On the way to see a friend in a local village within the Cotswolds in the cold month of January, The Grand Tour presenter wrote that he began to realise something was wrong:
“I was being tickled by the motoring world’s equivalent of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it tingle in the left arm.
“You know what it’s like when you walk into a northern pub and everyone’s laughing and joking. But you can just sort of sense that, somewhere in the steamed-up background, Begbie’s getting ready to lob his pint glass over the balcony.
“And that soon you’ll have a split lip and a snooker cue up your jacksie. It was that feeling.”
To test the grip available to the car, The grand Tour presenter applied slight pressure to the brake.
“It was the noise that gave it away first. A sort of shooshing sound, followed by the slow-motion staccato of the car’s antilock braking system fighting a losing battle with a surface that plainly had the mu characteristics of wet soap in a puddle of Fairy Liquid. In short, I was driving on black ice.”
He admits that he believes that “BMW arguably makes the worst winter cars of them all,” but despite this, he was able to maintain control of the car and move it to the side of the road where he could gain some traction on the grass verge. He was obviously rattled, admitting that for the rest of the drive he stayed at 1mph while he observed drivers on his route that hadn’t been as lucky.
“No one else was doing the same thing. At the bottom of the hill there was a Peugeot, all airbags and broken headlamps buried in a tree, and just a few hundred yards further on a respectable, fully cardiganed lady standing at the side of the road, flapping frantically to alert me to the fact that, round the corner, she’d had a head-on with someone in a Vauxhall.”
Despite the drama he was incredibly complimentary of the German sports car, describing the twin turbo straight-6 as being “smooth and so sonorous”, and producing enough performance to make you “shriek with joy, not terror”.
“I genuinely am struggling to think of something I didn’t like on this car,” he wrote. As a journalist with over 40 years of experience, this is high praise indeed.