BMW Performance Driving School for the X

steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
edited March 2014 in BMW
Member's experience with the BMW driving school.


  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Member Posts: 5,343
    . . .leavin' on a jet plane, Thursday AM for SC to BMW - Land, USA. Thursday night, dinner at some church of cow worship and wine batptism (or something like that), followed by Friday at 8:00AM for two days of "X" driving school.

    I certainly hope the plant's shutdown WAS last week, not this. I also hope we at least get to see, up close and personal the new X3 and X5 -- too much to hope to be able to drive them.

    We'll see how BMW does it -- at the Audi driving schools the cars are manual transmissions. My guess is no such luck at BMW schools. My wife is hoping to be able to flog an X3 stick shift about. My comment, "na baby na!" :cry:

    Well maybe if it is the new 260HP X3 with the 6 speed -- that will appease her. :shades:
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 207,910
    I'm pretty sure the plant is closed to tours, shutdown or not... because of construction..

    On a related note, I'm going to the Speedway on Saturday to attend a Jeff Gordon racing school..

    Not a real racing school, but I do get to drive a Nextel Cup car for 18 laps.. It was a birthday/Fathers Day gift from my family..

    Have a great time!

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  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Member Posts: 5,343
    If BMW puts on 51% of the show that Audi puts on it will be a fantastic trip!

    Full report next week!
  • dhamiltondhamilton Member Posts: 878
    how was South Carolina? I'm green with envy.
    I was wondering if you could comment on the "ride quality' of your wifes X3? For instance, my wife has a FX35 which she loves but is getting to think that for her next car, she would like a more supple ride. The deal we got on her FX was better than what we could have got on an X3 which was her first choice, $1300 down, $478.00 a month with about $ 52.00 of that going towards Texas tax. She is a resident physician and I think some of her complaint comes from driving home on pot holed streets in downtown Houston after working a 36 hour shift. [which would make me want a Lexus, and I can't stand Lexus's
    The FX to me rides great but I am less picky and prefer a tighter suspension with quicker reflexes. She could have had an RX330, or an MDX but thought they were boring [atta girl, although I have a fondness for Honda/Acura.]
    I would really like to get her in to the Audi family but I'm reading that the Q7 is to rough. I didn't think so but what do I know. Would a Q7 with 18" all season tires do the trick?
    Any who, thoughts when you have time. Oh, and did your wife check out the X5? We have a way to go before her lease is up
    [28 months] But I love running scenarios.
    Thanks Mark
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Member Posts: 5,343
    Patience -- a full report will be duly posted; we just got home yesterday (Sunday) afternoon!
  • dhamiltondhamilton Member Posts: 878
    take your time, and welcome back.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Member Posts: 5,343
    Let's get some of the easy stuff out of the way first:

    Getting to Greenville is a 1 hour, 10 minute flight from Cincinnati on a Comair Jet -- your situation, of course, may differ. The Greenville airport is a delight and renting a car from Hertz is a short walk from the baggage claim and the cars are parked RIGHT there, no shuttle bus needed. Security is a relative breeze at this place too, in large part because the TSA people, even, are super friendly and welcoming.

    Greenville, SC has a population estimated to be something less than 60,000. The entire area of dominant influence enlarges that number to over 350,000 based on how far out you extend the ADI. Situated close to the SC/NC border, it appears that those who use this figure cast a pretty wide net.

    This "city" is an absolute delight to visit if, like my wife and me, you like to walk the "main drag", peering into the shops and stopping now and again (and again) in the bars, bistros and restaurants that both in quality and quantity belie the town's size. Greenville and its inhabitants seem to exude charm and graciousness -- on a scale of 1 to 10, everyone we met was at least an 11.

    We stayed outside of Greenville, near the airport, near the BMW visitor center in what one can assume is THE BMW Hotel of Choice, the Marriott. What other hotel has BMW 530xi's as courtesy cars and has, by my count two M5's, two Z4's, two X5's and many other various and sundry blue and white propeller adorned cars all bunched up around the valet area?

    Rooms in this hotel were $105/night and included (for two days) BMW's $30 breakfast buffet at no additional charge. In fact, an area of the hotel's restaurant was clearly marked for BMW Mini guests. The hotel seemed to be chock full of new "6 Series" owners and a group of "Advanced M" driver's there for a multi-day experience in South Carolina and up into Virginia for race car driver training in a variety of M3's 5's and 6's.

    With BMW picking up two meals per day (one at the Performance Driving Center proper), we were left to our own devices for dinner.

    We were in the Greenville area for 3 dinners, our choices and I am happy to report our recommendations were/are:

    o Chophouse 47 (22oz steaks!): imagine an UPSCALE Morton's of Chicago; the wine list, even by the glass is "impressive."

    o Bistro Europa: a bit difficult to easily classify, but suffice it to say if you like European-style food (think Italian, Mediterranean -- with a Greek influence), you will love this place; and, on a Friday evening when Greenville closes Main Street to traffic and has an every week street fair, sidewalk dining at Bistro Europa is a not to be missed treat. I had shrimp and crab tossed with angel hair pasta with a lobster marinara sauce. A very good wine list, just not as impressive as Chophouse 47's

    o Soby's: Modern Southern. Upscale casual dining -- also outdoor seating on the very beautiful tree lined Main Street of Greenville. I had lamb-ribs, they look like pork-ribs, they fall off the bone like baby back pork-ribs, but the sauce was a peach based BBQ sauce and the entire presentation was on a bed of beans or perhaps some kind of peas that this Cincinnati boy had not previously seen or tasted; for starters dill soup another culinary delight and another darn near impressive wine list.

    OK, enough of the town and the food, but I assure you, you will find plenty to like about Greenville, SC, even if you aren't there to drive BMW's.

    We arrived early enough on Thursday to be able to go to the actual factory where the X5's and Z4's are made. The plant tours were closed due to the re-tooling for the new X5 models. Apparently, we are well beyond the "secret stage" for X5's -- they were able to be seen and photographed without any coverings or attempts to hide them from [our] prying eyes and Nikon digital camera. During the first day's driving experience there were no less than 10 of them on the test track with us (not at the same time of course) -- perhaps when they're on the track it becomes the "proving grounds," for BMW/USA.

    We did visit the gift shop and purchased two BMW logo'd shirts -- we couldn't help ourselves.

    As our driving instructor told us, "sometimes I wish I had an addiction to drugs or something other than an addiction to cars, at least there are programs for those addicted to drugs!"

    Takes one (or two) to know one.

    ======== end of part one.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Member Posts: 5,343
    Waiver signing begins at 8:15 on the morning of the first day of the X driving classes, followed by about a 1/2 hour class where the instructors describe what you will be doing and the "laws of physics" that will govern the performance of the cars during the exercises you will be engaged in for the morning. Generally speaking you are told that you will be "pushing your comfort zone" behind the wheel and learning to recognize what a car feels like as it reaches its limits. Our instructor apparently had just returned from some hands on driving [in Munich perhaps?] of some new BMW's equipped with diesel engines. While there was virtually no "sales pitch" over the entire two-day class, our instructor seemed smitten with the "torque" available to the driver of a new BMW with one of two awe inspiring diesel power plants under its bonnet.

    During this period, our instructor told us some facts, rumors and opinions and used the words "I'd imagine" to qualify some of his more future oriented comments. For instance, he shared with us that it is likely the X3 (next generation?) will be built in the US alongside the X5 since the X3 is currently being built in Austria by a sub-contractor and due to the success of the Spartanburg "experiences" -- about 1% employee turnover was thrown in for good measure. Another tid-bit of information, "I'd imagine it won't be too long before we start building the engines here [in the US] too." Here's a "green one," from our instructor, "the entire paint facility here at the manufacturing facility is run on methane gas which is sourced from the greater Greenville/Spartanburg land-fills; and, this amounts to a sizable portion of the total amount of energy used to run the entire manufacturing process!"

    Now to the cars. We mount our 4.4L V8 X5's (ours had some 5,000 miles on it) and head out to the track for the first exercise, "panic braking," perhaps we should call it ABS braking techniques. Over a straightaway course each car accelerates first to 20MPH, then 30 and so on to a final run speed of 55MPH -- at an orange cone designated point on the track, your mission is to make the car stop in as short of a distance as possible. The "trick" of course is to attack the brake pedal at the right spot with as much force as you can muster and then maintain or INCREASE the amount of pressure you apply to the brake pedal UNTIL THE CAR IS AT A FULL STOP. Sounds easy doesn't it? Of the 6 students in the course 4, apparently, could not immediately bring themselves to apply maximum pressure at terminal velocity and retain full pressure on the brake pedal. Indeed, one member of our group did not apply maximum initial pressure until after at least the fifth or sixth run. None of the instructor's comments (nor mine) were (or should be interpreted as) critical. The instructor was very supportive and encouraging, and seemed to get his message across when he said something to the effect of "try to break the brake pedal off, hit it THAT hard and as the car begins to slow, press even harder!" He muttered into the walkie talkies that he had made that statement to a previous class (driving Z4's) and that someone actually had broken the pedal off. We had no such incidents.

    Suffice it to say this exercise gave us all a good workout.

    Next the slalom. Again same routine, faster and faster and faster in and out of cones and with a 180 degree turn around at the end and another run through the slalom. After several runs you were then timed for three or four runs and your times were called out to you over the walkie talkies. Afterwards you switched drivers and repeated the process.

    Lunch followed in the BMW cafeteria, which was much better than any institutional food I can ever remember having.

    The afternoon began with another classroom exercise in preparation for the 300 foot skid pad exercise. The concepts here? Understeer and oversteer. But, understeer and oversteer with and without BMW's DSC system to help the out of control driver that lurks within us all.

    This time we got to ride with the instructor while he drove, then we drove with the instructor in the seat beside us. To me, this and the ABS exercise were probably the most directly translatable to "the real world" exercises. Faster and faster and faster around the skidpad (wet, of course) you drove until the instructor pulled up on the emergency brake sending a 5,000 pound X5 into a spin that you were to perform CPR on: Correct, Pause & Recover, i.e. The understeering part was deceptively simple: drive in a circle and press on the accelerator pedal until the car begins to steer wider and wider of your intended angle, wider still as you go faster and faster until the car is about to leave the pavement. Then, at the last minute you first crank the wheel in the direction you want to go only to find that not only does NOTHING happen, but the understeer actually worsens! Then again, at the last minute, you leave the wheel lock as is and simply lift your foot off the accelerator and "ta da" the nose of the car instantly tucks in and the car goes where you are pointing.

    Steering into the skid as the car oversteers is equally revealing and apparently only teenage BOYS growing up in the 1960's (in places where there is snow) took the family sedan to freshly snow covered parking lots to "do donuts" until either dad or the local po-leece found you out. Steering into a skid "for the boys" seemed to come naturally that is, perhaps a little less so for "the girls." However, all the boys and girls showed vast improvements and I can report that it would appear "everyone" in the class "got the concept" and the execution -- some a little better than others, but overall I would think all of us are better prepared to tackle an oversteering vehicle as a result of this exercise.

    ======== end of part two.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Member Posts: 5,343
    Next up, LANE CHANGE.

    This one started out being "this is impossible, the hole's too small, cones will be sprayed all over and NO WAY!" However, I'll throw the cards over and tell you we all were much improved from the beginning to the end of this exercise and I now feel I could make a 90 degree left hand turn followed by a 90 degree right hand turn, followed by a full-on ABS panic stop. Did I mention that this was at a terminal velocity of 45MPH?!

    Sure, yep, you betcha -- no kidding. The instructor whips the X5 to some 40+MPH down a straightaway to an abrupt left hand lane change followed by an abrupt recovery followed by an abrupt slamming on of the brakes and you are not permitted to wander outside of your designated cone area. Imagine you are in the far right hand lane of a four lane (two in either direction) road and that you are travelling at 40 - 45MPH and POW a bus "magically" appears in front of your car and you have to swerve left into the lane, one to your left (and not overshoot into on-coming traffic) and immediately slam on the brakes to avoid hitting the person pushing a baby carriage right in front of your car. First you do it at 20, then 25 and so on until you are at 35 -- which seems challenging but "possible" at least. Forty-five? Forty-five miles per hour?!? No way.


    You are pooped at this point, and there are still two more events before your first day is over.

    Onto the "putting it all together with ALL cars on the course at the same time" exercise. "Faster, Mark, faster, get on the gas, give it all its got, now, oops, too late with your braking, now you've got to scrub off more speed and as soon as you come out of the corner give it full power followed by full braking followed by a quick lane change a swooping 180 and back on full power, push it, push it, push it." And, guess what? They aren't stingy with the number of times you get to do this before swapping drivers. Talk about wearing my 55 year old body out! Whew -- even with the A/C on full blast, I had worked up a major sweat!

    My wife, she who decided I should go first, now is behind the wheel and she must've figured out what to do WITHOUT the need for two or three warm up laps, for she started out, just about as I finished up. . .at FULL THROTTLE in a V8 powered X5. Um, how do you spell "whoop de doo?" "Mother! We're all going to die! Whaaaaaa! Yahooo!"

    Etcetera. What a blast.

    On the actual "proving grounds" is an artificial torture track -- obviously ONLY for X3's and X5's, since you start out with a two foot deep water hazard that demonstrates just how road (water?) worthy an X car is. Other rough and ready sections including a 45 degree hill climb and 45 degree descent down a rock covered "mountain" where we are told to engage "hill descent control" and take our feet off all the pedals and "let the car drive itself down" round out the off-road portion of our "performance driving day." Even on this completely controlled road and artificial facility, I thought the X's "must be pretty much as good as Jeeps and a heck of a lot better than I would have thought possible in any BMW." Little did I know that day two would really be challenging -- for the car, at least.

    ======== end of part three.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Member Posts: 5,343
    Day two starts at 8:30AM at the Performance Center in Greer, SC. We formed a caravan of 5 BMW's, four X5's and an X3 and headed toward Hickory Nut Falls, North Carolina where we were told we were going to climb to the top of Chimney Rock Park and end up atop a 404' vertical drop waterfall where there would be an opportunity for picture taking. The drive was said to be "nearly 10 miles off-road."

    How bad could it be, I thought. After that torture track yesterday afternoon, "give us your worst, mountain -- bring it on!"

    Famous last words.

    To call this rutted, muddy, narrow, narrower, narrower still, rock (boulder) and tree limb covered "path" anything that even hinted it was a road would be generous. One lane wide? Sure, if you were driving a toy car. There is no way we can make it up this hill any further my wife and I exclaimed to each other after we had driven perhaps 15 minutes into "deep country." "If you hear a banjo, whatever you do, DON'T stop," we heard our instructor's voice crackle on the walkie talkies.

    He's killin' me! Or he's killin' himself.

    We all laughed, that kinda nervous laugh you laugh when you're, well, NERVOUS!

    Remarkably the X's, with regular suspensions, regular street All Season tires on 18" wheels with 55 series tires, walked up and down, fording streams, gingerly stepping over jagged, steep "stairs" made of rock and covered with moss, goo and god knows what else that is slimy in North Carolina's mountains -- we did hit bottom (one time on the way up and once on the way down.) These cars made the journey without breaking a sweat -- which is more than I can say for the rest of us even though as we climbed we lost 10 degrees of temperature, seeing our final temp drop from a morning 74 to a mountain top 64.

    During the trip up, our radio interrupted the almost eerie silence as our instructor says, "I missed a turn back there, we need to back up." Back up?! Back up!? who is he talking to? It is bad enough going forward, he wants us to back up to some "wider spot" in the wilderness and then attempt to figure out how to turn the car around? Does he really expect us to back up and do a 180 here? There is NO here, here.

    Well, yes he did and we did back up and we did mange to get the vehicles going in the opposite direction -- "an' nobody got hurt!" an' no tow ropes ever left their storage bins, and no one even got their shoes muddy (that came later and was, frankly, voluntary.)

    At the top of the mountain the view was breathtaking and some of us found a mud covered foot path for a view somewhat closer to the edge of this magnificent waterfall (404' drop, don't you know.) We took a group photo at the top and then mounted our trusty steeds (with a driver swap) with new found confidence -- we were all certain these X's would take us back to civilization (with hill descent control, of course) safely.

    Equally challenging, equally fun and, in hindsight, too short, we "walked" our $65,000 BMW's down the rutted, muddy mountain "clearing" (euphemistically speaking of course.) We drove to a small town at the bottom of the waterfall and ate lunch looking up at where we had just been and saying "no one would ever believe we did this in a car, let alone a BMW."

    Ya think?

    $995, two airplane tickets, $350 hotel bill, $300 "fine dining," $100 auto rental, $92 at the BMW boutique.

    Money well spent.

    We now want to return and try it with the new X5's with "active roll stabilization" which our instructors seemed quite taken with.

    Money very well spent.

    It played like a vacation and we left Thursday morning and returned Sunday afternoon -- all in all, both money and time well spent indeed.

    I heartily recommend this to your attention.

    Kliky Here Boys and Girls

    ======== end. :shades:
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    Terrific report!

    I can just hear the Deliverance music, but I think that was a North Georgia thing. :shades:
  • dhamiltondhamilton Member Posts: 878
    That was delivered in a very Garrison Keeler manner. Funny and informative.....
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Member Posts: 5,751
    Great writeup. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
  • bargamonbargamon Member Posts: 302
    Nice write up Mark!

    I have been to the Zentrum many times for lunch and seen a few auto cross events they do at the parking lot.

    My Son gets his drivers license in April and I will take him to the 2 day teen driving class. I have to figure out what I will do at the same time? X school or driving school.

    Lucky for me I live just 3 hours from the center and if I get a BMW will opt for delivery there just to get a nice taste of the performance center.

    BTW, the Allroad goes back to audi in two weeks. Im really disappointed by the new ownership of the dealer.

    I must say the 328iX is a bit smaller than the allroad but likely handles better. The X3 prices about the same.

    I tried Euro delivery and take the family but the center you return the car to be shipped back to the states is closed the week after new years.

    We were so smitten with the trip we are spending 12 days in a rental benz and going anyway. Mostly we will be in Innsbruk skiing, Salzburg and Vienna. Would have been fun to drive MY car there and ship it home! And cheaper!

    I'll drive my sons outback for a while and decide and shop for the right deal. Im in no hurry except to satsify the lust.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Member Posts: 5,343
    The X3 was never a truck, it seems very much like a 3 series car, in fact.

    Too, it doesn't have the creds to play in the same sandbox as most SUV's even though it does have considerable "all road" capabilities -- indeed I drove up the side of a mountain in an X5 with the chase car being an X3 that walked 10 miles up a non-road to the top of Chimney Rock NC.

    Now, with the new 260 HP engine, the 6speed auto or manual at the same price, improved gas mileage and the ability to equip it with virtually all the LPS goodies, it is a true alternative to a 4 door sedan.

    The new dash, the new exterior dress up and the switch to very fine grain vinyl makes this "car" at $47K "the BMW of all-road activity vehicles."

    It never was, however, a truck.

    The X3, when driven by the BMW instructors, literally demonstrates faster track times than an M5 -- the straightaways are a different matter, but the X3 and X5 are able to "run with the big dogs" -- few truck based SUV's can do that. The Jeep SRT-8 loses a great deal of its off road capability in its transformation from trail rated to "drag strip" kingster.

    Yesterday, my wife and I got behind the wheel of a new X3, pretty loaded at $47K (everything BUT navigation and Sirius.) It had not been prepped, so we could not drive it -- it seemed nicer (interior wise) than the 2006 X5 loaner we had been given for the day while the X3 was getting a new spring for the ash tray lid.

    With the new engine and transmission, this X3 should really be winna!

    Test drive results, next week.
  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    The X3 was never a truck, it seems very much like a 3 series car, in fact.

    But it isn't; the E83 weighs over two tons and sits over ten inches higher than an E90. Yes, the X3 handles OK, and it is very nimble for an SUV, but even Munich can't suspend the laws of physics. You see, "almost" only counts in horseshoes and thermonuclear exchanges.

    The X3, when driven by the BMW instructors, literally demonstrates faster track times than an M5 -- the straightaways are a different matter

    Are you talking corner speeds? Slaloms? What about lap times at the Ring? If the X3 is that good you'd think that they would be the weapon of choice for SCCA and BMW CCA autocrosses. Me, I'll take any ///M car any day over any X3/X5. For an experiment, why not bring your X3 to a CCA driving school and see how many other BMWs give you a point-by? That said, if you need decent ground clearance(as we do-the downside of living on an old family farm) or RWD gives you cold chills, then the X3 is an excellent choice. And, for what it's worth, if you talk to BMW engineers off the record(as I have) they refer to the X3 and X5 as-what else? Trucks.
  • bargamonbargamon Member Posts: 302
    sorry to have used the "t" word! Hope I did not offend you or the Mrs.! :)

    In my test drives of the 5, 3 and X3 were pretty much in line with what I have read. The X3 (06 auto) felt quicker and more nimble than i thought it would. The ride quality was not great, but I had just come out of a 525 auto that was quicker than I thought and like "buttah" smooth. The 330i auto was not as roomy as the 5 (naturally) but was really nice and fun to drive. No MT's available to test!

    What I am learning is the addiction to max out what is available and the intoxicating effect of shopping for these cars. Some sites chat up how "ultimate" the 335i is but one must consider these participants get angry at amber colored lens and pissed off that the new 335 trumps the less than year old 330i and that BMW really pulled a fast one. Having never owned a BMW and the reputation of "Bimmer owners" not being that great, I can now begin to uderstand what thats all about. One guy paid $1300 for the parts to get clear lens front lights (amberless!) There are many 22 year olds whom are really into this model and the mods are a bit much.

    My point is I will likely balance what is available at what price and make an intellegent choice. I hate overpaying but really hope to strike a good deal and order what I want. Its gonna be more than "off the lot", but its gotta be decent.

    These are all great cars and I can't go wrong.
  • jrynnjrynn Member Posts: 162
    The X3, when driven by the BMW instructors, literally demonstrates faster track times than an M5 ... few truck based SUV's can do that.

    Let's see. According to, when each is equipped with an automatic transmission,

    the M5 weighs less than the X3;
    the M5 generates 500HP/383lbft torque while the X3 produces 260/225;
    the M5 accelerates 0-60 in 4.5 seconds while the X3(auto) takes 7.1;
    the M5 has a CD of .31 while the X3 has a CD of .35; and
    the M5, unlike the X3, doesn't sit 8 inches off the ground.

    So, forgive me if I am skeptical when you say the X3 outperforms the M5 on the track.
  • bodble2bodble2 Member Posts: 4,514
    You're forgiven! I was thinking the same thing. We've know for some time mark is a touch smitten by his X3. And it ain't no puppy love! :blush:
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Member Posts: 5,343
    The phrase "when driven by the BMW instructors" is key.

    At the M5 and "advanced" BMW schools, there are, frequently, participants who have taken many many driving schools and who -- some of them -- are weekend track stars, to boot.

    Part of the experience at the school includes timed track runs with all cars on the track at once.

    The instructors, driving X's, will literally run rings around even the most experienced folks who are behind the wheel of an M5.

    Both the X3 and the X5 outperform the M5 when the X's are driven by the instructors and the M's are driven by the students.

    This was a point being made, NOT so much by the instructors, but by the "advanced" students themselves who, over lunch at the BMW cafe, were remarking to those of us in the "X" class that being lapped by an X (when you are driving an M5) is a humbling experience.

    We, mere mortals, are, generally unable to tap the potential of even the highest performance cars.

    That is why the instructors said that a 530xi (when driven by a mere mortal) offers an unfair advantage over a 530i.

    I do not think, per se, that the instructor was suggesting that "FOR THEM" a heavier AWD vehicle would be their first choice. They were saying that for "us," we would be able to produce "faster, higher, safer, better, improved, and more controlled" laps around the course with the 530xi than with the 530i because the 530xi takes "less skill." Of course they are sooo smooth that they don't resort to pointing out our obvious lack of high performance driving skills. Somehow they get the message across without telling us we are but "mere [driving] mortals."

    Any port in the storm.

    I'm sorry if you thought I claimed the X3 or X5 is able to perform better than an M5 under all conditions.

    The point was and remains, that were WE to become better drivers (as good as the instructors, that is), we could make the SAV outperform the M -- were the M driven by "mere mortals."
  • jrynnjrynn Member Posts: 162
    So, if I understand you correctly now, you are saying.

    "A fulltime professional driver in an X3 can go faster than an amateur driver in an M5."

  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Member Posts: 5,343
    Well, I thought I said that the first time; and, although I suspect the "amateurs" would bristle at that characterization, considering the investment in driving schools that they have made, you are essentially correct.

    The point remains, ability/skill trumps technology in this case.

    Moreover, another point is that technology -- at least with respect to the X vs non-X comments made by the instructor -- can make up for amateur's deficiencies.

    I am an amateur -- as I suspect most of us posters here are. So I will now consider the merits of a "modern" automatic transmission in a weight balanced AWD sports sedan.

    At this stage, it is highly unlikely that I will become a pro driver.

    I'll take all the advantages I can afford.

    Right now a 335xi (and I might consider one with a stick, if it is still offered) seems to be about the best of all worlds.

    Now, however, with a magic wand, an X3 with the same "35" engine and Audi's DSG transmission might be nirvana.
  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    ...although I suspect the "amateurs" would bristle at that characterization, considering the investment in driving schools that they have made...

    So your opinion of "amateur" driving schools is based on attending one "professional" school?

    If I couldn't catch a "professionally driven" X3 with an E46 330i ZHP I'd hang up my helmet and driving gloves.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Member Posts: 5,343
    This was my fifth. I didn't say the driving school was amateur, I assumed you were suggesting that the folks in the "advanced" M classes (most of them their on top of multiple previous attendance) were amateurs.

    The BMW and the Audi schools -- the two sponsors of the schools I have attended -- are professional schools. The folks in the "Advanced BMW -- 'M' schools" seem to be in training to become "pro-am" drivers.

    I am not.

    The focus of all the driving schools I have attended (each being 2 days) has been similar: get the car into an "out of control" situation and apply instruction and exercise in order to regain control, followed by continuing the exercises over and over at higher and higher speeds until once again, the threshold is crossed and once again control is lost. Then, during the out of control portion of the instruction, you learn how to counteract the out of control attitude of the vehicle and bring it back into control.

    The "rinse lather repeat" school of high performance driving where the focus is on maintaining control or regaining control is what I have attended 4 times in Austria and once in South Carolina.

    The "Advanced M high performance school" seems to have, as its primary focus, driving on a closed track in competition.

    I have been through some of the same things as part of the on-road instruction I mentioned above -- I have NOT been on the path that trains students to either race in amateur road races or to become pro drivers.

    The BMW Advanced M students were, IMHO, far from amateurs was a key point in my post.

    Another point is that the technology MAY (it CAN) make a fair driver into a pretty good driver and so on.

    Not being the pro, personally, I simply say I'll take all the technology advantages I can get.

    Finally, were we as individuals to spend the money on training that we spend to "move our cars up the performance continuum," we would be able to "do more, go faster, be safer, etc." with lesser technology.

    It makes me think my lowly Audi A6 3.2 could keep up with an Audi S6 V10 were I to spend $25,000 on training myself rather than on the upcharge reflected in the MSRP of these two vehicles.

    Yet, were I to want to spend the extra $25K, I imagine I would spend it on the S6 instead of more training.

    Perhaps YOU are already a professional driver, but the things our instructors could do with X3's and X5's typically would mean that the X's would be showing the M's their tail lights. Of course the straightaways did allow the M's to catch up with the X's.

    In conclusion, the new X3 with the new 3.0 engine, tho. . . well driving that will give all but the most jaundiced pause -- the new 2007 X3 3.0 is (relatively) a screamer.

  • div2div2 Member Posts: 2,580
    It makes me think my lowly Audi A6 3.2 could keep up with an Audi S6 V10 were I to spend $25,000 on training myself rather than on the upcharge reflected in the MSRP of these two vehicles.

    Yet, were I to want to spend the extra $25K, I imagine I would spend it on the S6 instead of more training

    I think you should try a few BMW CCA driving schools. I suspect that you will find that you can develop good driving skills for considerably less than $25K. You may even learn to enjoy nudging the envelope without having a host of Bavarian acronyms waiting to intervene to "save" you from disaster...
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Member Posts: 5,343
    Next trip, back to SC, more of a vacation with a little learning kind of thing.

    I didn't mean I would actually spend $25K on the training, I simply meant that were most people to spend some money and time on education and training they would almost certainly get more out of their current car.

    I have no intention of feeding a V10 car either.

    I'm more looking at either an Audi or BMW TD "if" they ever come to this side of the Atlantic.

    Thanks for the tip.
  • bargamonbargamon Member Posts: 302
    They are busting your chops!
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