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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > BMW E90/E92/E93 3-series General Forums > General E90 Sedan / E91 Wagon / E92 Coupe / E93 Cabrio > My experience at the Performance Centre (very long)



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      10-25-2005, 07:14 PM   #1
zimbofk
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Thumbs up My experience at the Performance Centre (very long)

On Sunday (23rd) drove down to Greenville downtown airport in my ChryslerPacifica rental. I called the Marriot to find out if they would pick me up (since I was 20 mins away) and they had no problem doing it. As soon as I finished my rental car paperwork, a brown 530ti with tan leather pulled up. The driver was very courteous. He handed me an envelope with my name on it that contained a welcome note as well as brief itinerary. The only bad news I got was that South Carolina is a dry state on Sundays. No alcohol even in restaurants.

The hotel is beautiful. It was recently remodeled in February and everything in the lobby is brand new. My driver set up my dinner appointment for 7pm and took me to my room. The rooms were also refurbished and well appointed. I especially liked the double, pulsating showerheads in the bathroom - very relaxing. That night I dined on a 3-course meal, which included a tasty salad as an appetizer, filet mignon for the entree and chocolate fudge for dessert.

On Monday (24th), I awoke at 6:30 am, showered, and headed down for the complimentary breakfast buffet. They had a decent selection and chefs on hand to cook omelets and waffles. After breakfast, we were whisked off to the Performance Centre at 7:45, all of us grinning with anticipation. There were a total of four delivery customers.

They broke us up into two groups; my group went to the track first before doing delivery - vice versa for the other group. I was paired up with Brett and his mom. Our instructor, Mark, took us through some safety precautions and general driving tips. After the classroom session, it was off to the track.

The track has a large oval that encloses a circular wet/dry skid pad at one end and a few obstacle courses at the other end. We were given two-way radios to keep in contact with Mark. He went first in an X3, I followed in a 330i (non-ZSP, step), while Brett followed in an M3 with SMG. We did a quick warm-up around the outer edge of the track. There are cones everywhere so you can't pick up too much speed but it was a blast to go through the slalom section. I was able to keep up with Mark but Brett was falling behind. Mark reprimanded Brett (in a nice way) for being slow and constantly reminded him that he was driving an M3.

After the warm up, we all piled into the X3 and Mark demonstrated his
driving skills. First of all, he showed us a 55-to-0 mph controlled stop
with steering around some cones. Then he blasted the X3 through the slalom - FAST! I never thought that I'd experience that level of speed and control in an SUV. Then we got into our respective vehicles to attempt the controlled stop. At first, I was a little nervous about having to stomp as hard as I could on the brake while steering to avoid an obstacle, but I got the hang of it by the 2nd attempt. After the 4th attempt I was able to hit 70 mph and stomp
on the brakes while easily negotiating an s-curve. I knew this was a rare opportunity on the track, so I drove that 330i hard. I was tearing through the slalom and entering corners at reckless speeds. It was a blast. Poor Brett was having trouble with the SMG set-up. He had trouble starting the car and dealing with the different shift modes.

Then we went to off the main course to the waterfall course. This is a wet course with cones set up in two circles and is on an incline. Mark told us to turn off DSC and DTC and to push the cars to their limits around the circles. Basically, we were going around in an oval around the two circles of cones. The balance of the 330i was great. I was able to take the corners at a pretty good speed before the car understeered - then dial in a little oversteer with the throttle after the apex. The Steptronic would not stay in 2nd gear and always downshifted as I applied power when exiting the corner. Sometimes it was very abrupt, causing me to spin out twice but generally I was
able to control the tail when it started to slide out. All in all, we did
about 20 laps, including 5 laps of racing. I could have won, but I spun
out on the last lap. Naturally, the M3 should have won anyway but Brett wasn't pushing it. After that, Mark jumped out the X3 and into the passenger seat of my car. Now it was time to show off the capabilities of DSC. With DSC/DTC off, we drove around one of the circles at a constant speed and then he told me to mash the throttle to induce a spinout. We did this several times so I could learn how to counter-steer and control the spin. Then we turned on DSC and did the same thing. Wow! With full throttle on a wet course, the car would not spin at all.

And that was it for driving time on the track. I think we were out there for about an hour and a half. Then I went back to the lobby for my delivery. There were several bays set up, and in one of them was my brand new car. Yes! My delivery specialist was Jonathan Scribble and he went over every detail of my car. He even paired my Razr with Bluetooth flawlessly. We finished early, so he said I could go on to the Zentrum museum before lunch. I stepped into my car, put the key into the slot, down on the clutch and pressed the start button. Vroom! I must admit that felt good to start it up for the 1st time. And it only had 2 miles on the odo.

I drove to the museum and did a short self-guided tour. They had the Z3 from Goldeneye, together with a Z8 and other BMW artifacts. It was quite interesting. Then I went back for lunch with all the others delivery customers, Mark and the delivery specialists. After lunch, we were told to proceed back to the track to meet Mark.

This was the highlight of the day. As we stepped out onto the parking lot we could see the smoke coming off the track in the distance and we could hear thrashing sounds of what could only a high revving M3. Then the sound stopped and Mark pulled up in a red 6 speed M3. He opened the passenger door and asked who wanted to go first. I didn't hesitate at all and jumped in. As I strapped in he told me to hold on. We drove out of the parking lot to the track entrance and then he punched it. I was thrust back into my seat as the M reached full acceleration. We went through the cones at mind numbing speed with Mark spinning the rear tires the whole way through. I was jostled back and forth in my seat by the g-forces. On the 2nd last big corner, he was a little over zealous (understatement) and we spun out, and we went off the track and into the grass. I was holding on for dear life but I still felt safe. He got back onto the track and drifted through the slalom course and then back through the same corner without going off the track this time. Then we entered the circular skid pad. The sprinklers were on and we did about 3 complete loops driving sideways. This skidpad is meant to simulate black ice and is quite slick. Then Mark completed his patented skidpad exit, with a turn that was so abrupt that my head hit the b-pillar. It was amazing. I couldn't stop grinning for 15 mins after I got out of the car. - I think I'm now in love with the M3.

After that, the drive home was actually anti-climactic.

For anybody thinking about doing the performance centre delivery - do it! I highly recommend it. It's a great opportunity to push an E90 to the limits and meet other Beamer enthusiasts. The staff is very friendly and helpful.

After putting over 200 miles in less than 24 hours, here are my first impressions of the 330i. It's very smooth and quiet on the highway. The steering wheel is nice and thick and the steering feel is great. When I did my test drives, I had a lot of trouble shifting smoothly from 1st to 2nd but for some reason I'm having no problem at all in my car. Stereo system sounds very good, not incredible but still very good. Radio reception is much improved over my previous car. Bluetooth works flawlessly. The centre console hurt my leg during hard driving when I was on the track but no problems on my car - is the gas pedal different on the manual vs. steptronic? I do not like the cup holders, I spilt my (covered) coffee when I hit a bump on the way to work :mad: - I'm gonna ask for a bigger cup next time. Space in the back is tight, but I don't care coz I'm never sitting there. Engine growl is wonderful and break-in is killing me. 4K rpm comes so very quickly. The back end of the exterior still needs to grow on me but otherwise I'm loving the design. I've had quite a few stares from people in the highway especially when the angels eyes are on. No rattles - yet. No shimmy - yet.
Overall, I'm loving my new car. So long Nissan Maxima...
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      10-25-2005, 07:26 PM   #2
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COOOL!!!
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      10-25-2005, 07:29 PM   #3
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Pictures

Here are some pix showing my hotel room, an overview of the track, scenes from the waterfall (after we spun out), our track instructor, some 6 series waiting to be tracked, and finally, my car.
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      10-25-2005, 07:32 PM   #4
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$$$

How $$$ was the experience, and can you take another family member too?
 
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      10-25-2005, 07:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jomamma
How $$$ was the experience, and can you take another family member too?
It's free! Your only cost is transportation to Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina. It cost me $90 to rent a car one way. That's it.
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      10-25-2005, 07:54 PM   #6
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Great post! Great car too! You might want to join BMWCCA and get in some low-key track time now that you have gotten the bug.
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      10-25-2005, 07:59 PM   #7
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That sounds awesome! I would love to experience a day at the Performance Center, it would definately enhance my driving skills. Thanks for the in-depth report and enjoy your new Bimmer!
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      10-25-2005, 08:01 PM   #8
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Nice pics. We did PCD last June. We got the shaft on some of the experiences that others have had (i.e. ride with the instructor in an M3).
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      10-25-2005, 08:02 PM   #9
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I really wish I took delivery of mine there... that would have been awesome...
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      10-25-2005, 08:08 PM   #10
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I did my Performance Center Delivery almost 2 weeks ago. It is fantastic. It exceeded my incredibly high expectations. Wow that rocked!! Highly highly highly highly recommend it if you are even remotely thinking about it.
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      10-27-2005, 07:39 PM   #11
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I can second that; I'm still grinning from the experience!
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      10-27-2005, 08:03 PM   #12
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does anyone know what the various driving schools cost at the performance center? i've already got my 330i, but that would be quite a trip to drive down and take a course or two
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      10-28-2005, 08:28 AM   #13
zimbofk
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The costs are ridiculous. I think the cheapest course is something like $400+ for a half-day. BMWusa.com should have more info.
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      10-28-2005, 10:14 AM   #14
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zimbofk, I really enjoyed your detailed writeup. I hope I can experience this soon. Thanks for taking time to post.

uD
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