BMW had their Brunch at BMW session over the weekend, with Saturday as a private affair for selected people and Sunday as an event open to the public. They also had test drives for the public. A myriad of cars were available for selection, 3-series, 5-series, 7-series, and MINI Coopers. I decided to go check the place out and grab photos for you guys who didn’t manage to make it there, at least you’ll be able to enjoy the event virtually here. :) Click each photo for a larger version.

My Brunch @ BMW Experience

I arrive at the Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Club after hunting for the venue for quite some time. From my experience with Starlight Cinema, I decided I would not bother with the parking near the event and parked slightly further. Felt abit out of place, as I was driving a 1984 Nissan Sunny while everyone else rolled in with nice German wheels of the 3-point star and Bavarian variants.

I walked up to the venue. There were plenty of families and young couples. Dads holding their sons’ hands, pointing at the sleek BMWs. Bad move uncle, they’ll be asking for a BMW 335i for their 18th birthday. Was wondering where the registration counter was, when I noticed the sleek white and black BMW 1-series adorned with M-Sport decals. Started taking photos. After I was done with the cars at the entrance, I walked in and was greeted by a BMW M5. Sweet. Took pictures of whatever angles I could. Wasn’t really able to get good rear shots as they parked the car close to the mirror. Walked around and took more photos, then I decided it was time for a test drive.

The counter girls were very friendly. Signed an indemnity form and proceeded to the next counter to sign up for a test drive. Since I just tested an Audi A4, naturally chose it’s closest competitor in terms of power, the BMW 325i. After letting them inspect my driving license, I proceeded outside to the test drive counter. Gave them the form and they brought out the BMW 325i. I tried to get in, but the seat was pushed too far forward. So I sat in the car with half my butt on the chair and used the electric seat controls to move the seat rearwards. The electric seats move slower than the ones on the Audi, and there was another car waiting to pass from the opposite direction and my open car door was blocking him. Whoever that was, sorry!

Once I got in, the helpful Auto Bavaria personnel showed me how to start the car. You insert the key into a slot, and press an engine start button. The six-pot fires up. I shift into D, and press the throttle. Feels very spongey, and roll-off was seriously slow and laggy. Took really long to rev up to about 2,500rpm and then it shifted into 2nd gear. It felt like a clutch that was slipping very very badly, but this was a BMW 325i with a 6-speed automatic transmission. What on earth was wrong with the car? Drove out to the highway and took two laps up and down the Hartamas highway. Managed a speed of about 140km/h before cars got into the way. The power is not bad, but it screams in at high RPMs instead of the Audi’s massive torque at low revs. The screaming BMW is fun, but big torque is very addictive as well. I am not really decided which one I like better since my time with the 325i was so short. Strangely, the 325i’s engine is no torque underperformer either, quoted to have 250Nm of torque peaking at 2,750rpm. Horsepower peaks at 6,500rpm – 218 horses to play with. But somehow it felt weaker than the 2.0 TFSI. Of course, remember this is a really really short test drive. The car felt more agile and steering was more precise than the Audi, I suppose this is because the BMW is rear-wheel driven.

After the short run on the highway, we rolled back into the venue. The BMW felt horrible at low speeds. I didn’t believe this was how the car was supposed to feel like. So I went through the whole test drive sign up thing again and picked a 525i instead to see if the engine and transmission was supposed to feel like that. Strange, when I want to test drive a 3-series, they just pointed me to the test drive counter, but when I wanted to test drive the 5-series, they had a cute girl escort me. I recognised her as one of the models that usually grace car events. She was one of the girls at the Honda Civic launch. Back to the car. The BMW 525i felt totally different. Throttle response was exactly what I imagined it to be. I am convinced that there was something wrong with the BMW 325i that I tested. I was there pretty late in the evening so perhaps it was trashed earlier in the day, so something had gone wrong with the transmission.

The BMW 525i I tested was equipped with the M-Sport package, so it had a nice M steering wheel as well as a sporty suspension. Damping was typical of a sporty suspension, not as comfy as the standard one on the 325i’s. The BMW 525i felt really good on the highway. The Auto Bavaria personnel told me to slow down to 80km/h on a certain stretch because of speed traps, so I did. Believe me, I think you can’t blame drivers of the E60 5-series for speeding on the highway because 80km/h felt annoyingly slow in the car. My driving experience with the car was mostly straight-line, but the lane change composure at high speeds felt extremely sure and steady. Impressive.

I wanted to get my dose of mega torque at low revs (I miss the A4!) with the BMW 525d, but there was only one unit and it was a pretty hot item, with the car not getting a rest from test drives, going in and out of the venue repeatedly. I guess people are really taking a good look at diesels these days with the rising fuel prices. Didn’t want to wait, so I left. It was a pretty good experience, and I got to try out the BMW 3-series so I can compare it somewhat to the Audi A4, even though it was for a really short while. Now all I need to do is get my hands on a C-class.

I hope you enjoy the photos I’ve uploaded. Click on each image to view a larger copy.