Hua Hin Today Motoring reports from BMW Thailand new 3 Series super-sedan and the new X5 SUV driving experience on a closed track and off-road
Early morning. I decide to take “Taksi-Meteeh” Toyota 1,6L CNG powered yellow Bangkok cab from Nawamin, Fashion Island to Pathum Thani Speedway. “Mai mee pen haa” No Problem! I know the way!” says the not so young driver convincingly. And then we get LOST somewhere in Pathum Thani province. Google maps and phone calls to no avail.
I realise too late that my driver has Alzheimer’s. Change taxi! New, chauffeur. Polite and driving a new cab. But painfully slow. I finally make it to Pathum Thani Speedway and the BMW test drive BMW.
Pathum Thani Speedway is flat, concrete tarmac closed-track for test drive events, drifting and racing. The modern main building is purposefully built with a spacious al fresco pop-up coffee shop, buffet lunch on the ground floor and upstairs a cool A/C meeting room.
Outside in the bright hot morning sun a fleet of spanking all-new Bee Emm 3 Series 330i (Petrol) 330d (Diesel) and the beefy all-new X5 xDrive 30d SUV (BMW calls it SAV Sport Activity Vehicle). Well, its SPORTY and perfect for ACTIVITIES. “SAV!”
The test track is waiting and ready with red and blue cones marking the course. Stand by a bunch of experienced BMW instructors with their red walk-talkies.
Plenty of open empty space. A gentle breeze blowing. Temperature 33 degrees Celsius! (not FAHRENHEIT, Please!) Thailand officially uses Celsius or Centigrade.
Our first three runs on the closed track starts with the all-new 2019 Edition BMW 330i M Sport petrol powered rocket saloon boasting a brand-new exterior design. Now a tad longer and wider with a new bigger kidney grill, new slimmer LED headlights. In the rear twin-pipe exhaust system. The 7th generation immediately stands out as a true 3 Series performance sports sedan.
This new Beemer 330i M Sport is powered by a 4-cylinder petrol engine boasting 258 horse power and 400 Nm torque. Eight-speed Steptronic gearbox. 0-100 kph in 5.8 seconds flat. Top speed of 250 clicks per hour. Plus the exhilarating engine note.
The power, handling and brakes far from a standard four-door family sedan. German automotive Form & Function, par excellence. You can take it out on the track with confidence. Here it passes all the tests; flat-out, tight u-turns, braking, emergency lane changes, slalom and the elk test. No fear, outstanding handling. Price for this Ultimate Driving Machine: 3,359 million THB
Second test. Now, the 320d Sport. The all-new BMW 3 Series state-of-the-art two liter diesel-turbo powered four-cylinder engine puts out 190 hp and 400 Nm torque. Acceleration: 0-100 kph 6.8 seconds Top speed of 240 km. Price just under three million: 2,959,000 THB
Both models support the Driving Experience Control system with travel options in the COMFORT, SPORT and ECO PRO modes.
And some brand new cool features such as Assisted Parking and Intelligent Personal Assistant like Siri or Alexa. You say. “Hey BMW, I am cold!”. Immediately the car will answer and adjust the temperature in Celsius! next question…
Back on the closed track. Fire up the engine, again. Start. Full power on the straights. Four laps including all the manoeuvres and the famous Nordic elk (moose) test, tires squealing, engine revving. Smiling faces. Both all-new 3 Series 330i M Sport and 320d Sport pass the tests with flying colours.
Also the Gymkhana (a timed contest for automobiles to test driving skill) event with BMW Assisted Parking this feature impresses all participating auto journalists. Hands off the wheel and the Assisted Parking helps drivers exit from narrow parking spaces. The function recognises the steering angles when driving to a narrow range for a distance of up to 50 meters while driving at speeds not exceeding 36 kph. Like magic.
Automated driving is coming. Together with 5G and 6G.
Next the all-new BMW X5 30d M Sport, the new fourth generation SUV X5 with a blend of premium luxury performance and comfort. Loaded with elegant poise and power. Under the hood (bonnet) a 6-cylinder Twin Turbo Diesel 265 pushing out horse power and 620 Nm torque. Eight-speed transmission. O-100 in 6,5 seconds. Top speed 230 kph.
Again, more “step-on-it”, slalom and compulsory 70 kph Elk test. M Sport Brakes and M Sport Suspension provide solid handling and balance. Next soft off-roading on an unpaved surface. In the bush. Here we test the Reversing Assistant next to a pond. Hands off the wheel! Touch the accelerator lightly and BMW X5 reverses round the corner on the narrow jungle track, along the recently negotiated path.
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