Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The New Car Experience

Marriott Greenville pool area
One cool thing about buying a new car from BMW is that they offer the Ultimate Delivery Experience. If you order a new car from one of their dealerships, you can pick it up at their Performance Center in Spartanburg, SC. This was definitely something we wanted to do. Our dealership sent a driver to pick us up on April 13th, and he took us to the Marriott in Greenville, SC, where BMW put us up for the night. We also received dinner that night, as well as breakfast the next morning. The hotel was lovely, and all of the employees treated us like royalty as they knew we were picking up a new car.

Following breakfast the next morning, the Marriott shuttle took the sixteen of us who were involved in the experience to the BMW Performance Center. There we learned about what would go on that day. First each couple got into the type of vehicle that they had purchased, so for us an X3. We were able to put the car through its paces while driving on the test track, making quick accelerations followed by slamming on the brakes, and driving quickly through turns and weaving in and out of cones. After that we took the car on a couple of off road tracks.

BMW performance track

Next you had the option of driving one of their performance cars on a wet track. One of their professional drivers was in the car with you as you accelerated and them slammed on the brakes to make the car spin out. Lastly you could accompany one of the professional drivers as he took you on a hot lap around the track.

Our group then split, and half of us drove to the plant where we could watch the assembly of X3s while the other half received the orientation of their new cars. The plant tour was very fascinating! We had not done an automobile tour since we bought a Ford Aerostar in St. Louis in 1988. The difference that technology, automation and robotics makes is astounding.

Back at the Performance Center we were treated to lunch, and then we finally got to see our new baby. It was located in a separate showroom all by itself, and a young woman joined us to takes us through the options on the car. Needless to say, technology has advanced quite a bit since our 2017 X3. Once we were comfortable with the set up, we drove to the BMW Museum for some photo ops with the car, and enjoyed the museum as well. Since we had decided to stay an additional night, we drove back to the Marriott where they had special parking spots for the new car owners.

First impressions of the car - it is beautiful, though we wish the blue would come through a little more. Most of the time, it looks like it is black. The drive and ride are very nice, and the added safety features are great. The large in-dash navigation screen is amazing, and the fact that the driving directions also appear in front of you on the dash adds to the safety of operating the vehicle. We have been able to set it up for two drivers, and the car recognizes which one by the key fob that is used to open the door. The seats, mirrors, and any other personalizations are then activated for the correct driver.

The next morning we drove into downtown Greenville as we had heard they have a cool downtown. That was no lie. The natural rock waterfall in the city center is amazing, and the town was smart in developing it into an area that people want to congregate. After touring the town we made our way north to Campbell's Covered Bridge, the last remaining covered bridge in South Carolina. That was followed by a visit to Poinsett Bridge, the oldest bridge in South Carolina. It was built in 1820 on the road from Greenville to Asheville. 

Then it was time to make our way back to our home. What a trip!

Greenville and the bridges

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Covid Car

our BMW X3
Our "newest" car is a BMW X3 that was purchased in 2015. While it stills runs great and is in pretty good condition inside and out, we are closing in on 90,000 miles on it. We like to take driving vacations, and a reliable car is a necessity for that. More importantly, the GPS system is way out of date, and is costly to update. And while our car does have some safety features, it lacks the latest innovations designed to keep us safer on the roads.

A few months ago we decided to trade it in on the purchase of a new BMW X3. A big plus of going this direction is that these cars are built in South Carolina. As you have no doubt read, it is not a buyers market right now. Due to Covid, there is a shortage of parts as well as labor. Many dealerships are charging above the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) just because they can. The best thing you have going for you is a trade-in, because if people can't get a new car they at least want a car that is new to them.

Auto shopping is a challenge right now. You are definitely not going to buy a 2022 vehicle right off the lot. They just don't exist. The moment an unclaimed new vehicle arrives at the dealership, it is immediately snapped up. While we didn't mind ordering a car to get our exact specifications, it was critical that we be able to test drive the same make and model first. As a vertically-challenged person, the seat fit is the most important feature on a car for me. 

We went to our local BMW dealership to begin the shopping process. It is hard to assess car colors when there are none on the lot to view. Added to that are the interior trim packages, which are also not available. We finally settled for looking at a used X3 to get a semblance of the look we were trying to put together. 

Finally one day we got a call from our salesman letting us know that a 2022 X3 was arriving that day if we wanted to test drive it. But we needed to hurry before it was sold. So we dropped everything to get to the dealership. While it was not an all wheel drive model, it was close enough for me to see how the seat fit and to test the acceleration on the highway. 

We sat down with our guy and built out the car online. After negotiation, we were able to come to a bottom line price with trade-in that was acceptable to us and the dealership. The car will be ready next week, and we are super excited about it. We hope the exterior car color and interior trim packages are what we are expecting them to be. Our Covid Car - what could possibly go wrong?