There are things I enjoy after a prolonged temporal gap -- cream soda, Rollerblading, silk underpants -- and then there are things I’m truly fond of, things I hope can be omnipresent in my life, including my best friends from college, James and Kyle, and our Four Seasons 2014 BMW M235i.
The perfect plan
Nobody else gets me to cut loose, laugh harder, or break more laws than James and Kyle. We’re three of an unfortunate kind. James lives in St. Louis, and Kyle just south of Indianapolis. So when Kyle and I decided we would make a surprise visit to St. Louis when James’ birthday coincided with Mardi Gras weekend, it made perfect sense for me to pick him up in Indy, halfway along my 550-mile trip to STL. I would leave Michigan in the morning, pick up Kyle after lunch, and show up at James’ place at the tail end of happy hour. A solid plan made better by the fact that I’d be in our 2014 BMW M235i, one of the most balanced and enjoyable sports cars I’ve ever driven.
The M235i’s understated sex appeal, accentuated by brushed-aluminum mirror caps and an aggressive stance, whispers for your attention instead of screaming for it. The car is modest, refined, and oh so easy to love, and I find its lack of plush creature comforts somewhat charming. Who cares that there’s no navigation? The Garmin Nuvi 3597LMT unit I stuck to the windshield as I pulled out of my driveway worked better than BMW’s stock system would’ve anyway. I plugged in Kyle’s address, and the nav said I would reach Indianapolis just after noon.
Forget the plan
I’d just crossed into Indiana when Kyle called. “I’m running late.” That would’ve irked me had I been in most any other car but, being in the 2014 BMW M235i, I seized the opportunity to ditch the highway and instead sped through sleepy, rundown towns. I set the engine and adaptive suspension in Sport mode before going flat out on the northern Indiana back roads, which are mostly straight but have many small bumps and valleys that would trip up cars with less capable chassis.
The M235i’s 320-hp turbocharged inline-six is best in the upper rev range, where it responds faithfully to delicate accelerator taps. The steering felt impeccable as the car edged through the few turns there were, and the chassis perfectly balanced predictability and playfulness. The car’s wide windshield flanked by thin, upright A-pillars afforded a view of the entire surroundings, including the little piggy sitting by the side of the road. (Did I mention the brakes are great, too?)
I Hate The ’80s
When I got back onto the highway, I checked back in with Kyle. “I’ll be ready to go soon.” I still had a ways to go—my back-road jaunt took longer than expected—so I put the car in Eco Pro mode and set cruise control. (Sadly, I set cruise at a speed above 75 mph, at which Eco Pro stops functioning. Sorry, Mother Earth.) I plugged my iPhone 5 into the car’s USB port, opened my Pandora app, and used iDrive to open the M235i’s multimedia device menu so I could select my iPhone. But my iPhone didn’t show up, no matter what I tried. Bluetooth audio? Not an option, and the cable our 2014 BMW M235i came with has Apple’s now-defunct 30-pin connector.
Then I remembered the aged iPod nano I keep in my backpack for no reason at all. (Fate, you cheeky minx.) I pulled it out of my backpack with the majesty of Arthur pulling Excalibur from the stone and smugly placed it onto the 30-pin connector. Up popped my iPod and my songs, but no music would play. It seems my iPod nano is too old for the BMW’s software to recognize. The few radio stations coming through in the middle of Indiana reminded me that the entire world doesn’t move at the same pace, seeing how newscasters were reporting week-old news. They also reminded me that people still listen to Journey and Genesis.
Successful surprise, sinful weekend
My bearded salvation stared at me through Starbucks’ window. Kyle and I quickly hugged, got back onto the road, and started toward St. Louis posthaste. Kyle, too, disliked the M235i’s antiquated means for playing music but thought the cheesy songs we came across could make for great karaoke fodder for the weekend. (He was right. I do a stellar rendition of Jackson Browne’s “Somebody’s Baby.”) Falsetto solos and raunchy jokes made the next few hours pass quickly, and we got our first glimpse of the famous St. Louis Gateway Arch just as the sun started to dip below the horizon. A few minutes later, we were at Black Thorn Pub & Pizza, sitting next to a gleefully surprised James.
The next 36 hours were thoroughly immoral. (Although I dare not divulge all the details, I will say I wrote on a restaurant ceiling, tangoed with a middle-age woman in exchange for a flower, and learned how to properly “stomp the yard.”) On Sunday morning, we weary three made our way from James’ apartment to the 2014 BMW M235i and on to an early lunch in downtown St. Louis. “This back seat sucks,” said James, as he contorted himself into place. As we drove downtown, all felt right in my world. I had my two best mates sitting next to me in a car I hope to own one day. It couldn’t have been better, and -- in the words of a karaoke-worthy song, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith -- I would stay in that moment forever. Forever and ever.
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