I want to introduce you to my good mate and guest blogger, Bella from Squee. I asked her to write for Lipstick and Gearsticks because she’s obsessed with her BMW 523i. When she goes back to New Zealand, she usually doesn’t book a return ticket, because she’s disappeared into the ether in her car, roaring around the north island and generally going missing. Her car is her down time and her obsession. She loves how it drives. She loves how it sounds. She loves the freedom. She loves having a beautifully maintained, fine-tuned beast to roar around in. So readers, meet Bella.
Some drop kick backed into me on Ponsonby Road – parked at the beach house
“From the first moment I test drove this car I fell in love. My BMW is like an expensive mistress. She looks the part though – smooth, sleek and expensive.
Expensive – in many ways yes, but the driving experience makes it all worth while. So when I go back to my country of origin, this is what I drive.
The 523i has elegant styling and looks great from any angle. Inside, the grey leather seats are more like armchairs, with far above average comfort. Being able to activate the sun shade on the back window from the drivers seat has come in handy many time for the comfort of back seat passengers. Road noise is little to none, although there is a weird acoustic effect if either of the back windows are down … the interior is roomy and comfortable. For part of this trip I drove with three adults, including their luggage (upwards of 80 kilos) and noticed little to no inconvenience. I had many compliments on how easy the long trips were for for the passengers involved, and how rested they felt. Not something that can be said about every car!
Hikuia Ranges at sunset
For the audiophile, a factory standard radio/stereo comes complete with a six-cd stacker in the boot, and ten speakers in the interior. You read that correctly. Ten speakers.
There are a total of five computers on board, but the one I’m most interested in is on the indicator stick. This updates me on fuel consumption, cruising range, etc.
Volume can be adjusted on the steering wheel (additional to cruise control etc) and illuminated vanity mirrors are provided for both front seats. The external wing mirrors are electric, with auto reverse. Double interior lighting completes the picture, along with lightly tinted windows.
The boot is incredibly roomy, with BMW accredited tools kept safely in a tray that drops down from the inside of the boot when it is lifted. No amount of travel or shopping bags can defeat this space. Believe me, I’ve tried!
The six airbags give peace of mind, especially as it is very easy to put your foot down in this car. Handling is smooth as silk, and the 523i sticks to the road as if on rails.
Pickup is a bit slow (especially when loaded to this degree) but the 523i performs like a star on the open road. Fillup is a bit of a smack to the wallet as the 523i boasts a 70l tank, making pricing approximately $157:00 each time. However with 11.0L/100k’s, I wasn’t too unhappy – the payoff in power available and long distance comfort was fair enough.
Points to remember if you’re thinking of taking on a 5-Series BMW:
These cars absolutely must be maintained on schedule. You will see green lights that activate on the dashboard on ignition; lessening in number as you get closer to the preferred time of service. A service costs around $500:00 a time in New Zealand. I use an accredited BMW dealer.
In the first year or so after purchase, I replaced the suspension all round, and the transmission. The suspension could have waited (but I am picky) and the transmission (5 speed Steptronic) unfortunately spat tacks at me and had to be done urgently. I will not tell you how much this cost me.
But it was worth it.