Every now and again the major car manufacturers invites the likes of us along to “driving days” where journalists gets to sample the latest additions to the range.
The BMW group invited us along to one such day in deepest Buckinghamshire where we got to sample shiny new MINIs and BMWs.
Top of our list was the MINI John Cooper Works or JCW for short – the fastest, most powerful production MINI ever.
If ever there was a pocket rocket, this is it. With a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine. producing 231bhp, the JCW is capable of a top speed of 153mph and a 0-62mph time of between 6.1-6.3 seconds, depending on whether launch control is used ot not. Pretty impressive.
It’s fun to drive and a treat inside too, with funky dials and rocker switches. Priced from £23,050, it’s the ultimate MINI, even if it’s not the most practical because space at the rear and in the boot is limited.
It was a nice day so next up was the BMW 220d convertible. Priced from £29,185, it replaces the 1 Series convertible and its closest rival is probably the Audi A3 cabriolet.
Powered by an impressive 2.0-litre diesel, it develops 188bhp and is capable of 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 140mph.
Classy, comfortable and refined, it’s good to drive and the cabin is well insulated from buffeting, even when driving at motorway speeds.
Next up was the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe 430d xDrive – and it wasn’t just the sheep that took a shine to this super saloon.
Priced from £42,460, this is an expensive bit of kit. In fact, the car we tested was packed with options and came to £47,605, but what a package.
BMW do diesels so well and this 3.0-litre can hit 155mph, yet return 51mpg and reach 60mph in 5.3 seconds.
Designed to compete with the Audi A5, this is an handsome, impressive executive saloon with plenty of punch… most at home cruising on motorways and A roads.
Finally, we couldn’t turn down a spin in the BMW 640d M Sport Convertible. Weighing in at £81,960 with all the optional extras, this is serious open-top motoring.
With slippery styling, this big 3.0-litre grand tourer convertible can hits 60mph in 5.5 secs and a top speed of 155mph.
As you’d expect, it’s a relaxing joy to drive – more cruiser than bruiser – but it can shift if you feel so inclined.
It’s not all good news though. Some of the materials inside didn’t scream out £70,000, and of course, it’s also a total indulgence because the two rear seats have virtually no legroom. That said, it’s a statement. A big one. It’s also very satisfying wafting around in such a classy car…