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Headline:Suddenly it all becomes clearDate:20/04/2007   (Click Here for more details).Ourthoughts
Review:Suddenly it all becomes clear

Well at last the good weather has arrived and surprisingly this coincided with Easter bank holiday weekend too. All of which meant Iíve driven the B8 quite a bit in the last few days. So howís it been?

Iíve been quizzing myself as to when a car becomes worth it, what does it need to do? How long do you need to keep it? In the B8ís case I think I found the answer after my first weekend drive Ė it needs to do exactly what the B8 did and it took just over an hour.

There is no denying the effect the sun has on us Brits starved as we generally are of its rays. And certainly the first thing I want to do is drive a great car with the roof down, or windows down in the case of the B8. With the windows down the noise of the B8 is slightly easier to hear, the growl of the V8 as it either accelerates away or potters round in a high gear at low speeds. Both are very satisfying, unfortunately wind noise soon takes over once your speed increases, which is quick. I certainly look forward to finding a tunnel somewhere and hearing the full affect.

As I mentioned briefly in my last report the signs were good for the B8. And on this my first real test of the car it certainly lived up to the early promise. Performance is strong in all gears, acceleration is up there with the best, not quite as brutal as my tweaked Subaru Sti but certainly well up with my M5. However, the real thrill of the car is the range of forth gear, where Iíd be changing down to third in other cars on country roads, I was able to put my foot down in fourth and the effect was very similar and all the more satisfying. Sure I could have swapped down to third as well, and I did a few times, but then things got a little more leery and I felt it didnít suits the cars manner Ė a bit like it was lowering itself when it didnít need to.

A big advantage over my M5 and reminiscent of my B10 3.3 was the carís steering and general feel of its proportions. I always fvelt a bit intimidated by the M5, it felt big and I was never that happy at flat out attacks on my favourite roads. With the B8 I felt far happier that I was going to be still alive at the end of the road, the steering feeling more precise and the car obviously feeling a lot smaller. I was aware of the amount of braking I was doing, a direct result of the speed that the B8 could produce on the bits of straight between the fun bendy bits. As I get more familiar with the car I expect Iíll be carrying more of the speed through the bends as the car certainly corners well. I had expected the car to be a little trickier if I didnít get everything right in the corners. I still expect this will be the case in the wet. However, on the dry roads it was very good at getting the power down without any fuss. A few times I took advantage of dried out mud left behind by some tractors to test the behaviour with a bit less traction. Again the behaviour was all good and whilst Iím not yet at the point of turning off the ASC I think Iím more than happy with the cars dry weather handling.

Did I have any fun with any other cars on my outings ? Well sadly the two 911s and three M3s all declined to test things. Both Porsche drivers did however seem interested in the writing on my boot lid. I did meet up with a swiftly piloted 318 Ti and did tag along for a bit until they too made their way in another direction.

Scores on the doors

Mileage: 393 miles (634 Kms)
MPG: Only filled up once and still got most of it left so Iíll have to wait a bit before I can give you a MPG.
Costs: £4.99 Ė self adhesive tape to fix new reg plates on.

Costs / Mile: 1p
Insurance / Mile: 38p
Petrol / Mile: 9p

Total / Mile: 48p

Insurance wise I am paying slightly more than I was hoping and this is mainly due to the registered date of the car. The car was actually built in September 1995 but was not registered until July 1998. As a result when the car entered the UK it was declared / registered as a 1998 car. As such the car is under ten years old and so qualifies as a future classic Ė which to be honest donít attract much of a premium other than that the car has a limited mileage policy. Once the car is ten years or more it becomes a modern classic and premiums are generally more attractive. I approached several companies that I had come across whilst running Cheam, Adrian Flux, Aon and finally Peart. The quotes were more or less all the same c. £725 on a 5000 miles / year policy, full comp. The Peart quote was cheaper at c. £600 but carried a £500 excess, vs. £250 for the other three. As the car was not an everyday car and as some of my friends, and perhaps my wife too would argue, Iím being a bit precious with it, we decided to go with the Peart policy, I found them very knowledgeable and responsive to my queries and more importantly they rang me back!

ALPINA insurance in general has been a little trickier than insurance on a normal BMW. This has always been down to rarity Ė most of the big insurance companies simply didnít know what an ALPINA was, and those that did didnít know enough assuming the car was either an import or after market tuned car. Both of which either meant no quote or an expensive one. In recent years Sytner has tried to address this and as such all the cars currently sold D3, B5, B6 and B7 should be listed on the insurance companies websites Ė due to the nature of the last three quotes will still be high but at least you have the ability to shop around. The D3 is a different case and should attract reasonable quotes in-line with its capabilities.

Any other business ?
Well thanks to Simon Alcorn for re-fitting my front number plate such that it actually stayed on! Turns out the previous owner Alunís to blame, the car was so well polished that the sticky tape was not sticking properly. Luckily I didnít lose the plate, instead I found it lying in front of the car on the garage floor several times. At one point I thought the car was trying to tell me it didnít like itís new registration number!

The car doesnít have a full OBC (onboard computer) however Alun had suggested that heíd plugged on in as a test and it worked ok. Andy managed to get hold of one for me but unfortunately it didnít work Ė so I need to see if I was missing something.

Cars:Alpina B8 4.6 (E36 (95 -98))


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