ICE, ICE, BEEMER
L ACHL A N S P ENDS THE DAY ATOP A MOUNTA I N AND GE T S B EHIND THE WHE E L O F A F L E E T O F BMWS IN A N AT T EMP T TO M A S T E R SNOW AND I CE D R I V I NG UND E R E X P E R T TUT E L AGE
BMW Alpine xdrive Experience
For a long time, I have heard about, read about, watched videos of, and coveted a day with BMW for its Alpine xdrive Event at the Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds (SHPG), halfway between Queenstown and Wanaka. Who would turn down an experience to drive brand-new BMWS with reckless abandon across snow and ice?
Luckily enough, we had a trip to Queenstown booked for my wife’s (ahem, 21st) birthday when we received an invitation to attend this year’s event which happened to coincide with our trip.
Under the guidance of BMW’S Driver Training team, led by Mike Eady, we were run through the dos and don’ts for the day. Top of the don’t list was don’t take any photos of the surrounding buildings or other vehicles not branded ‘BMW Alpine xdrive’. Why? Well, the SHPG is just that, a proving ground for most global manufacturers to come and test their vehicles on snow and ice in the northernhemisphere summer. We were told that the proving grounds were founded when some execs from Toyota took a chopper trip over a few mountain ranges in the area some 20 years ago and approached the owner of this land, who was told that the terrain was suitable for vehicle testing and asked to lease some space. SHPG now consists of 490 hectares of perfectly groomed snow and ice, and runs for three months of the year, offering snow and ice flats, ride and handling roads, and a 200-metre indoor refrigerated ABS Hi/lo facility (an indoor skidpan).
the skid to keep it going. With Lars’ Germanic bellows of “Power! ” over the walkie system, one has very few options but to keep one’s foot buried to the floor and hope for the best. Once the heart rate had dropped a few beats, we were once again back in the hot seat. Quite literally, as the seat warmers in the 423kw (575hp) Twin-turbo V8 BMW X5 M kept us toasty as we were pitted against our fellow attendees in slalom drag races and ‘in the gate’ races. While the X5 M and X6 M are capable of zero to 100kph times of 4.2 seconds on asphalt, the snow deems all cars equal, but the noise was enough to make them the pick of the day.
Finally, head BMW driving instructor Mike Eady, in an F30 M3, demonstrated hot laps around a designated course. Being the only rear-wheel-drive car at the event, the M3 was shod with snow tyres, meaning drifting became an exercise in absolute precision and pushing the boundaries of physics.
After a quick debrief at day’s end, it was off to the historic Cardrona pub for a well-deserved beer or two, then on to Millbrook to get ready for the prize-giving and gala dinner.
Our verdict? The BMW Alpine xdrive is a superb experience that every motoring enthusiast should add to his or her bucket list.
the time with comparatively small-scale manufacture, modifications and changes rather came and went according to supply availability, cost, effectiveness, etc.
In South Auckland, reg. 881DXF had become GC1696, but still retained the GB badge. By 1990 I understand the total cost to restore the car had run well into six figures. Not an inconsiderable sum then — indeed not now, either. Finally, how much did I pay in 1971? £580. John Bull, UK PS: As an aside, the XJS that