I’ve never really been an avid follower of fashion when it comes to cars. But when we walked through the doors of BMW Welt, the showroom and delivery centre of the BMW brand in Munich, I fell in love. There was my dream car – the sporty, red BMW X6 Coupé. It was one of the latest models on display on the floor of the BMW showroom.
BMW Welt, the BMW Museum and the BMW Plant are all located in a complex in an outer northern suburb of Munich, just a short train ride from the centre of town. The striking architecture of the building caught our attention even before entering. The design by Professor Wolf D. Prix represents a cloud spinning out of a twisted double cone made of steel and glass and emulates the strength and design of BMW.
Inside, we were awed by the immensity of the Plaza which opens up to a huge space dedicated to design and technology, with the entire range of the latest vehicles on show in all their gleaming glory.
Visitors are encouraged to touch and admire these cars close up, maybe in the hope that they will succumb to the allure and buy one. I began to picture myself in that X6, driving along the streets of my hometown and receiving admiring looks from those I passed.
Several guided tours of BMW Welt, the Museum and the BMW Plant take place daily. The English speaking tour of BMW Welt is at 2pm. Before our tour started we were presented with headphone sets which made for easy listening, and allowed us to wander at will.
The first exhibit on our tour was the motorcycle display, where little and not-so-little boys fulfilled their fantasies of a test ride seated on the latest BMW models. The off road, touring and sports bikes were all presented in mint condition but our guide encouraged everyone to sit on them for as long as it took to get the perfect photo.
We were treated to a stunning display of riding skills by two company employees who rode their G450X bikes along the length of the first floor and managed to navigate the staircases at both ends of the building several times.
Then we went behind the scenes to the area where new vehicles are stored prior to delivery. We saw a car brought from the factory and lifted on a hydraulic roadway to the position in which it would be stored in what resembled a set of giant pigeon holes until the following day when its new owner would come to collect it.
The most fascinating part of our tour was the automobile delivery gallery where those new owners receive their brand new vehicles. We were led along a suspended walkway, which our guide proudly informed us is the longest suspension bridge in the northern hemisphere, to a viewing area overlooking the mezzanine gallery. There we were able to see the magic that is BMW in action. There were six cars each on their own presentation platform. The salesman guided his customers down a large staircase as if they were movie stars at a premiere. They stopped at the half way mark and were greeted by their new car, highlighted with spotlights, headlights flashing, and rotating on its platform. A photographer took several photos of the lucky owners with their vehicle and the salesman explained the features. Finally the owners were presented with their keys and drove a lap of the gallery before exiting down a spiral driveway and out on to the autobahn. About 15000 vehicles are delivered in this way every year. We watched this spectacle repeated several times and it was hard to tear ourselves away and move along to the next part of the tour. The looks on the faces of each new set of owners lived up to the BMW slogan of “Discover Joy.”
The last stop on the tour was the Technology and Design Atelier, an interactive space where visitors can experiment with and experience the technology that goes into the creation of the vehicles of the future. Our favourite was the efficient dynamics machine. We had to pedal up a simulated hill as fast as we could in order to build up enough energy to coast down the other side without using any fuel. Easier said than done!
After experiencing all that is BMW I just couldn’t leave without that dream car, so I gave in to temptation and bought an X6 – sporty, red and in its own collectable box, just the right size to fit in my hand luggage on the trip back home.