Monday, June 1, 2009

Speed at your peril

I did a run to see how the car performed at different speeds over the weekend. I was curious to see how the car felt at different speeds and whether the run flat tires, the aero package and the sports suspension really added more or less to the fun factor. 

The highway I picked was fairly new. Just opened a few months back and only half an hour's drive from Kuala Lumpur. It was quite deserted, had some long straights and almost without any speed traps. 

90kph - the car feels way too slow. Almost at a crawl.
120kph - the car is now running illegal. It still feels slow and too subdued.
140kph - the car starts to feel alive. Feels like 110kph driving on a Proton Saga. The music volume turns up in tandem with the speed as well. So if you're listening to some fast n furious tracks it'll spur you to go faster. 
160kph  - perfect cruising speed. The aero spoilers are doing a great job. The car feels very planted. The suspension does a good job in leveling out the road bumps. If only the speed limit was 160, then driving on our highways would be really sweet.
180kph - the car begins to feel crisper, tauter and louder at well. Your senses comes alive. You feel every bump, imperfection the road has to offer. Suddenly you start to wake up, the adrenalin gets going and your heart beats doubly fast.
190kph - the car starts to rock a bit. The suspension travel feels more urgent. The bumps, more violent. Only the brave push on.
200kph - the car welcomes you to a new level of handling. This is where I dont feel as at ease with the car.  The confidence of pushing the car beyond 200kph vanishes. The suspension shakes, the handling  feels floaty and wind noise comes at you in big doses. The road gets shorter very quickly. 

At 210kph I decided to end the adventure. It no longer felt fun or exciting. Rather it felt it's too big a risk to push further. After the run I felt somewhat unsatisfied with the objective of evaluating the performance. 

The highway or any highway is no place to push how fast the car can go. It's not even a good way to test the 325's top speed. In fact it's a very dangerous way to speed test your car. The highways are unsafe to run. Like many motorist we always take the roads for granted. There are so many factors to check and look at when you are speeding, the surface grain, the bumps, the crosswind factors.

One example I like to illustrate was the moment when I was going at 190kph I hit a tiny slope on the road surface and the car lifted off the road for a few mili seconds (if you are driving below 160kph you probably wont feel it). That was quite a scary moment during the run. So in lesser cars with not so good tyres and suspension, you can imagine what can happen!

So all in all, the car was perfect in handling. At above speeds beyond 200kph, I would think it's not a fair way to test the performance of the BMW.  If you want to test the car, do it on a track, it's much safer, at least there are no surprises on the road surface and best of all your mates can watch and time you from a safe distant.

So if you are reading this, enjoy the drive but ALWAYS stay safe...

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