8.24.2008

BMW 128i Convertible Review

Post One on TireKicker...and the logical choice from the past few weeks of press vehicle loans is the One...officially known as the BMW 1 Series.

I had the best possible BMW baptism long ago...the first one I ever drove was a school friend's big brother's 2002tii back around '73 (we were sent up to South Lake, near Bishop, California, to retrieve his dad's friend's Benz S-Class, and since he was older, he got the flagship...but I got the sweeter ride).

The 2002tii was a revelation for a kid raised on Fords and Mercurys. Light, tight, responsive and quick,without being overpowered or nose-heavy. If this is what BMWs are about, I thought, then I need one.

By the time I started auto-journalising, though, BMW had entered into some major mission creep. The 2002's successor, the 3 Series, felt more like a midsize, the 5 was a fullsize and since 2002 (the year, not the BMW), the 7 has been a battleship. And then there are the XUV's (X3, X5). Do we need to discuss how those don't fit the first impression?

The all-new 1 Series is a great leap backward and forward simultaneously. Backward in that BMW has rediscovered compact proportions, lithe handling and speed generated by efficient power-to-weight ratios rather than just jacking up the horsepower. Forward in that this kind of backward is just what BMW and today's drivers need.

So, howzit? Fun. And it was the 128i Convertible with an automatic. BMW, send the 135i coupe (extra stiffness, don't ya know?)with a stick ASAP, please. The only downers: a slightly stubby profile and a price tag that gets too close to a 3 Series. But remember: Trading up for "more car" trades away the old-time BMW religion it's taken decades to bring back.

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