The retro interior of the 1972 BMW Batmobile is as funky as the exterior


Back in the day, they made car interiors like this. The photo of our 1972 BMW shows just how far we have come in 45 years – and this was a pretty expensive Beemer too!

Oddly, the Batmobile has window winders (remember them) for the front doors and electric ones at the rear. Makes sense if you think about it but what a joy to get some arm exercise for a change!

The windscreen wiper speed is operated by a pull toggle next to the four-speed gearstick and the only controls on the steering column are for dipping the headlights and an indicator stalk.

While the cassette-radio was probably state-of-the-art back then, now it seems to be lacking the very essential aerial. Well, I can find an aerial to pull up anyway.

Favourite feature? It has to be the wonderful, wood veneer shelf in front of the passenger seat. Super practical for holding you Led Zep and Floyd tapes, which then proceeded to melt in the sunshine…

Quick, to the Batmobile? What’s it like to live with a retro BMW supercar?


There is a hint of madness about the car sat on my driveway. It has more spoilers than a bad film review and could have driven off the set of a Mad Max movie.

Even today, sitting in a 1972 Batmobile isn’t for the shy, retiring type. It looks absolutely bonkers from any angle but still screams BMW.

First introduced as a 2800 CS in 1968, this one acquired a bored out engine of 3153cc. To make it faster on the track, thinner gauge steel was used on the chassis and the boot and bonnet were cut from aluminium – ground-breaking 34 years ago.

It has no carpet, electric windows or power steering – oh and how am I going to get on with a four-speed manual gearbox again?

Can you live with a classic like this on a daily basis? Quick, to the Batmobile to find out! (Just bring your ear-plugs).

The pain of scuffed alloys on a Porsche – ouch!


I’d never buy a car with scuffed alloys. So it pains me greatly when I give back a car with damage to the wheels. It smacks of typical motoring journalist – careless in everybody’s car apart from their own.

It wasn’t entirely my fault (it never is!) but I must bare some of the responsibility for the Cayenne’s grazed knees. A head-on meeting in an Edinburgh street that nudged me into the cobbled curb. Ouch.

Annoying as it is, the Porsche’s ‘restyling’ comes nowhere near what happened to a Range Rover I drove to France in the early 1990s. We had four expensive mountain bikes on the roof and the service station canopy was obviously way too low.

Fortunately, I wasn’t driving but it fell to me to call the Land Rover press office and explain myself. The damage was extensive but nobody batted an eyelid. Let’s hope Porsche are as understanding…

Is the Porsche Cayenne e-hybrid as smooth as you would expect for the money?


I’m not sure our specced up £72K Cayenne Hybrid moved me as much as I expected. I always think every Porsche will be the ultimate in techno-sportiness but the electric-petrol version does have issues.

They mostly revolve around the smoothness of the SUV’s independent transition from petrol to electric drive. The jerk from the drivetrain was so bad at one point today that I actually thought we’d been rear-ended!

It’s the same with acceleration and braking. Now I know the way this hybrid system works but at lower speeds, especially around town, the jolt can be uncomfortable after a while.

So for this alone, I was disappointed with Cayenne’s drive after 1,000 miles of testing. That and the fact the centre arm rest bin was difficult to open! But I just expected more in this premium price bracket…

Hybrids aren’t the real deal for economy on a high speed drive


It’s impossible to drive up to the gates of Edinburgh Castle at this time of year. Nothing to do with emissions in the ‘old town’, it’s just the mass of meandering tourists cause the council to block the road off.

Despite creeping along in self-righteous electric mode in the E-Hybrid Cayenne, I’ve been forced to turn around and park some distance away from the hotel, The Witchery at the Castle, and catch a taxi in.

It took almost seven hours to get here from Cheltenham – having to turn back with a few hundred yards to go was slightly painful!

The Cayenne averaged just under 30mpg along the M5 and M6 – more proof, if you needed it, that hybrids are less efficient than your average diesel on long distance, high speed drives.

I tweaked between driving modes as much as possible – battery power in the traffic jams and then back to V6 petrol power on the high speed stretches. It didn’t make much difference

I do hope car dealers selling hybrids to less knowledgable customers make it clear that this is the case. And until the official mpg test for hybrids is changed accordingly, I shall keep banging on about it…

Is a sporty Porsche hybrid right for? We try the latest Cayenne plug-in


The third incarnation of the Cayenne hybrid is the best. It’s not perfect by any means – and whether a battery-backed sporty hybrid will work for you depends very much on where and how you use it.

But the previous generation model featured technology that dated fairly quickly. The battery pack could only be recharged via the engine. However, for the first time this one can be plugged in to the mains, taking just 3.5 hours to hit 100 per cent.

It’s modestly quick off the mark, features a ‘standard issue’ Porsche interior (which means you are paying extra for kit that should be standard – like a DAB radio) and can travel 22 miles on electric charge only.

If you like in a city and need a premium brand SUV it’s going to save you a packet. However, for long distance, high-speed motorway hacks a diesel is the cost effective option.

And to prove it, tomorrow I’m going to drive seven hours to Scotland. Any guesses on the mpg? I’ll let you know…

Why Italians ride scooters not Harley Davidson motorbikes in Rome…


July 18 I rode a Street Glide across Italy last year. Normally you would associate Rome with scooters but I wanted to see how the big fella would cope in the melee.

I hadn’t taken into account how busy the capital is – how narrow the streets are and the cobble effect! Perhaps not surprisingly, I realised pretty soon that a Street Glide isn’t nimble enough for urban riding.

It can also be a bugger to get into neutral without practise and you need a big space to park up. The Harley is heavy to push about and there are no reverse gears on a motorbike (not this one, anyway).

The Italians loved the bike of course. And having sat nav takes the stress out of trying to locate your city centre hotel. I was even able to Bluetooth the directions  into my helmet system.

Luggage? Well, the Street Glide has two big panniers and with the pillion backrest in place there is a Harley bag that hangs off the back.

The Street Glide is really a grand tourer better suited to A-roads than motorways. But it’s a talking point wherever you ride it – and the Italians love a big motorbike…



Love riding the Harley but a motorbike isn’t a practical tool


Age brings responsibility and with it baggage, lots of baggage. Which is why riding a motorcycle these days is more for pleasure rather than practical purpose.

As much as I’d like to jump on the Street Glide and commute to a job, the shops or friends, it’s not the obvious choice. I have a dog, luggage and need to be smart when I interview people for the Times or FT.

And the crap weather in this country means chunky clothing, plus the helmet of course. Where am I going to stash that lot safely in London before I prepare for a meet?

So, I have the utmost respect for ‘real’ bikers who use their machines day in, day out. There’s a guy on a Harley who rides past my house at the same time every morning, whatever the season.

Total respect. But while I live in England, I’m likely to be reaching for the car keys…

Born again bikers – we’ve got the money to buy a Harley now but do we need a bandana?


July 16 Like most teenagers in the 70s I hankered after a motorbike. Insurance was cheap and cars expensive – it was the first ‘grown up’ decision for a 17-year-old, which motorcycle to buy.

Back then it was a toss up between the Honda 250 Superdream and a Suzuki 185. A few months later, as I picked my Suzuki out of a hedge and was transferred to hospital, my biking days had been cut short before they really got started.

And now I’m back in the saddle again as a born again biker. I passed my test on a ‘crash’ course six years ago and Harley Davidson has provided the machine to take me back to my ‘yoof’.

The difference now is that I’ve been seduced by the comfort of cars for the last 35 years. So even with all my Nevis wet weather kit (, riding a bike in crap weather is a chore.

This summer hasn’t been great either but the Street Glide has the ‘bat wing’ fairing which does keep a lot of the weather off. Instead of the Sex Pistols pounding from the two-speaker dash I’m listening to Coldplay. How I’ve mellowed…

I still won’t wear the bandana though. Nope, you’ve really got to be a tosser to own one of them.

What happened to the summer? It’s time to ride out on the Harley-Davidson Street Glide


Would we like to borrow a Harley-Davidson over the summer? It didn’t take long to think up the correct answer. And besides, 2016 looked pretty promising on the weather front according to experts.

However, just like those who predicted a ‘remain’ majority, the weather men got it wrong too. Yep, summer has been a long time coming and my fair weather riding skills have been put on hold waiting for the dry days.

Things have picked up a bit this week, so it seemed like a good time to talk about the Street Glide.

Low, mean and good-looking I think it’s the most stylish bike in the Harley touring range. Any bigger and you might as well buy a car – any smaller and, well, it wouldn’t be a Harley would it?

I’m a late developer when it comes to biking but in my mid-life crisis, I’ve taken to two wheels again. Just for the sunny days, anyway.

I’m not a big bloke but I can still cope with the Street Glide’s heavyweight frame. It’s more manoeuvrable than it looks over 20mph – just bloody heavy to shift yourself, without the aid of the engine when stationary.

Oh, and being a Harley, my feet actually touch the ground – important with a bike this heavy when you are at a standstill.

Finished in matt grey, I don’t feel too conspicuous. Although a few mates suggest the matt paint makes that ‘bat-wing’ fairing look plastic. I kind of agree but still prefer it to the gloss look.

Right, I’m off to work out the infotainment system. Yep, it has one of those too, just like a car. More on the weekend…