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BMW’s X-treme driving course

Snow glow: BMW's xDrive 3 Series wagon gets wild on the white stuff.

Drive New Zealand’s snow-capped mountains with the BMW Alpine xDrive program

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BMW logo16 Aug 2013

BMW is offering the chance to push its range of four-wheel drive vehicles beyond the limit amongst some of the most challenging and spectacular scenery in the world.

The Alpine xDrive program allows participants to try their hand at extreme weather driving 1500 metres above sea level, in freezing conditions at New Zealand’s Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground.

The testing facility near Queenstown is unique in the southern hemisphere and is in constant use by tyre and vehicle manufacturers developing new products, but opportunities for paying customers are few and far between.

The full day of driving allows participants to put BMW’s X3, X5 and X6 luxo SUVs through their paces, in treacherous conditions of snow and ice, while under the expert guidance of professional driving instructors.

Participants will also get to try out the 330d Touring xDrive, which is not available in Australia.

The xDrive wagon 3 Series is visually similar to the wagon available here, but with the addition of a gutsy 3.0-litre diesel engine and the same xDrive 4WD system fitted to the SUV range, ideal for negotiating very low-grip surfaces.

After arriving by helicopter at dawn, the day is packed with a range of exercises to both hone your driving skills and demonstrate the ability of BMW’s X-cars in an alpine environment.

The challenges begin with a trip along a snow-covered winding mountain-top road to familiarise yourself with the car and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

Then it’s on to a series of challenges to sharpen your skills required to deal with the adverse conditions.

High and low speed maneuvering is practiced through a slalom course and technical circuit, while a session on the circular snow flat will have you challenging the other drivers to the longest power-slide.

The range of electronic stability aids in each car are explained through practical tests such as the ‘split mu’ ascent and descent, which uses a mix of high and low traction surfaces, while drag racing and J-turn exercises keep the challenges competitive as well as educational.

The tasks will increase driver awareness and confidence in all adverse conditions including wet weather and driving on loose surfaces.

Incidentally, all vehicles have heated seats.

At the end of the day your instructor will demonstrate the performance of snow tyres with a final hair-raising hot lap in the high-performance, rear-drive BMW M3.

On the final night, participants can compare stories and brag about timed runs over a three-course dinner and presentations shared with the instructors.

Participants stay at the nearby Arrowtown five-star resort of Millbrook, which offers a wide range of facilities including a 27-hole golf course and is flanked by mountains in every direction.

Guests need not spend a single dollar from arrival at Queenstown airport until the moment they leave, with two nights accommodation, meals and transport included in the program cost of $2500 - although you will have to make your own way to Queenstown.

Places are limited with courses running from June through to August and group sizes deliberately kept small for a more personal experience.

GoAuto attended a course as a guest of BMW. Check out the review link below.

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