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      07-13-2020, 07:17 PM   #1
thompson134
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Escape in the M40D

After several months of lockdown and a heavy work schedule, the driveway ornament finally got a chance to dance like a mountain goat. Six months I slipped by since i picked up the keys to the Brute, in that time I have only managed to cover 1,500 miles, 600 of those coming on a run from Newcastle to Cambridge and back in 3 days. So opportunities to familiarize myself with the car have been very few and far between. But at long last the planets finally aligned and I had the opportunity to take the car out on its first proper run over the weekend. I choose an old faithful route, one which compromises every type of driving situation, challenge and road type. I really like this route as it really allows you to dial into the car, quickly learning its capabilities. Starting from Newcastle, we headed west across the A69 to Haydon Bridge, joining the A686 Hartside Pass, before dropping down to Penrith, across the A66 to Keswick, looping down past Derwent Water on the B5289 to the tight, twisty challenging Honister Pass (challenging only by virtue of the poor decision making of other drivers) through Buttermere linking up with the B5292 past Winlatter Forest back to Keswick. From there heading north on the A591 to Bothel before heading back up the A595 to Carlisle and across the A69 back to Newcastle. Total trip of 210 miles with enough miles on each type of road to get a real true picture of a car. It is very easy on this route to find the positives and negatives of any car, by the end you feel 100% honed in.

However, the biggest takeaway was just how blessed we are, if lockdown has proven anything it’s the realisation of the simple things we all took for granted, it’s easy to become focused on the bad things in life, the struggles and hassles. But the one thing we have always had was our freedom, the ability to go where we want, when we want. Fill up a tank and off you go. I have been longing to get out there for a nice drive, some like to play Golf, others like to go to the football, for me it’s the escapism, jumping into a car, and seeing where the road takes you, it’s the planning, concentration, getting that perfect line, getting the car into a great flow, managing that weight distribution, power and picking that perfect overtake.

As for the car, I have a late 2019 G01 X3 M40D. As it was now nicely run in I was able for the first real time to fully explore this great machine to its full. I have already been deeply impressed at this car breath of ability but this was to be its ultimate test. What I love most about this route is that it slowly increases, dual carriageway sections filter into flowing single carriageway, which turns into more tight and twisty roads that increases with intensity. It allows you to progressively explore the car more and more. As the miles ticked by the Jekyll and hyde nature of the M40D really became apparent. From a hushed, sedate cruiser on the dual carriageways it slowly started to come alive in my hands, as it progressed across the Hartside pass. The car doing an amazing job at hiding its 1.9ton mass, turn in was crisp and sharp, the suspension damping at 7/10ths close to perfection. Torque and power superbly matched, as you’d expect of a car pumping out 326ps and 680nm. After crossing the summit of the Hartside you then descend across several miles of glorious smooth tarmac, the road opens slightly, with lovely open medium curves, you are able to attack this section, feel the car moving slightly all the while staying perfectly legal. The M40D danced through these sections like a mountain goat, showing a keenly driven Fiesta ST a clean pair of heels. For anyone familiar with a Fiesta ST you’ll know that these can be one of the best English B road cars, for a 1.9ton SUV to not only outperform but out corner shows just want an amazing machine BMW have produced.

After the excitement of the Hartside, your thrown along a flowing section of the A66 across to Keswick. In an instant, the Fiesta ST baiting SUV relaxes back into a refined cruiser, slipping into Eco Pro the coasting feature easily tots up an extra 5 miles. After a lap around Keswick you head down towards the Honister Pass and one of the true great scenic majesty in the UK. The road suddenly tightens to a single carriageway with few passing points. Unfortunately, there is no avoiding the onslaught of campervans and ditsy drivers. The road snakes up across the fell with a gradient of 1 in 4 in places. Speed limited by other said drivers to 10 – 15mph. But that doesn’t matter for the sheer beauty of the landscape, getting better and better with each turn. It was here that the relative narrowness of the M40D at 1984mm comes into its own, the elevated driving position, the ability to place the car exactly where you want, despite the constant fear of the low profile 21” slipping off the road or scraping against the rocks and boulders that litter the path ahead. You then head down across to the lovely village of Buttermere, before rising again and skirting the lovely Crummock Water, overlooking onto Mellbreak. The all-round superb visibility of the M40D paying extra tributes to be able to fully immerse in the scenes laid out in front of your eyes.

Once looped back over to Keswick you then head north, cutting across the A591, the road progressively comes tighter, narrower but retains a wonderful flow. For the Lake District this road is often slightly trafficked, allowing you to once again engage sports individual, with maximum attack from the engine, gearbox but retaining the comfort suspension. This setting perfectly suiting the car in these climates. 2nd, 3rd and 4th are the gears of choice, the ASD mimicking the tones of a V8. Some people positively detest this feature, I for one love it. ASD adds an extra dimension to party, the sound encouraging you to spin the revs to 5k, the power remaining linear and continuous. The road suddenly breaks free of the narrowness and feeds into an open delight, slipping the car into adaptive calms the attack and your transported back into a world of rapid progress with all the comfort and luxury one needs. The final part of the journey takes you back across Carlisle and over the A69 back towards Newcastle. The M40D easily dispatching of cars and lorries as they menander up and over the hills before opening up again to a dual carriageway for the final 30 miles home. Allowing the driver and car time to reflect on the previous 180 miles whist basking in the fact that we have consumed less than ¼ of a tank and averaged a shade over 40MPG. Sure there are more exciting cars out there, sure one would love to be in a Lotus Elise, Alpine A110 or 992 GT3. Even an X3 M40i, M3, M4. On there day, in certain sections they’d be more fun, engaging but would they be any faster, more enjoyable, better all-rounders, simple answer would be no. The G01 X3 M40D is one of the true great BMWs of today, devilishly rapid, smooth, comfortable, perfectly sized and when you want it amazingly economical and then at the drop of a hat a sports car baiting delight. I had become slightly concerned about the driveway feature of late, the lack of use and high personal cost but in one small 5hr window on a slight overcast Sunday I was reminded of what luxury we have. Hopefully, this will encourage others to put some time aside one weekend, fuel up the car and pick out one of your best driving routes. We may be in the midst of uncertainty and worry but do yourselves all a huge favour and enjoy the opportunities and beauty of the UK, now has never been a better time to soak it all up, all in the knowledge of remaining COVID safe, isolated in your own bit of luxury and hard work






Last edited by thompson134; 07-14-2020 at 08:06 AM..
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      07-13-2020, 08:16 PM   #2
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Nice writeup.
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      07-13-2020, 11:13 PM   #3
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Entertaining narrative and great photos. Really enjoyed this post. Where are you driving next week?
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      07-14-2020, 01:04 AM   #4
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Some amazing roads that bring back very happy memories, great write up! Glad you enjoyed the trip in one of the best parts of our country.
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      07-14-2020, 01:54 AM   #5
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Thanks for the review. Know these roads well - great to drive on!
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      07-14-2020, 02:14 AM   #6
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Very nice review and roads sound ace.

Would love to do something like that round here if we had such roads...unfortunately I would go round first bend and find a Camera van...
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      07-14-2020, 04:33 AM   #7
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Great write up and pics. It’s Hartside though, not Heartside
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      07-14-2020, 04:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeoz View Post
Very nice review and roads sound ace.

Would love to do something like that round here if we had such roads...unfortunately I would go round first bend and find a Camera van...
Sadly a number of counties with some great driving roads - like North Yorkshire and indeed Cumbria - have more than their fair share of camera vans. And annoyingly, they're not deployed exclusively in known accident black-spots either; sometimes they are but often they're just located in places where they know they'll find easy pickings (and presumably generate the most revenue to help fund their respective Safety Camera Partnerships).

Nice write-up OP, the Lake District and Northumberland are both lovely parts of the world!
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      07-14-2020, 05:00 AM   #9
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Cracking photos and after months of lockdown we can forgive you the poetic license....kinds lost me at 'like a mountain goat' and 'spin the revs to 5k' and generally that a 40D is better than a petrol sports car and 911 though haha. Its an excellent all rounder for sure
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      07-14-2020, 05:05 AM   #10
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Enjoyable write-up, thank you!

It's a lovely area I have driven a few times, although sadly not in my current car but in the RX which while supremely wafty on air suspension, takes corners rather like a waterbed resting on blancmange!
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      07-14-2020, 06:42 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustChris View Post
Cracking photos and after months of lockdown we can forgive you the poetic license....kinds lost me at 'like a mountain goat' and 'spin the revs to 5k' and generally that a 40D is better than a petrol sports car and 911 though haha. Its an excellent all rounder for sure

Was a good write up ..but...Just imagine how much more fun he could of had in a 40i...
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      07-14-2020, 06:44 AM   #12
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Was a good write up ..but...Just imagine how much more fun he could of had in a 40i...
or an MX5....?
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      07-14-2020, 06:57 AM   #13
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or an MX5....?
Or you just leave the fat overweight car by end of the A road, and do the rest on one of these, your get far more 'feel' for the road and scenery

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      07-14-2020, 07:01 AM   #14
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Or you just leave the fat overweight car by end of the A road, and do the rest on one of these, your get far more 'feel' for the road and scenery

The trouble with the Honister Pass in particular is that the surface is so badly broken, that you might get more of a feel of the road and the scenery than you intended
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      07-14-2020, 08:18 AM   #15
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The trouble with the Honister Pass in particular is that the surface is so badly broken, that you might get more of a feel of the road and the scenery than you intended
I would feel it on my feet as I pushed it up the steep hills. There’s every chance at my age and biking experience that I might also push it down steeper ones as well.
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      07-14-2020, 08:36 AM   #16
thompson134
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Thanks all for the comments, must say i got on a bit of a roll when simply a photo would have painted a thousand words.

Right now the car should have been down in Austria, Switzerland and Dolomites on a 4,000 mile jolly across Europe, i'm just grateful that its possible to get a slice of Alps right on your doorstep. Its the one great pleasures of living in Northumberland, you have a great choice of roads at your exposure but there will forever be those few routes which draw you back time and time again.

As for the MX-5 ... that would pose a whole new world of danger, tall people and small convertibles don't marry well



I was very surprised to only see a 1 camera van on the whole journey, the locations these sit has certainly expanded in the last 12 - 18 months and in the North East they have expanded their fleet. Certainly not worth the risk these days is it.

I certainly wouldn't like to be riding up the Hartside or Honister pass these days, have done this 12 - 15 years ago and loved it but suspect the road surface has never seen a days maintenance since
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      07-14-2020, 09:20 AM   #17
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As for the MX-5 ... that would pose a whole new world of danger, tall people and small convertibles don't marry well


I am relatively a short arse (5'10") so I dont have those issues, its the getting out gracefully that is more of a challenge at 56! JustChris has got me considering it though in place of the Mini....
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      07-14-2020, 09:24 AM   #18
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I am relatively a short arse (5'10") so I dont have those issues, its the getting out gracefully that is more of a challenge at 56! JustChris has got me considering it though in place of the Mini....
5'10 myself Ian.

Its the sweetspot of height for the MX5 ND generation. Just enought for the hair to be ruffled by the wind but nothing solid is out the top of the car and no issues with the roof down.

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      07-14-2020, 09:36 AM   #19
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5'10 myself Ian.

Its the sweetspot of height for the MX5 ND generation. Just enought for the hair to be ruffled by the wind but nothing solid is out the top of the car and no issues with the roof down.

I wont have a problem with hair being ruffled believe me......

My ex sister in law had a few a number of years ago which I went out in a few times, always struggled with getting out..... do they still sit so low.... compared to say a Mini...)

Might have found a delivery miles 30th AE.... not too far from "home" up North....
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      07-14-2020, 11:20 AM   #20
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustChris View Post
5'10 myself Ian.

Its the sweetspot of height for the MX5 ND generation. Just enought for the hair to be ruffled by the wind but nothing solid is out the top of the car and no issues with the roof down.

I wont have a problem with hair being ruffled believe me......

My ex sister in law had a few a number of years ago which I went out in a few times, always struggled with getting out..... do they still sit so low.... compared to say a Mini...)

Might have found a delivery miles 30th AE.... not too far from "home" up North....
Nice!! Do it do it do it! They're great little therapy and you probs my know local / national clubs are quite social if you like that kind of thing
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      07-14-2020, 12:57 PM   #21
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Nice!! Do it do it do it! They're great little therapy and you probs my know local / national clubs are quite social if you like that kind of thing
Lets see what they offer for the Mini - I have a budget and given I really shouldnt be spending more on cars and a softtop isnt ideal for overnight stays in station car park (if I ever go back to taking the train...) it has to be financially sensible if not any other form of sensible...
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      07-14-2020, 02:11 PM   #22
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustChris View Post
Nice!! Do it do it do it! They're great little therapy and you probs my know local / national clubs are quite social if you like that kind of thing
Lets see what they offer for the Mini - I have a budget and given I really shouldnt be spending more on cars and a softtop isnt ideal for overnight stays in station car park (if I ever go back to taking the train...) it has to be financially sensible if not any other form of sensible...
Leave the 5-series at the station? Suitably gap-covered, of course.
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