I drove a BMW 320d

Posted: 22nd November 2010 by Jacky Yong in Cars
Tags: , , , ,

Few dreams can become reality, at least for me. But today, it happened! It has always be my dream to drive a BMW. Today I did not just drive it. I trashed it “kau-kau”. It was the BMW demonstration on Dynamic Stability Control (DSC for short) for a lucky few members of the public. I saw it on Paul Tan’s blog earlier and I tried my luck calling in. Unfortunately the slots that I am free were already taken and I had to be put on their waiting list. But as luck has it, 2 hours before the session they called to inform me that I can come to my preferred time slot!

I had to bring Kit Yan there, else she will scream at the sight of me leaving. So I went there with Kit Yan in the Altis. Damn I wish I could go there in the Wira, wonder what their reaction is upon seeing me driving such a fucked up car! =P

Auto Bavaria Sg Besi

Auto Bavaria Sg Besi

The session was led by a BMW drive instructor Ivan Khong. It began with a rather boring but informative description of the proper seating procedures and other safety features. I’d say the driving strategy while you’re in a BMW is vastly different from a normal *cough Proton cough* car. For example, Ivan said that in case of an emergency, one has to be seated in a position such that one can apply a strong kick to the brake. Imagine that you are trying to kick down a wooden door of a burning house to save yourself. That’s how strong you should kick the brake. But please, DON’T ever try that on the Proton!

Understeer and oversteer

Kit Yan trying very hard to understand the difference between understeer and oversteer

Luckily Kit Yan found a way to entertain herself, with a BMW toy scooter, no less! Even if she was bored, there were fried chicken for her to munch on, and there was even an iPod Touch for her to play with. Yup, there is a gallery that sells Mac stuffs inside Auto Bavaria Sg Besi. Impressive!

Honk honk!

Honk honk! You're blocking me! Kit Yan enjoying herself on the BMW scooter

Demonstration time! The front car park was converted into a mini roundabout track and sprayed with enormous quantities of water to make it easier for the car to skid. Yes, skid. Did I tell you that this is not a car that drives on comfort? So if you are expecting Lexus kinda ride, you’re in the wrong showroom.

Interior of an X1

Interior of an X1

Ivan asked for 3 victims, err …. volunteers. I gladly lend myself. Kit Yan understood my instruction for her to stay on the side, but just to be on the safe side, Ivan told a few of his colleagues to take care of Kit Yan. I put my bag down and unfortunately my camera too, so couldn’t take pictures inside the car.

Ivan began by telling us what he is going to do, and he expects us to do the same. First he turns off DSC totally. He floored the accelerator and make the car spin. He made it look for effortless! Next he turns on DSC, and the car is controllable again, never lossing its footing. I thought it was Ivan’s expert foot at work, but as I learnt later, it was the amazing DSC at work! Next he turned on what is called the DTC, Dynamic Traction Control, or Sports Mode. I translate it as FUN! The car goes into a controllable  skid, just like in Tokyo Drift. Imagine having to skid your car without batting an eye lid!

Stings like a bee-mer

Stings like a bee-mer

Now it was time to sit behind the wheels! Each one of us inside the car had a chance to do it. Then it was my chance! The car was a 320d, brand new, only 800 km on the clocks. I feel rather tense getting into the seats. To be honest, this is not the first time I sit on the driver’s seat, I have done that on numerous occasions on static Beemers. But this time, the engine is running and the steering wheels begs you to turn it!

The DSC is off at first as usual. I couldn’t feel the steering at first, I was not used to the dynamics of the car. With Ivan sitting beside me, I was too preoccupied with gripping the steering wheel the proper way. Just when I have just got used to the feedback force from the accelerator, Ivan began counting down, “In 3, 2, 1 …. FLOOR!” I floored it, but only half-way. Because common sense will tell you (a regular driver) that the car is about getting to skid and I let go of the pedal. The car went to a skid and stopped. Ivan was not too happy about it. So on the second round, having got a heads-up of how the pedal feels like, I let loose hell!

As we approach the launching point, Ivan counted down “In 3, 2, 1 …… FLOOR!” And this time I did not hesitate. Pedal to the metal, the engine grunted to life and lurged its passengers forward. Steering kept pointed inwards on the small circle, the automatic rain sensors wiping away artificial rain drops from the water hose. With the wet tarmac, the rubber peeled away from the car’s intended course and the car spun. I am impressed, even as the car spun, it felt secure, body rolled was barely felt. And the engine power was cut off, so even if the panicked driver kept the accelerator depressed, the engine is safe from over-revving.

Beemer on a spin

This is how you spin the beemer. Notice the back wheel spinning like mad: rear-wheel drive monster!

The second round was with DSC turned on, the default setting. Same as before, I kept the accelerator depressed and I tried REAL HARD to spin the car. Ivan hinted that I wasn’t doing enough, he assisted me to twist the steering wheel and shouted “More, more, MORE!”. But this time, the car didn’t even want to spin, no matter how hard I tried to trash it. Just as the car felt it was going to lose grip, I felt the engine cutting off its power. And the unmistakable handling of a beemer is legendary. Although I have never driven one before, its reputation for being a driver’s car precedes it. The car just goes wherever I point the steering to. I liken this to driving a go-kart machine. I now know where it gets its nickname of being a driving machine.

The last round was the DTC round, a perfect balance between no holds barred and graceful poise. The car remained controllable, but will allow a certain degree of slip, perfect for the racer boy still inside you. Didn’t you say you wanted to do a Tokyo Drift? Well here’s the perfect machine for you, the perfect drift without even trying! No complex toe-heel maneuver to execute.

This is how you drive it

This is how you drive a beemer; HARD

That was not the end though. Ivan brought us to one last “secret round” after all 3 of us had our rounds. It was the things that you learn in the advanced driving school. He turned off DSC and went off to execute a few rounds of drifts in this rear-wheel drive machine. Love the smell of burnt rubber on tarmac and don’t mind spending RM2000 on tyre change? Well this sport is for you my adrenaline-charged brothers! Not to sound cocky, but I have been inside a drifting car many times before. I have a crazy bunch of Form Six friends who also happened to love illegal street racing. But seeing everything outside the window going horizontal really gets your blood pumping! Now that’s what I call driving! I hope my girls watched this properly and learn to drive like this too! Hehehe!!

Beemer butt

Beemer butt

After all that, of course we were introduced to the full line-up of beemers in the showroom by the friendly show room ladies. I told her that I am actually looking for a bigger car for my family. She said that if that is my target, then I should get an MPV, and my wife will drive the MPV. And for my daily commute I should get a driver’s car, this beemer. If I am just looking for a car that goes from point A to point B, then a beemer does not fit that, because a BMW is all about what goes on BETWEEN point A to point B. That I will have to agree on, so I’m afraid that I do not fit that category. I’m more of a Mercedes or Lexus kinda guy. But if you are in the market for something powerful, yet drives like a dream, then you can definitely give a beemer a serious consideration.

Beemer engine

This is a plain 4 potter, but oozes with fun!

You may also want to checkout Paul Tan’s entry on the event in his blog as well.

  1. cheefai7 says:

    OMG, i wish i can tag along.

  2. Jacky Yong says:

    Wanna drive a beemer? Buy one! =P

  3. Ivan khong says:

    Thumbs up on the experience.