The second day of The Great Canadian TDI Tour across the beautiful prairies of our nation led us from Regina, Saskatchewan to Medicine Hat, Alberta. We started the day at the fantastic Hotel Saskatchewan, now taken over by the Radisson group. We were provided with the utmost in hospitality and generosity. Our experience in Regina proved the saying correct that Canadians are, in fact, the kindest people in the world.
Our leg started with a tour of the RCMP Heritage Centre and museum in Regina. After a tour of the facility, a select few in the group were asked to take part in some authentic RCMP marching routines. Being the spirited automotive group we are, naturally we aced it. After living vicariously through the lives of the cadets for about an hour, we hit the road. The Double Clutch team started out in the Volkswagen Golf Wagon TDI. Unexpectedly, I really, really liked this car. It returned 5.8L/100km even with a spirited right foot on the Trans-Canada Highway, and was smooth as glass in the process. While I like the bigger size of the Passat and Touareg a bit more, the Golf Wagon is the perfect car for the small urban family. Tons of room for stuff in the back and unbeatable fuel mileage in the segment.
The Canadian Prairies are perceived as some of the most boring driving roads in the world. While they don’t provide the raw, neck-snapping twisties that automotive enthusiasts crave, there is something special about setting the cruise control to 115 km/h and enjoying the vast fields of Saskatchewan. Every few kilometers, there was a dirt road perpendicular to the Trans-Canada that seemed to stretch on much further than the eye can see. It was a truly amazing sight.
After a delicious lunch at a local eatery in Swift Current, Saskatchewan (where we were introduced to the Saskatoon Berry), we set off in the last vehicle of the trip, the 2014 Jetta TDI. Though we’ve essentially tested Volkswagen’s full line over the past year, the only Jetta we had was the high-performance GLI model. I was expecting a far more sedate and less exciting sedan, and the Jetta TDI definitely delivered. It wasn’t as much fun as its GLI counterpart, but as a compact commuter car for those who don’t like hatchbacks or station wagons, it doesn’t fail to deliver.
I’ve always been a believer in diesel technology. I know it has come a long way since the clattery old jalopies of decades ago, but this trip opened my eyes to a few new things. Firstly, it confirmed the fact that diesel technology is definitely here to stay, and that developments are making serious improvements. Up until now, it has been a challenge for us to convince the average consumer that a diesel-powered vehicle makes the ideal companion for both the daily grind as well as long hauls. Big gas tanks mean seriously long ranges between refuel stops, and massive torque numbers mean these TDIs are far from sluggish.
Most of all, we learned that Canada is filled with staggering beauty no matter which province or territory you’re in. Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta greeted us with so much hospitality that we were absolutely floored. It saddens me to say that our leg of The Great Canadian TDI Tour, on which we covered three provinces in a period of three days, is officially over. I saw some great sights, met some amazing people, and had an experience that will stay with me forever.
Day 2 – The Great Canadian TDI Tour Gallery