Time for the big service for the 320d. Major service, oil, filters, air con service, brake fluid and MOT, which it sailed through. £640 stung a bit but the car has needed zero attention for the past two years, although admittedly, it didn’t do many miles over that period for obvious reasons. The loan car was a 118d, which I was glad of because I wanted to sample BMW’s second stab at FWD after the rather fantastic MINI. The new One struck me as somewhat anodyne in appearance and looked lardy compared to the original One. It doesn’t take cars long to put on weight. This one was visibly best friends with the man in the pie shop. It looked quality though, and the premium feel took a step up when I climbed inside. BMW are doing some nice interiors nowadays. They needed to, but that has long since been addressed and they seem to be on a roll now. Being a manual, I was sceptical of the electronic handbrake because it didn’t have auto hold. This turned out not to be an issue. There are some steep gradients in Bath and the One was easy to hill start with a switch, as opposed to a lever which you can ease off as the clutch bites. I don’t think it had hill hold because it rolled all over my front drive when cars with hill hold will stay stationary for a couple of seconds, but it worked fine. Good seat comfort, premium interior feel, easy to get a good driving position using the latest revised lever setup. No diesel noise or vibration, decent performance, good ergonomics, nicely stacked set of gears which were easy to select and a generally user-friendly package. What’s not to like? Well, since you ask, everything else. As a driver’s car, the 118d I was given was awful. Turning circle the size of a football pitch. Huh? How did that happen? Both our BMWs are X Drive and the loss of steering lock is obvious compared to a RWD BMW, but the One has less lock still. In a multi story car park where the 750 and X5 could be posted with confidence (and care) down a ramp, I had to back up the One and do it again, because I couldn’t make the turn, no matter how wide I swung in. It was sort of comforting to see a Golf or something like that in front of me on the way out, also having to back up for a ramp and try again. Then again, maybe we were both crap drivers? On the road, the chassis is ponderous and tends to be a bit vague on positioning, despite an incisive bite on initial turn it. But the biggest let down was the torque steer and with a vengeance. In a BMW?! Please say it ain’t so. Again, our two X Drive cars, although more limited in lock than a RWD, exhibit not a trace of toque steer, even when between 40 to 100% of 555bhp and 501lbft go through the front shafts on my X6M. One must conclude that the One is engineered down to a price, which when you consider what a new one will cost you, doesn’t seem like particularly good value for money. I would opt for a MINI and save over ten grand to put what in my opinion is a better sorted, more fun to drive car on my drive. Fast forward three days and the 320d went back to have its wheels refurbished. They have become very tatty and are going for the full dip and diamond cut restoration. When I get the car back the wheels will be coming off one at a time, for a full wash, close inspection, a couple of applications of Gtechniq C5 and a topcoat of Crystal Serum light. I just hope I don’t manage to chip them when I drive it home. The loan car for this financially symmetrical £640 repair job couldn’t be more different and is such an impressive drive that I was moved to photograph it. It’s a 216i Coupe and it’s brilliant. An older design which to my eyes looks better for it. Less seat adjustability and so some compromise on the driving position, which I soon got used to, so it’s not uncomfortable, just slightly different than what I’m used to. Inferior visibility and a good interior but not half as slick as the latest One Series. But what got me looking at the AUC website for M2s is the driving dynamics. It’s a proper old school BMW with a really well sorted chassis that grips, changes direction telepathically, feeds back all the time through steering, feet and bum, yet doesn’t smash your fillings out. What a joy. And so easy to position, park, manoeuvre and generally live with. It's also a manual and like the 118d, has six well chosen ratios from which any can easily be selected through the slick gate. I wouldn't buy a manual car, but driving one is good for brushing up the skills set. And when a RWD manual is as slick and accurate to balance on the revs as this, it reminds you why stick shifters remain popular for some. We’re not going to chop our petrol car or diesel car in for another petrol now, it’s got to be something electric or semi electric, and the 320d will be the trade in when that day comes. But for a couple of hours last Saturday morning I was sorely tempted, until reality returned, and I had to get on with some odd jobs.