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BMW X-perience at Elementaita

By Audrey Cheptoo | October 25th 2015 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

I am momentarily reduced to a toddler as I clamber into the car.

After an awkward scramble, I am in the front passenger seat and a towering figure is at my side pulling the seat belt across me.

I wipe away the discomfiture as the driver — a prospective customer for the BMW X6 — beside me gets prepped for the journey ahead.

We are about to be part of the BMW X Drive Experience, where past and potential clients test drive four of the five BMW X models from Nairobi to Lake Elementeita, and ultimately for the pre-launch of the new X1 model.

Our expedition begins in a restaurant at the Villa Rosa Kempinski. After registration, breakfast is served just before a briefing and we are shown our rides.

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Waiting for us with open doors at the hotel’s entrance is a glorious convoy of eight BMW X Series — pairs of X3, X4, X5 and X6 — as well as three other support vehicles.

The ignition comes on and the seat adjusts itself to fit snugly around me.

“The car is designed use a nine to three combination, not ten to two,” cautions one of the trainers, referring to hand position on the steering wheel.

At the push of a button, an image of the car appears on the screen on the dashboard.

“How is this possible?” I ask, contemplating the idea of a drone flying above the car.

“That is the park distance control. The image on the screen is calculated by the various cameras in the front, back and underneath the side mirrors,” explains Azad Navaz, Qualifications and Retail Human Resources Manager at BMW in Munich, Germany.

We listen keenly as Navaz takes us through the capabilities of the BMW X6.

By the time he is done explaining, I have connected the driver’s phone to the car’s Bluetooth system through the driver’s console.

We will be driving up to Lake Elementeita with Navaz and Ms Isabel Wedl, the BMW Head of Finance for Eastern Europe, the Caribbean and Africa.

The convoy launches onto Waiyaki Way as we head north west towards Lake Elementeita.

After a series of turns, Nairobi is behind us and we are cruising past the Southern Bypass, towards the Rift Valley.

The journey is smoother than I have experienced before. A trip that left one tired from the endless braking and rattling was extremely comfortable. I sit back and enjoy the music from the Bang and Olfusen sound system. Mount Longonot and other landmarks fly by.

In about two hours, we arrive at the exclusive Lake Elementeita Serena Camp in the Soysambu Conservancy, and settle into our luxury tents.

We make our way back to the vehicles after lunch. We are heading off for the much anticipated off-road test drive in the conservancy.

Facilitating the test drive is a team of driving instructors from the Glen Edmunds Advanced Driving School.

“Most people believe that the BMW X Series are four-wheel drive cars, but that they have not got the credentials to go off-road,” says Navaz. “We want to demonstrate the way which they can do.”

We drive a short distance on well-kept farm roads that are so dusty that only the LED brake lights of the BMW X6 ahead of us are visible.

Children in pink and chequered school uniforms, on their dusty walk home, wave at us.

At the test drive area, a short adventure track had been demarcated along with parking-assist area. Centrally placed is a seating area and a table with refreshments. There is a massage station in the corner for the guests.

After watching a demonstration of the adventure track by Glen Edmunds in the X5, the patrons chose the cars they would like to test-drive.

My excitement is palpable as I hear one of the trainers call out my name. Adrenaline is pumping as this is my first time to drive an X Series BMW.

“I will guide you through the drive so just relax and enjoy,” assures the trainer. I loosen my grip on the wheel.

The track has a steep slope and I can sense the capabilities of the X4 all around me.

The X Drive models have a Hill Descent Control feature, a system which enables the car to negotiate the steepest downhill automatically at just above walking pace, without the driver having to brake.

I was fascinated by yet another feature: Auto-hold function. This capability prevents the car from rolling forwards or backwards when it stops. All the while, the car’s 360 degree sensor helps me navigate the wild adventure track.

The final activity is the parking assist where we test the car’s ability to park itself or with minimum effort from the driver.

Sure enough, all one has to do is hold down a button and watch as the car takes over steering, acceleration and braking functions.

We return to the camp with enough time for a short siesta before the main event: the unveiling of the new BMW X1.

After cocktails and mingling, we are an audience to a multimedia presentation by BMW AG and Bavaria Auto executives. When the two new X1 models, which were covered in silky material are revealed, a great deal of oohing and aahing is heard.

After the unveiling, dinner is served and a musical ensemble entertains the guests into the night.

I woke up early to a stormy sky and a sallow light streaking through the dense clouds. Even then, I took an early morning stroll around the camp.

The two XI vehicles were fiercely facing each other in the dining area where we had our breakfast before our convoy departed for Nairobi.

BMW X Drive Experience BMW X Lake Elementeita Cars
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