Last post on Oct 11, 2006 at 9:46 AM
You are in the BMW X3 & X5
What is this discussion about?
BMW X3, BMW X5, Performance Mods, SUV
#1 of 29 BMW Performance Driving School for the X
by Stever@Edmunds HOST
Oct 25, 2006 (7:59 pm)
Member's experience with the BMW driving school.
Sep 05, 2006 (10:05 am)
. . .leavin' on a jet plane, Thursday AM for SC to BMW - Land, USA. Thursday night, dinner at some church of cow worship and wine batptism (or something like that), followed by Friday at 8:00AM for two days of "X" driving school.
I certainly hope the plant's shutdown WAS last week, not this. I also hope we at least get to see, up close and personal the new X3 and X5 -- too much to hope to be able to drive them.
We'll see how BMW does it -- at the Audi driving schools the cars are manual transmissions. My guess is no such luck at BMW schools. My wife is hoping to be able to flog an X3 stick shift about. My comment, "na baby na!"
Well maybe if it is the new 260HP X3 with the 6 speed -- that will appease her.
#3 of 29 Re: Getting Ready. . . [markcincinnati]
by kyfdx@Edmunds HOST
Sep 05, 2006 (10:54 am)
I'm pretty sure the plant is closed to tours, shutdown or not... because of construction..
On a related note, I'm going to the Speedway on Saturday to attend a Jeff Gordon racing school..
Not a real racing school, but I do get to drive a Nextel Cup car for 18 laps.. It was a birthday/Fathers Day gift from my family..
Have a great time!
#4 of 29 Re: Getting Ready. . . [kyfdx]
Sep 05, 2006 (1:08 pm)
If BMW puts on 51% of the show that Audi puts on it will be a fantastic trip!
Full report next week!
Sep 09, 2006 (7:06 pm)
how was South Carolina? I'm green with envy.
I was wondering if you could comment on the "ride quality' of your wifes X3? For instance, my wife has a FX35 which she loves but is getting to think that for her next car, she would like a more supple ride. The deal we got on her FX was better than what we could have got on an X3 which was her first choice, $1300 down, $478.00 a month with about $ 52.00 of that going towards Texas tax. She is a resident physician and I think some of her complaint comes from driving home on pot holed streets in downtown Houston after working a 36 hour shift. [which would make me want a Lexus, and I can't stand Lexus's
The FX to me rides great but I am less picky and prefer a tighter suspension with quicker reflexes. She could have had an RX330, or an MDX but thought they were boring [atta girl, although I have a fondness for Honda/Acura.]
I would really like to get her in to the Audi family but I'm reading that the Q7 is to rough. I didn't think so but what do I know. Would a Q7 with 18" all season tires do the trick?
Any who, thoughts when you have time. Oh, and did your wife check out the X5? We have a way to go before her lease is up
[28 months] But I love running scenarios.
Sep 11, 2006 (4:38 am)
Patience -- a full report will be duly posted; we just got home yesterday (Sunday) afternoon!
Sep 11, 2006 (10:09 am)
take your time, and welcome back.
#8 of 29 BMW Performance Driving School experience, Two-day X-driving (pt. 1)
Sep 11, 2006 (11:51 am)
Let's get some of the easy stuff out of the way first:
Getting to Greenville is a 1 hour, 10 minute flight from Cincinnati on a Comair Jet -- your situation, of course, may differ. The Greenville airport is a delight and renting a car from Hertz is a short walk from the baggage claim and the cars are parked RIGHT there, no shuttle bus needed. Security is a relative breeze at this place too, in large part because the TSA people, even, are super friendly and welcoming.
Greenville, SC has a population estimated to be something less than 60,000. The entire area of dominant influence enlarges that number to over 350,000 based on how far out you extend the ADI. Situated close to the SC/NC border, it appears that those who use this figure cast a pretty wide net.
This "city" is an absolute delight to visit if, like my wife and me, you like to walk the "main drag", peering into the shops and stopping now and again (and again) in the bars, bistros and restaurants that both in quality and quantity belie the town's size. Greenville and its inhabitants seem to exude charm and graciousness -- on a scale of 1 to 10, everyone we met was at least an 11.
We stayed outside of Greenville, near the airport, near the BMW visitor center in what one can assume is THE BMW Hotel of Choice, the Marriott. What other hotel has BMW 530xi's as courtesy cars and has, by my count two M5's, two Z4's, two X5's and many other various and sundry blue and white propeller adorned cars all bunched up around the valet area?
Rooms in this hotel were $105/night and included (for two days) BMW's $30 breakfast buffet at no additional charge. In fact, an area of the hotel's restaurant was clearly marked for BMW Mini guests. The hotel seemed to be chock full of new "6 Series" owners and a group of "Advanced M" driver's there for a multi-day experience in South Carolina and up into Virginia for race car driver training in a variety of M3's 5's and 6's.
With BMW picking up two meals per day (one at the Performance Driving Center proper), we were left to our own devices for dinner.
We were in the Greenville area for 3 dinners, our choices and I am happy to report our recommendations were/are:
o Chophouse 47 (22oz steaks!): imagine an UPSCALE Morton's of Chicago; the wine list, even by the glass is "impressive."
o Bistro Europa: a bit difficult to easily classify, but suffice it to say if you like European-style food (think Italian, Mediterranean -- with a Greek influence), you will love this place; and, on a Friday evening when Greenville closes Main Street to traffic and has an every week street fair, sidewalk dining at Bistro Europa is a not to be missed treat. I had shrimp and crab tossed with angel hair pasta with a lobster marinara sauce. A very good wine list, just not as impressive as Chophouse 47's
o Soby's: Modern Southern. Upscale casual dining -- also outdoor seating on the very beautiful tree lined Main Street of Greenville. I had lamb-ribs, they look like pork-ribs, they fall off the bone like baby back pork-ribs, but the sauce was a peach based BBQ sauce and the entire presentation was on a bed of beans or perhaps some kind of peas that this Cincinnati boy had not previously seen or tasted; for starters dill soup another culinary delight and another darn near impressive wine list.
OK, enough of the town and the food, but I assure you, you will find plenty to like about Greenville, SC, even if you aren't there to drive BMW's.
We arrived early enough on Thursday to be able to go to the actual factory where the X5's and Z4's are made. The plant tours were closed due to the re-tooling for the new X5 models. Apparently, we are well beyond the "secret stage" for X5's -- they were able to be seen and photographed without any coverings or attempts to hide them from [our] prying eyes and Nikon digital camera. During the first day's driving experience there were no less than 10 of them on the test track with us (not at the same time of course) -- perhaps when they're on the track it becomes the "proving grounds," for BMW/USA.
We did visit the gift shop and purchased two BMW logo'd shirts -- we couldn't help ourselves.
As our driving instructor told us, "sometimes I wish I had an addiction to drugs or something other than an addiction to cars, at least there are programs for those addicted to drugs!"
Takes one (or two) to know one.
======== end of part one.
#9 of 29 BMW Performance Driving School experience, Two-day X-driving (pt. 2)
Sep 11, 2006 (11:54 am)
Waiver signing begins at 8:15 on the morning of the first day of the X driving classes, followed by about a 1/2 hour class where the instructors describe what you will be doing and the "laws of physics" that will govern the performance of the cars during the exercises you will be engaged in for the morning. Generally speaking you are told that you will be "pushing your comfort zone" behind the wheel and learning to recognize what a car feels like as it reaches its limits. Our instructor apparently had just returned from some hands on driving [in Munich perhaps?] of some new BMW's equipped with diesel engines. While there was virtually no "sales pitch" over the entire two-day class, our instructor seemed smitten with the "torque" available to the driver of a new BMW with one of two awe inspiring diesel power plants under its bonnet.
During this period, our instructor told us some facts, rumors and opinions and used the words "I'd imagine" to qualify some of his more future oriented comments. For instance, he shared with us that it is likely the X3 (next generation?) will be built in the US alongside the X5 since the X3 is currently being built in Austria by a sub-contractor and due to the success of the Spartanburg "experiences" -- about 1% employee turnover was thrown in for good measure. Another tid-bit of information, "I'd imagine it won't be too long before we start building the engines here [in the US] too." Here's a "green one," from our instructor, "the entire paint facility here at the manufacturing facility is run on methane gas which is sourced from the greater Greenville/Spartanburg land-fills; and, this amounts to a sizable portion of the total amount of energy used to run the entire manufacturing process!"
Now to the cars. We mount our 4.4L V8 X5's (ours had some 5,000 miles on it) and head out to the track for the first exercise, "panic braking," perhaps we should call it ABS braking techniques. Over a straightaway course each car accelerates first to 20MPH, then 30 and so on to a final run speed of 55MPH -- at an orange cone designated point on the track, your mission is to make the car stop in as short of a distance as possible. The "trick" of course is to attack the brake pedal at the right spot with as much force as you can muster and then maintain or INCREASE the amount of pressure you apply to the brake pedal UNTIL THE CAR IS AT A FULL STOP. Sounds easy doesn't it? Of the 6 students in the course 4, apparently, could not immediately bring themselves to apply maximum pressure at terminal velocity and retain full pressure on the brake pedal. Indeed, one member of our group did not apply maximum initial pressure until after at least the fifth or sixth run. None of the instructor's comments (nor mine) were (or should be interpreted as) critical. The instructor was very supportive and encouraging, and seemed to get his message across when he said something to the effect of "try to break the brake pedal off, hit it THAT hard and as the car begins to slow, press even harder!" He muttered into the walkie talkies that he had made that statement to a previous class (driving Z4's) and that someone actually had broken the pedal off. We had no such incidents.
Suffice it to say this exercise gave us all a good workout.
Next the slalom. Again same routine, faster and faster and faster in and out of cones and with a 180 degree turn around at the end and another run through the slalom. After several runs you were then timed for three or four runs and your times were called out to you over the walkie talkies. Afterwards you switched drivers and repeated the process.
Lunch followed in the BMW cafeteria, which was much better than any institutional food I can ever remember having.
The afternoon began with another classroom exercise in preparation for the 300 foot skid pad exercise. The concepts here? Understeer and oversteer. But, understeer and oversteer with and without BMW's DSC system to help the out of control driver that lurks within us all.
This time we got to ride with the instructor while he drove, then we drove with the instructor in the seat beside us. To me, this and the ABS exercise were probably the most directly translatable to "the real world" exercises. Faster and faster and faster around the skidpad (wet, of course) you drove until the instructor pulled up on the emergency brake sending a 5,000 pound X5 into a spin that you were to perform CPR on: Correct, Pause & Recover, i.e. The understeering part was deceptively simple: drive in a circle and press on the accelerator pedal until the car begins to steer wider and wider of your intended angle, wider still as you go faster and faster until the car is about to leave the pavement. Then, at the last minute you first crank the wheel in the direction you want to go only to find that not only does NOTHING happen, but the understeer actually worsens! Then again, at the last minute, you leave the wheel lock as is and simply lift your foot off the accelerator and "ta da" the nose of the car instantly tucks in and the car goes where you are pointing.
Steering into the skid as the car oversteers is equally revealing and apparently only teenage BOYS growing up in the 1960's (in places where there is snow) took the family sedan to freshly snow covered parking lots to "do donuts" until either dad or the local po-leece found you out. Steering into a skid "for the boys" seemed to come naturally that is, perhaps a little less so for "the girls." However, all the boys and girls showed vast improvements and I can report that it would appear "everyone" in the class "got the concept" and the execution -- some a little better than others, but overall I would think all of us are better prepared to tackle an oversteering vehicle as a result of this exercise.
======== end of part two.
#10 of 29 BMW Performance Driving School experience, Two-day X-driving (pt. 3)
Sep 11, 2006 (11:55 am)
Next up, LANE CHANGE.
This one started out being "this is impossible, the hole's too small, cones will be sprayed all over and NO WAY!" However, I'll throw the cards over and tell you we all were much improved from the beginning to the end of this exercise and I now feel I could make a 90 degree left hand turn followed by a 90 degree right hand turn, followed by a full-on ABS panic stop. Did I mention that this was at a terminal velocity of 45MPH?!
Sure, yep, you betcha -- no kidding. The instructor whips the X5 to some 40+MPH down a straightaway to an abrupt left hand lane change followed by an abrupt recovery followed by an abrupt slamming on of the brakes and you are not permitted to wander outside of your designated cone area. Imagine you are in the far right hand lane of a four lane (two in either direction) road and that you are travelling at 40 - 45MPH and POW a bus "magically" appears in front of your car and you have to swerve left into the lane, one to your left (and not overshoot into on-coming traffic) and immediately slam on the brakes to avoid hitting the person pushing a baby carriage right in front of your car. First you do it at 20, then 25 and so on until you are at 35 -- which seems challenging but "possible" at least. Forty-five? Forty-five miles per hour?!? No way.
You are pooped at this point, and there are still two more events before your first day is over.
Onto the "putting it all together with ALL cars on the course at the same time" exercise. "Faster, Mark, faster, get on the gas, give it all its got, now, oops, too late with your braking, now you've got to scrub off more speed and as soon as you come out of the corner give it full power followed by full braking followed by a quick lane change a swooping 180 and back on full power, push it, push it, push it." And, guess what? They aren't stingy with the number of times you get to do this before swapping drivers. Talk about wearing my 55 year old body out! Whew -- even with the A/C on full blast, I had worked up a major sweat!
My wife, she who decided I should go first, now is behind the wheel and she must've figured out what to do WITHOUT the need for two or three warm up laps, for she started out, just about as I finished up. . .at FULL THROTTLE in a V8 powered X5. Um, how do you spell "whoop de doo?" "Mother! We're all going to die! Whaaaaaa! Yahooo!"
Etcetera. What a blast.
On the actual "proving grounds" is an artificial torture track -- obviously ONLY for X3's and X5's, since you start out with a two foot deep water hazard that demonstrates just how road (water?) worthy an X car is. Other rough and ready sections including a 45 degree hill climb and 45 degree descent down a rock covered "mountain" where we are told to engage "hill descent control" and take our feet off all the pedals and "let the car drive itself down" round out the off-road portion of our "performance driving day." Even on this completely controlled road and artificial facility, I thought the X's "must be pretty much as good as Jeeps and a heck of a lot better than I would have thought possible in any BMW." Little did I know that day two would really be challenging -- for the car, at least.
======== end of part three.