Over 500 kilometers of driving is in most cases the green light for tedium, but not this time out.
Our road trip story was a direct run eastward along the 401 to Old Montreal, to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Our luxury car was the 2017 BMW 750Li xDrive Sedan.
Driving east through Oshawa, then Cobourg, up through Kingston and on through the Ontario-Quebec border was the easy part. Where things started to get dicey was that long stretch of two-lane highway as you come up on Cornwall, then the straight line to Montreal. That’s where the BMW really earned its money.
After spending a year on business in Mexico, we were searching for cold and snow. And that’s what we found. The storm hit after Cornwall, and soon drivers were gearing down to 70-80 km/h, dodging snowplows, some drivers testing that thin line between speed and stupidity.
The 750i is built for long-range luxury. Everything built into the driver’s compartment makes that the focus. It is also clearly built for safety.
A favourite feature for me, with these cars, continues to be the Heads-Up Display, which helps with driver concentration, by displaying a full range of information on the windshield right in your field of view. As the snow picked up, I reached for the console on the armrest. The BMW Touch Command Tablet features a 7-inch screen and lets the driver and passenger control functions like seat adjustment, infotainment, navigation, communication, and interior lighting and air conditioning. I clicked on the Intelligent Safety setting to ensure Frontal Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and Blind Spot Detection were activated.
(The Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system – 10-channel amplifier, with an output of 1,400 watts and 16 speakers -- gives you an exceptionally rich sound experience, making the longer drives more palatable, to say the least.)
As I have mentioned in the past, technology enables these cars to practically drive themselves, but will never fully go there. The driving experience is too exciting - having both hands on the wheel of an elite level luxury ride like this, is what you look for. But it sure is nice to know the car has your back during long drives.
Our drive was spirited by the powerful V8, TwinPower Turbo, 445 hp engine and all-wheel drive – the latest version of the intelligent system that controls power split between the front and rear wheels, maximizing traction and stability, as well as handling dynamics on the corners.
Our ultimate destination? The W Montreal hotel, in Square Victoria, just up the road from Rue Saint-Paul, which takes you into the heart of beautiful, picturesque Old Montreal. If you’ve never stayed at a W, we highly recommend it, since we’ve also stayed at each of the W’s in NYC in the past. The rooms are sleek, lush and modern, great food, especially the breakfast buffet, in Être Avec Toi (Ê.A.T.) Restaurant (cool feature: the restaurant’s art program featuring murals, paintings, sculptures by a variety of artists from Montreal’s culture scene), communal lounge area off the main check-in where you can sit, read from a wide selection of books, have a drink and people watch -- all in what used to be the Banque du Canada building.
(A big FYI here: Always be wary of leaving your credit card exposed – upon check-in you are required to leave a credit card number. I woke up New Year’s Day to find over $950 in charges on my credit card – charges I didn’t make. I was only made aware because of an app on my phone that alerts me to all charges run through on the card. Imagine finding this when the statement comes in month-end, then trying to sort that out? A bartender at the W had run through two charges billed to my room number. Meanwhile I wasn’t even in the building, but instead enjoying dinner at Dolcetto & Co. on Rue Saint-Paul - great food and atmosphere - around the corner. All the Mimosas in the world won’t dull that rude awakening! After a slow start, W management cleared up the mess, the money was credited back to the card, and they treated us to a free breakfast).
The trip was bookended with breakfast at Marché De La Villette, also on Rue Saint-Paul, an old-world classic featuring sliced meats, cheeses and other French bistro classics – we were among the first to walk in for breakfast and seemingly within minutes the place was jammed. It didn’t take long to figure out why – everything was absolutely delicious: fantastic coffee, tasty omelettes and freshly baked baquette…
On the highway back to Toronto, I thought to myself: when you get to this level of luxury, the features of the car among different makes and models are almost indistinguishable. The deciding factor comes down to how the car makes you feel. After three days of driving to Old Montreal, and back again, even with the long stretches of highway driving, I was feeling ready for another trip in this car.
Price for the press fleet 2017 BMW 750Li xDrive Sedan vehicle I tested: $151,500, which included this optional equipment: M Sport Package (M Sport Exhaust System and M Sport Package in here), Executive Lounge Tier 2 (Executive Lounge Seating, Rear Entertainment System and Heat Comfort Package in here), and Executive Package (Climate Comfort Laminated Glass and Windscreen, Panorama Sunroof, Side Sunshades, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio in here), Driver Assistance Package (Headlight Washers – handy on this drive – and Park Assistant in here).
W images courtesy ivanhoecambridge.com and wmontrealhotel.com