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Swiss road trip in a 118d

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  • Swiss road trip in a 118d

    I swapped jobs a couple of months ago. Facing the loss of all of my built-up PTO, I scheduled a vacation on short notice to hold me over for the year. My wife and I like to do a two-week international "big" trip every year, and facing a short lead time we decided to do a road trip of Switzerland. Why Switzerland? I was born there (dad worked there at the time, we're not particularly Swiss), it's not so big and is therefore drive-able, and I just wanted a relaxing vacation that would be a safe bet for safety/quality/beauty/etc.

    When selecting a car for the job, I wanted something small and easy to park, manual of course, but also kind of fun. Sixt in Zurich had just the ticket: a BMW 118d x-drive. I'd like to share some photos from the trip with you guys. I'm too lazy to do a full write-up but I'll give you commentary here and there.

    Maps (had to split into two, Google only allows so many destinations in one map)

    We had to pare down our ambitions to fit our timeline and make sure that we weren't in the car all the time. Our loop went so, with the cities where we spent the night in bold:
    Zurich > Bern > Neuchatel > Lausanne > Vevey > Gruyere > Gstaad > Grindelwald > Interlaken > Lucerne > Schwyz > Einseideln > Zurich.


    Respect to the person who drives a red 8-series in a city where everything else is a white/silver/grey/black German sled

    Official vehicle of Zurich: latest Audi RS product in boring color

    Our 118d x-drive, on winter tires. Sharp little car!


    Exciting garage-mates under the Park Hyatt Zurich.


    The trip was a bit slow out of the gate, as the first three days were spent in the cities with the car parked and collecting a $50/day parking tab. The weather also didn't really cooperate, it was overcast, rainy, and a bit chilly.

    The drive from Zurich to Bern was all motorway, but it was fabulous because people actually drove in the right lane and only passed in the left. What a beautiful thing, I nearly shed a tear. Not a Prius in sight, especially not one going 3 under the limit in the fast lane with its high beams on (I call this the "California trifecta").

    Bern was a short stop - just one night, and rainy/gloomy.


    Ran into a second-gen Focus RS. Never got these in the US, neat!

    Near the Gorges de l'Areuse.
    1988 Lachs - sold
    1988 DS - sold
    Bay Area M3 FB group

  • #2

    We stayed at Le Mirador, where my parents were members once upon a time. The view of Lake Geneva and the French alps across the way is unbelievable. I don't know why they ever left.

    Dad's old commute down into town...

    Drove down a bit to Montreux, parked at the casino. Raffle prize Ferrari 360 =/= GTC4 Lusso

    Tuner bros

    Ate fondue in Gruyeres, then stopped for a coffee in Gstaad, where the rich go to ski.

    One of very many Defenders we saw.

    Aside from Vevey, our other highlight destination for the trip was Grindelwald. We arrived just in time for Easter, the very last ski weekend of the season. It was an incredible experience and a beautiful little town, if a bit touristy.

    I'd paid for snow chains, because I didn't know at the time of booking that it was an xDrive model. In fact, I didn't know it was an xDrive model until I parked at the hotel. I have no idea why I didn't pay closer attention...?

    Like... seriously? Unbelievable. Favorite part was skiing all the way back down into town, stopping at the apres-ski barns along the way.

    1988 Lachs - sold
    1988 DS - sold
    Bay Area M3 FB group


    • #3
      Snuck over to Trummelbache to see the in-mountain waterfalls before moving on to Interlaken. Walking through the valley was incredible.

      The trip really hit its stride after we left Bern, with more driving, more scenic roads, and better weather. In Interlaken we found a parking buddy.

      Gave these guys a thumbs-up for their dedication to terrible cars that must cost a fortune to run in a place like this

      Was not charmed by Interlaken.

      Moved along to Lucerne. Returned to a $50/day situation after a few days of free parking. Nice town, seems to be set up for tourists to come shop.

      Stumbled into a culture show while wandering around for dinner. My wife tried an alphorn, I had to go up and yodel and chug a beer. Recommend it

      More Defending


      We took the scenic route back to Zurich, swinging through Schwyz.

      Unbelievable views of lake Lucerne

      First time seeing a ski jump... it's big.

      "Don't make me barf" roads. Hustled that little 1-series around

      We drove something like 700 miles, I think, all on one tank. I believe we averaged 47mpg.

      The car was a perfect choice for this trip, and I had a good time driving it. It had a placebo Sport mode but I found myself almost entirely in Eco Pro mode, making a game out of being as efficient as possible (and arguing with the computer about it, when it was telling me to shift up at 1200rpm). This car had automatic rev-matching on downshifts, which was a surprise. Interestingly the feature was active in Sport and Eco Pro modes, but not Normal. It worked very well with all the roundabouts.

      We enjoyed our trip and I think the car was a good way to enjoy the country. I was warned that Switzerland was expensive, but I'd expected it to be "expensive to people who don't live in the bay area." Wrong. It was just dern expensive. The car rental was reasonable, but $50/night parking adds up quickly. The food was routinely 1.75 to 2x the price of a comparable meal, even in San Francisco. I would recommend that you visit in the summer when it's a bit warmer and more scenic - I had to squeeze this in between the old and new jobs, so I didn't get a choice - but even in late March I think you'll agree we saw some amazing things.

      I think that's all - thanks for sticking around if you read this far, hope you enjoyed. If you want more photos, you can click any of the images and it'll take you through to my Flickr account.
      1988 Lachs - sold
      1988 DS - sold
      Bay Area M3 FB group


      • #4
        Great photos, thank you for sharing them!
        Chris L.

        Spray paint and tire shine doesn't equate to a "restoration!"