The more time I spend in the D3, the more I prefer its simple centre console to BMW’s fiddly iDrive system where a single chunky knob controls everything.
Take the radio, for example. An on/off/volume dial, half a dozen preset buttons and a switch for flicking between bands means you can change stations the very moment Jeremy Vine opens his mouth – even if you’re in the middle of a full-on assault of your favourite B-road. Try doing that with iDrive and you risk a BM/hedgerow interface moment.
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I don’t miss BMW’s climate control, either. The two dials that set the level of chill and breeze in the D3 rarely need to be adjusted, and even when they do, a small twist has everything sorted again.
On top of all that, the Alpina’s dash layout looks so much more integrated than the screen-and-knob set-up. No, there’s no satnav, but for the odd day when a map really won’t do, a £99 TomTom suckered to the windscreen does the job perfectly.
This is all good news, because if you want to add options to a D3 you’re landed with a £1500 charge before you even start, as the car then becomes a ‘special order’. And nothing you could add to a D3 would make it any better for winding up the nearest Mini JCW (preferably one driven by our art director, Paul Lang) at an evo trackday. Well, OK, maybe an extra 50bhp wouldn’t go amiss, as the D3’s grip-to-grunt ratio favours the Michelins, preventing you from fully exploiting the chassis. But in the wet, it’s a completely different story, and that’s why I’ll be praying for rain on our next trackday outing.
|Date acquired||January 2009|
|Costs this month||£0|
|Mileage this month||1269|
|MPG this month||37.1|