this car taught me the joy of POWER! The almost instant response and the ease in which this car puts that power down has been a real eye opener. I can now see how drivers get addicted to power and trapped in an endless cycle of always wanting more. But the ability to break the speed limit in well under 5 seconds is more than you could ever use on public roads. Then again, I would love to try it on a track.

The other revelation was the DSG gearbox. You can see from my list of cars I have a serious bias for a manual gearbox. But when I tried the new wet clutch 7 speed DSG in this car I was blown away. It is still able to potter around in the traffic with gentle ease but the precision and ferocity of gear changes when driven in anger is astonishing. I had to pick the DSG just to experience the whip cracking up shifts during hard acceleration. Sorry Richard, the ZF auto in the BMW is excellent but when you push it really hard this gearbox is snappier.

The real surprise for me however was how good four-wheel drive is. I was sceptical at first but I found the system in the Golf R nimble and playful on the limit with unbelievably good traction, wet or dry. But it still retains a sense of fun when you are ragging it round corners.

I have to say I’m now a big fan and would not shy away from buying another car with 4WD. Of course, rear wheel drive will always remain king.

Richard comment:

Beautifully said, especially about the gearbox. I agree if you couldn’t have a brilliant DSG like the Golf has then second best would be the 8Spd ZF conventional transmission. So, no offence taken. Yes, the Golf R is another car with its AWD that put a huge smile on my face as you instantly tapped into the power, the sound as you rip through the gears.

The handling and assuring 4WD makes you want to go faster and faster through the gears. It gives you such confidence in all conditions as you do feel like you’redriving on rails. The beautiful centred driving position with the comfy and supportive sports seats give you a sense of total control and limitless grip. Power is king especially when you can use it and grip is your friend. My FPV F6 was fast but had to be respected in the hills and the power was not totally useable.

So, another gem in your driving garage David. The bar keeps getting raised.

Alfred comment:

The Golf R holds a special place as a very, very, very hot hatch. It has the grip and grunt but doesn’t give anything away as a luxury, high tech desirable quality car in its own right.

Practical and ergonomic for 4 people with a unique Jeckle and Hyde personality. The Golf R has the ability to be an everyday drive and then with a shift in driver attitude, a full on serious sports car. Providing all the useable and tractable power you could ever wish for or have the ability to use.

Oh yeah, and it looks shit hot in that blue colour of yours David. The car inspires immediate confidence within a couple of minutes of driving it. It allows you to push your driving ability beyond levels you imagined yourself capable of, while infectiously driving you to go harder to try and find the cars limits and the courage to go there.

An iconic drive and holds a uniquely powerful podium position in our virtual garage ala your benchmark choice of vehicle ownership. I think up Lake Mountain it would be up the rear of any Porsche anyone would care to challenge you against. This car is the exception to my view of balance of power and handling, as sometimes you want that tractable power and then more power to be king of the mountain to challenge the exotics at 20% of their price.

Lockdown-Cars We Owned- 2014 Toyota 86 6sp Manual

The Lockdown series continues with me and my 2 driving buddies, Alfred & David, also sharing our experiences, comments and reflections of the different cars we have owned.

David’s 13th car, brings us to one of the most enjoyable and fun cars I have driven. The equivalent to what Mazda did with the MX-5. A car that is reliable, provides total driving satisfaction and is affordable. The 86 comes alive when you hit the curves and mountains. What some say is underpowered for day to day driving, makes perfect sense when you start turning the wheel hit the curves with its ability to rev out to 7500rpm. Perfect driving position, beautiful gearbox, the steering and feedback is amazing. Comparisons to Porsche Boxster type feel are true. I have driven a Boxster S. To get similar driving rewards you would have to spend an equivalent $100k.

A car that within 2 mins of driving you get so much confidence in extracting the best out of it. This feeling builds every time you drive it again. Its accuracy, steering and chassis feedback bring out the best in your driving and the boyracer in you. Each drive being on occasion where your grinning ear to ear.

That’s why Alfred, David and I reference to the 86 regularly about what driving is all about and not spending a fortune to get that feeling, fun and experience. Another car that has bound all three of us together and lays the bench mark to what the purity of the driving experience is all about.

If this reminds you of a special car you have owned please share your experience or just name it or just “like” ours.

#mynextcarbuying #melbourne #automotiveadvocate #lockdown #carsweowned #toyota #toyota86 #subarubrz #itsaboutthedrive

David (13th) car:

2014 Toyota 86 GT
147kW 205Nm
0-100km in 7.6 seconds

What more can I say about the 86? A car that as a whole is so much better than a sum of it’s parts. The only possible criticism is a lack of power. But 200 horsepower from a 2 Litre engine would have been impossibly exotic a few years ago and now here is Toyota presenting it in an affordable rear wheel drive coupe with real sports car handling. This is the only car I have ever owned that I would seriously consider buying again. It is that good.

Alfred comment:

Here , here….feel the same way. If it was in my garage I would potentially put on 18 inch alloy wheels , so I could put the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres on. Would put Bilstein’s shockers on all around and upgrade the stereo with reverse camera and some great speakers. Job done. Now I have my Porsche drive probably for around low twenties. Means you would get the newer GT rather than a GTSs to get the better digital speedo if I did all those mods.

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