The no-sweat Tour

By David Linklater

You feel like hitting the road. But not just any road. How about some of the most famous roads in the world? We pick the best cars for that drive

The best vehicle to drive around Morocco is the new Range Rover. Photo / Supplied
The best vehicle to drive around Morocco is the new Range Rover. Photo / Supplied

BEST CAR TO FOLLOW TOUR DE FRANCE ROUTE
If you're a cycling enthusiast, the next best thing to being at the Tour de France would be a motoring holiday around the race route. Motorists and cyclists seem to be natural enemies sometimes, but they're not so different: did you know the Tour de France began in 1903 as a circulation-booster for a sports magazine? The publication was L'Auto, named for the early-century excitement over the then-new sport of motor racing.

Which car then? It would be disrespectful to choose anything but a Skoda, since the Czech brand is a long-standing sponsor of the race (and a company that started out making bicycles).

Let's go for a Superb wagon, which has the long cruising legs, comfort and space to carry people and their luggage on a 3500km road trip. Though you probably wouldn't want Lance Armstrong as your co-driver/navigator.

The Tour takes a different route each year, but always crosses the Pyrenees and finishes on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Follow the 2012 Tour and you'll start in Belgium, at Liege, before travelling over 20 stages.

Come to think of it, a Tour de France homage holiday may be better than being at the real thing: all the spectacular scenery and tourist attractions without the hordes of sweaty cyclists. A Superb will be murder to park in Paris at journey's end, though.

BEST CAR TO DRIVE TO GREAT WALL
Aside from being a global economic superpower, China has emerged as a major tourist destination. It's currently the world's third-most-visited nation (over 50 million people a year) and is expected to be number one within this decade.

The ideal automotive holiday for the Driven reader, then, is surely to travel to China's Great Wall in a Great Wall Motors model. See what we did there?

If you know anything about China's domestic car industry, you'll know there will be a dizzying array of weird Great Wall products to choose from in China. Stick with something familiar and travel in an X200 wagon.

BEST CAR FOR NORDSCHLEIFE
The Nurburgring circuit in Germany is famous for two things: being arguably the world's most demanding, dangerous racetrack, and one of few circuits where the general public can pay the toll and power around: the Nordschleife (northern loop) is a destination for petrolheads, as well as the many car companies that test there.

You'll need a car to get you there in comfort, yet also one that'll keep you out of the Armco when you're charging around the complex 21km track without a clue where you're going.

Easy: the Megane Renault Sport (RS) 265 is fast enough to be fun and forgiving enough to keep you safe. It also has provenance on the Nordschleife: the Megane RS set a lap record for front-drive production cars in 2011.

BEST CAR FOR SPARTACUS ROAD
There is a tenuous Kiwi connection to Spartacus: filming of the final series of the R-rated (some might say X-rated) television show about the real-life soldier/gladiator has just wrapped up in Auckland. Reason enough to retrace the man's steps.

When Spartacus escaped from slavery in 73BC, he led his band from Rome to Capua and eventually to Vesuvius in Southern Italy. The journey today is just under 300km.

The car? You'll need something that strikes fear into the hearts of Romans and is tough enough to take you into Southern Italy.

That'd be the Chrysler 300C, which usurps one of Italy's best-loved badges - it's called a Lancia Thema in Europe (Fiat Group now controls Chrysler). Abuse of an Italian icon is proof you mean business.

BEST CAR TO MOTOR AROUND MOROCCO
Morocco is hot. Road quality varies greatly. Traffic in centres like Marrakech can be intimidating. The perfect car, then, would be astonishingly comfortable, chilled in the cabin, unbelievably tough and scare locals into submission.

Meet the all-new Range Rover. Seems like it'd be ideal in Morocco. And it is, as it was launched there internationally recently. Perfect.

- NZ Herald

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