M MEETS X MEETS US

Qatar Today - - BUSINESS > AUTO NEWS - BY AYSWARYA MURTHY

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.”

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