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Old 31st October 2020, 14:46   #1
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Default BMW Chronicles Part 2 | Road-trip in Germany

Part 2: Road Trip to Black forest region, Germany



If you read Part 1 (BMW Chronicles : Part 1, Austria) of this series, (If not, please do read it :P) I don't need to explain how happy I was with the 320i experience in a beautiful country like Austria. Perhaps that experience gave me such a confidence boost, that I decided to ditch a secure-permanent job with a Big 4 to take up a digital transformation project with the University where I studied. The BMW taught me one lesson- no compromises on happiness, and I carried that forward to my work life- I didn't want to keep a big 4 corporate brand and job security on my CV but take up something that gives me energy. As I near the 30 years mark, I guess the risk was worth taking. I put in my resignation at the end of August and signed up with my new employer, one month after my BMW drive

The one month notice meant that I'd be leaving my current employer on a Wednesday evening and joining the new employer on Thursday morning. Combined with an impending change of residence, I needed a break. Fortunately, another set of my friends also were looking to a weekend getaway. So in mid September, it was planned. Since it was a weekend getaway, it had to be within 600 KM. Black Forest Germany was decided and agreed as being deep in the nature was exactly the need for the hour for 4 hard(ly) working MBAs.

Again, I was the sole driver, so the choice of car came to me, while others booked the Airbnbs. No prizes for guessing: This time I booked the 320i. Well done Sixt in your upsell strategy! The rental T&Cs said the car would be a 3 series or a similar model and the customer care confirmed that they could not guarantee the model of the car till the date of pickup.


Day 1: Drive to Lauterbach, Germany



The car's pickup time was 9:30 AM this time since most of us wake up late. Walked to the Sixt pickup point again and got a push notification that a Mercedes C class was allocated to us. DAMN! Checking the specs, it was the 180 bhp version of the Merc and it was a mixed feeling. I wanted to drive a bimmer again, but the Merc was much better for the comfort of the others. The 320i for all the good, had poor interior space. All of us met at the car's pickup point. I scanned the parked cars and there was not a single Merc. Puzzled again, I decided to wait till the check in completed since I was behind another customer who came to pick up a car. I was hoping for a miracle, but then the only BMW parked there was a 745e with an M-sport kit, but I felt it was silly to even imagine an upgrade from a 3 series to the 7 series.

Once my turn arrived, the guy in the check in counter recognized me by my face. I had transacted this guy twice- one for the Austrian trip and another time when I had a problem with the Nissan Leaf from their car sharing service, so we kind of knew each other by face. This time, the check in was faster, as my passport and other details were already in the system and a quick check of my license was all that was needed. What happened next is a conversation I will never forget:

Agent: "Do you want to upgrade to zero liability insurance"
Me: "No thanks, i trust my driving skills and have a parking place for the car"
Agent: "If you upgrade, I have an offer for you"
Me: "Go on"
Agent: "If you pay 60 Euros extra you get the zero liability insurance and the 7 series that you were looking at"
Me: * Picking up my lower jaw from the floor* "60 Euros total or 60 per day?"
Agent: "60 Euros in total. xxx would be your new rental price"

Now I entered what's known as a decision paradox. I'd be more than willing to pay 60 for this upgrade out of my pocket, but the 7 being a 3L 6 cylinder petrol monster, would drink fuel. I checked with my friends if they were ok with the prospect and got an resounding WHY NOT! from them. So the deal was done and the contract signed. (Side story: We all have one non-car enthusiast amongst us, and in our case, that person questioned the need of a luxury car for a weekend trip. But he was outvoted 3:1 But when I checked the expenses, we paid just 10 Euros less than the fuel bill for the 320i on the Austrian trip that was 1.5x the distance of this trip. Even considering the cheaper fuel price in Austria, this is a thirsty car indeed! ).

Introducing, The Spaceship!

BMW Chronicles Part 2 | Road-trip in Germany-spaceship1.jpg

The destination was Lauterbach, a tiny town/village in the black forest region.

BMW Chronicles Part 2 | Road-trip in Germany-rtm_ltu.jpg

20 KM into our drive, the car threw up some errors on the infotainment screen relating to the driver assistance system. While the adaptive cruise control was working, every other convenience feature like the lane keep assist, lane departure warning, lane departure correction and a few other driver assistance systems were offline. Managing this behemoth without those systems was not a huge challenge, but an annoyance nonetheless. The rest of the drive was uneventful. Construction activities on the Autobahn meant that our progress was slow and there were traffic jams, plus we stopped for an hour since one of my friends had to take an office call. However we still arrived at our destination by a sane time of 8:30 PM. We also stopped for the Environment sticker ("Milieusticker") since it is required in almost everywhere in the Black forest region. That's a 9.5 hours drive for a 690 KM (as reported by the odometer) drive with breaks. We ended the day with a nice dinner and a walk around the town

Conclusion of day 1

The Milieu sticker

BMW Chronicles Part 2 | Road-trip in Germany-mileu_sticker.jpg

Lauterbach at night

BMW Chronicles Part 2 | Road-trip in Germany-ltu_night.jpg

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The keyfob, another device that requires charging! Thankfully, the car comes with wireless charging pad and the key can be left on it to charge.

BMW Chronicles Part 2 | Road-trip in Germany-spaceship_key.jpg

BMW Chronicles Part 2 | Road-trip in Germany-spaceship_trip.jpg

Last edited by govindremesh : 2nd November 2020 at 16:45.
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Old 1st November 2020, 05:27   #2
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Day 2: Lauterbach, Triberg waterfalls, Titisee Lake



BMW Chronicles Part 2 | Road-trip in Germany-day_2.jpg

We started the day with a morning trek up the hill, which rewarded us with stunning landscape views!

The tallest one is yours truly.

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BMW Chronicles Part 2 | Road-trip in Germany-lauterbach.jpg

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After the trek, we went to a bakery that we had spotted during our walk the previous night. Went there, got coffee, some bread for breakfast and undoubtedly, the major item: BLACK FOREST CAKE! We were at the bakery by 8:15 AM, but 75% of the cake was already sold out! We took the remaining portion, which was thankfully sufficient for the 4 of us.

My share of the cake:

BMW Chronicles Part 2 | Road-trip in Germany-blackforest_cake.jpg

I had called up the rental company to report the problem and they scared me by saying that the car could misbehave on the road . Hence an appointment was booked at a BMW service center that was ~10 KM from our location and we agreed to be there before 12 noon, as being a Saturday, they would close at 1 PM

I decided to take some photos of the car while my friends got ready

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BMW Chronicles Part 2 | Road-trip in Germany-laser_lights.jpg

We proceeded to drive to the BMW service center at Schramberg, but got caught in the traffic jam which delayed us by a good 30 minutes. We eventually made it at 12:05, only to be told that the workshop closes at 12 and the showroom at 1 PM. We didn't get any further assistance to what I guess could have been solved by a diagnostic scan and reset. Funnily enough, the BMW showroom was the only place where we felt that we were "ordinary people", as everywhere else we went with the car, we got friendly stares, small talks being initiated and questions being asked, making us feel more important than we were

Since the car was performing optimally, we decided not to worry too much and proceeded to Triberg waterfalls, which is the highest one in Germany with a 163m height. Some photos

BMW Chronicles Part 2 | Road-trip in Germany-img_0072.jpg

BMW Chronicles Part 2 | Road-trip in Germany-img_0074.jpg

A description of the Hydro power plant that's present at the location

BMW Chronicles Part 2 | Road-trip in Germany-img_0058.jpg

A friendly golden retriever, whose family was kind enough to allow us to pet him and take photos!
BMW Chronicles Part 2 | Road-trip in Germany-img_0059.jpg

My cousin brother who lives in Germany drove down to meet us in Triberg. It's always the more, the merrier on a trip . After the waterfall, we had a very late lunch, browsed the region's famous cuckoo clocks and brought some souvenirs. It was getting late (6 PM) and we decided to visit the Titisee lake before sun down. The destination was an hour's drive.

Some photos from the lake:

BMW Chronicles Part 2 | Road-trip in Germany-img_0078.jpg

BMW Chronicles Part 2 | Road-trip in Germany-img_0079.jpg

We had a light dinner and took a walk around the small town of Titisee. By 9 PM, we bid bye and arrived back at Lauterbach between 10-10:30 to rest for the day

Last edited by govindremesh : 1st November 2020 at 05:29.
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Old 2nd November 2020, 16:56   #3
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Day 3: Return to Rotterdam, via Baden-Baden



The customer service of Sixt insisted that the vehicle be checked by the roadside assistance despite my report that the car was safe to drive, so waited for the ADAC service person to come in. The roadside assistance checked the car and told us it was safe to drive, which was duly relayed back to Sixt. We started our return journey around 10:30 AM, and arrived by noon at Baden-Baden. Parked the car in a garage and set out on foot. We went to an Indian restaurant (Taj Tandoori) which was recommended by a friend and the food was good! After lunch, we stopped by Cafe Konig, for black-forest pastries and chocolates. The place was moderately expensive but the goods were worth the price

The ride back was quite uneventful. We started at 2:30 PM from Baden Baden and reached Rotterdam at 10:30. We took the route via Frankfurt-Cologne-Arnhem and due to roadworks, we had to drive slower than expected. nonetheless, 8 hours of travel time with 3 breaks was pretty good.

Closing comments- The Spaceship experience



We had a lot of fun. The countryside experience was supremely refreshing for us who live in the busy city of Rotterdam. While I thought it would be a painful experience driving a huge car without any driver assist aids (especially considering the fact that I rely a lot on them ) the large Beemer was surprisingly easy to drive. How easy if you ask? I'd say it's as easy as a Toyota Innova. The 3L inline 6 was creamy smooth and combined with the insulation, double glazed windows etc.- you wouldn't hear even a snarl even at speeds over 200 kph. The gearbox is so well tuned, it's telepathic. Be it suddenly slowing down on steep inclines or putting the pedal to the metal when the speed limit changes from 100 to infinity, the shifts are barely perceptible and power delivery is instant.

Handling? Unless my friends had started screaming upon seeing the speedometer, we'd have hit super-car-like speeds (or the electronic top-speed limiter whichever came first!). my friends were very concerned once we crossed 200 kph, but I barely felt the car being unstable or anything close. Undoubtedly, this felt like a "badi tijori on wheels", one can drive at crazy speeds without even realizing. Funny fact though- the 320i felt more "tight" while turning into corners at speed, but I guess that's to be expected with a car that's 5.2 meters long.

Finally, what wowed me was the auto-park feature. It's so precise - the program fit the car in a space with ~10 cm gap in front and back (approximate measurement since I could not squeeze myself through the gap). Funnily, I was so dead scared that the vehicle in front or back will bump into this car when they try to get out- I actually parked the car in another safe place with a lot of clearance . The car controls everything- steering and acceleration. One just needs to toggle between forward and reverse on the transmission when the car prompts you to (IIRC, not sure if even that was automated!). Goes without saying that the car took itself out of the parking space , there was no way I was even going to try such a tight precision (un)parking maneuver with a rental car costing close to 1 crore INR. Only regret- I did not take a video of the feature in action. There's also a feature where the car will remember the steering inputs if you parked the car manually and will repeat it in reverse order- to get the car out of the parking space automatically.

While the car is a plug in hybrid, we hardly got time to charge it. The car charged the battery when we were coming downhill with regenerative braking- this was utilized when we were cruising at 60 kph on a stretch of Autobahn with roadworks. The car can go up to 80 kph solely on electric power (depending on the state of charge in the battery), then the engine kicks in. One could also charge the battery with the engine running. It redirects the power from the alternator to the battery, but it also results in a significant drop in fuel efficiency.

Apart from the thirsty nature of the car and the gargantuan size, there's nothing I could complain about. Depending on the type of person you are- you'll either love or hate the attention this car gets you. I was a bit overwhelmed when random strangers started giving smiles, stares and in certain cases- initiated a conversation. Good fit for a person who's looking to make connections though! Which brings me to the question: Do I aspire to own this car one day, if I win a lottery or if it's provided as a company benefit? Not a chance! As a person who likes driving, this car is too big for my taste. The back-seat is not as luxurious with respect to to size of the car. As a one off experience it's good to drive. As a daily driver? Not a chance!

Hope you enjoyed reading this article. Drive safe, stay safe!

Last edited by govindremesh : 19th February 2021 at 19:27.
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Old 20th February 2021, 06:16   #4
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 20th February 2021, 12:19   #5
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Wow ! An upgrade from 3 series to a 7 series. I have heard of friends getting upgraded to first class from coach on flights. On a car rental, this is pure good luck to experience a BMW flagship product. By the way what is the story behind The Milieu sticker ? Could you explain how & why it is procured ?
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Old 20th February 2021, 13:51   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrackDay View Post
Wow ! An upgrade from 3 series to a 7 series. I have heard of friends getting upgraded to first class from coach on flights. On a car rental, this is pure good luck to experience a BMW flagship product. By the way what is the story behind The Milieu sticker ? Could you explain how & why it is procured ?
Thanks, it was sheer luck indeed!
The mileu sticker is an equivalent of our PUC certificate. There are some regions in Germany with strict environment regulations- so if a car doesn't meet the emission norms you cannot drive through that region. Cars are usually classified into red, yellow and green (colour of the sticker), and so are the zones. Green sticker means you can go anywhere and yellow means you have to keep an eye on environmental zones and avoid those, red I guess is not sold since it means that your vehicle is not fit to drive from an emissions regulation perspective.

The sticker is usually available at major fuel stations or TUV stations (which are sometimes within the fuel station). If you know in advance the number plate of the car you're driving, you can order it online and it's delivered within a week.


More information (you may have to use Google Translate) https://www.anwb.nl/vakantie/duitsla...ie/milieuzones

BTW, I see from your review of Athena that you're in Thrissur? Would be wonderful to catch up sometime if you're up for it since I'm in town for a few more days

Last edited by govindremesh : 20th February 2021 at 13:53.
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Old 20th February 2021, 14:04   #7
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Thanks for the info ! Will send you a DM soon.
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Old 21st February 2021, 00:53   #8
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From 3 series to directly 7 serie! That's an insane upgrade.

Thanks for the travelogue on Black Forest. I am also planning to visit in this summer (hopefully).

I see you're based in Rotterdam. I live in The Hague. We may plan small Team-BHP meet here.
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Old 21st February 2021, 22:37   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UP!!!! View Post
From 3 series to directly 7 serie! That's an insane upgrade.

Thanks for the travelogue on Black Forest. I am also planning to visit in this summer (hopefully).

I see you're based in Rotterdam. I live in The Hague. We may plan small Team-BHP meet here.
I'll DM you. Will be happy to meet once I'm back in NL
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