The latest incarnation of the BMW 3 Series Saloon is just starting its last stage of a comprehensive schedule of testing that every new BMW model must go through as part of its development before it can go in to production.
Here, the full range of pressures a car will experience over years of everyday driving are duplicated in a robust and concentrated form.
This rigorous testing includes long sessions driving flat in stop-start traffic, from sub-zero temperatures to searing heat, winding country roads to pothole-infested tracks, ice and snow to gravel and desert sand – the prototypes sent through the test programme have been put through their paces to experience everything the production model will encounter in everyday life.
This location offers the testers the perfect conditions to mimic day-to-day driving in central Europe, North America or Asia. The closed-off expanses of ice offered by Lake Kakel and the “Mellanström-Runde”, one of the most popular test routes around Arjeplog, couldn’t be better suited for fine-tuning the DSC stability system and its myriad functions.
Death Valley, Nevada.
Multi-day heat tests in Death Valley witness the vehicles scorched over and again in the sun for several hours, then cooled and thoroughly checked. Everything has to work – even when the temperature tops 50 degrees Celsius in the shade outside the car and 60 degrees inside, and the interior is then cooled again as quickly as possible. The arid desert roads also provide an ideal place to find out how effective the cars’ flaps, doors, bonnets and lids are at keeping out dust.
Hoover Dam, Nevada.
The electromagnetic rays emitted by the hydroelectric plant at the Hoover Dam produce the ultimate test of toughness for the functional reliability of the electronic systems on board the new 3 Series. This is why all the car’s functions, including the digital instrument cluster all the way through to the tyre pressure indicator, are tested massively amongst the shadows of the huge pylons on the banks of Lake Mead.
Aerodynamic Test Centre, Munich.
At the BMW Group’s Aerodynamic Test Centre, full-size vehicle models, prototypes and production vehicles are tested using precise reproduction of real-life airflow conditions on the road. In the centre’s wind tunnel, the new BMW 3 Series Saloon has been given the detailed touches required to bring its drag coefficient down to an imprssive 0.23.
Miramas, Southern France.
More rigorous testing is carried out at the BMW Group’s test facility in Miramas, southern France. The centre has been used by BMW for the advancement and testing of new models for over 30 years, Miramas has a long asphalt oval, a motorway “ring” for high-speed testing, slalom, twisty and spherical tracks, plus several handling courses and circuits with surfaces of every kind imaginable.
Nürburgring’s Nordschleife circuit, Germany.
One of the most stringent tests for driving dynamics is carried at the legendary venue in Germany’s Eifel Mountains, where precision tuning of all powertrain and chassis systems are carried out. If a car gets the green light from BMW test engineers at the Nordschleife, you can be sure it will provide driving pleasure in everyday conditions throughout the cars lifetime.
The proving grounds at Aschheim provides the venue for undisturbed dynamic testing. It was here, at an early stage of the development process, where the first steps were taken in imbuing the new BMW 3 Series Saloon with its impressive dynamic potential.