Volkswagen had recently invited me to join them in a drive across Canada starting in Halifax and ending in Vancouver. Each leg of the tour would be completed using their very well-known and established TDI vehicles. Media journalists and bloggers would all get an opportunity to drive each TDI variant. These would include the Beetle, Golf Wagon, Jetta, Passat, and Touareg. However, Volkswagen did mention the Golf as their highly sought after model had been almost completely sold out, and would not be available on the tour. (It would be available once the MK7 arrives on our shores sometime next year.)
Also, I would like to point out none of the TDI’s were manual. All of them were equipped with Volkswagen’s lightning-quick DSG transmission.
First thing in the morning, Volkswagen provided us with a debriefing upon what to expect and laid out the basic travel route. They also took the time to mention that at each checkpoint there would be a challenge to perform. This inspired the group to win would get better mileage, since this started to sound like Amazing Race, but not as stressful- just plain fun! As we prepared to disembark and the cars were brought around, Volkswagen provided each team with a set of Serengeti Sun Glasses for the long drive.
The first leg of the tour began in Halifax. My teammate, Brendan Beetge and I quickly selected the Volkswagen Beetle as our first run. We thought this would be a great place to start, since we would be switching vehicles at each checkpoint, leaving us with the Touareg at the last checkpoint.
The interior of the Fender Beetle is very polished. All the materials have a typical VW fit and finish, that many other manufactures strive towards. The Fender accents give it a very upscale look, and it has a very fantastic sounding Fender Audio system. The initial startup of the 2.0L TDI was quiet and uneventful. These new TDI engines are even quieter than ever before. It seemed quieter than their petrol offerings. I was pleasantly surprised.
On the Road the Beetle did handle well and the TDI engine had enough torque to allow us to easily over take others vehicles on the road. However, we did feel the Beetle’s oddly shape body did seem to give more body roll and a float-like feel, especially at highway speeds as the wind picks up.
Upon reaching our first checkpoint, my teammate and I were a little shocked to see we were the first to arrive. Actually, considering we were the last ones to leave, we thought we had gotten lost. We never saw any other TDI Tour car along the way. The in-dash GPS assured us that was not the case. This also gave us the upper hand at this Checkpoint as we could start our challenge first. The Challenge was a fun scavenger hunt through a winery on Magnetic Hill. My teammate and I quickly ran through this one, as the other drivers arrived.
Space for just about anything. The Golf Wagon will really hold just about anything, including all your camera gear, tripods, and even a set of golf clubs. The Golf Wagon was our next vehicle powered by the same TDI engine.
The Golf Wagon’s interior in not as exciting or hip-feeling as the Beetle. It has a more grown up look. Mainly, it’s marketed towards the family looking for space and good mileage. On the road, the Golf Wagon has a much more planted feel on the road, mainly due to its longer wheel base. However, we did find that trying to overtake someone on the highway has to be planned a little more. This is mainly due to the heavier weight of the wagon over the Beetle.
Grand Falls was our next checkpoint. Here, we a great view of the falls and our task was to Zip-line across. However due to the rain and wind, the zip-line was closed. Thus this challenge was all rained out.
Tune in tomorrow for Part 2.