A Very Canadian Winter Road Trip … to Go Bobsled

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Photo: Courtesy of Jeremy Allen/VW

There’s a long history of bad luck between myself and vehicles.

The misfortune includes running out of gas in the middle of the Trans-Canadian Highway, getting two flat tires with only one spare, and a well-documented smashing of my truck’s window by a giant rock.

Yet when the opportunity arose to test-drive Volkswagen’s new Atlas Cross Sport in early March, there was no hesitation. The answer was an enthusiastic ‘yes.’ This was a chance to test the limits of a immaculate car through the mountain passes of British Columbia without any personal repercussions.

Four friends joined me on the drive from Vancouver to Whistler. We were all familiar with the classic Volkswagen ’80s Bus and Beetle designs, but the Atlas Cross Sport was VW’s latest, newest offering in its 2020 lineup.

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Photo: Courtesy of Jeremy Allen/VW

First behind the wheel, my immediate goal was to maneuver out of the city safely. One turn in and I hit a curb. Fortunately, the 21-inch aluminum-alloy wheels held steady. (Small obstacles weren’t an issue with the eight inches of ground clearance.)

Together, we found the Atlas Cross Sport stayed true to the name, blending capable outdoor function and a sleek, sporty style. This car is one of the most versatile on the market, designed for anything from stops to the grocery store to long winter road trips (as in our case). Even with four people, the spacious interior still offered plenty of room for luggage in the back. And with heated leather seats, we were all comfortable cruising the entire way.

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Photo: Courtesy of Kai Chan/VW

My friend Desire Thompson—our beat-bopping DJ from the heart of New York—connected her music to the vehicle using Volkswagen’s smartphone integration. In coordination with the country of Canada, Thompson’s artist of choice was the soulful Drake. His songs blasted through the Fender Premium Audio setup, which includes 12 speakers for some stellar sound quality.

In the backseat, Jeremy Allen and Kai Chan were taking no shortage of photos and videos. Allen, a Squamish, B.C.-based photographer, is no stranger to the many photographic stops along the Sea-to-Sky Highway route, including Porteau Cove. After missing the exit multiple times, I tested the real muscle of the Atlas Cross Sport. With 276 horsepower at 6,200 rpm, we ripped back on the highway at each turnaround.

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Photo: Courtesy of Jeremy Allen/VW

Between bumpin’ music, photoshoots and mountains, there were quite a few distractions. (I am not a good driver. I was distracted.) Luckily, one of the safety features of VW’s Atlas is lane assist, which are sensors that prevent the car from swerving into other lanes. Each time I started to cross over, the car would gently push itself back in order.

Once we reached Whistler, a natural inclination would have been to check out the world-renowned skiing at Whistler Blackcomb. Not for us. We traded powder turns on the mountain for ice sliding at the Whistler Sliding Center for a lesser-known activity, called bobsled.

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Photo: Courtesy of Kai Chan

This winter sport is a combination of precision, gravity, and speed. In teams of four, each sled races down the narrow ice course through the twisted, turning curves. As amateurs, we were joined by a professional to steer the gravity-powered sled down five major curves.

The first three turns were slow, even relaxing compared to the anticipation we held before. Well, at the fourth curve, the speed picked up exponentially. Vertical against the wall, the sled had no intention of heeding to gravity. Before we knew it, the course was over. In just 45 seconds, we hit an impressive speed of 77 mph.

Photo: Courtesy of Kai Chan/VW

The mountains were calling and we all answered. One of the details not written in the new Atlas’s specs is the memories with friends or family. Above all else, this vehicle is reliable to get you through whatever you throw at it. Until next time, Canada.

 

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