M MEETS X MEETS US
At the exciting roadshow organised by Alfardan Automobiles and BMW Middle East, we got up close and personal with the X and M series, with varying results.
Driving for the first time around a world-class race track can be exhilarating in itself, even if you aren't strapped into a super-car that is screeching around the hairpin bends and burning rubber across the lengths of straight track. Taking turns driving the BMW M4, M4 Coupé, M5 and M6 around the Losail International Circuit was, for lack of a better word, mad fun. I worked my way down from the latest model to the oldest and as the cars got louder (you could hear the M4's powerful engine in your bones), the experience got more intense. The couple of times I felt I was losing control of the car (one time I went screaming off the track and the instructor had to remind us politely to stay within the white lines) was heart attack-inducing; I remembered thinking what use was my helmet going to be anyways. But the adrenaline refused to settle even several hours after that.
The cars were magnificent. Auto experts can, and have, described them in more beautiful detail than I ever could. However, one of the features that struck me the most was how the mirrors automatically configured themselves to the optimal position as soon as you hit the reverse gear. And the gorgeous heads-up display that made me feel all fast-and-furious-like. (As it turns out, for some people, it's the little things that win you over in the end; more than horse power or turbo technology). The different driving modes – sport, comfort, etc – each lent itself to a different experience behind the wheel. The one thing that perplexed me – both with the M and X series – was the sheer number of buttons. There were billions of them; three just to adjust your car seat in three dimensions. Hasn't Apple already thought up the power of the one button that can rule them all? Is the reverse of it true in the automobile world where a complicated dashboard can give you the feel of flying an aircraft? Do buttons offer a better sense of reliability than touch screens when you are travelling at 140 km/ h?
The other segment of the evening got us behind the wheel of the BMW X3, X4 and X5 as we negotiated a complicated course laid out for us. Well, it wasn't that complicated but enough of the drivers in our group kept missing the turns and running over cones that we had to do the familiarisation drive all over again. Our German instructor wasn't impressed; especially after he had had the uneasy realisation earlier that “let's begin in five minutes” means different things in Doha and Munich. The “quiet dignity' of the X models was a refreshing change from the M range, which all seemed to be straining at the leash. But as we'd discovered, the BMW X could slalom and negotiate tight corners like the best of them, once you convinced yourself that the vehicles weren't as delicate as they felt. It was a shame that though the X6, the second generation of this sports activity coupé, was unveiled at the event, we didn't get the opportunity to drive it. It is hard to imagine how they could have possibly improved on what was already on the course.
At the roadshow, customers, fans and media representatives were given a taste of the two model ranges over the course of two days in November. “Many of our customers never get to experience the true power of their BMW M vehicles, and our newest models have several new technology features that we wanted to showcase. So we wanted to provide an opportunity to gain a greater appreciation of the technology and innovations of these powerful cars,” said Mohammed Kandeel, CEO of Alfardan - Automative Operations, during the press briefing prior to the driving sessions. “During the event, our guests will be able to put the vehicles through their paces in a safe and controlled environment, under the careful guidance of experienced driving instructors.”