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On arrival on our first baby, and sick of struggling with a clio to wedge and squeeze a pram and huge baby seat in we decided on a larger family car. My vote was a BMW 5 series and the wife's a Passat. I drove both and found the passat alot easier to get on with immediatley. We found a 2.0 TDi SE (140BHP) model and bought it.
First impressions were good, huge boot with masses of space for pram and loads of extra room for shopping, and has very handy pull down hooks to hold your shopping bags upright. In car space was equally as huge, our rear facing baby seat is very chunky and effortlessly fits in the front or rear of the car without causing problems to neighbouring passengers and also has ISOFIX points in the rear. Back seats have a folding down armrest which has internal storage compartment, 2 folding out cup holders and also has a lockable ski hatch but I use it for the fishing rods. On the back of the driver's armrest you have controlable air vents for the rear passengers and also heated airducting in the rear footwells under the front seats. Other rear passenger features include individual reading light and adjustable headrests.
Up front you have more storage than you could wish for; large refridgerated centre box under the arm rest, refridgerated glovebox, hideaway cup holders where the handbrake would normally be which grip to the size of your cup. Theres a nice deep pocket with coin holder where you would normally find the fuse box. 2 small concealed packets that pop out of the dash board either side of the hazzard light button.
All the components are very well made and dont feel flimsy when pulling down the indicator stalks or pushing the various button on the dash. Comes with a 2 DIN size stereo as standard which is very good quality for a standard system, but offers the space to upgrade with a nice 7" DVD touch screen unit. The key is something I've never used before. It has the usual lock, unlock and boot realse button on the key unit, but isn't actually a conventional key. More of a plastic wedge that is inserted into the dash and pushes in with 3 stages, the 3rd stage starting the key but you must have the clutch pedal pressed to the floor.
The electronic handbrake is interesting until you get the hang of it, but a nice little touch. Its basically a small dash mounted button that you press when you want to engage the brake, and automatically releases when you drive away.
The seats are a very comfortable shape and size with huge adjustment, mostly being electronic (6 way I think). The steering wheel has loads of pre-mounted buttons to control the onboard computer, stereo and phone. The wheel also has a 4 way adjustment which is hard to set and get right, but once you do you can get your perfect driving position.
The exterior of the car is upto the usual german standard and I think the paint gets a 12 year guarantee! The chrome is a bit of a paint to keep on top of and is prone to start pitting through the inter months. The rear light are the new LED type and look excellent, the front have the projector balls in but if you can upgrade to the HID type I would advise doing so.
The engine is bullet proof, and the version I have (140BHP) is returning about 50mpg on average, and I have been told once remaped it will be approx 175bhp have over 300Nm of torque and probably get another 5mpg. The only bad point I think about the engine is the operating noise. Its a little loader than some other modern TDi's but nothing to worth worying about!
Overall I have been converted to having my heart set on a BMW and buying this to keep the missus happy, to loving it and would happily buy another one! I'll leave it at that. Dan