Published on February 15th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
BMW Winter Driving Experience In Korea
When the ‘cold front’ hits Korea, we get an invite to experience a range of BMW produced vehicles at the all new BMW Drive Experience Centre in Seoul Korea. Located just about 7 kilometres away from the Incheon International Airport in Seoul, this BMW centre is about a year old and is one of 3 BMW Driving centres around the world and the 1st in Asia. The 1st center is in Maisech, just outside the Munich International airport, Germany. The 2nd center is in Los Angeles, USA.
Korea is an important market for the BMW brand. Why? Because in a market where the import tax on luxury cars is very high to protect their domestic brands like Hyundai, Kia, SM and SsangYong, BMW has managed to hold the No.1 luxury car brand spot for many years wth annual sales in access of 15,000 units. The brand is strong and with a lot of fans. South Koreans love the BMW brand and it is very aspirational for the younger generation of car buyers. They may start their automotive life with a local Korean brand car but eventually they want to be behind the wheel of a BMW.
This Korean BMW Drive Center offers BMW drivers/owners as well as other car brand owners/drivers the opportunity to get a better understanding on the BMW drivetrain technology and their handling abilities on various terrains and drive conditions. Yes, it is winter and the thick snow offered us the opportunity to even take the ‘X’ drive vehicles over a couple of snow covered courses.
The smooth, slippery, thick snow reminded us of our previous drive event in Iceland without the hailing wind and thick snowstorms where we were given a variation of track surfaces to experience the worst drive conditions that BMW X vehicles have been designed for, most of which Malaysians will never put their X vehicles thru. Comparisons were shown between cars with winter tyres on the snow and cars without. Safety is paramount with BMW and with this and many other snow bound exercises we experienced how slippery and dangerous snow (mud and sand also applies) can be with low stopping distance, lack of steering feel and the importance of electronic aids like DSC and DTC (which is provided by BMW in all their vehicles) working for you to stay safe.
There is also a full sized race track around the centre and here is where we learnt the handling abilities of BMW cars, from the 120d right up to the 530d. We started of course with a class room training session with a Korean BMW trainer (who also happens to be a Super GT team drive) who showed us (like many driving trainers before) the correct way to sit, handle the car and understanding the dynamics to be felt on the racetrack.
Next was the drive itself. After getting strapped in, tight and ready, we were on the track following the trainer. The first few introductory laps were to show us the cornering angles and appropriate speeds to tackle the circuit. Then came the chance to exploit the cars at safe limits. Lap after lap of excitement and then back to the classroom for some tire technology training. Understanding the limits of summer tires in slippery conditions and then the importance of winter tires when driving on snow covered roads.
It was a good experience and a day of enjoying what BMW does best. Drive dynamics and power delivery form the smallest capacity engines to the high output powerplants.
The BMW Driving Center in Korea is open to all drivers, BMW or not to come in and take a feel and taste of driving a BMW made vehicle. Contact the center and make a booking and have a great time in Seoul as a holiday not to be forgotten.