Text: Dino Ray V. Directo III / Photos: Dino Ray V. Directo III | posted February 10, 2004 00:00
A weekend with a Bavarian Babe
A good example would be BMW, a global icon in terms of overall performance, design and cutting edge technology. Recently, this writer was provided with an opportunity to get behind the wheel of a 325i M Sport.
Packaged as the most expensive variant of the 3 series in the domestic market, the 325i is a wolf in sheep's clothing. It may look genteel from the outside, but once you depress the accelerator pedal, the whole scenery becomes a blur.
Lurking underneath the hood of this good looking beast is an M54, 2.5 cc, in-line six, with four valves per cylinder. In layman's terms, this Bimmer is freaking fast! Transferring all that power to the four wheels is the innovative 6-speed Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG).
Drivers have an option to change gears either at the paddle steering gears or at the stick shift. To simplify this technology, think of it as a manual that doubles as an automatic transmission on a whim.
In a sprint, the 325i goes ballistic in a matter of seconds, with the speedometer hiting 140 kph within a 10 second time frame. I told you it was freaking fast! I felt so confident about the 325i that I jousted with a Scandinavian automobile along the Star Tollway. The only thing the driver of that car saw was the BMW logo on my rear end.
The 325i rides on a massive 18-inch wheel and tire set up. It is shod with 225/40 series up front and 255/35 series tires at the rear. This contributes to the grip and traction, as it compliments the sports suspension setting. In high speed cornering, the 325i feels like a train on rails. There was very minimal body roll and the ride is comfortable enough to sip a coke in can without the spillage.
The 325i looks aggressive on every angle, it is low slung, wide, compact and best of all, the test unit was painted in Imola Red. Honestly, the 325i M Sport generated a lot of attention, as it was a rarity on the Philippine roads. According to Lito German, BMW Philippines press relations chief, only 25 units of this variant was imported to local shores. "In truth, all of our 325i's have been sold out. We did not sell this one for use of the media," relates German. Inside, the Bimmer does not disappoint the tech-crazy Filipino, as it has enough buttons and power features to make Darth Vader "feel the Force" inside the 325i. From the steering, down to the seats, all are electronically controlled. Unlike previous BMW's, the newer models like the 325i M Sport have tropicalized airconditioning systems, to suit Philippine weather conditions.
Another noticeable difference when driving a Bimmer, is that your confidence and image is elevated a notch higher. It provides a feeling that one has made it in the challenging World of mortal life and you have arrived.
The downside of driving the 325i M Sport for a week is that once you get used to it, driving your car again takes a bit of getting used to. Although my old reliable Japanese sedan boast of a full race engine set up and tuned suspension, its overall performance was peanuts compared to this Bavarian beast. Maybe if I win the lottery, I might come l knocking down on Lito's door for a discount on the 325i. For now, a digital photograph is all I have to remind me of my weekend with the BMW 325i M Sport.