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Thursday 14 December 2017

New BMW's beauty is matched only by the scenery, writes Ian Mallon

ONE of the most beautiful drives in Ireland is from Dungarvan to the the outskirts of Youghal, along the southern coast.

There are many reasons why this is such a beautiful road trip.

For a start, the road hugs some of the most spectacular coastline in the entire country.

Secondly, the trip into Ardmore usually ends up in the bar of the spectacular Cliff House hotel, and finally the trip stops just a couple of kilometres short of the Co Cork border.

But, best of all, the Dungarvan to Ardmore drive usually follows three hours of some of the most mundane motorway driving in the free world.

Anyone who has had the misfortune of spending consecutive hours on the M9 knows just how soulless and dull that driving can become when you travel roads built by people with no colour or personality.



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There's not one single service station, picnic area or even toilet for two hours of M9, while there are five on the short bit of N7 that leads onto the M7 and eventually onto the M9.

Either way, this complete lack of anything has got to be some kind of record anywhere in Europe, but erm, it would be if it weren't matched and eventually beaten by the equally brain-killing M7 -- and that ends up in Limerick.

So that's why the glorious vista that awaits while travelling from Dungarvan to Ardmore makes for such pleasurable motoring and it gets even more enjoyable when you pull off the E30 and start aiming for Ardmore itself.

There you come across some magnificent rallying conditions -- skinny roads with two-foot high walls enabling a view many hundreds of metres in front and allowing you to indulge in some breathtaking barely legal highs -- all within the rules of the road, of course.

You can whizz by ruddy-cheeked farmers leaning on gateposts as you make your way into one of the great seaside villages of Ireland.

It's the perfect place for proper driving on roads that weren't built by Europeans named Klaus or Giles -- and it was the perfect place to test the most eagerly anticipated car in a generation.

The arrival of a new BMW 3 Series is as exciting as the birth of Christ, except it happens with a little more regularity than any second coming.

Experience though has warned me not to expect too much from any launch of a once brilliant model ... it can usually be disappointing.

There was nothing to disappoint here though -- the new BMW3 might just go down as the best '3' of all time.

And that's down to a combination of ingredients that fused together to create one of the most complete cars I've ever had the pleasure to drive.

The perfect 3 Series is the 320D Sports version which chugs out an awesome 184bhps and yet falls into the cheapest tax band.

It will also come in 316d ES and goes all the way up to 335i Luxury, and the best news of all, there's going to be a new M3 at some stage.

Until then the power and performance of the BMW 3 will remain unrivalled, thanks to a car that handles beautifully, accelerates with poise and passion and drives so well, especially around the byways of west Waterford.

The BMW 3 Series starts at €35,600 and is in showrooms now.

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