AUTO TALK: Reflections on ageing and BMW’s product policy

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Last weekend I attended celebrations to mark the 33rd anniversary of The Nation newspaper and the 3rd anniversary of the Kom Chad Luek newspaper. At 33 years old, The Nation can be regarded as a mature person who has gone through a lot of experiences.

In the northern region there are many sayings concerning a person’s age. They starts with “Sip pi aap nam baw naao” (“At 10 you don’t get cold taking a bath”), which means that when we are young we can play without worrying about anything: you won’t feel the cold no matter how long you remain in the water. Next is “Sao pi kiew sao baw buea” (“At 20 you can woo girls without feeling tired”), which means that once we enter adulthood we are usually obsessed with the opposite sex and can talk to them or go out with them over and over again without feeling bored. Next is “Sam sip sua su thuk ta” (“At 30 you are willing to fight in every position”), which means that once you are 30 you have gone through a lot of things. You have completed your education, which in Thai may mean that you have already entered the monkhood, worked hard, sometimes with success and sometimes not, and thus at 30 you are ready to face anything.

The sayings go on to 60 years old, but I am stopping here so that I can tell you that at 33 years old there is probably nothing that can influence how the people at carry out their duties.

At the anniversary event, one of our readers approached me and asked me about the BMW M5 that Kingsley Wijayasinha tested recently. When I returned home I received an e-mail from Khun Tavee, who asked whether the M5 would be offered in Thailand and, most importantly, with a 507-horsepower engine. Why didn’t BMW give the M5 looks that were different from normal cars, he wanted to know. He wondered who would ever want to buy one when it looked just like an ordinary 5 Series.

Khun Tavee should have put his questions to Kingsley, since he was the person who actually drove the car, but I’ll answer them nevertheless.

First, whether BMW will offer the M5 in Thailand: well, if there are buyers they will definitely bring it here. I believe they will start offering it next year, and according to Kingsley the price should be Bt14 million-Bt15 million.

About the appearance of the M5, I think BMW wants to make it more an everyday car that you can drive to work and back than a weekend car. This is despite a performance that is superior to that of many supercars.

So they have maintained the same body style as the 5 Series saloon. Actually this is what BMW has been doing all along with its M cars. It is another way of showing people that the BMW is superior to the cars they see every day. It is difficult for inexperienced eyes to tell an M car from the normal BMW: they only know that that BMW zooming ahead is really fast.

Speaking of BMW, I remember someone asking me where they could buy BMW motorcycles. The answer is through any authorised BMW dealership, or you can have a look at the actual bikes at the BMW motorcycle showroom at All Seasons Place on Wireless Road.

This person also suggested that The Nation test-ride BMW motorcycles too, since readers would surely want to know the details of these large motorcycles and perhaps buy one to ride in good weather. I’ll pass that suggestion on to Kingsley.

Meanwhile, Khun Peter wonders when BMW will start offering diesel engines here and whether the quality of diesel fuel in Thailand is good enough for passenger-car engines.

BMW offers diesel engines in many markets around the world, especially in Europe. I have test-driven these cars, and I loved them.

I too wonder why BMW doesn’t offer diesels in Thailand. Perhaps they fear that it will affect the brand’s sports-sedan image. But I am sure consumers these days understand that diesel engines can be as much fun to drive as petrol engines, and they are more durable and economical too, which goes well with the present fuel-price trends.

As to the quality of diesel fuel in Thailand, I would divide it into two types. The first is standard diesel fuel that has been well stored and transported. The quality is good enough for all types of modern diesel engines: you don’t have to look for a special type.

But the second type is the one that causes much concern to motorists. This is contaminated diesel or diesel that has not been stored properly and had water leak into the storage tanks, as well as smuggled diesel. This often causes problems in modern diesel engines.

There are wide differences among the diesel engines used in Thailand, ranging from those in agricultural machinery to modern common-rail engines for automobiles. Indeed there are a large number of technical differences even among the diesel engines in pickup trucks.

PATTANADESH ASASAPPAKIJ

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