x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

My Car: BMW 335i is a hard to top hardtop

The Dubai-based telecom consultant Rui Gomes-Pinto believes he's got the best of both worlds with his BMW 335i convertible.

Rui Gomes-Pinto thinks his BMW 335i convertible is the perfect car. It's certainly more practical, financially speaking, than his previous BMW. Jaime Puebla / The National
Rui Gomes-Pinto thinks his BMW 335i convertible is the perfect car. It's certainly more practical, financially speaking, than his previous BMW. Jaime Puebla / The National

A smooth operator, 28-year-old Portuguese Rui Gomes-Pinto can often be seen cruising around Dubai Marina with the top down as the sun-worshipper enjoys the open-air freedom his 2008 BMW 335i Convertible provides him.

Having lived in the UAE for 18 years, Gomes-Pinto works as an operational consultant for telecommunications giant Ericsson, and claims his car is as quick and hyperactive as himself.

"I needed something that suited me, which was attractive, but with some real grunt under the bonnet - and with 300hp, six-cylinder twin-turbo and six-speed automatic transmission, my car certainly ticks all the boxes. Going from 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds, it gives most cars a run for their money," he says.

Gomes-Pinto bought the convertible just over a year ago after spotting it online. "I picked up this car for Dh155,000 with only 52,000km on the clock and it was only two years old, which I think is a pretty good bargain," he says.

With a real passion for 3 Series convertibles, Gomes-Pinto explains he doesn't want anything more in a car: "It was a no-brainer for me. I also love the fact it's a hardtop convertible, meaning I get the best of both worlds, which is exactly what you need for Dubai's climate.

"With the top up it looks and feels pretty much the same as the coupé but, at the press of a button, I have all the fun of a convertible. The solid roof also makes for a much cooler and quieter drive compared with its soft-top rivals," explains Gomes-Pinto.

"I'm seriously considering tuning it to take full advantage of the twin turbos, which I can apparently get up to 70 -to 80 more horsepower from with some clever mechanical tinkering," he adds.

And with the UAE's climate returning to its winter Mediterranean-like state, Gomes-Pinto is taking full advantage of the drop-top. "One year in and I'm still very much in love with this car, especially now the weather is beautiful again and I'm taking it out at every possible opportunity - driving it to work in Jebel Ali down Sheikh Zayed Road with the hood down and a big smile on my face," he laughs. Gomes-Pinto continues: "The solid grip, great balance and accurate steering makes this car a pleasure to drive and it screams to be driven hard and is super-fun through the bends. It's also very fast, while maintaining incredible fuel efficiency - averaging 10.7L per 100km."

It transpires Gomes-Pinto used to own an altogether less mainstream vehicle, when he was the proud owner of a vintage 1991 5L V12 BMW 850, which used to belong to Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Group, which includes the airline.

Gomes-Pinto explains: "I was so proud of that car, which had licence plate number 2 before I bought it, but it was costing me a small fortune in maintenance. Sheikh Ahmed owned it for four years before my father bought it from a showroom on Sheikh Zayed Road. My dad drove the car for nine years before he gave it to me.

"It's an amazing drive - to the extent that I think it's possibly the all-time best BMW. It was one of the German manufacturer's most expensive cars to produce and its design barely changed throughout a decade of production, which is really saying something."

Unfortunately, after six years of driving the 850, increasingly frequent breakdowns and faults meant mounting repair costs, which became crippling for the young professional - even with only 100,000km on the clock. "Eventually I succumbed and sold it to a collector, who got it for under Dh15,000 but spent over Dh20,000 on fixing it up," he says.

"It was a love-hate relationship - I was gutted to let it go, but it was commandeering a huge chunk of my salary. It may sound cheesy, but I was really happy it was going to a good home. It'll definitely become a vintage classic one day and the collector will enjoy future appreciation in its value as a result," says Gomes-Pinto, with a hint of regret in his voice.