5 cars to take on an intercontinental trip

Wanderlust is not an uncommon attribute. Whether it’s a hiking trip to the mountains or driving cross-country, the scenery calls for one to get lost and drink it all in. Naturally, there are some people who have taken the concept a little too far. Swiss couple Liliana and Emil Schmid have not one, but three entries in the Guinness Book of World Records: the longest driven journey, the most miles driven, and the most countries visited in a single car. Their 31 year journey across the world is still on the road and has racked up more than 454,000 miles through 186 countries in their 1982 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60.

They aren’t the only ones either. Irv Gordon a resident of New York, drove his 1966 Volvo P1800 over 300,000 miles all across the United States, while Germans Fritz Fritz Kreis and Thomas Fuerst took their Mini Cooper on a road trip from Heidelberg, Germany to New York via Poland, the Baltics, Russia, Korea and Japan. Furthermore, Mercedes runs the #GLAAdventure in conjunction with NDTV (an Indian commercial broadcasting television network) and Indian car magazines evo India and AutoX. The Great Overland Adventure has covered nearly 25,000 miles in a Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 CDI across five continents.

This raises the question, what is the ideal car to take on an intercontinental trip? The answer depends on whether you’re a bare-bones, rugged kind of person or prefer a more laidback luxurious trip. Carquirks takes the middle road with this list:

Mazda CX-5

Mazda CX-5
The CX-5 AWD comes with a 173bhp 2.0-litre diesel motor (Image source: Mazda Media Packs UK)

In case you are planning a trip that will take you through some pretty rutted roads (read trips through Asia and Africa), consider Mazda’s CX-5 AWD. Having won What Car’s Car of the Year award for large SUV’s under £25,000 since 2014, this mid-sized SUV is comfortable, yet dynamic and can do significant amounts of off-roading as well. There’s more than enough space to pack most things needed for a long trip too.

Porsche 924S/944S2

Porsche 924 & 944
Both cars sported the cracking 160bhp 2.5-litre four-cylinder motor (Image source: Creative Commons/Author’s own)

While it was considered an entry-level sports car when launched, the 924 and its successor, the 944 are great for touring on a budget. Matt Hubbard of Speedmonkey.co.uk has some very persuasive arguments for using these coupes as a road trip car. I agree wholeheartedly, provided the roads are in good condition.

Mercedes-Benz SL

Archivnummer: D224431
The SL comes with a range of engine options from the 302bhp 3.5-litre V6 to the stonking 621bhp 6.0-litre turbocharged V12 (Image source: Daimler Media)

Nominated by Autocar as the best grand tourer sold in the UK, this 2-seater convertible is for those who have a bit of money to splurge. The famed magazine claims it is “perhaps the most splendid, single-minded luxury convertible in the world.” The SL would be a wonderful car to drive through southern Europe or parts of the USA where the sun is your constant companion and the roads are smooth.

BMW 5-Series Touring

bmw-5-series touring
Luxury and speed, the 5-Series offers both with its wide range of petrol and diesel engines (Image source: BMW Group Press)

If you believe that the SL is too compromised on space to carry all your travelling nick-knacks, try BMW’s 5-Series Touring. Aside from being a seriously fun car to drive (on normal roads), the back has ample room for anything besides the kitchen sink. The opening rear tailgate glass is an added bonus when loading the estate up. Top Gear has listed it as one of its top five estate cars.

Land Rover Discovery

Land Rover Discovery
Land Rover has two petrol engine options and two diesel ones for the Discovery (Image source: Land Rover Media)

Plan to head off the beaten path on your road trip, take the Discovery. Few vehicles manage harsh road conditions with such aplomb while cocooning the driver in luxury. When the millionth Discovery rolled of the Solihull production line in March 2012, Land Rover set off to show why it’s a great vehicle for a long road trip by emulating the 1950s expedition from Solihull to Beijing, just in time for the 2012 Beijing Motor Show.

Honourable mentions

The Mazda MX-5 deserves to be on this list for its value for money proposition. Think of it as a budget option to the Mercedes-Benz SL. The mighty G-Class also deserves a mention for its rugged appeal and go-anywhere capabilities.

At the end of the day, choosing the best vehicle is utterly arbitrary. People have used classic cars, performance cars and even bikes on intercontinental journeys. Road trips are undertaken for the thrill of driving, exploring new places and expanding one’s horizons.


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