A Road Trip in Style | J-Bay Open - Sail+Leisure
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A Road Trip in Style | J-Bay Open

by Ingrid Hale

The Corona Open J-Bay delivers what it promises; great surfing, a stunning atmosphere and a chance to see the who’s who of surfing. Sports reporter, Jeff Ayliffe took a road trip in style to interview surfing greats Kelly Slater, Shaun Tomson and Stephanie Gilmore. The September issue of S+L has the full story.

The road trip I didn’t want to end

I’m a professional sports media guy, not a motoring journalist, but I’ve penned a few thoughts on a recent road trip experience that really impressed me.

I’ve done the trip to J-Bay on many occasions, and it’s usually on assignment, so I want to get there quickly to set up and start work.

In June, I was contracted by Sail + Leisure to do a story on the 2018 Corona Open J- Bay; Kelly Slater, and the 6-time ladies world champion, Stephanie Gilmore from Australia.  And my ride to one of the world’s best known right-hand point breaks would be courtesy of Lynn Schroeder BMW in George, in the new BMW X3.

The beautiful and nippy BMW X3

Visually, the X3 made an immediate impression on me, my first thought was that it looked ready to take on any road, with ease, and it just oozed comfort.

A powerful drive

Interestingly, the more time I spent driving the car over the 2 days, the more the strong, sporty, powerful, chunky shape, yet with beautiful lines, appealed to me. Its rivals are either simply boring in terms of lines and appearance, or simply ‘over-the-top’. The X3 hits the sweet spot, very impressive at first glance, typically BMW, but also subtly understated.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little bit intimidated as I eased the X3 out of the parking area, having been given a full run down of all systems. But within a few minutes of leaving the showroom, I was already much happier with the remarkable ease and comfort of the vehicle.

The BMW Twin-Power Turbo inline 6-cylinder diesel engine has seriously impressive power delivery; putting out 195 kW and a maximum torque of 620 Nm.

The racy gearbox

Bags of power are on tap for up-hill overtaking of the big semi-trucks driving to the Eastern Cape.  But with the well-known speed-trap sections of the N2 towards Port Elizabeth, I never got remotely close to taking a boot full of power.  This also meant my fuel consumption was remarkably low, which was surprising and another big plus.

Smart driver assistance

Saving the best till last it was the X3’s remarkable IDrive that was the single most impressive, appealing element that made a 3-hour drive feel like a 20 minute drive.

The display screen is perfectly positioned on the dash to allow no compromise to safety, and it is the interface and link for the driver to every aspect of the media offered.  From maps, phone calls, music, and info to virtually anything inside or outside the vehicle; everything is easily controlled and can be quickly viewed or changed.

Specific functions can be operated via the intelligent BMW voice control or BMW gesture and touch control. Movements such as “swiping” or “pointing” in the recognition area above the center console are all it takes to control phone calls or the navigation system.

The stylish IDrive system makes for easy driving

To be honest, I hardly even scratched the surface of the capabilities of IDrive. But if this was my personal vehicle, the advantages of this easy-to-use system are obvious, from a safety perspective and sheer, driver-enjoyment perspective.

In short, it was a vehicle unlike any other that this sports-media guy has had the privilege of calling ‘my ride’ for a few days.

Even Kelly Slater looked twice.

Thanks to Raymond Botha and Lynn Schroeder BMW, George. You can contact them on 044 801 7900, or visit the showroom at 3 Glaze Street, George. www.bmw-lynnschroedermotors.co.za

Photographs: Jeff Ayliffe, Kelly Cestari



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