We take a look back at one of our favourite road trips to California for the Grand Prix of Long Beach back in 2006. < Click
At Road Test we’ve done a number of travel/road trip articles, but in 2020 things are completely different when it comes to travel. Depending on where you live, you may have been limited to only travelling short distances, while other regions allowed plenty of travel. For us, our summer trip to Germany was nixed. The way things are looking right now, we have NO idea when we’ll be able to visit our friends there again.
Back in 2010 we drove the 550i Gran Turismo and came away thoroughly impressed by every aspect of the car – especially its size compared the regular 5-series sedan – it felt more like a 7-series than a 5. This week we’re driving the new 2017 340i Gran Turismo and just like the 550i – it’s way bigger than the series size that it represents, so think of it more as a sportier 5-series than a 3-series. It’s interesting to note that the majority of BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo customers are new to the brand – so BMW is obviously doing something right and striking a chord with the buying public.
Last year my wife and I made a special trip to Battle Ground, Indiana (just outside of Lafayette), to visit one thing that had been on our ‘bucket list’ since the day we met…Wolf Park. It took us 8 hours of driving to get there – but it was worth every minute. Our experience of getting a wet kiss from a real wolf and plenty of photo opportunities can be found HERE. What we didn’t expect on our journey was the wonderful city of Auburn, Indiana. We stopped in Auburn for a coffee break – only to discover there are a number of auto and air museums there. If you love cars and/or planes – this is your mecca. You simply MUST take the time to visit Auburn, or even make it an actual trip destination.
First came the BMW 4 Series Coupé and Convertible, and then the Gran Coupé – for those that wanted more than two doors and didn’t want a 3-series sedan (!?)… or GT. Hmm that doesn’t make sense, but here we are. According to BMW the “4 Series Gran Coupé combines the sleek look of a two-door coupé with the functionality provided by four-doors and expansive spaciousness, including a wide-access luggage compartment.” To you and I that means – it’s a 4-door hatchback. I know I’m getting old, but it don’t look like a 2-door coupe to me – it looks like a 4-door sedan with a bonus huge rear hatch that looks like a trunk not a hatch. This raises some serious questions – most notably – WHY does this vehicle exist? Time for me to investigate. So off to Germany we went – to the home of high-speed autobahns… Time to see just what this thing is all about…
Recently I was invited to a special event at the Kia Toronto FC Academy training ground in Downsview – a suburb of Toronto. KIA were showing a select number of journalists’ an insider view of the $21 million training facility along with some new or upgraded Kia vehicles for 2014. Kia is scheduled to have 47 new or completely redesigned models between 2014 and 2017. Along with a first look at the newly redesigned Forte 5 and Soul, we also got a look at the mid-cycle refresh of the popular Optima.
My favourite BMW has always been the 5 Series – for some reason the designers get it PERFECT every time it’s re-designed. I also think it’s the perfect size of car with the 3-series being a little snug and the 7-series being just a little bit too big – especially when driving around the smaller towns and cities in Europe. On our last trip to Germany there were three adults, so the 3 Series would never cut it size-wise and with two of us being women… you know the car had to be more than a little accommodating for luggage. I hadn’t driven the newly re-designed in 2011 BMW 5 Series, so this was the perfect opportunity to grab one for our two-week working vacation. Obviously the sedan wasn’t big enough, so I booked a wagon – or Touring.
Travelling to Stuttgart from any part of Germany is easy, thanks to the excellent autobahn and rail system. On our most recent visit we took in the very impressive Mercedes-Benz Museum.
Every year or so my wife and I head over to Germany to visit a friend of ours that races in the ADAC GT Masters Series- the series right below DTM (it’s the equivalent to the Nationwide series over here in North America, only they drive on real tracks that don’t just turn left). This gives me an excellent opportunity to drive vehicles we don’t get over here. I just love diesel engines with all that torque under my right foot so I always request a diesel-powered car whenever we go. This time I requested the Toyota Avensis. For those of you not familiar with the Avensis, it’s somewhat related to the Camry and what Toyota sells to the rest of the world.
This week’s road test is actually a holiday test… we spent a week in Germany and what better vehicle could there be to drive around in than a BMW? The road test and the holiday are so intertwined it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins…. there’s also a motor racing aspect thrown in for good measure. Landing at Munich airport, we took a train and then a bus to get to our first destination – BMW. When I first contacted BMW in Canada I requested a vehicle that we don’t get in North America. It just so happens that the very car I requested was actually going to be coming over here around the same time I was going to Germany. For Europeans and basically the rest of the world, diesel engines in cars are quite commonplace, but for some strange reason, we’re deprived of them in Canada and America.