Horsepower of a different kind was on offer at Haydock racecourse when the area's leading BMW dealer, Halliwell Jones took over the Lancashire racecourse for a day.

Scott Green, Halliwell Jones Southport dealer principal with Sue Corden, group marketing manager

And despite 'BMW' conditions (blooming marvellous weather as one wag described the heavy showers), over a hundred customers took advantage of driving models from the 2011/12 range including the new 1 series.

As QLocal motoring writer I spent 30 minutes behind the wheel with salesman Derek Shearson (top) in a 118d Sport finished in a delicious shade of dark blue. Anyone who remembers the original 1 series - itself based on the ill fated Rover 55 - will have to work hard to spot any changes, but this latest model has been to 'finishing school', and sports an array of styling and engineering changes which add a dash of flair to the range, making it a fitting competitor to rivals from Audi, Alfa and VW.

My verdict? A refined, economical and very well made car worthy of the BMW badge.