Car 1 - BMW 118i 2005 manual - 115K miles
1. A small car
2. A cheap car
3. Low maintenance and reliable (who doesn't want this? Stupid !!)
Requirement was pretty clear that we need a small cheap car which could be used for daily commute and occasional road trips. Having very little knowledge on cars and used car market we didn't want to spend a lot. The used car market in the UK is pretty good, and because car ages slowly here you can get a decent 10-12 year old car at a good price. There are ways to check condition of a car through the MOT site. MOT is the mandatory yearly safety test and all test results are uploaded in a government portal. MOT site is very useful if you are getting an old car because the records will tell you what has failed over the years and what has been fixed. Ofcourse this doesn't give you the latest condition but only when it was last MOT tested. The first car we bought was a 2005 BMW 118 manual petrol for £850 from Gumtree. Before this I have never driven a BMW so when the guy showed me the car I didn't know what to look for. I drove the car for 10 mins. The car started on the first crank, the body was without any major dents, tyres were good, engine bay looked clean. OfCourse I took guidance from the experts in Kolkata, and they helped me as much as possible over phone and WhatsApp. The 118i was quick, easy to handle, good fuel consumption, what else could I ask from a £850 car. Although I was paying £1200 insurance (hilarious I know, I was on Indian license) and £100 road tax. During the 5 months I owned it I serviced it once, changed and topped up oil few times. Most of the E87 has engine oil leak issues and mine wasn't any exception. So frequent engine oil top up was required. We took it to few long trips and everything was fantastic. A cheap BMW hatchback was the perfect car for the 2 of us until it broke down after 5 months :( .
Just before the day I was travelling to India on holiday the car broke down in front of my office. The engine seized and I had to scrap the car for few hundred pounds. I kept it at a garage while I was in India and sold it once I came back. The car was great to drive but apparently was not in a very good condition. I never knew what caused the seizure, it was probably less engine oil but I am not sure. Lesson learned hard way that dont buy cars without looking at it properly.
Car 2 - BMW 118d Manual 2009 - 138K miles
1. A BMW
2. Diesel because fuel prices were going high
3. Small car, definitely a hatchback
4. Post 2008 model
4. Not particular about any car feature. Because all BMW post 2008 models had pretty good features.
We came back here in January. Stepped into the small town I live and I felt the need of another car. Once you get used to your own vehicle it's very difficult to go back to busses and cabs. Again back to car hunting on gumtree and Facebook marketplace but this time I was 5 months experienced and carry little more knowledge on BMWs. By this time, I was a big fan of BMWs and decided to remain with them. BMWs can be addictive, I would say they are the proper driver's car. Requirement was similar to last time but a little more fuel consumption won't hurt, so started looking for a diesel 1 series. Quickly found and bought my second car in the UK - a 2009 black BMW 118d 2 door for £1850. Only with 2 previous owner the car had no complaints and drove like a dream. Even with 138K miles on the car there was little show of aging. I guess car ages slowly in this country due to good roads, regular maintenance and weather. The fuel consumption was better than my Ford EcoSport. The road tax was only £30. We kept the car throughout the Covid period. I got my UK license during this time and it helped me to bring down the insurance cost a little. Drove the car to Lake district and few other places during this time. BMW handles like a dream. It was so exciting to drive that once I drove a friends volkswagon polo and it felt dull. The car was perfect in every sense and offered everything we wanted, until it didn't.
In July 2021 we had our first baby and everything changed. The world started moving around the baby and for uncertain future all road trips were postponed. Weekend drive to nearby supermarket was the only drive we were having apart from occasional drive to soothe the baby. The good thing was the baby was enjoying those small drives. The 1 series had just enough boot space for our stroller. The problem started with putting the baby in and out the car. Because we had the 2 door version it was getting difficult with the car seat. When the baby was 4 months we were doing frequent long drives (2-4 hours) but not long enough. There are plenty of things we took everywhere. His car seat, his stroller, his bag full nappies and cloths, sterilizer etc etc. Car seat by law is mandatory here (it is also very safe, comfortable and practical) It started getting little difficult with those weekly shopping because there were no space left in the boot. Was it time to get a bigger hatchback or a sedan ? I posted an add to sell the 118D on Facebook and it was sold the next day. After driving it for nearly 1 and half year sold the car on the same price I bought it. The car never gave us any problem, sad it had to go.
Car 3 - BMW 520d Auto 2011 - 155K miles
1. A BMW sedan or estate
2. Either a 3 or 5 series
4. As cheap as possible.
Till Nov 2021 we were only doing few hours on the road with the baby. Long road trips required much more planning (I can write another article on that) and we were still not there yet. There were things we had to carry, places we had to stop, food, the weather, the house/hotels everything requires planning. It was apparent that we needed a car with 4 doors and bit more space. But at this point I was still not convinced we needed a SUV. UK roads are pretty good, it also doesnt snow much like Canada and I don't go offroad. So all these were sign for me to look for a sedan or an estate/touring. There is a say that you all need is a 3 series touring for cross country road trips with family. 3 series touring is the perfect car with just enough space, power, stability and was very fun to drive. The rear of an estate car makes the boot bigger in size. Initially I was looking for a 3 series and then someone put ideas (Dip27) in my head that the 5 series is the best money could buy. And who doesn't want to be pampered. Luckily there are plenty of 3 and 5 series on the used car market. This time I bought a 2011 BMW 520d auto from a Romanian guy via Facebook marketplace for £4800. The road tax increased to £115. I switched to auto because of the superb 8 speed gearbox that comes with it. Even though I wasn't a fan of auto transmission but the 8 speed blew me away. I used to think the 1 series was fast, until I drove the 5 series. The boot had enough space to carry stroller, few bags, travel cot etc.
The 520d is a luxury sedan. The 2011 model had more feature than my 2015 EcoSport. The rear seats were so comfortable that my wife instantly loved the car. It came with a BMW navigation which I updated to latest version. The fuel consumption wasn't bad either. F10 ran on a 2 ltr diesel engine and I was constantly getting 36-40 mpg. The suspension was just the right setup. A pleasant car to drive on the motorways, and very quick when required. With my friends from Leeds this time we went to Cotswold and surroundings for Christmas road trip. Even though the boot space was enough for 3 of us, I had to fit a roof box for our Christmas Road trip. With the 520d we did few more long trips up north in '22.