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njlee

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About njlee

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  1. Hi Chesterfield Thanks. I don't think they are all 50K, but the one they gave me was the top of the line 3.5i Sdrive M sport thingy. Which seems to retail for circa 50K. Interestingly, I have read that the bottom of the range 2.3 is a better drive, with the chassis being more in tune with less power, and the M sport package adding the aggressive styling touches. I have given it back now - on Sat in fact, and am just formulating my final thoughts on it, although not much is going to change... Nice to be back in the Z - the 350 type!
  2. Beavis - Oops, sorry! Fair enough. Netiquette fail! ChrisS - I am putting that on my CV, thanks :-) Ewan221 - I agree, when the Z3 came out I hated it, but now it kind of looks classic, and the Z3 M Coupe is still on my list of 'maybe' cars....
  3. Captain Sensible (love it!) I just ain't good enough yet with that 1st-2nd shift to floor it on the roads I drive regularly! Need more practice, but I am not going to pretend... Sarnie - there won't be a new Z4M apparently, so the 35i is as far as it goes. Shame.
  4. Hi All After all the insurance-based debate on the original thread (350Z Mild crash....) I've decided to actually post my Z4 review(s) on this new thread. Anyone who wants to read up on the story of the accident, and contribute to debate about like-for-like insurance replacement cars, feel free to pop over there. Here, is just car-related goodness, or should I say - SPOILER ALERT - badness.... Now, bear in mind first of all that I have no beef with BMW at all - I had a 330cd before the 350Z and loved it completely. So this is a review from someone who actually likes BMWs. I have been driving a brand new 60 plate Z4 sDrive 35i for just over a week now. I have driven it on my daily commute, and also up and down the M5. I have not had the chance to take it b-road driving yet, but I have had the chance to open it out on a number of occasions, particularly midnight on the M5. So I have driven it enough to have some pretty reasonable first impressions. For those who just want the verdict, the best I can do is repeat what I have said to at least 3 people - "thank god I didn't just spend 50K on this car'. I would have been GUTTED. Ok, in some more detail.... The first time you see this car, it ticks all the right boxes. It's low, big bonnet, big wheels, M-sport styling package, looks pretty badass I have to say. I was impressed, I think it looks nicer than the old z4 (which actually now has a kind of classic hard-core look about it though), but then I have always liked the look of this new model, and up close and personal it didn't disappoint. Hop inside and something changes though, the cabin is nicely appointed, and has all the relevant bits and bobs - the sat nav screen which pops up is very impressive, and the stereo sounds good (no CD changer though - and no aux-in!), so it all feels quality. But there is no style, no drama. Sure, the 350Z feels downmarket in comparison - but it has spirit and drama, you feel like you are sitting in a serious machine for driving, in the Z4 i felt like i was just sitting in a crap-load of money. The i-drive is actually ok - and I can work it pretty well. I actually found it intuitive - but I bet my mum would disagree. And, as regards to the interior trim, I shall repeat the comment of an anonymous passenger of mine on Saturday night; 'you know, the most disappointing thing about the interior is this crappy fake carbon fibre trim - I laid out by hand the prototypes for the airbus wing and it looks nothing like this - why did they even bother?'. Yes, it was a girl. Yes, that was a cool conversation. And yes, I agree. The worst thing is it is silver, which makes it even faker. God knows why BMW insist on this, but at least in my 330 it was black and looked a bit better. Here it just looks pants. OK, enough about the looks. How does it go? Reviews of the 35i have not been good, so I didn't have high expectations. Push the button (I like that, it's cool), the engine comes to life. Reviews have said it sounds good. OK, if you are used to a bloody Mondeo sure, but from the 350Z perspective it sounds anemic, too damped in the cabin, a real shame - but maybe that's personal taste. Stab the throttle and....... .......it sets off. Seriously, the first time I pushed the throttle I swear there was at least half a second before the car moved. Not good. Very hard to make smooth progress in town at first, as I always felt I was over-correcting the throttle, which went from nothing to too eager too quickly. Would much rather have had a manual. The 7-speed dual clutch gearbox is a marvel of technology, and smooth as silk - even in maximum attack mode (more of that later) - but the lack of a manual clutch really makes the experience disconnected. In fact, 'disconnected' is the overriding feeling one gets from the Z4. Even on maximum sport mode there is still a perceptible delay between foot input and acceleration - and can someone please tell me why BMW decided to make the hardest 'sport +' suspension mode automatically remove traction control? This seriously nearly caught me out the first time I had it. I want to drive in the hardest suspension mode more often than not, but I don't want traction control off all the time! Seems silly. Speaking of silly, the gearbox has so many different modes it is almost like piloting the starship enterprise! You can have it on normal 'mushy' mode as I call it, or you can shove it over into 'sport mode' where it seems to make quicker shifts, and you can then override it using the paddles on the steering wheel, which is fun for like 5 minutes until i realised that my hands are too small to comfortably shift down - thanks for that BMW. Perhaps that will be more fun on the B-roads, but so far I have not used it much, and it was something I always wanted to try - disappointing. On the motorway things are if anything even worse. In fact, I felt both in the wet and dry that i was often fighting to keep the car on the straight and narrow. It's not like it wants to shoot off sideways, but I felt I was always correcting it slightly, which makes motorway driving one hell of a draining experience. The only way to solve this (sort of) is to really boot it up to 100 or so (in the absence of traffic in case you were wondering), in which case I (at least) would be concentrating like mad anyway - so you are not so much in 'cruise mode' there and it doesn't feel so irritating to have to correct etc. But, it can still be an unnerving experience. So, to sum that up, in the Z4, I really feel disconnected from the road, and the driving experience. I feel that my inputs have to go through some kind of magic treacle to get to the car, and then through the same to get to the road. Thus, I always feel I am over correcting. This makes any kind of 'driving' irritating. HOWEVER, over the last few days, I have come to appreciate the strength the car has in the daily commute. Yes this is backhanded complimenting. I actually quite enjoy the feeling of disconnection when I am driving into work and home again in maximum mush mode. You never get that in the 350Z! But it is an interesting change in the z4. BUT, I could get that in a bog standard BMW 3-series. One other strength is the completely ridiculously effective brakes. They really are great. But then, they HAVE to be. Simply put, it is scary to think that it takes exactly 0 skill to get the Z4 up to frankly stupid speeds. You just mash the throttle and hold on for dear life! Saturday passenger actually said that the acceleration made her feel sick! And she drives an MX-5 so it's not like she doesn't give it a thrash now and then. I have never floored the 350Z's accelerator, but I have really put the pedal to the metal on the Z4 - without the skill of having to use a real gearbox, you can just do the stupidest things without having the slightest bit of skill at all. In my opinion - a dangerous situation. So. Needless to say, sorry, I don't like it at all. And for the life of me, I can't work out who is spending £50000 on one of these? I don't know what this car possibly offers over any of the competition. Have to have a new car? ok... Want a 2 seater sports car? Get a 370z, a Cayman, or anything that drives well. Has to have a drop top? Get a boxster or the 370 drop, or whatever. Has to be a hard drop top? Hmm, maybe an SLK? Don't know how they drive though sorry so maybe its the same. Really care about BMW? Christ get a 335i convertible even. Don't care about whether it's new or not? Good god, with £50K you can get a 996 GT2! There is absolutely nothing that this Z4 offers better than the competition, and a whole lot worse. I suppose, the figures are impressive (4.9 seconds to 60 for example), but to be honest it never feels dramatic like the 350Z does. It just feels bland. Bloody quick bland, like eating blancmange as quickly as possible until you throw up (bet you never thought you'd read that in a car review), but still bland. So, who in their right mind is going to spend £50K on a two seater with almost no luggage space, which drives like a rocket powered marshmallow, makes you feel like you are doing surgery in boxing gloves with a butter knife, and has as much soul as the X-factor? That said, one more thing - people who don't know anything about cars think it is f*&^ing cool. So if that matters to you.... Here endeth the first review. I will post a final word after I give it back, probably next week I am told. I can't wait to get the beast back to be honest. But, I do feel a bit better about the Z4 now than I did after the first weekend, so perhaps my final word will be more positive.....
  5. Gentle-people Apologies for rudely ignoring my thread for a bit - been a bit busy. Couple of points: 1: This is an interesting discussion, thank you. 2: I am going to start a new thread in a sec with the first z4 impressions, so if you are following for that, check the index. 3: I was interested in the use of the term 'accidents' - incidentally, in New Zealand where I grew up, about 20 years ago the government made a big point of instructing all media, news agencies and such like to stop using the term 'accident', and instead use the term 'crash'. Their point was that in almost all cases someone is at fault, and using the word 'accident' gives what they argued was the wrong impression - so their idea was that people would think more carefully in a general sense. It's an interesting point, and I still have a wry smile whenever I hear the word 'accident' over here (I've lived here 11 years this latest time). Note - I have no opinion on this - I just think it is an interesting example of how a social policy body tries to change the way you think about stuff.
  6. Hi all Thanks for all the advice, and I won't say that all of that hasn't crossed my mind. I was wary of it for those reasons. We'll see what happens. Personally, I don't understand why the insurance companies are in on this - they must all have agreed to such a system. It just seems needless expense in the long run, and I don't understand how the law makes the at-fault driver liable for a like-for-like replacement vehicle. But that's why I am not a lawyer. N
  7. Hi Chesterfield - oh and mbs Actually, I agree with you. I thought at the time it seemed somewhat excessive, and I have said as much to others (including above). I would have been happy enough with the courtesy Micra, but I got the feeling that this wasn't really an option for me. In fact I made the woman at the insurer explain this to me very carefully as it all seemed a little ridiculous. Even so, your point is taken. However, anyone who knows my history with insurance won't begrudge me a little bonus for once. In brief: First decent (I say this advisedly) car I bought - £5K R reg Rover 200 in 2000. Gf crashed it into the side of someone at an intersection 2 months after purchase. Write off, fault claim on my insurance. Ironically, pretty much exactly a mirror image of what happened to me last tuesday. Second car, K reg escort, free from GFs mother. GF parks on side of street in Hull where she was working at the time, uninsured driver has major accident, writes it off and about 3 other cars. Another claim on my insurance. I then get dumped (!!) Next car, K reg Rover 214 from a friend for £200. Single, so happily drove it by myself till petrol tank leaks. Trade in for £50 Then, first 'real' car. T reg Puma. Insurance costs £200 per month for the 3 months till end of policy year. Yes you read that right Move to First Alternative, pay £70 per month for next few years, end up at £50 when I trade it in for... 55 plate BMW330cd. Insurance around £55 per month but I am used to that so it doesn't seem excessive. However, I am by now bloody 35, with off street parking in a decent suburb of birmingham. Everyone else I know laughing at my insurance bills. As some of you know, 7 months later this car is stolen. Another claim. Which brings me here, to the wonderful world of 350Z land, where I pay £60 per month, with 4 years no claims discount (they took a year off for the BMW theft). And then someone prangs that as well. So you know, I take your point mate, but just this once, I am going to forget about everyone else. I think I deserve it. Plus, I reckon I've bloody well paid for it. Even so, I'm glad to see I wasn't the only one who thought this was a weird system. Cheers :-)
  8. Dear All Long time no post - long time no read in fact, sorry. Been busy. Anyway, last Tuesday, I'd taken the Z up to Loughborough to give a talk there, had a great drive as my fav bits of the road there were carless, so got a good thrash. Anyway, I drove back home, and had to rush into work for a 5pm meeting (yeah I know it sucks being me). Anyway, 4.30pm, tired, in a rush, twilight thanks to no summer time. You can guess the rest. So I am going along my route to work, an A road in Birmingham which includes a nasty left hander over a railway bridge with a small side road entering it from the right. Some mini driver was waiting to turn right, so as we all do, I went round him to the left only to find myself turning my head right to stare at the front end of an old Renault Clio who's driver had obviously just booted it to get in on a right turn from the side road, having been flashed by the mini I guess. Needless to say I stood on the gas, but could not escape and she whacked into my rear quarter. Stopping down the street to assess the damage, she'd broken the front light and scraped an already-scraped front bumper (hmm, had she done this before?). She'd buggered the front side of the rear driver's side wheel arch on mine, with minor damage also to the back side panel (bumper in other words) and driver's side skirt also. Car perfectly drivable fortunately, but at least 3 panel replacements and possibly an alloy too. Pricey I suspect, but some of you will know more than me. So when she asked if I would consider not involving insurance, for her sake and mine I had to say no. I mean, she really didn't look like someone who could write a cheque out for this damage, as well as the £50 and a cup of tea it would cost to fix hers! I eventually managed to explain that this was not going to be cheap, and unfortunately it was blatantly her fault. So, anyway, i got into work spoke to the insurers to let them know, and agreed to call them back the next day and sort it. Basically, the upshot was, since it was a non-fault claim, they outsourced it to a claims company, who organized picking my car up, and dropping me a new one off. Instead of a courtesy micra, they rent me a 'comparable' car and reclaim the costs from the fault driver's company. Seems oddly excessive to me, but what do I know? So, last Friday, a brand spanking new (60 plate) top of the line BMW z4 sdrive 3.5i M sport turns up on my door. Which I have been driving for the last few days. Now, what I am going to do is write some comparative reviews of this car, for your perusal. Some of you will remember my RX8 and e46 330cd reviews on here, so hopefully you'll be interested in my thoughts on the z4. I'm going to write one later this week, since I have a 100 mile round trip to do tomorrow, and that will be a good chance to get acquainted outside of the city commute. That will be a kind of 'first impressions after having a 350z' thing. Then, when I have to give the z4 back, I'll write a final review of it. I reckon it will be a few weeks but I have no news from the accident repairers yet. So, for those who are interested, check back later this week for my thoughts on £50 Grand's worth of Munich's finest, and presumably their idea of what a 'sports car' should be.
  9. by the way, if you look closely, you can see its not a photo by the white bowl on the right, and a little by the tiles towards the right - just seem to 'look' slightly not photographic. At least in my opinion anyway also, looks like my sink right now. Damn, off to do the dishes....
  10. yeah i think that's called 'ultra realism' - i was into that when i studied art, big time. You guys know of MC Escher? I used to love his stuff. You'll recognise some of his more famous things if you see them i bet! Cool pic, thanks for posting! N
  11. njlee

    Insurance Woes

    Hello mate While I don't endorse them in any way, all I can say is that I have been with FIrst Alternative for about 5 years now and they have almost always treated me well. A few details: due to my legendary poor luck with women, one of my girlfriends wrote off two of my cars, of which I was the main policy holder. At the time i was with Fortis who were part of Sun and Alliance I believe. Both accidents were deemed her fault - one because either a) it probably was, or she did a bad job of explaining it, and the other because some uninsured idiot hit her and about 5 others while they were parked up. So both accidents went down on my policy. Not to tell you my life story, we split up and I ended up driving a £200 Rover 214 from my mate for a year or so, until it started leaking petrol! I traded it in for £50 and bought my Ford Puma (which appears elsewhere in my posts), and Fortis charged me £200 per month for the last few months of the policy! As you might imagine, that was a bit of a crimp in the lifestyle! When it was time to renew the policy, I rang around, and First Alternative were the only guys who said they would not take the accidents into account because the driver was no longer on the policy. Which was awesome. So, I've been with them for probably 5 or so years now, and they've been great. Well, apart from when my BMW got stolen last year - I have to say they were a pain - but it wasn't them I think it was the agency they basically put in charge of all that kind of thing - vehicle recovery agents or whatever. They argued a lot over the payout, and it took a long time to sort it - pretty incompetent people in fact. On the upside, my premium has gone up only £15 per month as a result of the theft, for the 350Z over a BMW330cd which I think would have increased anyway. So, after all that rambling, I suggest giving them a go! But bear in mind my cars have all been UK models not imports - even so I got the feeling they were pretty flexible in taking various things into account. Cheers, Nick
  12. Hi All Your choice seems similar to mine when I got the Z. I came from an E46 330cd, and was seriously considering a Boxster, and toying a little with an S2000 also. I also was thinking of an RX8, and and Alfa Brera. I did a big comparison of the RX8 and 350z (with some BMW notes thrown in) a few times recently, so search my name if you want more info. All I can do is give you some reactions and opinions. But bear in mind, I am not a convertible sort of guy. Although I am softening on that one. First, I was pretty set on the Box, but absolutely noone gave me any positive feedback on that one - the general opinion was w*nk*rs car. Now, whether or not that should or should not be important, it does tend to make one sit and think. Plus, they are very common these days, and fundamentally glad I didn't buy one now. That's not to say a 911 is not being considered down the track as my next step.... Then again, if you are married and don't give a toss what anyone thinks (nor should you, but I am still single so...) this may not be important to you. I never drove one so have no opinion on that, but I do still love Porsches. In terms of the E46, I've gone over that before, check out my other posts. The 330cd is a different drive to the M3 for sure, not as epically fast off the line, but it ain't far off, and I have to say both are awesome cars. Different to the Z though Regarding the S2000 though, I had a conversation with a pal last week who is a car nut = the king of the long term test! He has had both 350Z and S2000 on long term tests, and told me they were completely different beasts. The S2000 is a high-rev monster, and if that's your kind of thing, then you really should check it out. There are plenty of guys on here who have moved both ways (erm...) so I reckon there's loads of info waiting in the forums for you. I do regret a tiny bit not giving the S2000 more serious thinking time, but then again I did hear the insurance was higher, and since my 330 had been nicked, that was a bit of an issue. Regarding mileage. This I can offer some good info on. Coming from a diesel, which did 40mpg on my commute through the snarl of Birmingham, and 60 on the motorway, the Z was a shock. Thus, I take it seriously, and record it (geek alert). I average on a combined cycle which involves some motorway miles, and a 14 mile commute through the city, 23MPG. I don't hammer it, but I don't pootle either. This has been consistent as long as I have owned it. This is made up of about 30-34mpg on the motorway, where I tend to go at 80-90 (officer) and not thrash it overtaking etc, and about 18 in the urban cycle. So I think a combined over 25 is optimistic. It costs me 23p a mile in petrol. This may be a bearing on your decision, and I have to say I was a little surprised. Even so, I find the experience is worth it. Cheers, good luck, and I hope you are happy with whatever decision you make. :-)n
  13. Hi Guys thanks for the kind words! I am a writer so it comes easy to be honest. Always wanted to be a car or music writer, but sadly never did - this is the next best thing! Anyway, short comment to agree - I also found it damn strange that so many people have commented on the Z when in 'reality' the BMW is the more 'desirable' car in many ways - particularly with regard to badging etc. I think, as car guys (and girls) we forget that most of the population have no idea about cars or even car marques at all. They see, they ride, they like. If they even care at all. So to them, the fact that it is a 'mere Nissan' makes no difference. It looks cool, it sounds cool, and it pushes all the right buttons. Whereas to them a BMW - even a new M3 - is just the same thing they see all the time. Didn't mean to hijack the thread there - someone please move the post if they want - just responding to earlier comments. N
  14. hi Nick Cool name by the way ;-) I had a 330cd before my Z. They aren't really comparable in 'feel'. I went from a Ford Puma to the 330, and that was a huge jump in feel. The Puma was sporty and nippy, but the BMW was a rocket ship in comparison. Particularly on the motorway, the in-gear acceleration say from 60-90 was awesome. I am not sure anything not exotic could touch it if you floored it at the national speed limit! My mate had a 330CI and it was a touch quicker from standstill, but not as quick in-gear. Anyway, getting into the Z was another step up in feel. All of a sudden I felt I was in a proper sports car. The driving position, the dash, the raw feel, and the noise. All completely different, and made you feel you were driving something special. The BM was massively 'competent' and nothing could shake it up, but at the same time it didn't feel especially involving - in hindsight. In the Z, you feel like a driver, someone who needs skill to get the best out of it. I never felt I could screw up in the BM, no matter what the conditions. The first long drive I had in the Z was Newark to Bham in the torrential rain. I bricked it all the way. It felt like you needed skill, and it demanded respect. I am still learning now, and to me that is the mark of a real sports car, not a sanitised 'pretend' one - like the Mini on that damn bank advert. In terms of practicallity, the BM was incredibly frugal on fuel. It was a massive shock to the system. I get around 20 in town, but 30-35 on the motorway, in the Z. The boot is ok actually, but the coat hooks are stupid and its a pain in the ass to try to hand a decent jacket up. Hey, I wear suits, it's important! The cabin is not as classy as the BM, but the seats are better, and the driving position is also better. The dash is cool. The stereo is not as good, and can't have an ipod link plugged in, unlike the BM. This sucks. If you have the GT pack as I do, you won't miss any of the gadgets in the BMW I guess. I don't. All in all, if I was only running one car, my life would suggest I bought another BMW after my last one got nicked. But since I have a shed of a Mondeo now, the 350Z is by far the better car in terms of the driving experience and all round hero-feeling. Plus, I have to admit I was surprised by the attention it attracts. I hardly got any attention in the BMW, there are loads. Now, I get a lot of attention. That can be good or bad, whatever you like. I haven't experiened any badge snobbery - less than when I had the BM thats for sure. Oh, and did I mention that my female friends call it 'the magnet'? Enjoy it mate, you know it makes sense. nick
  15. Cheers for the kind welcome all. Will get some pics up soon! N

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