May 6, 2012:

A new build, a new GBMINI

Now that I don’t own a MINI after selling GP0203, and having owned my Q5 for over three years, it’s time for a new vehicle.
My primary desire these days is for interior comfort and a high level of technology – but after driving MINIs for nearly ten years, it’s nice to have a car with great steering and a responsive engine, too. I much prefer five door / hatchback designs over sedans and coupes too, so that limits my choice … And this is the bit where many GBMINI.net readers might close the browser – my shortlist consisted of vehicles similar to the Q5, that is “crossover” or small SUV styles!

I did lots of research, and had a burst of test drives recently. First up was the new Land Rover Evoque at MINI of Peabody sister dealership Land Rover Peabody – well, that didn’t go so well. The interior is nice, but feels a little cramped due to the low roofline – rear visibility is worse than a convertible MINI, but good rearview cameras help with that issue. The big negative of this car was what I hope is a fault on the particular vehicle I drove – when pulling on to highways, the car would reach about 30mph and then go no faster even while the revs slowly climbed. I’d have to release and re-apply the accelerator to get any more speed! Since this was the only tester, I couldn’t investigate if it was a fault (and I’ve heard nothing since from the dealership).

Next up was the Lexus RX350 (or it’s hybrid sister the RX450h); I was reluctant to return to the IRA dealership group where my Audi came from – but in truth they were Ok to deal with on this day.
The car was nicely equipped and comfortable, but I still wanted to test one more vehicle …

And so, on to another MINI Peabody sister, right next door – BMW of Peabody. Once again they had only 3 series BMWs in the showroom, and we had a long wait before we could see the X3 28i I wanted to test. Eventually we were able to drive it, and it was good – though perhaps not as good as the Lexus, and with a very noisy cabin interior at highways speeds (a combination of wind and road noise I think).
The salesman suggested we try the more powerful X3 35i; I couldn’t see why it would be any quieter inside, but agreed to try it – and WOW! It was so much more fun to drive. The bigger engine made a huge difference to it’s responsiveness, and made it a completely different vehicle. Oh, and the interior noise was much reduced, mysteriously but happily.

The newest BMWs now have some pretty sophistic interior technology these days (something that previously has put me off them), and so I was able to spec and order a car that I think can offer most of the luxury of my Q5, a lot of the fun of my MINIs, and the technology that I desire day to day … and it’s being built right now:
BMW X3 35i in production

X3 exterior design

X3 interior design


I realize this is nothing like the type of car most MINI owners want – it’s certainly not going to take corners as well as a MINI, and it’s loaded with pricey comfort and technology much of which isn’t available at any price on a MINI, but I believe it’s exactly the right car for me.

So for the immediate future, GBMINI.net will be BMW themed …


Comments: 7 (post new comment)
  1. RB (2012/05/06 @ 8:47 am)

    It’s not a MINI…;-) It’s a BIGGIE!

  2. Michael Smith (2012/05/06 @ 8:52 am)

    My mother-in-law loves her X3 – at least the last time we spoke… ;-)

  3. Dave Newman (2012/05/08 @ 8:31 pm)

    Satisfy your inner Britishness with two things:

    Garage Rental

    Classic Mini Cooper S, MK 1 version

    Then use that BMW pick-up with a hatch for dump runs, long boring trips and getting to the garage to drive the classic Mini.

    Life can be simple. :-)

    Dave N

  4. JonPD (2012/05/10 @ 1:11 am)

    Congrats Ian though have to say not a fan of the X3 personally (likely resulted from seeing tons of them on the road and have had three separate issues with X3 bad drivers while cycling in the last year.).

  5. GBMINI (2012/05/10 @ 7:45 am)

    Having been run off the road on a bike at least twice, I promise to treat cyclists just as carefully in this new car as I do in all my previous cars! :)

  6. birindelli.com (2012/06/12 @ 1:34 am)

    It is really interesting to follow the evolution of sizes relating to the GREAT Mini…

  7. Frank G (2012/12/13 @ 1:25 pm)

    Congrats Ian! (Albeit a little late)

    I, too, became a proud BMW owner early last month. Picked up a pristine 12 month old 2011 E90 328i sedan with Premium package, 17″ wheels, saddle brown dakota leather, BMW Assist, blue tooth, 6AT, you name it. The N52 straight six cyl N/A engine is absolutely amazing!. There is no replacement for displacement. Quite a change from a decade of driving MINIs, but really enjoying this Bimmer. We stil have a R55 Clubman S in the household.

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