Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Tickling The Throttle (and other lessons learnt at the BMW Drive)

Last weekend, we went for this AWESOME road trip to Belum Rainforest Resort up North. But the trip wasn't about the resort. It was the BMW EfficientDynamics Drive, organized by BMW and Petronas, and the point of the whole trip was to get a bunch of bloggers and let them go wild.. er... test-drive the BMW's diesel cars and prove that they are just as good as petrol car.

The bloggers who went on the trip (besides me, of course. Yes, I was there as a BLOGGER this time. Heh heh.) were Suanie, KY, Shaolintiger, Kimberlycun, Cheesie, Robb, Cindy, Huai Bin, Ei Ling, Saimatkong, and one dude from Gua.com.my.

(BTW, according to their press release, BMW EfficientDynamics is a continuous strategy by BMW for the reduction of fuel consumption and CO2 emission levels, whilst at the same time enhancing the performance and dynamism of their vehicles. So now you know.)



I was paired up with Suanie for the drive (and nearly killed her twice), and took turns driving the recently introduced BMW Advanced Diesel models (namely, the BMW 320d Sports and the BMW 520d Sports Edition) up to Belum Rainforest Resort, and then back again the next day.

Anyway, instead of a blow by blow account of the trip (I'm sure the rest will be able to give better accounts), I shall just point out the lessons I learnt throughout the course of the trip, starting with...

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9am in the morning is way too early for a taklimat
Sorry Sashi ( the cool BMW guy who organized the drive), but I really couldn't concentrate on the presentation you gave at the Mandarin Oriental. I'd just had 3 hours sleep the night before, and I was too eager to get to the cars...

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How to sit properly when in a car
We were given a short lesson on how to position the seat in the car. Apparently your knees have to be bent when braking, so that in the event of a crash, your knees will bend upon impact. If they are too straight, the bones will just shatter... Scary.

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Driving a BMW is a lot different from driving my own car
It was quite scary when I just gave the accelerator a mere TOUCH and it jumped ahead. We started out with the powerful 520D, and it was scary driving it at first. The brakes of the 520D were REALLY sensitive too, so Suanie had to put up with a lot of jerky stop-start driving at first, while I got used to the car. Of course, once we got used to it we were feeling mighty fine... especially when we left KLCC and discovered that...

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Driving with a police escort is fun!
Apologies to all those poor drivers who had to make way for a convoy of er.. 'kids' driving BMWs through the jam in TTDI on Saturday morning. Now we know why all those VIPs insist on police escorts ALL the time... heh heh.

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ALWAYS LISTEN TO Ivan Khong
Ivan is the driver of the car leading the convoy, and he was in charge of making sure we we driving safe, and don't crash the BMWs. He's an instructor for the BMW Advanced Driving Course, and could actually 1) drive, 2) keep an eye out for incoming cars, 3) talk on the walkie-talkie, and 4) keep track of all the mischief we were up to via the rear view mirror. Now THAT's what I call multi-tasking driving. This is what we kept hearing on our walkie-talkies throughout our drive:

"ROAD IS CLEAR ROAD IS CRYSTAL CLEAR OVERTAKE NOW NOW NOW!!!"
"DON'T TICKLE THE THROTTLE WHEN OVERTAKING, FLOOR IT!!!"
"CAR FOUR AND FIVE STOP TAILGATING EACH OTHER."
"HUAI BIN STOP TAILGATING ME!"
"CAR TWO STOP TAKING UNNECESSARY RISKS."
"CAR NUMBER FOUR DO NOT OVERTAKE A CAR THAT IS OVERTAKING!"
"BEHAVE YOURSELF OR I WILL SLOW THE PACE DOWN!"

Thank you Ivan for getting us there and back in one piece despite our misbehavior! :-D

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How to TICKLE the THROTTLE
Apparently you have to 'tickle the throttle' of a BMW diesel car because the torque is so powerful that if you floor it you might hit the car in front of you if you're not careful. Doesn't make it any less funny-sounding though. We could not stop laughing every time Ivan said 'Tickle the Throttle'. Yes, we're juvenile. So sue us.

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(Heng from BMW showing that exhaust fumes don't dirty tissue paper)

Diesel is NOT as bad as you think it is
We were given another taklimat when we got to Ipoh's Indulgence restaurant for lunch. This time, Heng from BMW educated us on the misconceptions people have about diesel fuel.
Apparently, diesel does NOT emit much dirty fumes, is NOT less powerful than petrol, gives you more mileage per liter, is NOT just used for trucks and lorries.
In fact, the BMW diesel cars (the 320D and 520D) that we drove didn't feel much different from normal petrol BMWs (which I HAVE tried before. ONCE. A LONG time ago.)

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Petronas sells diesel in ALL their stations
They are also the first company to provide Euro2 diesel fuel in Malaysia. What that means, I'll leave to the car experts Shaolintiger and KY to explain. All I understood was it complies with the gomen's current regulations, and you can get it in all 900 Petronas stations nationwide (Petronas provided the Dynamic Diesel fuel for our road trip, BTW).

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Suanie is very afraid of driving around very sharp corners
The road leading to Belum Rainforest Resort is extremely winding, and while Suan was driving on the way up, she kept wanting to stop and let me drive because she was so scared. We had to keep egging her on and telling her "YOU CAN DO IT SUAN!", and eventually we got to the resort in one piece. I drove the same road down the next day, and I have to say it was the most awesome leg of the entire journey for me to be taking those corners. Robb even did some unintentional drifting on the way down...

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You ride a RM19000 BMW bicycle the same way you ride a RM200 one
BMW brought along two super-canggih bicycles for the trip, which cost a whopping RM19000 EACH. I gave it a spin and didn't really feel it was any different lor (or maybe I should have rode it into the jungle track instead of just the road).

Sure, the suspension, the frame, the support and everything about it is super canggih (the rack you use to store it on top of your car is awesome and comes with the bike); but I was still scared shitless when going down a steep hill of pressing the front brake too hard and flipping the bike and hitting my head on the road. It's happened before, so I'm paranoid, ok?

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Belum Rainforest Resort is awesome
The resort was great. The view of the lake was great, the rooms were nice and cosy, the shower was great, and the food we had during dinner was yummy. Oh, and the free-flow wine, beer and champagne wasn't bad either. Heh heh. Which brings us to...

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Gulping down half a bottle of wine in one go is NOT a good idea
We learned this after a session of Jenga Shots (with glasses of wine and champagne) after dinner at the resort. There was three more opened untouched bottles, we finished those bottles in five minutes between five of us. Then me and KY had to go through a race against time to get back to our rooms before the alcohol hit (which it did, and the room was spinning by the time I got back). The next day was hell for me because I could still feel the gas and heartburn from the wine throughout the day. GAH. Never again.

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Bamboo Rafting is FUN!
We were given a treat in the morning of Day 2 - a bamboo rafting outing on the lake. It was fun! At least I had fun. Suanie didn't seem too enthusiastic about the rowing though... heh heh. KY and Sashi (pictured above) kept trying to race the rest of us but no one layan hahahaha.

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Driving powerful cars make you feel invincible
I have to admit I DID get carried away at times while driving, because the car so much more powerful than my little old car that you can go straight to 160km/h without even realizing it (I managed to push the speed up to just over 180km/h at one point, didn't dare go for 200km/h). Problem is, I did have a false sense of invincibility at one point and took some unnecessary risks, especially with the overtaking. Sorry for scaring you, Suan! :D

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The brakes on the BMW cars are super 'makan'
Suanie and I had two close calls on the way back when we nearly crashed into the car in front of us. My fault, unfortunately, because the brakes on the 320D was heavier than the 520D, and I wasn't used to having to JAM THE BRAKES DOWN HARDER when we needed to stop after going at a great speed. Suanie was so scared she decided to drive after all (she'd initially asked me to drive the whole way because she was le tired.)

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The lamb loins at Indulgence are super awesome
Seriously, those lamb loins were yummy. The lamb shanks I had the day before were so-so (meat was tender, but a bit dry); but the lamb loins I had on the way back was YUMMEH. Oh, and the starters and dessert were good as well (although for the price you have to pay for the food, I think I'll stick to less fine dining the next time I go to Ipoh...)

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BMW Diesel Cars save more fuel than the petrol ones
We actually went the entire 779km journey from KLCC to Ipoh to Belum, and then BACK, without stopping to refuel at all. The cars even had a sticker on the fuel pump saying, "DO NOT REFILL."

As comparison, the Support Car that was running on petrol had to stop to refuel TWICE. It WAS nerve wracking to see the 'range' our remaining fuel could take us go down to barely 50km when we were nearing KL, but thankfully we managed to make it without running out of fuel on the North South highway. PHEW!

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I want a BMW but will never be able to afford one
Both the 320D and 520D costs around RM250,000 to RM350,000. Which is more expensive than my APARTMENT. Sigh... Can somebody PLEASE give me one for free? PLEEEASSSEEE???

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