Valentine’s Day Road Trip Tips

So the big day is approaching, and you are debating what to do with your significant other for the weekend. Why not make it a romantic getaway and take a road trip somewhere? Driving takes away all the stress of air travel, usually costs less when traveling as a pair, and gives you both some quiet alone time as you travel to your destination. For those of you who think this is a great idea, here are some tips on how to get the most out of your time together, and don’t forget to check the Ultimate Drive app for the best routes!

1: Plan everything in advance. This may seem like the obvious, but it is easy to plan the road trip and forget to buy flowers and make a dinner reservation on Valentine’s Day, or vice versa. Planning the whole thing through will avoid traffic, lines and surprises so you can focus on having a good time.

2: Don’t pick a destination too far away. As much as we all love road trips, there is such a thing as too much time in the car- especially when you are trying to get somewhere. Plan for something just a few hours away, and don’t leave at a time that will place you in traffic. Try to locate the most scenic drives around – the Ultimate Drive app is perfect for that!

3: Make sure the car is ready for the trip. Regardless of vehicle, make sure it is up to the trip and everything from tires to headlights are in top order. A quick stop by the dealer for a service or even a once-over in the garage at home will ensure it’s a Valentines Day drive you never forget, and not because of a flat tire!

4: If you have a choice of cars, pick the right one. As much fun as it may sound to take the Z4 out for the weekend; it doesn’t fit enough luggage, lend itself to comfortable long distance driving, or have all terrain tires. (It is February!) Take the X5 instead and enjoy its creature comforts.

5: Have Fun! Remember the whole point of getting away is to enjoy each other’s company and have a good time. Following the tips above will minimize any potential headaches, but remember: even if you do get that flat tire, it will be something you can look back and laugh at on Valentine’s Day for many years to come!

California Dreamin’ : A BMW Getaway

For those of you who are missing the sunshine outdoors and quality driving time in your BMW, there are some easy ways to leave town for a weekend and enjoy a drive! There is no better place for this than Southern California, and here are some pointers for planning the perfect weekend.

Thanks to the availability of several, large airports in Southern California, flying out is relatively easy and affordable. For those leaving from the East Coast there is also the advantage of the time change, enabling you to leave after work on Friday and still get to California at a reasonable hour. Depending on the roads you plan to travel, we recommend flying into LAX (Los Angeles), SNA (Orange County) or SAN (San Diego). All three airports are in close proximity to a good BMW rental, or have them on site at their own rental car terminals.

These California roads practically demand the best of cars and, in terms of renting a BMW, Southern California offers a rather large set of options. Budget, Enterprise and several other well-known rental car companies offer BMWs in their Southern California fleet. If you really want to drive a model they don’t have available, there are a number of smaller private rental companies in the area as well. Whatever you do be sure to reserve a car in advance, as there are usually only 1-2 BMWs on hand per rental location, and in Southern California they do rent out quickly.

Once you are in town and have picked up the BMW, you can relax and enjoy the trip! Naturally the best way to plan your drive is checking out roads in the Ultimate Drive app for iOS, Facebook or Android when preparing for the trip. The app features a vast variety of routes in Southern California from which you can plan a long, hard weekend drive, or a series or fast runs through the canyons and up the coast to enjoy the scenery.

Wherever the journey takes you in California, the appeal of sunshine, beautiful roads, abundant amenities and most importantly a BMW will make it a getaway to remember!

Starting your California trip in Northern California? BMW is now offering car sharing in San Francisco. Check it out here.

 If hitting the California coast isn’t in the cards this weekend, how about sharing other destinations closer to you that offer a milder climate and awesome roads for a long weekend getaway? Let us know on our Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/UltimateDriveApp !

 

Last Minute Gifts for the BMW Lover

It is that time of year again! Is there a BMW lover on your shopping list? Well instead of going for a generic BMW polo, or the same keychain as last year in a different color, have a look at our gift guide and get your loved one something a bit more unique, with picks for different budgets:

Driving a Local Racetrack: For those who haven’t yet driven a BMW on a racetrack, it is a thrill with no comparison. Many local racetracks host open track days, as do many local chapters of the BMW Car Club of America. To locate a track day near you, some excellent resources are the nearest raceway’s website (a good list of U.S. racetracks can be found here), or your local BMW club chapter. (Full list of BMW CCA Chapters available here)

BMW USB Charger: If you spend a lot of time in the car, this BMW USB Charger will be a very welcome addition. Plugging into the cigarette lighter, it converts the power to a standard USB 5 volts, and enables charging of everything from smartphones to iPads for about $23.

Tickets to a BMW Race Weekend: No more room in the house? Another excellent gift idea is tickets to a BMW race weekend! The 2013 American Le Mans Series has races all over the country, and there aren’t many things better than cheering on a factory BMW race car at a historic racing venue. Check out the American Le Mans schedule here to buy tickets and find the race nearest your loved one.

A Special BMW Memory – The Car You Had When We Met: Not all of us may have the history or finances to pull off a gift like this, but at the very least this is an inspired idea and wonderful story to read: The Surprise Gift

Whatever you may choose, have a safe and happy holiday season, and may the new year bring some great automotive adventures!

5 Great Accessories to Prepare Your Ride for Fall

Fall is rapidly approaching, and while we bet you have bought yourself some warm clothes for the cooler weather, you shouldn’t forget your loved one in the garage! Here is a list of driving-related items that will get you and your car set for the cold seasons, no matter where you live.

1. Heavy Duty Floor Mats

Preserve your interior by protecting the carpet with good floor mats. Get a rubber set that absorbs dirt, snow and water. We highly recommend Weathertech mats, which are top quality and made right here in the USA. They last a lifetime, and so will your factory interior.

2. A BMW Beanie

We had to include at least one cool lifestyle item on this list! Keep yourself warm with a BMW beanie. Store it in your car for that moment when an unexpected shower or early snow starts falling, or wear it when it is just plain cold out! We like this one, which is available on Amazon for a great price.

3. Winter Tires

It might be the last thing you think of for performance, but all the horsepower in the world is no good if you can’t convert it to grip. Another important thing to remember is that traction control cannot defy the laws of physics. Seasonal tires are an excellent purchase no matter where you live. Tire manufacturers offer rain tires, snow tires and other seasonal selections so you can find a tire that will be relevant to your local climate. In addition, this should also be viewed as safety enhancement- sticky tires are downright dangerous when driving in wet conditions where they cannot grip. A side benefit: if you’ve been wanting a nice set of rims this is an excellent excuse to buy those as well!

4. Battery Tender

For folks who are going to garage their beloved ride over a cold winter, a battery tender is a must to keep the electrical systems charged, the battery full and healthy, and your car in ready-to-drive condition. You don’t store your car in the winter? The battery tender is still relevant – it keeps your battery in tip-top shape year round. Our preference is the “Battery Tender Plus”, which is available here on Amazon.com.

5. A Waxing and Detailing

Winter weather can be really hard on your car’s exterior, and building up a strong layer of wax before the rain and snow falls can significantly improve the lifespan of your paint job. Take the time to work a few coats of wax onto the car – one weekend at a time. If you live in an area where roads are salted during winter, try to have the undercarriage cleaned, and apply undercoating to any areas that could use reinforcement. None of this is flashy, but it ensures your car will look that way!

Quick Drive: The 2013 BMW Alpina B7

At last month’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Ultimate Drive App team found ourselves in an enviable position. While at the BMW Villa (yes, a real villa),  the good folks at BMW North America offered us the key to a new 2013 Alpina B7 – on the weekend of its North American debut! Before anyone changed their mind, we quickly grabbed the key and hit the road for a test drive. Our time in the car was limited, so consider the following general impressions of the car and not a detailed road test. Here is what we thought:

Our Alpina B7, awaiting its workout

At first glance you know the car is something special. Many touches – both subtle and obvious – differentiate the B7 and its unbelievable 500hp, twin-turbocharged V8 from its 7 Series brethren. A variety of badges and body features let you know this car means business and, if that doesn’t stop you in your tracks, the exhaust note when you start the engine will!

We were also fortunate enough to take a drive in the latest 7 Series which, until the Alpina drive, we had been lavishly praising as one of our favorite luxury sedans ever. The Alpina’s road manners changed that ranking, but it managed to do so without giving up exactly what made the 7 Series great – its road manners. The Alpina is aggressive, responsive and authoritative when you want it to be; or docile, comfortable and quiet when you aren’t wringing its neck. More on the performance later, but it is important to mention the car’s incredible versatility up front.

The Alpina-badged cockpit is all business, and laid out extremely well

Once inside the cockpit, we immediately noticed a host of features; the most immediate of which was silence. Getting into the Alpina is like stepping into a parallel universe – one which only embodies yourself, your passengers and the machine at your command. The cockpit was logically oriented, and we had no trouble getting familiar with the myriad of controls and accoutrements the B7 has to offer. Our passenger in the back seat made a point to consistently repeat how wonderful the rear seating area was throughout the drive. This was partially due to his spending the morning in the back of an M3, but nonetheless worth repeating here.

Our back seat driver passenger managed to snap a quick camera phone image of this interior Alpina badge between being flung between the limits of the seatbelt in corners

Getting back to business, we had already driven the 7 Series so we were quite keen to see what the Alpina could do. After a leisurely drive down 17 Mile Drive – Pebble Beach’s built in racetrack – we decided to put the car through its paces. The transformation from luxury sedan to sports car is simply incredible. The first big revelation was the braking system. From high speed the B7 stopped to a standstill with the ease of a sports car and, in doing so, gave the weight impression of a Go Kart not a 4500lb luxury sedan.

Top notch Michelins PS2’s and serious braking power – this is only the rear caliper! – inspire massive confidence in sport driving conditions

Naturally a stop sign gave us the opportunity to see how the car accelerates from a standstill, the answer to which is ferociously! The automatic transmission worked like a charm during both aggressive and relaxed driving periods. Handling mirrored our impressions of the rest of the car; which was to say perfect in all conditions. In fact, we had a hard time faulting anything in the car. Perhaps with more time and a proper testing ground we could have, but for now all we can say is we want one!