BMW Performance Center Delivery – Diesel Style

By Charlie Gaetze on 10 October 2010
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Wow, what an experience.  While I had been to the BMW’s South Carolina outpost in the past for an M Driving School, and I was familiar with the setting for the delivery process, nothing prepared me for what was to come. As an alternative to the traditional new car delivery experience at a dealership, customers can specify delivery of a new BMW at the Performance Delivery Center.  In our case, we were to pick up a new BMW X5 xDrive35d there.

For us, the experience started the day before our scheduled delivery, when we flew into the Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina Airport (GSP).  Upon our arrival, we were promptly picked up by a new 5 Series GT and whisked back to the Marriott Greenville.

The Marriott Greenville is the hotel used by BMW not only for those picking up new cars but also for its visiting dignitaries and driving school students. It is clear that there is a special relationship between the hotel and BMW as the hotel has a concierge who takes care of all of BMW guests.  For customers collecting new cars at the Performance Delivery Center, BMW pays for the hotel room, dinner, and breakfast the morning of delivery.  There is a special dinner menu for BMW’s guests in the restaurant (and do save room for dessert).  Breakfast the next morning is either off the menu or a wonderful buffet that is a combination of U.S. and European offerings.

The next morning, after breakfast, the bus to the BMW Performance Center left at 7:45 a.m. There were nine of us on the shuttle bus picking up a total of five cars.  Of those five, three (including our X5) were U.S. delivery cars and two were European Delivery cars being redelivered, effectively continuing and extending the tourist delivery adventure all the way home.

Once at the BMW Performance Delivery Center, the first activity was the on-track driving school (bring your camera so you can prove what you did to your friends). The instructor starts off by explaining that there would be no pressure to go faster than one’s comfort level and that each driver would only be competing with himself. The rules, simply put, were “they are our cars, our tires, and our gas”, “so if we tell you to step on it, step on it, if we ask you to stand on the brakes, stand on the brakes, and always enjoy yourselves.”   A key point about the driving experience at the Performance Delivery Center is that the person taking delivery is typically driving the same model of car being picking up on the track.  So in our group it was the X5, an M5 (although I’m not sure what car this person was getting since the M5 is not a current model), a 135i, and two 335is.

We all did the max braking and collision avoidance training first, followed by the run through the slalom course and road course combined.  The braking exercise demonstrated how to use the anti-lock brakes to maximum effectiveness, and demonstrates why the anti-lock brakes have not contributed as much as had been hoped toward accident prevention.  I was very pleased that my X5 diesel kept up with the M5 on the road course.  In fact, I apparently had so much fun doing it that my wife got out and watched.  (She has never been a comfortable passenger when fast turns are involved.)

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