With a passenger from Ontario ogling the scenery changes, it made me proud to live in such a spectacular place…

To say the drive from Vancouver to Calgary offers scenic vistas galore would be an understatement.

And the opportunity to drive it the all-new 2015 Volkswagen GTI made it still more irresistible an opportunity. Time constraints allowed only for the most direct route there; taking the Trans-Canada, the 3, the 5 and then again onto the Highway 1.

Appreciating the incredible topographical features the Trans Canada has to offer is something I don’t always do. But with a passenger from Ontario ogling the scenery changes, it made me proud to live in such a spectacular place. Okay, I was a lot proud.

Whether driving surrounded by lush, emerald vegetation, desert or engulfed in mountain, there was no shortage of ocular stimulation in our 360 view.

Furthermore, the GTI is no sleeper either. In fact, it’s probably my favourite VW on the market. And it got a lot better for 2015.

Now in its seventh generation, it’s lighter than Golf Mk6, bigger, more fuel efficient, more powerful, and just more awesome. For a starting MSRP of $27,995, you get the updated 2.0L, TSI turbocharged engine, which now boasts 210 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.

The cabin is also roomier, thanks to its augmented dimensions. While the overnight trip didn’t warrant filling the 645L cargo area to the brim, it’s nice to know you could bring a carload of people, along with their gear, and still have an enjoyable time.

The GTI builds on its razor sharp handling, improves the suspension and allows the driver to still have a great time behind the wheel. Not to mention, the 6-speed manual gearbox – it also comes in a 6-speed DSG automatic – is as smooth in shifts as can be.

Being stuck in city traffic isn’t ideal, but when you can rev the engine a little higher, wait to shift and breathe in the excitement of the turbocharged ponies, what more can you ask for?

You could also ask for beautiful scenery. Check. Prior to Revelstoke, if you’re heading east, there’s 3 Valley Gap. It appears almost out of nowhere.

Looking like a cross between a Swiss chalet – no, not the place where you get a quarter chicken dinner – and an establishment you might recall from a Stephen King novel, this building that has more than 200 rooms reflects effortlessly on the lake in front of it. With the mountains towering over, the heritage ghost town certainly has some, er, charm.

However, the strongest charm in the drive comes from the GTI. You could even say it’s the grandfather, or the inspiration for the term “hot hatch.”

It’s not only hot in appearance, but in personality. It’s a car that does everything and does it well. It’s quiet at highway speeds. It’s tame in traffic, but inspiring on the twisty roads. And even on the track. It can also be entertaining.

With the promise of wildlife “for the next 3 km,” my driving partner and I eagerly anticipated the sighting of some sort of horned mammal. A mountain goat would do. We’d even be okay with a bear.

But alas, no such luck. Not even with a jaunt through Banff National Park.

That’s okay, the premium Fender audio system did a good job of distracting our melancholy thoughts from the lack of wildlife sightings to the musical stylings of rock and roll.

As I slipped out of the plaid-clad seats, bid adieu to the shifter whose knob is likened to golf ball – how appropriate – and gave back the keys to the GTI, it was bittersweet.

The adventure was fun, the surroundings breathtaking, and then mixing it with a car that has the complete package? Now that’s a road trip to remember.

Visit www.vw.ca for more information.

Contact: alexandra [dot] straub [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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