Drifting in BMW's and feeling safe!
Yes - you are reading the title of this article correctly. In fact what is should read, but it's too long for our side navigation is "How a nana, mummy driver, zoomed and drifted around in the snow in 1.5 million dollars worth of BMW x series cars and felt safe as houses!". Definitely too long!
I was recently fortunate enough to be invited by BMW to test drive a range of their X-series BMW's around the Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground, just out of Queenstown, for the Alpine X-drive experience. Much to my former boy-racer husbands disbelief - in that I was going and he wasn't, I accepted the invitation and was actually quite looking forward to it...not just because we were staying at Milbrook Resort!
During the course of the event I was able to drive an impressive fleet of BMW's that included:
- X1 xDrive 20d
- X3 20d
- X3 30d
- X4 xDrive 35d
- 330d xDrive Touring
- 320d xDrive Touring
- 320i xDrive GT
- X5 30d
- X5 40d
- X5 M50D
- X6 xDrive 30d
The day started with a briefing about the cars, talking about the BMW X-drive 4 wheel drive system - which as a perhaps overly cautious mama, I was impressed by...and surprisingly understood.
The 4 wheel drive system is an intelligent design that keeps safety of passengers paramount. This is highlighted particularly in snowy conditions - hence our magnificent location for the day.
The system is designed to proactively distribute torque to wheels to improve cornering, traction and grip. So when you're in a situation where there is no grip under some of the wheels the torque will be distribute to the wheels that have grip to push the car forward. This was then demonstrated to us when we first ventured out int he snow with the cars. Put a 4wd car on half ice, half concrete and the wheels start spinning from a hilll start and the car ends up rolling backward. In the BMW the car senses lack of grip on the ice, distributes the torque to the wheels that have grip and accelerates - safe as houses - watch the video here.
Above: Watching the torque redistribute power to wheels with grip. #cleverdesign
Then came the down hill example - showcasing the Hill Decent Control (hdc)- going down hill all their cars have four wheel brakes. The usual problem is using brakes down hill the front gets more weight, the back is light and the car starts sliding, however, hdc drops the car to low ratio gear - and once it is activated it takes you to 8kph to drop speed of the car without brakes. I loved this as it means you can rest assured the car is safe going down hill and I felt really secure. In fact - so secure I think I'd very much like to take a BMW with me every time I go to the snow thank you!...well actually all the time :)
We then got to do some drfting turning off the dsc and trying to get the car to go sideways...Here was my first attempt:
Alright, alright! That wasn't me...that was one of our instructors. I can say though that I did one full circle drifting and it was so much fun! The practice rounds to get to that point were just as much fun, and surprisingly I had no fear as the car was just so safe! Even with traction control off, the car felt secure on the snow and any error that may occur would be driver error, not these clever cars (being careful not to call it a smart car :)).
The rest of the day was filled with racing each other down a snow track and swirving around cones in the snow and being taken on hotlaps (see them here) with our instructor.
Overall, it was an awesome day! Having driven for our first review in our first issue of OHbaby! magazine the BMW X5, it really did set the standard for us in quality and safety. Many cars have come close but the BMW remains my favourite - and this experience and even greater understanding of it's safety and clever design has reinforced that.
Here are some more amazing pictures from the event:
Experience it yourself at the next BMW Alpine xDrive event will be on August 10-18, 2015. Places are limited to 20 a day. See bmw.co.nz to register. Package includes: a day on the snow, two nights’ accommodation at five-star Millbrook Resort, cocktail welcome party, prizegiving dinner, Alpine xDrive vest, stop at Cardrona Pub, helicopter and bus transfers to and from the SHPG, costs approximately $2200, excluding flights.