Sunday: I arrive at Greenville-Spartanburg airport. A BMW representative was already there waiting patiently even though my plan was late by over 1/2 hour. Remember in the movies where the chaufffeur meets someone at the airport gate and holds a sign with that person's name? Well, that's what they did. Very cool, kinda felt special since everyone else on the plan was getting family & spouse hugs and kisses.
BMW provides the Marriot hotel room. The representative already performed all the check-in formalities, nice touch. It is a very nice room, better than any Marriot I've been in recently. I've had a bad experience with a hotel recently, so I was a bit wary, but the service was excellent and the facilities were great. BMW picks up dinner for the night at the hotel. I ordered about $60 worth of food for myself, and I think that's over the predetermined tab that BMW will pick up per person, so I had to cover $9 of the bill. Not a bad deal. The portions were sizeable and the food was pleasantly better than expected.
Monday: BMW provides breakfast. After breakfast, the shuttle leaves the hotel at 7:40 a.m., I'm not kidding. It was tough for me since I'm not usually in the earliest time zone. At this point, I find out that there are 5 deliveries occurring today. The PDC can handle up to 6 per day.
We arrive at the PDC at 8:00 a.m. We get to meet everybody (Ginger, Jonathan Stribble, Joshua Sechrist). All are extremely nice, professional, knowledgeable, and helpful. We split up into two groups. My group would go on the track 1st and take delivery after that. The second group would take delivery first and go on the track after us. Because the factory was closed this week, there was no tour of the museum or factory. Darn, I guess I just have to take delivery of another BMW sometime. ;)
Our professional driving instructor for the day was a man named Ty. He's an excellent teacher. Very personable and he engages the students participation instead of just talking at you. We started out in the classroom where he went over the layout of the course ("course, not track" as they point out). Oh yeah, we signed waivers. Then we went outside. He went through proper seating position and mirror adjustments. Each student had a car that was the same as what they bought. Mine was an estoril blue 2001 M coupe. The blue is very nice, but redder is bedder. Each car is equipped with a two way radio through which Ty speaks to us and gives us instructions. He drove an X5. My car for the day had over 3,000 miles on it already. No holding back on that one.
We started out with the slalom. We were supposed to learn from this smooth car control while training your eyes to pick a focal point farther down the road than most people use. After about 20 or 30 minutes of this, we went to the water walls. If you don't know about the waterwalls, its a straight section of the course with 5-6 offset staggered walls of water jets built into the ground. The walls seem impossibly close together and they make the course wet. The teacher can control the walls from a tower. We're supposed to drive down the middle of the road at about 25 miles an hour and he randomly fires the water walls, which we're supposed to avoid. We're supposed to learn something about reacting properly to emergencies. It demonstrates the capabilities of the car nicely, but the routine is defective in that every student is on high alert expecting a wall to fire and react accordingly, unlike the typical situation.
Next, we did the emergency braking exercise. This was on the section of the course immediately after the water walls, so it was wet. Basically, just accelerate up to 50 or so mph and slam on the brakes as hard as possible at a predetermined point. The point is to train the old fogies about ABS. The brakes work great, no discernable fade, and surprisingly short stops. ABS modulation is not unduly raucous.
Next, we did the skidpad. This is great fun. It's a large circle of polished concrete with a ring of sprinklers on the inner diameter. Two cars on the pad at a time, separated by 180 degrees. We started at 30 mph on the wet pad, with DSC off. At about 40 miles an hour, my tail broke loose and I left the pad for the grassy infield. The fun part was that it wasn't my car. The teacher later told me that 1) he's encouraging us to do that since we take from the experience a harmless way to learn about the limits of the car, 2) the roadsters did not break at the same speed because they are less rigid. Then, we did the skidpad with DSC turned on. With DSC, I managed to exceed 50 mph will still pointed forward. It's amazing to feel the DSC modulate the brakes individually at the wheels. To me, it didn't seem that the DSC management of the throttle was too abrupt for the situation because even when the throttle was reduced, there was no detectable weight shift forward. That sucker's staying on in the wet stuff as far as I'm concerned.
We did an emergency lane change exercise which is supposed to teach smoothness in emergency situations.
Finally, we drove the curvy part of the track. I'm not real sure what the point of this was. What I learned was about familiarity with the steering input on this car and what gears were good for what speed.
Then, we went back inside to take delivery.
My delivery specialist was Jonathan Stribble. He went exhaustively through every button and feature on the car. He showed me how to open or operate every item. Then, we went through the warranty and service requirements. To my pleasant surprise, Scott Doty of County Line BMW arranged for my car to have complimentary floormats (as they should be) and wheel locks. Jonathan said that you can get MOST dealer installed options at PCD. He says they won't do the BMW version of stongard/xpel because they did it once and it was just too hard. He recommended a professional. I have that appointment Thursday.
The drive back was okay. I went back to Houston. I suprisingly made it back with no tickets. If you're on that route, I didn't see any cops in Atlanta or throughout Alabama. I some in Mississippi. I saw none in Louisiana until after Baton Rouge, and every one was watching for traffic coming into LA from TX, opposite of my direction.
My back hurts from the 16 hours of driving, but it could be just because I have a weak back.
Compared to my Miata, the Coupe's speakers provide better low end, less distinct ultra-high end (high-hat & cymbals), and the Business CD is a bizarre product. The volume knob is too little. I prefer a large knob ala Japanese rather than a volume rocker button or nipple-sized knob. Another weird thing, there's a random function for the CD, but no repeat. Finally, hitting the CD, AM, or FM button doesn't turn the whole system on. In my opinion, it should. If the system is off, and I hit one of those, I obviously want it on. I shouldn't have to push the knob first. It also does not have speed sensitive volume. BMW could've done better with the CD player. But, since I'm not a bat or dolphin, it'll do. The sound of the engine makes all the music I need.
The rear-view mirror is huge. Huge doesn't describe it. The chrome ring reflects alot of light in some unfortunate directions sometimes. The auto-dimming isn't as effective as I've seen in other cars. I think I might test it out tonight w/a flashlight just to make sure it works.
In my opinion, the gray gauges flat out suck. They have nothing going for them. With the sun behind you, the gaugues are completely washed out. Why white numerals on light gray? Who was I supposed to call with that complaint again? At night, the gray instruments allow alot of light to bleed past the edges of the numerals. I don't know if this was intended, but it certainly doesn't increase the usefulness of the instruments. The needles and the numbers look like they are surrounded by the corona of a solar eclipse when illuminated at night. I didn't have any problems with the uneven lighting among the dials as other people experienced.
What's the deal with the ridiculously hot A/C and recirc buttons? The A/C would work so much better if those two buttons weren't providing so much heat. Anybody else have this? I wonder if its a hazard.
No montezuma's revenge from the rear wiper nozzle.
Pedals are all very positive, no problem with the clutch pedal right now.
Let me know if anybody wants to know about something I left out.
I'll post pictures as soon as I can find a host.