Snow - it’s cold, it’s wet and it’s generally unpleasant. It is also generally unpleasant to drive on, as it is slippery and means you have to slow down and be sensible, therefore snow cannot be fun.
Or, at least, that is what I thought before BMW decided to show me the error of my ways.
BMW are rather well known for making cars that are remarkably fun to drive, and at their annual customer Alpine xDrive Experience they regularly prove just how much fun their all-wheel-drive xDrive cars can be on snow.
Held up at the Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds - commonly known as The Snow Farm - perched on the top of the Pisa Range near Cromwell this is the perfect place to show off just how clever your AWD system is and BMW know it. Which is exactly what the whole event is about.
Open to anyone who pops down the necessary cash the Alpine xDrive Event is all about BMW showing off its excellent xDrive system and fun. Yes, you can’t forget fun.
Following an early morning helicopter transfer up to the top of the mountain (yep, that’s part of the package as well!) the assembled crowd are treated to the obligatory introductions, safety briefings and a remarkably enthusiastic run-through of just what makes xDrive so excellent by BMW’s technical training manager, Lance Roskilly.
It’s all to do with clever electronics, you see, mainly the ones that control the multi-plate clutch in the torque transfer case. This system can also use inputs from any number of the car’s other sensors, essentially meaning it is able to think ahead of the game and predict where the torque will be needed most.
Unlike viscous coupling systems that other manufacturers employ, BMW’s clutch system can act before slippage has even begun. And it can act incredibly quickly as well - within 200 milliseconds, well before the driver even has time to realise something is going on.