Two weeks after the amazing and intense adventure at the BMW M School, I was back in Spartanburg again, this time with an entire crew of U.S. auto journalists. BMW North America offered to combine the BMW X6 M launch event with a one day event at the Performance Center where we first, had the opportunity to see the BMW 5 Series GT(more on coming that soon), second, to drive the BMW X5 on an offroad course and third, to drive a variety of BMW cars on the race track.
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While we were excited to be back on track again, the X5 offroad exercises sounded very appealing to us, in the end, how many times do you get to take an X5 offroad and experience a different thrill? Right, not that many times.
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. Since we were on a tight schedule there, we only had the chance to experience the course for an hour, but it was plenty of time to get our adrenaline going.
We started of a route “paved” with massive rocks and shortly we found our way into a 3 feet water where the thought of our X5 being flooded with water went through our head immediately. But the X5 did great and came out of this unique situation without a single drop of water at our feet. What we learned here was that crossing a river with the X5 is quite doable and shouldn’t need a full size SUV to do that.
Next step, driving the BMW X5 on uneven, steep surfaces where learning how to balance your vehicle is vital. I was riding in the car with the editor at European Car Magazine and the whole uneven, 45 degree angle the car was positioned in, gave us the chills for a second. On top of that, pretty much two of the wheels were not touching ground anymore. Of course, it looked far more dangerous from inside the car, but the truth is, the instructor was always in control of the situation and easily walked us through the exercise. Quite fun and a bit of adrenaline pumping through our heart…..
Our first thought was how well the X5 handled itself in that situation and how the xDrive system pulled out us out of a tight corner.
We moved forward onto more uneven roads where the offroad capabilities of the X5 were put to test and knowing the car’s center of gravity was crucial.
The Hill Descent Control is one of those features that many of us might have forgotten about or simply never used it, but it is one of these things that make a difference when going down a steep hill. By activating the system, you’re giving the car full control over the speed and braking system and the descending can be done with no intervention from you…..okay, minus the steering wheel control. The descending speed can be set up to 18 mph.
Last and final exercise of our little X5 escapade was to climb some more rocks and keep the car at odd angles, but we were on the second try already and we were becoming quite good at this, so we kept ourselves safe and no car tipping either.
Unfortunately for us it was time to head over to the track for the racing activities where among other cars, an M3, 650i, X6 50i were waiting to be tested, but the X5 driving exercises left us with a feeling that we wanted to wanted more. The entire course contains of more activities, including cornering at ground speed on gravel surfaces, ground clearance control and advanced handling, but maybe we will be back one day for the full experience.
Another fun day at the BMW Performance Center and by now, I’m sure the BMW instructors are tired of seeing us…..just kidding.
More information about the BMW Performance Center driving schools can be found here: Performance Driving Schools