Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mrs. Magoo Goes Touring in Her New BMW X3

Mrs. Magoo needed a new car. She needed a car for hauling computers to tradeshows, for taking customers to lunch, and for the occasional ski trip. She looked at lots of cars. The Prius was too small. The Ford Escape and the Honda CRX had too hard of a ride (like a truck), the Toyota Highlander was absurdly expensive for what you got, the Lexus RX350 was too "girly".

What car should she get? Nothing seemed to fit.

Finally she decided on the BMW X3. Why? Because Mrs. Magoo really likes Cliff Gaston at BMW of Monterey. A few years back, Cliff helped Mr. Magoo lease his BMW 325ci and Mr. Magoo loves driving about in his midnight blue convertible.

Cliff is a straight shooter. He is helpful, knowledgeable, and could answer all of the Magoo's questions. Cliff knows the competition. Cliff also knows how to navigate through all the paperwork for lease deals. Cliff knows how to get the right accessories. Cliff is perfect. Cliff makes getting a new car a fun, smooth, and easy experience.

So Mrs. Magoo got a new BMW X3 from Cliff Gaston.

Then, Mr. and Mrs. Magoo drove the X3 from Santa Cruz to Mammoth Mountain in the Eastern Sierras.

First thing they noticed was the sun roof. The sun roof on the X3 is huge! Push a button and most of the top of the car slides backwards. Mrs. Magoo thought it was better than Mr. Magoo's convertible because the air wasn't whipping her hair in her face and messing up her makeup and lipstick. Mr. Magoo rolled his eyes and said it was hardly the same as his 325ci.

But then, Mrs. Magoo noticed that with Mr. Magoo in the front seat, she had to put her purse in the back. Not good! Mrs. Magoo used to drive a Dodge Caravan with floor space between the two front seats which made it very handy to put her purse there.

Then, sometimes if Mrs. Magoo had a lot of stuff in her purse and she put it on the passenger seat, the seat belt alarm went off! The X3 cannot tell the difference between a passenger and a purse. Sigh. Maybe German women do not carry purses?

By now it was getting dark on the way to Mammoth Mountain, and the next thing Mrs. Magoo noticed were the headlights. Oh my goodness, with the BMW headlights it was practically day time, and when she drove around the tight corners on the mountain pass, there was a kind of side light off the front fender that lit up the curve for better visibility. This was very nice because Mrs. Magoo does not have the best night vision. She loses her depth perception and everything gets kind of flat which is fairly dangerous. Thankfully the X3 has eliminated a lot of that danger.

Now the Magoos decided it would be nice to have some music. Mr. Magoo plugged in the iPod attachment and pushed the buttons. Strangely, the iPod attachment is behind the driver's seat, so after plugging in the cord, the only place to put the iPod is on the console between the front seats. This is very strange. It would be much more convenient to plug in the iPod from the glove compartment. But anyway, soon they were listening to Allison Krause.

Since Mrs. Magoo has "no sense of direction" as Mr. Magoo frequently points out, Mr. Magoo insisted that Mrs. Magoo's X3 have the navigation system.

Mrs. Magoo loves the nav system and the polite female voice telling her things like "in 600 feet turn left". Mrs. Magoo is a Very Important Person with a Lot on Her Mind, so she tends to miss exits and turns because she cannot be bothered with details. Now the polite female in the X3 gently reminds Mrs. Magoo about what to do next.

With Allison Krause singing, and the cold night hair coming in from the roof, and the beautiful stars in the night sky, the Magoos are really enjoying their ride. Suddenly a female voice screams "in 100 feet turn right". "ARRGH" both the Magoos scream and jump up two inches in their seats.

Well... ahem... it seems that there is no audio calibration between the iPod and the X3 nav system. Now how could BMW have possibly missed this? The Apple iPod folks and the BMW X3 folks have not had a "sit down" to plan how these two products should be integrated. Many very basic things are missing. For example, when listening to the radio, the BMW X3 displays the artist and the name of the song that is playing on the nav system screen. Apparently if the radio station broadcasts this information the BMW X3 can capture it and display it. The Apple iPod has the same information, but it is not displayed. Why not? Because there has been no "sit down".

Wake up Apple! Wake up BMW! Sit down and have coffee together.

Of course, the next thing that happened is Mrs. Magoo, having such a fright from the screaming voice, momentarily lost control of the car, but, in the nick of time, corrected the steering and the car was safely between the two white lines. Such a maneuver in her Dodge Caravan would surely have flipped that thing or caused it to fishtail. Although Mrs. Magoo never dreamed she would ever require the performance driving features of the X3, in this particular instance, she was glad the X3 responded so well.

After all of that, the Magoos turned off the navigation system and just listened to the iPod and Mr. Magoo decided he should drive for a while.

Mr. Magoo is a white knuckle driver with his hands on the steering wheel in an odd configuration. Instead of 10 and 2 o'clock, Mr. Magoo's hands are at 11:45 at 12:15. Mr. Magoo constantly "corrects" the steering. On other cars, such as the Dodge Caravan, if you move the steering wheel an inch to the right or an inch to the left, almost nothing happens. On the X3, however, slight changes in the steering wheel cause the car to instantly respond. Thus, if you happen to sit in the back seat with Mr. Magoo driving, you are definitely prone to vertigo and car sickness as you feel like you are being whipped all over the road.

Mrs. Magoo has looked for a button called "make the steering more sloppy" to press when Mr. Magoo is driving, but so far she has not found this.

The next day, the Magoos head out early. Early for them. At about 10 a.m. they see the sign that the Tioga Pass is closed. The Magoos walk around a bit, and then head over to the Sonora Pass. Oh this will be a long day of driving.

As Mrs. Magoo gets into the car to take over the driving, once again, the car frame hook scrapes her bottom. For some odd reason, the BMW X3 has a little hook in the frame exactly where one's bottom needs to be to get into the driver's seat. The only way to avoid it is to attempt to pivot forward from the hips when entering the car. Maybe German ladies have smaller derrieres? No. Mrs. Magoo has been to Munich and recalls viewing many ladies' bottoms more "fluffy" than her own.

Mrs. Magoo drives along the Sonora Pass pulling over frequently to admire the view. She notes a little "ding ding ding". Oh this is so delightful; the X3 gives a little warning when one is getting too close to the curb. Mrs. Magoo is quite embarrassed to admit that she has destroyed the tires on her other vehicles due to some poor judgments while parking. Now the X3 will help her with her parking challenges. Oh and another little surprise, the outside mirror on the passenger side tilts down while backing up. Something else to aid with the parking challenges. Very nice.

There are many other fine features on the X3 such as the marvelous interior bike rack that looks like a piece of fine modern sculpture from a fancy New York Art Museum. The Magoos have not used it quite yet.

All in all it was a fine motoring experience. If you would like to have one yourself, just contact Cliff Gaston.