Words: Shawn Molnar | Photos: Shawn Molnar
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As the producer of fine, high-performance automobiles, BMW faces a peculiar sales challenge in the Canadian market. Congested urban roadways and conservative speed limits conspire against the sporting nature of BMW’s athletic lineup.
The purchase of a new car is likely to be the second biggest purchase you will ever make. Not surprisingly, the discerning buyer takes their time while comparing cars from several competing manufacturers. But in the monotony of an ordinary test drive, it is difficult if not impossible to appreciate the dynamics of a thoroughbred performance car.
BMW Canada presents a solution. In their words, “put the consumer behind the wheel of a high performance car, in a high performance setting.” I like the way they work. How else could the average consumer get a taste of BMW power, handling, and safety before making their purchase decision?
Safety? Yes, safety. Heresy you say: how could a high performance car be safe? Quite simply because a car that can turn, stop and accelerate quickly on a racetrack can also turn (around the wayward pedestrian), stop (short of hitting the bus that just cut you off) and accelerate (safely while merging) on public roadways. In short: performance equals safety.
The event begins indoors where friendly, knowledgeable product experts offer an overview of BMW cars and their core characteristics. Canadians attending this event were given a special treat: Pierre Savoy, BMW’s chief driving instructor was on hand to explain several new BMW technologies, and to help participants better understand the physical reasons why BMW cars perform so well on track.
Heading out to the track, participants experience a buzz of excitement – something foreign to the average test drive. Several brand new BMWs sit idly, lined up in parallel rows. After instructors explain the course layout, attending drivers jump behind the wheel.
BMW Canada has gone out of their way to design an impressive autocross course, one that allows you to experience the phenomenal agility of their cars. With pulses quickened, participants steer through the course, learning how to better handle the car with every lap. Most importantly, participants experience the incredible performance that has made BMW’s roundel so famous and revered the world over.
Suddenly it all comes together, “my car doesn’t feel like this when I emergency brake – it usually wobbles back and forth.” To this participant, 50:50 weight distribution now means something – they’ve experienced its benefits first hand.
Gleeful drivers dice through cones, brake hard for corners, and feel the unrivaled surge of BMW Power as they accelerate down straights. Watching from the sidelines, someone concludes, “I think he’s going to buy that car; he’s really driving it!”
Upon concluding the course, one instructor remarked how he, “loves to watch people jump out of their BMW with an ear-to-ear smile.” From what I observed, this is no rare sight.
Upon discovering the real value of what lies beneath the skin, a new appreciation for BMW’s lineup is born. Perhaps a check will follow.
If you are contemplating the purchase of a new car, we strongly encourage you to attend a similar event in your area. You’ll never look at a test drive the same way.