Join us for a customer driving day at Oulton Park. Mmmm, lovely
Customer driving experience days – that’s hardly a new idea is it? But then, neither is drinking beer, but that doesn’t seem to have gone out of fashion either. Put together a great set of cars on a proper race circuit, with instructors and assistance, and you’re just bound to have fun.
That was BMW’s thinking anyway, with its M Power days for customers. Let’s face it, if you’ve just bought an M3, being shown exactly how to get the best out of it in safety just has to be a great idea. It’s an even greater idea if you have a large stretch of tarmac, some cones and some water.
The handling course with wet and dry in the car park and cones to negotiate showed up what a handful the M3 could be. But then, we like oversteer, so that was a whole heap of fun and a great way to start the day at Oulton Park.
The pace of the day is as quick as the M3, so next it’s on to the Fosters circuit and a chance to drive an M4 with an instructor and V-Box data to highlight your deficiencies. The car had a half rollcage, and uprated tyres and brakes but was otherwise standard. And, boo hiss, all the driver modes left on so the traction control was very much in evidence.
From BMW’s point of view this is understandable since it means cars aren’t expensively heading into the shrubbery and the Armco, but it was a bit frustrating. We managed to get the traction control chittering in fourth gear. The instructor suggests improvements to braking and turn in points and generally tries to help you drive better and therefore set a faster lap time.
After a short break and some thinking about what had happened, we went out again and knocked five seconds off the previous lap time. Result. All this was done before elevenses.
Since BMW wants you to buy BMWs there are also some laps in the M2, M4 and M6, with the M6 coming over as a complete monster that was seriously fast under racetrack conditions. Which left just one item on the menu, a passenger ride in an M235i Racing. With Paul O’Neill in the hot seat, it was a serious blast, with highlights getting sideways out of Lodge and completely airborne at the exit of Oldhall. What a riot.
Then it was lunchtime. It’s a lot to take in, but that half day costs £600 – anyone can go along – and BMW is obviously keen to ensure you feel like you’re getting value for money. The M Power days use all the MSV circuits, so that’s some of the hot ones like Oulton Park, Donington, Cadwell and Brands.
Eating a tasty lunch with shaking hands, we reckoned anyone would enjoy the experience, BMW owner or not. Just choose your track.