Extended fun? – Only in a BMW i3

BMW’s latest version of the (almost) iconic i3 is the best yet. It has more range, produces 170bhp and can silently whisk to 60mph in 7.3 seconds. It also costs more – £37,220 with the must-have Range Extender (RX) option.

The 33 kWh motor does a fine job but the i3’s secret weapon is that RX – a 647cc petrol engine that will serve up an extra 50 miles of range if the batteries run flat. It looks quirky but the i3 is a seriously useful piece of kit….

Range anxiety – it is every EV owner’s nightmare. I got used to it in the BMW but there’s always a calculation going on in my head comparing the distance to destination with miles left in the battery.

The funky i3 it comes with the option of the Range Extender, a tiny, two-cylinder petrol engine that offers an extra 40-50 miles to get you home. Brilliant.

If that sounds like cheating then save the extra £3,000 and go completely green because the latest 2018 model has plenty of power from the batteries alone.

BMW claim it will manage 186 miles on battery power alone – realistically, you can expect around 150 miles between charges.

The i3 isn’t that big but it’s the best small, premium electric vehicle you can buy. It looks great and drives even better.

Rear-hinged back doors make for a massive opening space into the cabin, which is a very cool and relaxing place to sit.

For most people it will come down to two things – the oddball looks and the price. It’s a more eye-catching alternative to the VW e-Golf but some might prefer to keep their green machine under the radar.

Nissan GT-R At Goodwood – Like Taking A Chav To Meet The Queen


Driving the GT-R up the main approach to Goodwood House today was like introducing a soap star to the Queen. We all know it’s going to happen one day but there’s still something rather vulgar about it.

Lord March’s latest money-spinner is a tie-up with BMW for a public on-road, off-road driving experience around his 12,000-acre estate. It was launched today in the dampest conditions I’ve seen in months. Some of the track driving was abandoned it was that wet.

Lord March, who looks remarkably similar to Hugh Grant these days, has the Midas touch at the moment. His Festival of Speed is second only to the British GP as the top motoring event in the country.

Surprisingly, the BMW engineers and mechanics were secretly itching to peep inside the GT-R. They had some electric i8s available and I would gladly have swapped. To put it bluntly, the Nissan looked like a fish out of water at Goodwood. Yet there’s no doubt it would destroy all the M5s and M3s we had available to drive.

And there’s the rub. The GT-R is a crowd-pleaser of epic proportions. But is it classy? I think not…

BMW X5 – Will The New Mini Discovery Knock The X5 Off Its Perch?


So who decided it was time for the rain to start? And who was it who reminded the logistics people at BMW to come and pick the X5 up?

When a motoring journalists gets to 5pm without a call, you kind of expect to keep the test car forever – well, at least until the following morning anyway.

I’m going to miss the X5. It’s a bit bling, a bit ‘Chelsea tractor’ but what a great SUV. Even without four-wheel drive, the 25d is quite some car.

Well, it is until I drove being a new ‘mini’ Land Rover Discovery on trade plates earlier today. This is the car that will replace the ageing Freelander. It’s the only SUV I’ve coveted over the X5 this week and it’s going to hit BMW sales hard.

So, X5 25d or mini Disco? The choice is yours. Two exceptional cars…

BMW X5 – Check Your Reg For A Top Gear Cock-up!


I’ve been out to check the registration on the X5 – just in case it has any reference to Argentina. I can’t believe the Argentines were unhappy with the FKL reg on a Porsche, claiming it was a reference to the Falklands War in 1982.

I’m driving in to Wales later and I don’t want to be stoned by angry Welshmen who might think the X5 number refers to the last time we beat them in the Six Nations rugby tournament. Could be tricky…

Of course, it will be fascinating to see if the registration of the Porsche was changed before it was flown out to Argentina for filming. If it was, then Clarkson and the team could be administered the last rites. I’m sure a rash of tabloid hacks are trying to establish that as I write.

A world without Top Gear? Well, perhaps the time has come for a change. It’s a tired format that is so staged I lost interest years ago…

BMW X5 – How Many Owners Actually Go Off-Road?


Just back from Stow. A man in the town centre wanted to talk X5 with me but he turned his nose up when I explained this was the new, rear-wheel drive version, not a four-wheel drive.

No idea why he got so uppety. I reckon less than one per cent of X5 drivers actually use the standard 4×4 ability of the car. It’s a road machine and is exceptionally good at it too.

With CO2 emissions of 149g/km and starting prices around £43,000, the 25d is really the model all sensible X5 buyers should be looking at. OK, it might be a tad less grippy on a wet road but how fast do you want to drive your SUV anyway?

There’s plenty of torque available for overtaking too. It’s obviously not as quick as the 3.0-litre diesel model but just try the 25d – I think you might like it…

BMW X5 – Quite Possibly The Best SUV Money Can Buy?


There are some cars I can’t wait to wave goodbye – others I want to keep. As much as I moan about SUVs clogging up our cities (so often driven by people who couldn’t drive off-road if their life depended on it) the X5 is quite simply, the dog’s doodahs.

I’ve clocked up 800 miles in six days, driving to Belfast and back to see my pals around Strangford Lough and remember what the Cotswolds must have been like 50 years ago. Untouched and not spoilt.

You get to know a car pretty well driving that sort of distance. Especially at 3am in the morning, when the M6 is shut and you are in a bizarre traffic jam with 1000 lorry drivers.

There hasn’t been a moment over the last week when I haven’t wanted to own this car. It sips fuel, looks great, has plenty of performance and is just so well built.

I’m a Land Rover man through and through but the X5, even in two-wheel drive form, gives the Range Rover Sport a serious run for the money…

BMW X5 – How To Lose A Filling On A Motorbike


The X5 has just had an outing on Oulton Park racetrack. Sadly this was no faster than 30mph in pursuit of British Superbike rider, Jenny Tinmouth. If you haven’t heard of her before, she’s the first and only woman in the series – and the fastest girl around the Isle of Man TT course.

Jenny isn’t used to taking passengers on the back of her 1000cc Honda Fireblade but I can’t say that I have been more scared since I did the bobsleigh in Switzerland a few years back. I did the same sort of track ride with super bike star James Toseland a few years ago but Jenny didn’t ease off the throttle during our ride!

Consequently, I seem to have lost a filling, thanks to our helmets smashing together under extreme braking. My arms are also a few inches longer from hanging on for dear life.

Jenny drives her transport van like a lunatic too.At least I could keep up with her in the X5 when she was at the wheel, although she did have to ease off a bit because her racing bike was in the back…