President’s Corner – Winter 2017
by Neil Gambony
Performance Center Delivery
By Jeff Caldwell
I sincerely hope my column finds all of you well and enjoying 2017 to the fullest. Yes, it’s winter and despite putting appropriate tires on our cars there has been little chance to use them. I suppose no snow to speak of is a good thing, although there is a part of me that longs to enjoy an empty parking lot in the name of car control practice. I really hope I didn’t just jinx it. If we get a foot of snow next week, you can blame me! [You hereby are blamed – JF]
Speaking of snow and ice, I am willing to bet many of you reading this are proud owners of one of BMW’s line of Sport Activity Vehicles, like the X3 or X5. We all know these BMW “trucks” are great in bad weather, but also deliver a comfortable and refined driving experience in dry conditions. For many of us, the X vehicles are a perfect marriage of utility, convenience and driving pleasure. With that in mind, my wife and I ordered a new 2017 X3 MSport back in September of 2016 for delivery at the BMW factory in Greenville, SC. We had always wanted to do Performance Center Delivery and this was the perfect opportunity. Without hesitation, I would recommend the experience to anyone. It was truly fabulous. Let me take you through it.
We arrived at the Greenville airport and collected our luggage. Shortly after exiting the terminal, we were greeted by a brand- new BMW X5 and driver from the Greenville Marriott. As part of the new vehicle delivery experience, BMW provides transportation from the airport and accommodations at the Marriott. Our driver was well versed in the Performance Center Delivery process and gave us a nice overview of what to expect. Upon arrival at the hotel, we were checked in and made our dinner reservation at the hotel restaurant. BMW includes dinner and breakfast the following morning as part of the experience. Quite a nice touch and the food was fantastic! If you like seafood, get the blackened Grouper. You can thank me later.
Following a restful nights’ sleep and filling breakfast, we were whisked away in an X5 to the BMW Performance Center. The Performance Center is located adjacent to the BMW factory and serves not only as a site for vehicle delivery, but also a testing and training facility. It is home to the BMW M School and Performance Driving School. BMW has built their own track, skid pad and off road course. You can’t miss the fleet of new M3s parked outside when you arrive! The building is beautiful and very European in its design. Across the front are delivery bays, which are essentially glass rooms where excited BMW owners meet their new cars for the first time. Despite our enthusiasm, we would have to wait to be united with our new X3. BMW had a lot more in store for us. Upon entering the building, we were greeted by Derek Leonard who was our performance driving instructor for the morning. My wife and I know Derek from racing, so it was extra special that we were able to schedule our delivery with him. Without wasting a moment, we did a short introduction meeting and then headed out to the track to do some driving. It’s worth mentioning that none of the track or off-road driving is in your own car. BMW provides a vehicle nearly identical to yours so no worries about breaking your new baby. Derek directed us to an X3 sitting outside and off we went. First up, a braking exercise. It’s very interesting to feel and understand how advanced and capable BMWs are with respect to stopping. From the braking exercise, we moved on to car control and eventually a small road course on the track. We did slalom, braking, sweeping turns and everything in between. I was amazed at how well the X3 handled all we threw at it. The X3 has excellent balance for a sport utility. We truly tested the limits and had a great time doing it. From the road course, we moved to the skid pad. The purpose of the skid pad exercise was to demonstrate BMW’s traction control systems. With traction control on (how you normally drive on the street) it was impossible to get the car to spin, even when trying to on the wet pavement. Turn the traction control off and watch out! We were spinning like crazy! Turn it back on…no spins. Super technology and I feel safer knowing these systems are working for me every time I get behind the wheel. Thanks BMW!
After several hours driving (and spinning), Derek took us on a ride in a new M3. I’m not talking about a Sunday drive. This was a wild ride on the road course, complete with smoking tires, drifting and sideways sliding on the skid pad. I must say we were pretty impressed. BMW had certainly put together a memorable experience and there was more to come! Once we composed ourselves from the M3 ride, we met up with Arnold, another delivery specialist who jumped back into the X3 with us. We were heading to the off-road course. Yes! We had been waiting for this.
The off-road course is a series of hills, obstacles and water crossings designed to test our X3. In addition, it offered Arnold a chance to show us the features and capability of our new vehicle. We were in awe of the X3 as it wound through the course, up and down hills and tipped sideways over obstacles. Arnold drove through the course first, then we both got to take a turn bouncing around and splashing through the water. Such great fun and the X3 handled it all with ease. Sadly, we had run out of time or we’d have done the course again! Arnold dropped us off back at the building and we were treated to a fantastic lunch. We also met Willi, who would deliver our new X3, and dined with many of the Performance Center employees. As you can imagine our anticipation was growing with every passing moment. Shortly after lunch it was time to meet our new X3.
We were escorted by Willi to one of the glass delivery bays and there she was…our brand new 2017 X3 MSport! For the next two hours, we received a detailed education on our new vehicle and all of its features. Willi helped us pair our phones, set up the navigation and the BMW Connected app. We learned about all the X3 had to offer. When we had no further questions, and had thoroughly exhausted Willi it was time for us to load up our luggage and depart in our new BMW. What a day!
It should come as no surprise that we found this to be an incredible experience. BMW has really engineered it to be fun, educational and exciting. The best part is it’s complimentary on any new BMW. All you have to do is get yourself to Greenville, SC and BMW takes care of the rest. You don’t even need to be taking delivery on an X3, X4, X5 or X6. Any new BMW is eligible for delivery at the Performance Center. As a matter of fact, there was a customer picking up a new 7 series on the day we were there. So, the next time you order a new BMW be sure to add Performance Center Delivery. You’ll be glad you did. Tell them the NJ Chapter sent you!
Cheers friends. From everyone at the chapter, we wish you a wonderful 2017. Come join us for an event or meeting sometime. We’d love to see you!