Car manufacturers every now-and-then arrange special drive events for customers and media to connect the brand better with them. We have been part of many such drive experiences, each bringing out the best of the manufacturer and the recent BMW Drive Experience was no different. BMW organized their 2015 drive experience in the Leisure Valley Park in Gurgaon, adjoining the national capital of India.
The drive event was aimed at demonstrating the dynamism, versatility and high performance of the BMW cars across the product portfolio. The BMW Experience Tour gives the customers an opportunity to drive the complete range of BMW cars. Apart from that, one can also experience the BMW brand and interact with product experts.
Mr. Philipp von Sahr, President, BMW Group India said, “BMW Experience Tour provides our customers in Gurgaon a first-hand experience of the exhilarating performance and superiority of BMW vehicles in a challenging and exciting environment. They are able to appreciate the versatile capabilities, technology, safety systems and features of our cars in detail.
Apart from having fun on the test track, they also benefit from the professional advice of the BMW Driving Experts on how to make day-to-day driving safer. BMW Experience Tour is a very successful platform for us to connect with our existing and potential customers across the nation. With this unique initiative, we wish to take a step closer to them and make them experience Sheer Driving Pleasure in the true sense.”
The BMW Drive Experience 2015 was divided among four activities -
1. BMW experience zone to touch and feel the recently launched BMW i8 hybrid sportscar and customized BMW 7-series car
2. BMW M-Zone that offers a taxi drive in the high-performance M-series duo - the M3 sedan and M4 coupe
3. The BMW off-roading zone where one can check the abilities of BMW X-series including X3 and X5
4. The BMW Tarmac zone to check the handling and stability of BMW sedans like the 3-series and 5-series.
As we were getting ready for the experience, Mr. Frank Schloeder, Director, Marketing, BMW Group India gave us a brief about the BMW experience and introduced us to the instructors - 2 to be precise - one each for different drive zones. The presentation was aimed at explaining the basic car controls, including the correct seating position, how to correct under-steer and over-steer, and much more.
Time to race - we left the presentation zone and among all the dust and sand were a dozen odd sedans and SUVs lined up outside. The members present were split into 2 teams comprising about 10 people each and were sent to different zones. We started our experience from the off-roading zone and got ourselves a BMW X3 SUV followed by the BMW 5-series for the tarmac zone.
So our instructor took the charge and said he will drive two laps to show us the course and then we will do two laps in the car. With a hope to kick some dust around, we pushed the throttle and started taking tight curves. But it was not as thrilling as we expected it to be - reason being the DSC! DSC or Dynamic Stability Control mode ensures stability to the wheels while harsh cornering and works with ABS to cut the power to the wheels when the wheels are about to loose the grip.
And then our instructor said to put the DSC off, which we realized was stopping us from having some fun. So, with the DSC off, all we need to do was, push the throttle around the corners and check how good the X3 handles. And to our surprise, while the cars were drifting on sand like anything, the response from the steering was brilliant and so was the handling of the car. And while we were craving to get more out of the car, we had to go to tarmac for the speed run.
Speed-Run on tarmac
We arrived on the tarmac to do time-run on the sedans and check the handling capabilities of the BMW sedans. I got the chance to drive a BMW 5-series and to be honest, I was a bit skeptical about getting the best out of the sedan knowing that we have to compete against the 3-Series GT and also the course made was a bit narrow to take sharp turns in such a big car.
Nevertheless, I pushed the throttle to give my best and the tires squealed at every turn, and every braking effort made me anxious that the car will loose control. For the first practice lap I kept my cool to do a reiki of the track and remember the turns. In the second lap, I pushed the car to prepare for the time-run and when it came to the competition run, I did my best to achieve the best time among the participants - a flat 55.6 seconds run. My nearest rival did 56.2 seconds.
But it was not all hunky-dory to let you know. Along with a Slalom course, we had to make a full 360 circle which was the toughest part. And why is that so - because there was oil spilled all over to let the M-duo (yes, you read it right, the M-duo, which we will talk in the later part of the story), make the best of drifting. Going too fast into the corner made the car to loose the grip and that slowed us a bit while coming out.
And now the best part came as we got a chance to check the performance of the M3 and M4, albeit through a passenger's eye. It was the BMW Marketing head Frank who gave us a time-run on the M4 coupe around the course, and the car was insanely fast. We went like a hurricane, tackling all the obstacles and as we approached the 360 degree zone, we were astonished to see the drifting capabilities of the coupe. We did some 4-5 laps around the circle, from the inside as well as from the outside. And she was something divine during the drifting!
And here is my take on the BMW experience. To start with, I had more fun at this event than I did at some of the other events. And the main reason being the way we were encouraged to push the cars to their limits, rather than being concerned that we could crash the car. Secondly, the BMW cars are fun in themselves. I mean, we got a terrific response from steering every time we took a hard turn.
Finally, with all the niche models that BMW presented at the event from the Z4 to the M-Series to the insanely expensive BMW i8 hybrid sportscar - I still feel that the company's bread and butter cars like 3-series and 5-series are equally good. They might not be as good-looking as the aforementioned sports car, but they still put a smile on your face every time you get behind the wheels of any of these cars.
BMW will cover 18 cities around the country and if the BMW Ultimate Driving Experience comes to a town near you, don't forget to sign up and experience the experience!