For the next two instalments, I am going to be talking about something real, something relatable. A real-world test of a brand of car that is everywhere. The point here is for these next two instalments to be useful and educational instead of rambling on about drifting dirt buggies or nearly killing myself on two wheels. For those of you who have never visited The Isle of Skye be ashamed, be very ashamed. Skye is a natural marvel of Great Britain and I am hoping the next two entries will illustrate why, along with taking you through what was absolutely the right tool for the job on the car front.
So, the plan is to leave God’s country nice and early and hit the A1 while its quiet. The trip to Skye should take about 9.5 hours covering the best part of 450 miles. The car? A BMW 320D M-Sport GT. Those last two letters are key here… “GT”. Compared to a normal 3 series this thing is a Tardis! This particular GT has a massive spec like I have rarely seen but I will elaborate more on that as we go. Painted in Estoril Blue Metallic and benefiting from the M Sport Plus pack it has 19” diamond cut wheels, enormous brakes, adaptive xenon headlights with high beam assistant and that is just the start! This car represents an amazing blend between technological overload and German engineering at its finest. Even with the car rammed full of camping gear and the two of us onboard plus a dog the car sits comfortably at speeds I won’t confess showing 60 MPG. The delightful 8 speed transmission BMW provide you with in these modern models is a joy! That’s their word “JOY”. Accurate in this instance as you can’t feel a single change and the gearbox, unlike most of its competitors seems to always make the right choice without you even realising. The 2.0 diesel produces a muscular 184 BHP and enough torque to skin the low-profile tyres pretty quickly should you be that way inclined. So off we pop onto the motorway to get some miles under our belt and I am nowhere near dreading it.
Now one of the options on this car is one that is commonly overlooked but for our journey it was a god send. The varied driving I would do over the next 1400 miles would demand a very versatile car and we were in luck. Our companion benefited from adjustable suspension which meant I could adjust the damping resistance at any time from softening the M-Sport standard ride or stiffening her up for twisty sections on Skye for example. So, as we sit on the A1 in comfort just wafting along as if we were in a 7 series this option begins to show its true colours. Normal M-Sport setting that you would get in the default position or on a car without this option is so well balanced I must add! Firm but not too firm. However, being able to dial it back for these long cruising sections was very indulgent and with Eco Pro selected for my engine mode the efficiency was astounding.
With the scenery outside becoming more rugged with every mile it was clear we had covered some mileage without really realising it. This again is a sign of a car doing its job. With not even the first sign of discomfort or fatigue we were passing the border then bypassing Glasgow and carrying on North. After Glasgow, the world outside your window changes quickly into miles and miles of what looks like the set from The Lord of The Rings movies. It is very clear how Scandinavian this part of the world is in its origins. Jagged cliffs and lakes made from glass. Stunning.
If you keep driving and driving some more you will probably end up at a place called Applecross. If you do then you will more than likely have driven a 7.5 mile section of road with more warnings than I have ever seen outside of raceways. If the road is open when you visit that is! The road takes you via Shieldaig, Kenmore and into Applecross itself. Narrow, twisty roads with no edges and the undulation in the tarmac is unreal. The signs that “Learner drivers should not continue” and so on are justified. It is intense! For us capable bunch though I completely recommend it. I was a big kid at the wheels of the BMW. Not going fast I would add as that’s not possible but just loving the car clambering and pulling its way up then scrabbling its way around the marbled corners. So much fun. Too much…. I got the standard verbal lashing from the wife more than once as our little Schanuzer looked up at me from the foot well with distain. Applecross itself is beautiful and the whisky in the pub there is to die for. I would also add if whisky is your thing then book in to go for the tasting tour at the Talisker distillery on Skye as we really enjoyed it and left platting our legs.
Accommodation wise we chose to wild camp which is legal in Scotland. This has its pro’s and con’s as I will elaborate in part 2. Now on Skye and my tyres cooling from the road to Applecross it was time to find a beauty spot for the night. Now for those of you actually considering this mission do read on next time because what we found was a gem like no other….
The Auto VIP.