In our recent trip down to the BMW Performance Center in Spartanburg, BMWBLOG decided to experience the delivery process of a BMW vehicle. The BMW Performance Center Delivery program is an opportunity offered by BMW to any customers in the United States by allowing them to pick-up their cars at the BMW plant in Spartanburg.
The free-of-cost program includes complimentary one-night hotel stay, including meals, a tour of both the BMW Zentrum museum and Manufacturing Plant and a personalized vehicle delivery presentation by a BMW Product Specialist. But the best part of this unique program is the exciting opportunity to drive a similar built BMW as the one you ordered, on the race track available at the Performance Center. BMW professional driving instructors will provide on-site lessons on braking, cornering and safe driving. For those of you ordering an X-vehicle, the program also includes an exercise on the off-road course.
Our adventure began late at night when upon arrival at the small, but cozy Greenville Airport, in South Carolina, a BMW X5 was waiting to shuttle us to the hotel. Despite the late arrival, past midnight, the Marriott’s courteous staff greeted us and a hot meal was waiting in our hotel room. A welcome letter gave us the final instructions for the next morning.
To start the day with a “WOW” effect, after a short introduction, BMW’s professional driving instructors took us to the race track. The best part? As we mentioned before, you won’t be driving your own car, but rather an almost identical replica of the one you ordered. So what’s the benefit? Well, for starters, you can drive as fast as you can, slam the brakes as hard as you wish or accelerate faster than you would ever go with your own car; all in a controlled and safe environment under the supervision of BMW driving instructors.
The go signal came when the instructors simply said: “Go and enjoy yourselves”. We jumped in a 1 Series Convertible, with DCT, and off we were on the race-track. First exercise on the list: powerful braking and collision avoidance. Having done the Performance Center M Driving School before, we felt like a fish in the water, so we jumped right into slamming those brakes and learning how to properly save ourselves and the cars in unfortunate driving situations. Others in our group have timidly started the exercise, but a few minutes in, everyone could be seen with a large grin on their faces.
The braking exercise simply emphasizes the importance of anti-lock brake systems and how fully take advantage of its capability.
Next exercise in line, a slalom course with plenty of corners and lines to push the cars. Again, not driving our own car, allowed us to do things we wouldn’t do in a normal setting and with our own cars. BMW driving instructors constantly communicate with the drivers through walkie-talkies installed in each car. Their job is not only to keep all of us safe, but also to share their wisdom on how to properly drive a car on the race track.
Write before lunch time, our group headed to the wet skidpad where the idea is to go as fast as you can without losing control. First, without Dynamic Stability Control; so everyone span out at some point. The general rule is to keep looking where you want to go and modulate the throttle to keep the car in control and hopefully drift around the circle. With Dynamic Stability Control on, the M5 we were driving showcased the awesomeness of that system. For the extra thrill, the BMW instructors took us for a spin, literally a spin.
No worries, we made it alive, right in time for lunch….
BMW Performance Center served us lunch, shortly followed by some hot laps aboard the M5 and with some of the most skilled drivers we have seen. Okay, maybe not the best idea to do this after lunch time, but nonetheless, extreme fun and joy filled our hearts. If you’re down there for a delivery, the hot laps are a must. For the first time, you will most likely see the true capabilities of an M5.
The driving program ended with an off-road exercise. The X5 driving schools teaches the drivers to get the most out of their SAV and it goes through a series of handling and safety exercises. One would wonder where the thrill can be found in an X5 going off-road. Well, the course offers some moments where you begin to wonder if the car will flip or not…
With all the driving and fun out of the way, we were ready to go and experience the delivery process. Having completed two European Delivery experiences before, we were excited to see how the process goes on this side of the ocean. While not as flashy and breathtaking as the European Delivery program, the Performance Center program delivers a comprehensive and well-informative presentation of your BMW. With a little shame in our voices, we had to say that some of the features demonstrated in the 128i Convertible, without the iDrive, were unknown to us. Maybe a bit embarrassing for someone that lives and breathes BMWs, but never too late to educate ourselves.
Our host Jonathan Stribble, BMW Performance Center Product Support Specialist, took us through the features of the 128i and we decided to shoot an ad-hoc video showcasing the delivery process.
BMW Product Support Specialists are heavily trained to know all the configurations and features of a BMW, and their knowledge is there to serve you. At the time of the pick up, we encourage you take full advantage of this opportunity by asking questions and even personalizing the settings of your car. If you are picking up a 7 Series, this opportunity is more than recommended, since the high-end luxury sedans has an impressive array of settings.
To learn how the BMW manufacturing process works, we moved inside the BMW plant where visitors can currently see the production lines for the X5, X6 and in the near future, the new X3.
If you are looking to see some rare BMWs and learn about BMW’s automobile history, the Zentrum tour is a great way to end the day.
By 3:30PM, we had completed our first Performance Center Delivery and were on our way to South Florida for a photoshoot with the BMW 128i Convertible. (Our test drive review will be coming up shortly).
The program is available to all US customers and can also be used in conjunction with the European Delivery program. Basically, the customer can choose to go to Europe and pick-up their new BMW, but instead having it deliver at the dealership the car was purchased from, the new BMW can be delivery at the Performance Center. If time permits and you are looking to fully experience the buying process of a new BMW, we highly recommend both of these programs, either together or separate.
More information on the program can be found on BMWUSA.com.
The 128i Convertible was temporarily loaned to us by BMWNA.