January 3, 2014: A new baby Doersen entered the world. We named her Winter—and then the polar vortex arrived, plunging large swaths of the North American continent into a persistent, deep cold. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I don’t really believe in such things, and neither do my car-loving friends, who have watched as day after icy day the winter weather endures.
Not everyone is upset, however; I imagine the ice-racers up north are enjoying the record freezing temperatures. For the rest of us—even those members not living in San Diego—there are plenty of car-related opportunities to distract the mind.
We just need to satisfy a few basic needs.
First, warmth. Full Throttle Karting in Springdale, Ohio (just north of Cincinnati), recently performed a biometrics study on drivers at its fantastic indoor karting track. Do you want to warm up? Try three g’s of force and 100 calories burnt in a mere eight minutes of track time.
Recently, the Buckeye and Bluegrass chapters held their annual karting challenge at Full Throttle Karting. Lots of track time and a full one-hour enduro, including multiple driver changes, always equals an amazing time. (Check out the pictures, courtesy of Greg Nehring.) Maybe in ten years, baby Winter will be setting lap records!
Second, daylight. It may still be too dark for far too many hours in the day, but Daylight Saving Time helps. There’s sunlight in the manufacturing sector, too; it is evident that the i3 is a bright new dawn for BMW. For a company seemingly obsessed with pursuing every automotive niche created over the years, it is easy to forget that BMW is also constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation. The company has an excellent record of redefining what is possible in the market, from the 2002 to the original M5 and M3 to the X5—and so many more.
BMW also has a gift for timing its new offerings. The company is adept at patiently waiting for a time when the world is ready for a new paradigm, then aggressively and doggedly developing the product before unleashing its marketing machine. The i3 hits all the right chords: spacious with a truly fresh interior design, interesting looks on the outside (though better with darker colors), and an overall package that feels genuinely useable. Proof? A case of wine should fit perfectly in the front luggage compartment. This time the photos are courtesy of Karly Keirsey and BMW Cleveland, which hosted the i3 introduction event.
Who knows? Maybe in eighteen years, Winter will be shopping for a “classic” i3 for college!
Finally, space. You have to get out before cabin fever sets in, and a local auto show is the perfect reason to stretch the legs of your snow tires. After seeing the latest metal and carbon—and admitting a certain BMW bias—it is evident that our favorite marque is leaving the rest of the pack behind. My overriding impression is that most of the “new” offerings from other manufacturers are overwhelmingly prosaic.
BMW has even caught up to—and in some cases surpassed—Audi in the interior department, while Mercedes has forgotten how to style the outside of a car. Speaking of Audi, the exteriors look all right, but after years—or decades—of familiarity, even enthusiasts are struggling to see a difference between models. I fear that the same thing is starting to happen with Mini.
For BMW, the main complaint is the tacky aluminum-look trim in the less-pricey models. Fixing this is as simple as using the lovely new three-dimensional trim in the new X5 (it is subtle, with an organic water-flows-through-here depth), or the old leather-cube trim seen in the E46 330i Performance Package.
One area where BMW has significantly and unexpectedly improved? Wheels. Go to the official websites or your favorite dealership and check out those options. Bravo!
Maybe in 30 years, Winter will be engineering one of the auto-show cars. And given the Arctic weather we’ve been dealing with lately, perhaps there is some sort of mysterious causal relationship. Maybe we should have named her Em Fore Doersen.—Chris Doersen