3 lessons learnt after 3 years & 30000 km with a BMW 3 Series

I’d like to say it’s been a rollercoaster ride, but it hasn’t. She’s been surprisingly reliable, with only a few niggling issues that come about with age.

BHPian iliketurtles recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Looking back, my life can be neatly divided into two phases. Let’s call them AD (Age of Diesels) and BC (BMW Cars) for easy reference.

If I cast my mind’s eye to 2018 BC, I realise the precise moment I knew change was afoot.

My wife, who pronounces salad like Malad because she knows it annoys me so, was leaving town for the next 3-4 days and threw one of her trademark phrases my way to add to her greatest hits collection of quick quips.

This includes eternal favourites of mine, such as

“Shut your mouth and eat your dinner, there’s no such thing as overcooked chicken”

“Baby, how much do you love me?”

“Stop it, you big baby”

Or her firm favourite, “No, Karan! Don’t do that!”

So, anyway, that’s when it happened.

Bags packed, almost out the door, she turned and fixed a glare on me, saying, “Don’t do anything stupid while I’m away.”

Stupid? Me? Perish the thought, woman.

And that’s where the problem started.

I’ve never been one to do what I’m told, and sure enough, my inner rebel stirred. Barely 24 hours later, I had made a down payment for the 3, and she would be home in a week. Surprise, fräulein! At least you caught me canoodling with the right kind of redhead.

I’m alright, standing in the street lights here

Is this meant for me? My time on the outside is over

It’s been 3 years since I brought the 3 home, and it’s been a helluva ride.

You know how they say, “when you know, you know?”. The moment I clapped eyes on her, I just knew. It was that heady, intoxicating rush of blood that we call love. Or lust, depending on the direction of said rush. Regardless, I never looked back after picking her up. The reversing camera helps a great deal in that regard, truth be told.

I’d like to say it’s been a rollercoaster ride, but it hasn’t. She’s been surprisingly reliable, with only a few niggling issues that come about with age (iffy sensors, mainly). It helps that I’m proactive with fixing gremlins that pop up, and with service requirements too. I guess that’s a good thumb rule to follow with all things Teutonic. There’s a Check Engine Light I’m looking to get fixed (I think related to the installation of the downpipe) that needs to be fixed. All else is normal.

She’s currently about to bring up 48,000 clicks on the odometer, so I’ve notched up some 30,000 kilometres at the helm of this red rocket ship. Doubtlessly, I’d have added even more was it not for cussed Covid.

Even after I decided to embrace the low-life, I’ve taken her on multiple sorties and longer forays (mostly to Goa) without breaking much of a sweat. I’ve driven her like she was meant to: with vim and vigour, when life in the big city allows me to, with a spot of relaxation thrown into the mix now and then. My first Bimmer has been a rewarding, enjoyable experience, and I have learnt much from our time together, as I shall now bore you recounting.

Lesson #1: RWD matters

A lot of us buy cars for rational, pragmatic reasons. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But I identify closely with the rebels, the misfits, the crazy ones. The ones that don’t follow the beaten path, or take the route less travelled. The ones that don’t just see a car as a means to an end. That’s because cars are an extension of us, our most visible outfit for the world to see.

For instance, if you choose to buy a Prius, you’re immediately assumed to be a rabid eco-warrior with zero appreciation for design sensibilities.

Or, if you drive a Hummer, you suffer from what the medical community calls Small Scrote Syndrome, a tragic medical condition where the size of your lug nuts is inversely proportional to the size of your choice of vehicle.

The more observant among you might have noticed I did not name any Indian cars on sale. Astute. That’s because everyone likes to take offence. No offence.

But, to get my point, choosing a BMW doesn’t mean you’ve arrived (although it does for some), so much as how you’ve arrived. Mechanical wizards might work their magic on FWD cars, but there are limits to the extent of the power of the dark arts. A FWD car pushed to its limits inevitably sounds like a stable of pigs squealing as they escape the sty.

Sure, even BMW is moving away from the RWD formula, sadly. But companies like Cadillac (Cadillac, incredibly!) are showing that AWD is not an absolute necessity even when you’re pushing 500 BHP, as it is with the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing or its big brother that pushes nearly 700 BHP. And it heartens that this is so, that a few fits of rage against the dying of the light.

That’s because, simply put, rear-wheel-drive matters. In the furthest recesses of a petrolhead’s cranium, we know that power delivered to the rear wheels is a central pillar of the temple of the automotive gods. Sure, FWD gets the job done in almost all urban applications, and AWD is a must for burly off-roaders, if not 4-wheel drive.

But at speed, switching off the electronic nannies brings the car to life. The machinery embraces you for waking it up, and draws you deeper into its very core, encouraging you to go harder. Of course, this 3 is no race car, but as a corner-carver cum city-goer, it is excellent, a master of many trades with an allure that runs deep.

Perhaps it’s because I lowered her, but the 3 has heavier steering than the normal 3, and she turns in with immediacy, scampering from one corner to the next as if Thor were flinging her. It’s joyous in extremis, and I believe a big part of it is because it’s got rear-wheel drive at play.

Lesson #2: Welcome to the club, bub

Something they don’t tell you prior to buying a BMW is that it’s like joining a cult, except you never got the memo.

Almost every BMW driver you roll up next to sees you as a Bavarian brother from another mother and shares a deep spiritual connection with you.

“Come, brother. Let us commune, and together break tread.”

And then, of course, there is the larger German Reich that welcomes you readily. Just don’t expect the FWD Audi’s to break tread with you readily.

And, of course, sometimes you get people seeing you differently.

For instance, my business head at the time I bought the 3 drove a Honda City. Not just any City either; one of those fugly dolphins that somehow made it to production. Suffice to say I cajoled her into buying a new Camry to keep up appearances, just so I didn’t upset power dynamics.

And then, of course, your success sometimes breeds resentfulness, be it begrudging or contemptuous. Guess all you can do is drive off muy Rapido, a peal of squealing rubber sound-tracking your getaway as you scream, “WHAT’S THAT, BUD? I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THE SOUND OF SUCCESS.”

What I’m saying, is that the club definitely has its perks, but there are some downsides too. You might expect a flaming red BMW to bring all the girls to my proverbial yard, but this toy only attracts all the boys to my (non-existent) yard. Reminds me of something that rhymes with chick magnet, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Lesson #3: The value of hard work

No matter how high a station in life you ascend to, it is hard to escape your early grounding. I guess there’s a reason it’s called your formative years.

Like any other middle-class boy, I was instilled with a few basic values; work hard, stay honest, you know the lot.

Of these, the value of hard work has become amply clear to me. How else are you going to pay for exponentially increased service bills and go-fast bits? And all those aren’t going to pay for themselves either. In fact, it’s why they’re mooching off you, you magnificent BMW owner, you.

Truth be told, she hasn’t been that expensive to maintain (I am talking about the car here, to be clear).

Let me put that in perspective with cold, hard numbers. I have an insurance renewal coming up in 2 weeks and have been quoted ₹6xxxx for a zero dep policy, which came down to ₹54xxx after some back and forth. Not too bad for a 9-year-old car.

I slapped on a new set of Michelin Pilot Sports 4s on her, which set me back about ₹81000 and expect it to last me about 25,000 km.

A brake job (pads, sensors, fluids, etc.) sets me back about ₹30,000 for EBC yellow stuff and lasts about 25,000 km too.

So, all said, it’s not that expensive to maintain. Although I understand expensive is relative, as are relatives, especially during wedding season.

All this simply goes on to underline what they all say: work hard, and party hard. Because you’re going to need all that extra cash for your ride.

Bonus Lesson #4: Hand on heart

Hand placement is of the essence, gotta get them pics for the ‘gram, Bois. (Also, this leaves one hand free to showcase your bird collection to fellow drivers. Win-win).

Right then, that’s my rambling done. Peace out, and stay cool, fellow kids. See ya.

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