22 November 2011


one fine drive

Photography by Anna Kidman

We take to the streets in the latest sporty offering from BMW.

I’ll admit that sometimes there are some great perks to be had here at Denizen, like my recent adventure driving the new BMW 1 Series. Before I took the reins, I was taken through a demonstration of the brand new BMW 1 series and given the instructions to make sure I embraced my ‘inner petrol head’. A phrase that I have no doubt my dad will be wincing at the thought of me attempting. I’ve grown up with a dad that is a serious petrol head, but it has never really resonated so much with me. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I had it in me. But now I’m starting to think that is just something all people say until they have had the opportunity to actually drive a decent car.

After a few days of whizzing around town in my BMW 118d, it became clear to me that this zippy car was much better suited to being pushed into Sport mode than it was in its fuel-saving Eco mode (where the car cleverly turns itself off when stationary to save fuel and then restarts the engine as soon as the brake is released). While playing time trials with myself as I drove to and from Herne Bay to the Denizen offices was fun, this is clearly a car that has a lot more talent to offer. So as luck would have it, as the the weekend rolled around I had the chance to take it through its paces on the open road.

Anyone who knows me well knows that ‘Sunday drives’ are one of my favourite pastimes. When the need to escape the city takes hold, there is really nothing better than setting off on a road trip. Well as it turns out, there actually is. And that is setting off on a road trip in a fine example of German automotive engineering. For a compact car, the 1 series takes to the open road with gusto. The Scenic Drive route to Piha proved a dream. With its ability to turn with precision, it made what can otherwise be a rather stomach-churning windy drive, into an absolute breeze.

The BMW 118d has all the bells and whistles you could imagine. And those you probably never thought you needed too. Additional features such as the built-in navigation system only aids the urge to escape Auckland every weekend. Thanks to a clever little ‘points of interest’ function within the GPS, us denizens could get really ambitious with our road trip destinations, and leave it to this built in guide to tell us the best restaurants, cafés and beaches that we should be stopping at along the way. Might I add here that the car’s computer has full internet access too, so you can book ahead and turn that day trip into a cheeky overnighter without fuss.

The plethora of other functions make zipping about town just as enjoyable too. Take for example the keyless engine start.  It wasn’t hard to get used to getting into the car and taking off at the simple push of a button whilst the keys sat riding shotgun in the passenger seat. Then there is the parking assistant with rear camera and distance control, which allowed me to approach tricky parallel parks with a new-found confidence. All functions that have proved rather ideal and now apparently ‘necessary’ if like me, you have a tendency to get distracted by things whilst driving.

My only problem? Going back to actually having to put the keys in my own car ignition and not just throwing them on the passenger seat is going to prove rather tough.

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