BMW EfficientDynamics Challenge 2011 So similar to what we did last year in Bali, BMW decided to hold another one of its signature EfficientDynamics Challenge with the Singapore journalists again. Only this time round, itís in Thailand - and itís all about the 7-Series 730Ld. With four cars allocated to three journalists (which also meant that there were four teams for the challenge), this diesel-powered limousine is to transport us from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in one single full tank. The purpose of the challenge was to display what BMW claims to have perfected over the past decade - drivers will still be able to enjoy enthusiastic driving while saving fuel.
With our naturally heavy right foot and over 700km to cover, I was a tad sceptical. I mean, the 3.0-litre 6-cylinder common-rail injection diesel under the bonnet of BMWís flagship that can produce 218 horses and 540Nm of torque is going to be too tempting for us drivers to drive Ďeconomicallyí. So question is - is it even possible?
Day 1 Greeted warmly by organisers from both Singapore as well as Thailand - drivers from BMW Thailand and police escorts - we were given a short brief of what to expect from the dayís challenge. A total of four 7-Series awaited us, with three Singapore journalists allocated to each. The challenge between us four teams were simple - the car that fills up the least amount diesel at the end of the route will be the winner for the EfficientDynamics Challenge.
Mr Matthias Pfalz, President of BMW Thailand, then signed on the sticker and sealed all four carsí fuel lids to prevent any of us from refilling our tanks. Boy, were they serious about getting to Chiang Mai in one tank! The convoy left Novotel Bangkok Fenix Ploenchit at around half past nine and being the first driver of Car Number 1, I followed the Lead Car 1 (BMW 523d) in front of us which was also being led by the police escorts. Itís pure pleasure at its best, being led by the police. Travelling past speed limits as well as going through red lights were Ďlegalí for us that day and more importantly, the usual jammed packed roads of Thailand proved to be obsolete, thanks to the police escorts who were very stern with drivers who blocked the convoyís way.
Of course, there were some convoy rules and regulations we had to follow. Our hazard and headlights had to be turned on at all times and we couldnít fall back too far from the car in front of us or youíll create opportunities for cars to cut you off from the convoy itself - something that almost happened when I fell back a tad during a jam that we encountered on the highway.
It was an eye-opener us. Mid-way, we saw areas that were covered with flood. Houses were covered and so were paddy fields. People who resided along the flooded parts had to set up camping areas along the roads with their loved ones and belongings. I reckon itís something you donít get to see everyday. Not here in Singapore at least.
One thing we can be thankful for though, are our smooth roads. There were a couple of areas where the roads were in really bad condition. Huge cracks, potholes and bumps made driving a little tough and coupled with the fact that it was raining, we knew we were had to be very careful. The only assuring thing is the comfort of being in the 7-Series. Regardless of what the roads threw to the car, the cabin remained to be one of the most comfortable and quietest place to be in. It gave us a sense of being in a first-class plane, with wind and road noise kept at bare minimum.
End of Day 1 After travelling for eight over hours, including pitstops, the bad storm forced us to call it a day. We made our final pitstop at a gas station in Chiang Mai where all four cars had to refill our tank to see who the winner was. The total mileage we covered was 696km and we merely had to refill slightly over 50 litres of diesel. 50.590 litres to be exact. Thatís slightly over half a tank! Plus, we managed to maintain a fuel consumption of 13.8km/l (plus minus 0.1) throughout our journey despite driving at speeds of 120km/h - 140km/h. We were more than amazed with the 730Ldís fuel consumption indeed.
So did our team win? Nope. But we were pretty close. Car Number 3 bagged the prize of a 7-Series car model with an outstanding refill figure of 49 litres. But it didnít matter to us. We were all winners at the end of the day when we headed back to our rooms at Veranda Resort Chiang Mai that night.