Saturday, February 04, 2006


I have noticed a phenomenon where I don't notice something until I have a reason to. Since we purchased this car, I see BMWs everywhere. I think they are probably the second or third most popular car around here, from my informal "how many of what brand are for sale" survey.

A few strange points: this is a relatively large, six cylinder, rear wheel drive vehicle- with a manual transmission. I doubt it is even available as a manual in the US, but we really don't like automatics. The problem with this car is that it is so quiet and the engine is so smooth that there have been a few occasions where we have forgotten to shift. Most small cars let you know when they hit 4000 rpms. This one offers no clue.

This car has some sort of sensors that start beeping if we are too close to backing into something while parking. It is actually a rather cool feature, despite the fact that I have existed this long without it. In the slippery, snowy road up to our apartment, I discovered that the traction control sort of works. At least a light comes on when one of the wheels starts spinning, and I think it sends more power to the other wheel. It is so hilly and icy, I doubt it would matter if we had front wheel drive. At least we have snow tires. Today I noticed a Passat with studded tires, which are legal in Norway. It seems like overkill for this part of the country. I think people really get into having winter driving features. Even most low end cars seem to have heated seats.

Finally, what impressed us the most is how solidly the car is built. Our previous Toyotas both had something of a plastic feel to them. Both Toyotas drove and handled marvelously, and were quick and nimble, but you could tell that they cut a few corners when they designed the interiors. This car probably has the most comfortable seats that we own, and when we close the doors, the car lets you know that we closed something solid. It also has side-impact airbags, which is cool, since there are roundabouts everywhere. I still feel like we will be t-boned half the time we drive into one. The only feature missing is cruise control- which is rather an odd thing to leave out, since even an integrated hands-free system is present. The thing is, I hate cruise control, and in Norway, there is no such thing as a wide-open highway to cruise on. The longest stretch of straight road is probably a few hundred meters. Anyway, it was nice to drive a little today. I really hadn't driven much since we purchased it.

No comments: