What if I told you that you can have a brand new BMW 1 Series for a weekend test drive?
A makan trip to Melacca perhaps? A weekend excursion through the hilly roads of Ulu Yam up to Fraser’s Hill? Or maybe just taking the sleek vehicle around the city, enjoying the glitz and glamor of the night life surrounded by neon lights?
Well, you can, and all it does is for you to capture photos that represent one of the four key features of the BMW 1 Series, which each being a category in the contest. Be creative as you can and you too can have a weekend with this German machine.
The four categories are:
Rear Wheel Drive
As the features suggest, the 1 Series is perfectly Balanced 50:50 in weight. This removes any front or rear bias typically associated with most cars, thus achieving superior handling characteristics.
Efficient Dynamics refers to the reduction in fuel consumption and emission. Simultaneously saving gas and environment.
With Connected Drive, discover the feature that combines various elements from online applications, driver assistance, Call Centre services and solutions for the integration of mobile devices. As a result, you are provided with an exceptional form of mobility, with more convenience, more infotainment and more safety.
And Rear Wheel Drive provides agility and dynamic performance, key to ultimate driving pleasure.
Well, you don’t really need to photoshop in the words, but how do you like my attempts?
Again, category winners will get a weekend test drive and2 x VIP passes to the BMW 1 Series Launch Event. If you participate in all four categories, the most inspired collection of four photos will get a full week’s test drive and 2 x VIP passes to the BMW 1 Series Launch Event.
Recently I got to find out about something curious, something they called the Society of One.
One in itself can mean a person, a unit, a team, the first whole number, a kind, a category, an instance, and of course, it is also a series.
What is One?
While you might have guessed what is One all about right now, there’s still the initial question – Society of One. What is the Society of One?
It is a collection of individuals dedicated to the One, and to join the Society of One, you must first pass a test. A test that requires you to prove yourself steadfast, and your task is to break the code.
Should you be able to prove yourself as the chosen one, you will get all-expense paid trip for two (2) to Munich, Germany to meet the One.
Munich – the inner city
I mean, man, a trip to Munich, where the BMW museum is located. I’ve never been to Europe myself so if I am able to win this, it’ll be one heck of a trip.
You know what else is in Munich? Bavarian food! Bierwurst, black pudding, liver knodel soup, and German beer… Yums.
On top of all that, there’ll also be the unveiling of one of the most anticipated cars this year. The above pic is what I can get from the video (by pausing a lot of times), looks to be a beauty but it’ll be interesting to see the specifications and the car’s performance. After all, BMW is all about the driving experience. I can’t wait.
Earlier this month I got a call from Sashi of BMW asking if I was free the next Tuesday. I knew immediately that it was going to be something special, I agreed without thinking twice. As it turned out, together with Gareth, Kim, and a bunch of other more serious media representatives, Haze and I were invited to the first ever MINI Driver Training at Sepang International Circuit.
The reason it took me a while to blog this entry was that Haze went absolutely perfectionist and took quite a bit of time to edit the 4-minute video above. Please view the clip in its entirety, I guarantee that it is almost as awesome as the trailer of Inception.
The videos were mainly shot with 2 GoPro cameras mounted on various spots both in and outside the MINI we drove. Haze bought the cameras as a gift to us not long ago, and it couldn’t have been better timed. The (very few) lower quality segments were shot with the Canon S90.
classroom training, and check out the row of MINI Cooper S
The day started super early, earlier than my usual work day. BMW had it all over planned yet again (just like my BMW Drive experience), as we were getting close to Sepang International Circuit, there were already signs ala Malay wedding style guiding us to the paddock area of the track.
We were then given our individual name tags, breakfast, and then followed by a brief but very informative session of theory in the classroom. We learnt about how to seat adjustments, proper way of using the steering wheels, reaction time, braking distance, and other things that we often thought we know but actually we might have been doing it in the wrong way all these while.
Mini Cooper S – oversteering lesson
After a little refreshment (catered by Shangri-la no less), it was time for hands on lesson. We first started with the slalom course to get familiarized with the car and the proper way of handling the steering wheel. Every car were equipped with a walkie talkie with the instructors constantly giving us feedbacks and words of encouragements (as well as warnings, of course.)
Mini Cooper S – with 184 hp under the hood
We then split into two groups of 6 cars and headed to different lessons.
Our first was emergency lane change. It is a technique of switching lane in a very fast manner by turning the wheel 180 degree to each side in one very rapid maneuver. We did it progressively faster and had to avoid killing Luigi and Mario (the cones).
Then it was straight line braking. Slamming the brake hard as we could and getting to know how that feel and how much distance the car would travel before it stops. For example, from 30 km/h it takes only 3 meter, but at 60 km/h it’s a whopping 12 meter. Doubling the speed takes 4 times as far to stop the car!
Haze & KY, Gareth & Kim
Next was understeering and how to counter it. This was done by spraying some water on the road to reduce traction.
After that we combined the earlier two techniques and did the brake and swerve maneuver. A technique that could very well save our lives in emergency situations. Knowing what to do during emergency is one thing, but without practiced it is that much harder to execute in real life situations.
The most fun lesson (and probably the most useless) was the Agent Turn. We were taught how to start the car in reverse and flip it around to continue in straight line in one super cool and stomach churning move. It was awesome, I seriously want to try it with my car one of these days.
MINI at Sepang Track
After a whole day’s lesson, it was time to put everything to test. This came in the form of the MINI Challenge contest. We were given two practice and two timed run on the slalom course. I came up on top with the time of 20.38 (as recorded by the trainers) in our group. Gareth and Haze finished 2nd and 3rd in our group too.
We did pretty well, though the other group consists of mostly motoring journalists had better time, oh well…
Haze, Gareth, and I finished top 3 in our group!
After the certificate and prize giving ceremony, we were treated with a few rounds of driving on the Sepang International Circuit – the full track! This was the second time I had the chance to drive on the track, but the first time was only half the track and at night.
It was sheer joy driving the MINI on the track that’s as smooth as baby’s ass. I only wish we could have gone faster and push the car a little harder (but safety first I guess), it was awesome nonetheless.
we were obviously happy max, thanks Sashi!
After the track, it was already time to go. I touched the MINI one last time before reluctantly got into my car and head back. The training costs something like RM 1.7k but I seriously think it was value for money.
The trainers are highly qualified and respected professionals like Ivan Khong (my fav sifu), Hammond Lai, Irwan, and Wong Kah Keen who weren’t only very good but injected joy and humor despite having to work under the hot sun while we hid in the comfort of air conditioned cars. The food was great, and you actually get to go all out in brand new MINIs too.
I highly recommend anyone who owns a MINI or who are going to have one to attend this course to know your car better. Others without a MINI could of course still benefit tremendously with this course.
Last weekend we went for a really super awesome trip up to Belum Rainforest Resort. For the uninitiated, the resort sits on Pulau Banting, an island formed from the creation of lake Temengor in Gerik, Northern Perak.
The trip was a showcase of modern Diesel technology with the combination of BMW’s Efficient Dynamics and the Dynamic Diesel from Petronas. Here are the 10 things I learn from the unforgettable 2-day trip.
1. Diesel cars are super efficient
Lost in the big woohaa last September when the government made the switch from RON 92 to RON 95 petrol (with price adjustment, of course), was that the country also adopted the Euro 2M standard for Diesel fuel. Euro 2M Diesel has less than 50ppm sulphur, and are much cleaner for the environment.
With the new standard we can now take advantage of modern Diesel cars, such as the BMW 320d and BMW 520d that we used for this trip. None of the diesel powered 3 and 5 series we drove required a refuel for the entire trip, some 800 km in total. This is fuel efficiency I’ve never imagined, almost twice lower than my Toyota MR2.
2. Police escort is the awesomsauce
It was my first time driving with police escort, felt like a real VIP. From KLCC to Mutiara Damansara, we were bullying our way through traffic, breezed through red lights and intersections. The cops were really pro and exhibited some awesome “standing on the bike and yell at drivers” as well as “cornering and pointing at cars” mad skills.
The escort service even managed to split the traffic jam at TTDI, everyone was looking at us with envy, it was priceless 😀
3. Ivan Khong has 3 arms and 4 eyes
Our lead car driver, Mr. Ivan Kong, must have at least 2 more eyes and an extra arm. This certified BMW instructor, who is also a former rally car driver was able to:
lead a convoy of 6 pairs of noob drivers
operate 2 walkie talkies
report all incoming traffic in details (eg: a green Suzuki Vitara coming, he’s wearing a songkok, don’t overtake now)
communicate with the support & sweeper car
looked at our every moves (eg: car 4 and 5, stop playing with each other)
and drive in excess of 120-180km on trunk roads
When I grow up, I want to drive like him. Thank you Mr. Ivan Kong for leading us on this amazing journey
4. Indulgence at Ipoh serves good food (mostly)
We stopped by Ipoh for lunch on the way from KL to Belum and back, on both occasions we went to Indulgence Restaurant, one of the classiest eatery you could find in this city. The place is quite posh, and food was served in big plates with pretty garnish.
I had the cod on the first day, and lamb loin on the next. The cod was good, and the lamb loin was really one of the best lamb I’ve ever tasted. However, Gareth and Suan’s chicken on the first day was a let down, and so was Kim’s salmon on the second day. The scallop was a bit overcooked too, but the tiger prawn and the pohpiah appetizer were brilliant.
Indulgence is at 14, Jln Raja Dihilir, 30350, Ipoh. Tel: 05-255 7051
5. the beemers’ handling is phenomenal
Not that anyone should try this, but we were doing in excess of 130 km/h around the bend on the road to Gerik, both the 3 and 5 series were fitted with Sports package and handled real well. The traction control came on a few times when we “tickle the throttle” a little too much, but it felt safe and it was exhilarating.
The photo of speedometer above, was taken by me when my partner in crime Cheesie was driving. Can I have a beemer please pretty please?
6. Belum Rainforest Resort is nice
Situated on the island of Pulau Banting overlooking Temengor lake, Belum Raiforest Resort is nice, the room were big and nicely decorated. Bed’s a bit hard but I guess that’s just up to your personal preference. It’s a perfect blend of nature and comfort. The staff were helpful and friendly too. I would love to go back there again.
7. Bamboo rafting is a tiring affair
The first thing we did on the next day was bamboo rafting. Now bamboo rafting is not very different from rowing a dragon boat, which was something I did during my high school days (we won 2nd place twice on state level, tqvm), but bamboo rafting with a hangover was quite a bit different.
Luckily lake Temengor’s water wasn’t too cold that particular morning. We had loads of fun and got sober up for the long drive back to KL ahead of us.
8. Aaron is a very good photographer
The photographer commissioned by BMW on this event, Aaron, was really professional and efficient. He worked tirelessly to get us all these awesome shots for two days, and we got all the photos in a tidy little 4 GB thumb drive at the 2nd last leg of the drive.
I managed to take a photo of him while he was taking that particular photo of me in car number 5. 😀
9. People at BMW held the best events I’ve attended
The level of luxury and attention to details throughout the entire event was nothing I’ve ever experienced. From the first day when our bags were tagged till we reluctantly bid goodbye on the second evening, nothing was left out, we had zero complain even if we try.
There was good food, awesome driving experience, good companionship, and even a few surprises thrown in (after dinner there were gifts left in all our rooms – external hdd and solar charger). It was amazing, I want to really thank BMW and Petronas for inviting us, especially Sashi who first contacted me.
10. Jenga is still the best party game there is
We had one of the best times at Belum Rainforest Resort, Gareth, Kim, Huai Bin, Robb, Michael, Sashi, Nadia, and I decided to play Jenga, the best party game. The person who causes the wooden tower to fall finishes a glass of drinks. Robb, as you can clearly see, didn’t do particularly well on that night and threw sick all over the balcony. Kim wasn’t in the picture cos she too, was completely knocked out after 2 glasses of champagne.
At Belum Rainforest Resort, Celcom/Xpax’s network service was still working very fine despite it being a rather remote location. A certain telco, however, did not provide data service at that area, but those of us who are with Celcom/Xpax still managed to continue updating our tweets. As a reminder, you have until the end of December to enjoy Xpax’s double bonus (up to 16%) when you reload, check it out here.
I went to the Petronas Gallery for the famous BMW Art Cars exhibition with the Snark over lunch time. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed, and all we got was a poster and a bookmark.
According to the website:
The BMW Art Car Collection is a series of BMW production models transformed from automobile to art by some of the world’s foremost artists.
free bookmark and a poster
There were four cars on the exhibit, the BMW 320i by Roy Lichtenstein. Frank Stella’s BMW 3.0 CSL. A stunning M3 by Ken Done. And the hand painted BMW M1 by Andy Warhol.
The cars were not only beautiful art work, but menacing mechanical contraption too. Specifications of the car and performance numbers were stated. For example, the 3.0 CSL is stated to produce 700 hp. There were also some videos on display.
The exhibition runs from that 15th of September to 22nd of October, at Petronas Gallery on the 3rd floor of Suria KLCC mall. Admission is free, the hall opens Tuesday through Sunday. If you happen to be in KLCC, go check it out.