White knight rides out
Roger White, chief executive of AG Barr, makers of Irn-Bru, Scotland’s national drink, reconnects with an old Bavarian friend and finds him in great form.
My colleagues at Irn-Bru will be delighted to know that I’m not claiming to be a speed-king like Jorge Lorenzo.
The brave and charismatic Jorge is the Spanish 2010 MotoGP world champion and our energy drink Rockstar is one of his key sponsors.
Nevertheless, those who know me will know I enjoy a good set of wheels, although I prefer four on the Tarmac, rather than two.
My first “decent” company car was a 3-Series BMW back when I was in my mid-twenties.
It was a great car to look at and I still recall the thrill of steering it out of the garage and hitting the open road. Driving the 3-Series today still feels as fresh and fun to drive as it did all those years ago.
Two decades ago, I felt it was a “driver’s car” but also a car that would be capable of allowing me to get through tens of thousands of miles per year in comfort and with bullet-proof reliability.
The “new” 3-Series doesn’t really look too different, more a build on the classic shape and inside the cabin is as functional and driver-friendly as I remember.
There aren’t too many dials and switches to worry about and I liked, in particular, the very clear central instrument consul.
Over the years, I’ve spent long hours in the car on business, so I like seats which are supportive and extremely comfortable.
The BMW seats fit this bill well always giving you a comfortable journey which means you can undertake long journeys to the main AG Barr locations such as visiting our plant in Tredegar in Wales, or one of our sales offices, and then get back in the car home again to Scotland, without feeling like you require a week’s leave.
Everything feels in the right place, which is what I would expect from a BMW.
The driving experience was enhanced, for me, by the fact it was a 328 petrol model.
The ample power was delivered well through an ultra-smooth auto gearbox which held nicely for just long enough in each gear when it was put in sports mode on an empty stretch on the M80.
The boot is very generous – plenty of room for a wide selection of our soft drinks – and the rear seats seemed comfortable after a 30-second test sit! I remember well from my old 3-Series that the handling was always crisp and sharp.
I’m glad that hasn’t changed.
Heading around a Cumbernauld roundabout (there are a few of them) at pace was no problem without any twitching from either end of the car and I really felt the smooth surge of the extra power as we cruised out of the exit.
The last 3-Series I drove was an M3 and this demonstrator, while not quite as taut, composed or quick, certainly felt close to it, although for me I would have an M3 any day over the four-door comfortable saloon.
I have always admired BMW as a business – great products and excellent foresight has always seen them ahead of competitors in many ways.
Their continual commitment to be a greener company when it comes to driving and emissions is something I really admire and also something they share with AG Barr.
We are committed to reducing our environmental impact in all we do and have signed up to the Courtauld 2 Commitment, the voluntary waste reduction agreement for major brand owners which is supported by Zero Waste Scotland.
As for motoring journalism, I don’t think James May has anything to worry about, as far as I’m concerned.
He can stick to presenting, and I’ll continue to run AG Barr, guarding the secret recipe for Scotland’s national soft drink.
But I’m glad I’ve reconnected with an old Bavarian friend.
BMW 328i Saloon, OTR Price £39315 Car supplied by Douglas Park Glasgow BMW/MINI, 3-33 Kyle St, Glasgow G4 OHP 0141 333 0088, 0141 333 8245 www.douglasparkglasgowbmw.co.uk