Reviews

Published on August 3rd, 2020 | by Subhash Nair

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6-Speed Manual BMW for RM70K with Warranty: Buy or Ignore?

So I was browsing used car listing sites, looking for some rare combination that the market may have overlooked, when I actually stumbled upon something quite interesting. At least TWO units of BMW 218i Active Tourers between RM65K-RM75K.

Why is it a good idea?

BMW manuals are something else, and rare in modern times

Now that alone doesn’t sound very interesting, but think about this, both of these cars are equipped with 6-speed manual gearboxes. Think about that, BMW Malaysia doesn’t bring any manual cars anymore. And these cars were apparently brought in by BMW Malaysia about 4-5 years ago. They were not openly advertised and instead sold almost through word of mouth through dealer channels to clear the small quantity that were available.

Some warranty coverage left

In fact, the more expensive of the two we saw is still covered by the official BMW warranty. Sure, it’s about RM10,000 more expensive than the other one. But if you get to claim a few faulty parts before the warranty expires, it could pay for itself.

Pretty high spec for the price

On top of having a manual gearbox and a warranty, another good selling point is the fact that it’s a full spec car. The photos show that the BMW 218i Active Tourer came with a full leather interior, reverse camera, power adjustable driver’s seat with memory function, and even a powered tailgate. The infotainment unit doesn’t look particularly ‘full spec’, but it’s a coloured display, so at least there’s that.

Versatile: One-vehicle-does-all

The 218i Active Tourer itself is quite a versatile vehicle. It seats 5 and has a low floor and high roof, so older passengers can easily get in and out. The boot space is also rather impressive, plus the rear seats fold down in a 40:20:40 split.

So, it’s all sounding like good news so far. But is it really such a good buy? To be honest, it’s at a price point that I feel I could comfortably afford. And with a 1.5-litre engine, the road tax only comes up to RM90 annually. Insurance can be quite reasonable as well, as my No-Claims Discount is up at its maximum percentage.

Why it’s not such a good idea

How Expensive will Maintenance Be?

I asked the man himself, Daniel, if this was such a wise decision. And all he had to do was remind me of previous experiences with BMW. Parts are not cheap, and these cars are really not made to last much longer than their warranty period. Sure, if there are issues to solve while the warranty is still valid, that’s fine. But if I take a 7 year loan to finance the car and there’s a major repair halfway through, I would have to reach into my savings just to get mobile.

Serviceman

I looked into what it would cost to have an extended third party warranty on the car to cover potential issues once the official warranty had expired. I had a look at whether MyOpal would cover such a vehicle. Their cheaper Base X package didn’t mention BMW, but their XTEND package did. Guess what? It would cost RM2896 to cover a BMW every year. It was immediately not quite the value buy.

I can’t find reliable information as to what normal service costs are on this particular engine, but being a BMW motor, I don’t forsee it being light on the wallet.

How much would PARTS cost?

My colleague Bo from Autophiles has a modern BMW, made around the same time as this 2 Series. It’s an F30 320i. While he says nothing too bad happened during his warranty period, he did warn me about a minor accident he had. He hit a traffic cone and one of his headlights cracked as a result. An official replacement would have set him back about RM8,000. He was able to source a replacement OEM part from China for 1/4th the price, but even that was still RM2,000.

If a repair like this costs more than RM5K, I’m gonna be driving around like this for a while

I don’t think I could stomach a repair bill like that should a minor accident like that happen.

Would it age with grace?

Another big issue with a car purchase (for me, at least) is how the car will age. Being a BMW, many plastic parts are deliberately made to be easily recycled or to partially decompose. Some of these parts are also not acclimatised for tropical weather, as testing is usually not done in our climate during the development phase of most premium vehicles.

BHPetrol RON95 Euro 4M

I don’t know about this 2 Series, but I know the F10 5 Series and its generation of BMWs suffer from ‘melty’ plastics around the door handle. While the F10 5 Series is popular enough for many aftermarket parts to be easily available and was a CKD car anyway, interior parts for the 2 Series may be extremely difficult to come across. It will likely age without grace and keeping it nice looking would be tough.

How special is it, really?

This is a criteria that has become really important for me. I’ve owned 4 cars in the last 5 years and a lot of my disposable income has gone into the maintenance of these cars. While I’m not one to complain, I can say that I’ve learnt a lesson: all cars are going to cost money to maintain, so you might as well buy a car that’s special enough to commit to. Either that, or get one that’s a completely utilitarian instrument that pays for itself. I have no use yet for a utilitarian vehicle, so no matter how practical this compact MPV is, its value doesn’t really shine though. I don’t have to ferry anyone around 95% of the time. For the remaining 5% of the time, my current car has 3 extra empty seats that I can make use of.

So then I have to ask what’s so special about a 2 Series with a manual gearbox? It’s rare, there’s no arguing that. A modern car with a manual gearbox is not just rare for BMW it’s rare for any car in Malaysia. But the rest of the car is not particularly special. BMW engines are usually really beautifully tuned, but it’s really their 6-cylinder motors that are sought after. This has half the number of cylinders.

The 2 Series Active Tourer body itself is not particularly good looking. It’s sort of like a B-Class. Practical, but there are better options from Japan and Korea for a lot less money. Nobody is going to look at this car with particular interest, no matter how powerful the BMW brand magnetism is.

The 2 Series Active Tourer also represents the worst aspects of BMW. It’s one of the first front-wheel drive vehicles to wear the badge. It’s adapted from a MINI platform to serve a group of buyers that are traditionally not BMW fans. And it has no legacy to speak of. We’re not even sure if there’ll be a successor.

For me, the cons outweighed the pros. But I’m sure for some people out there, this could be the deal they’ve been waiting for.

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About the Author

Written work on dsf.my. @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.



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