GTspirit has embarked on a very exclusive and special journey starting from Munich, Germany and ending at the North Cape in Norway for the next nine days. The trip has been dubbed #MBPolarSun – “MB” stands for Mercedes-Benz while “Polar Sun” stands for the sun that never sets over the Northern Cape during summer months. The journey will be long and testing for all vehicles, Mercedes-Benz has equipped up us with a choice of rugged and comfortable vehicles to complete the journey in.
They include the new GLE and GLE Coupe in a variety of different engine and body combinations ranging from the base GLE Coupe to the ultimate GLE 63 AMG Coupe.
Update: Day 10/11 Nordkapp, The Finale!
After being woken at 7am by a fire alarm in our hotel, and having our roof top party to the early hours, we left Alta at 10am.
Our convoy headed up the E6, avoiding yet more Reindeer in the road, to Skaidi. Here we fuelled the cars for the last time before we would reach our destination, Nordkapp. Over the next couple of hours we winded our way up the coastal E69 route, our convoy spreading out as we stopped at various coves in the Fjord, for more Reindeer and anything else that caught our eye.
We arrived at our final hotel in Skipsfjorden, 30 minutes away from our final destination, at 16:00hrs. After checking in and a quick refreshment it was back in the cars for the final KM. The final roads up to the top where fun twist roads, surrounded by roaming hills with Reindeer. Upon reaching the summit we were treated by the expect coach loads of cruise ship tourist and campervans, some from as far away as China! After a look around, photos and dinner, it was decided that we would come back early the next morning to get some photos of the cars at the point when there would hopefully be less people around.
At 3am the next morning we headed back up to the Nordkapp, arriving to a virtually empty location with only 3 other people roaming the site. We then took some picture of the group with the Globe Statue and with our cars in front of it. With the sun getting higher and starting to break through the cloud it was time for to head back down the route to Alta to catch our flight back to Oslo, then on to our various final destinations.
Update: Day 9 Finland, Sweden, Norway!
Day 9 and destination Alta! Today’s journey would see us end up in Alta, northern Norway, whilst also visiting Sweden. For our journey we have the GLE 350d. We left Oulu at 10 am, heading up the E75 to Kemi, where we made a quick stop to meet a friend from our trip! We then crossed into Sweden at the border town of Tornio, where upon our entrance to Sweden, were welcomed with an Ikea. Our lunch stop today was at the picturesque hill side of . From here we head back in to Finland for the rest of the afternoon, during which we had several encounters with reindeer on the road!
Once at the boarder, all 10 cars safely drove into Norway and having to dodge packs of mosquitoes, we made our way along the E93. After around 45 minutes of driving we started our decent into Alta, and it was stunning. Due to the beautiful scenery, which wouldn’t be out of place in the Alps, we had to make several stops to take it all in, and of course take some shots. We finally made it to Alta at 22:00hrs to be treated to the sun lowering itself into the bay. As we shared a roof top Gin & Tonic at 01:00 the next day the sun was already climbing back into the sky. A truly special day!
Update: Day 8 Starts Here…
Today we started in Helsinki with a brisk walk around the city, to prepare ourselves for the 600km leg to Oulu, the longest leg of the trip so far! We all headed off around 10am making our way out of the city, avoiding the countless speed cameras, before heading north along E75. An hour or so into our journey we reached Lahti, and pulled into a lakeside campsite to get some shots of our white GLE 63AMG S Coupe on its banks. We then turned onto route 24, following it for a short distance before pulling over again.
This time it was onto a small farm road running up the middle of some rapeseed plants. After another shoot in between the fields, for which we were joined by three more of our group we again journeyed north joining the E63. Along the E63 we passed Jyvaskyla and stopped for lunch at the smallest burger restaurant we have ever been too! After lunch, nearly 16:30 by this time, it was time to put our foot down and use all 577hp to power our way along the E75 to Oulu in time for our sunset dinner at 23:49!
Update: Day 7 17:00 – Boarding the Ferry
The convoy of ten cars rolled into Tallinn with just enough time to spare before boarding the ferry to grab a quick pizza and a mandatory Cappuccino. Once the dozens of passports had been checked and double checked it was time to board the ferry, easier said than done. We took our place in the allocated queue, and the snake of GLEs clambered upon the creaking gangway to the cargo hold of the boat destined for Helsinki. The cars slowly disappeared into the boats hull…and then they stopped. The boat was full, and it was the last of the day.
Six GLEs we left to tentatively reverse back down the hairpin laden ramp. The ground staff muttered amongst themselves before deciding that we would have to bunk with the lorries. We then had the rather special opportunity to enter from the lorry entrance which was an experience in itself. We are currently half way across the Gulf of Finland and are due to be in Helsinki with the hour. Stay tuned for the next instalment!
Update: Day 7 Starts Here…
Day 7 is a little different from the six days that we have driven so far. The aim of the day is to reach Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, to take a ferry over to Helsinki where we stay for the night. The roads out of Latvia were surprisingly smooth, open and even in the rain looked great with dense forest bordering the tarmac. As we approached Estonia the road surface deteriorated significantly and we queued in traffic for what seemed an age in extensive road works.
We are now putting the Distronic systems to the test as we cruise up to Tallinn, as few have already experienced, the roads are littered with speed cameras and vigilant police patrols. We will report back tonight from Helsinki so check back this evening!
Update: Day 6 Ends Here…
The final blog of day 6 comes live from Riga, the capital city of Latvia, and it is very late into the night! The road from Vilnius, Lithuania, was quiet and the cars followed in convoy for around four hours. The geography of Latvia is very flat and the roads are often arrow straight.
They are by no means the most entertaining, or the best paved in Europe by any measure, but within a few hours we reached Riga and it certainly was worth the wait. We are staying in the Hotel Bergs, part of the Small Luxury Hotels Of The World collection, the hotel may be on the smaller side, but the suites are certainly not. We have a sizeable king sized bedroom, two bathrooms, a ludicrously large lounge, a modest kitchen and no less than four balconies at our disposal!
Having checked in and had a quick lunch, we had a few hours at our disposal to explore Riga, a city that we knew very little about. After a few minutes we were bowled over by the beauty and charm of the city and its cobblestoned pedestrianised streets. Much like Riga, there is a seemingly never-ending maze of little streets to explore, each hiding their own gems such as traditional restaurants or gigantic cathedrals with spires reaching high above the city. Enjoy the gallery from this afternoon, we will be back on the road bright and early for day sevens long drive further north!
Update: Day 6 Starts Here…
We’re off on day 6 of the #MBPolarSun and its started with something a little different. We’re in Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania that is home to dozens of churches, cathedrals and other buildings of historic significance. To appreciate the sights of the city, where the average person consumes 64 litres of beer per year, Mercedes-Benz organised a comprehensive and informative tour of the city. For a European capital city Vilnius is refreshingly calm and quite. Walking through the narrow cobblestoned streets lined by small boutique coffee shops and restaurants is a great way to spend the morning and take shelter from the heat of the sun. We will shortly depart from the Kempinski Hotel Cathedral Square and embark on the three hour journey to Riga, Latvia. The drive is significantly shorter than those of the previous days allowing us to stop at a number of locations on route. We’ll be back this afternoon with an update from tonights very special hotel.
Update: Day 5 Ends Here…
We have just arrived in Vilnius, Lithuania! As mentioned in the previous post (see below) we stopped a couple of hundred kilometres away from the border at a mind-blowing resort called Siedlisko Morena. There we indulged in a range of barbecued meat and fish, as well as a host of traditional dishes. What made the location really special was the lake, beach and jetty that we wish we could have stayed on for many more hours to come. We hit the road once again and have made to the Kempinski hotel, one of our favourite chains and the Vilnius hotel is no exception. We will be back with more live blog content tomorrow. For now please enjoy the shots from Poland to Lithuania.
Update: Day 5 Starts Here…
Greetings from Warsaw. The #MBPolarSun group are indulging in a spot of breakfast. That being said, we have been up since 4 am, we went to drop a fellow journalist to the airport about 50 kilometres away from Warsaw city centre. We had a choice of all the cars for the dawn drop off, needless to say we got behind the wheel of the GLE 63 AMG S. Poland has proven to be a great country to drive in. The speed limits are low, but the roads and infrastructure have proven to be somewhat of a pleasant surprise.
Yesterday evening we got to see the Mercedes-Benz GLC for the first time up close. The car has taken a huge leap forward from the GLK that it is set to replace. More on the GLK in a couple of weeks!
Once we finish breakfast we will hit the road once again. Our first break will be in Vilnius in Lithuania for what is set to be a very special lunch. We will be back then!
Update: Day 4 Starts Here…
We departed the hotel in Poznan early this morning to start the 400 kilometre journey to Poland’s capital city, Warsaw, where we will stay in the Hotel Bristol, a part of the prestigious Luxury Collection group of hotels. We’re still on the road and have taken a number of detours off the highway to see more of rural Poland.
The agricultural, less populated are nothing short of picturesque, maize and other crops create a patchwork feast for the eyes, only being disrupted by clusters of wind turbines that add to the stunning site. We are driving the GLE 250 Diesel, the least powerful car in the GLE family, but still one with ample power for the Polish roads! We will be back with more tonight so stay tuned.
Update: Day 3 Ends Here…
We headed down the Autobahn to the beautiful city of Berlin. The capital city of Germany is crammed with sights and history. We stopped there for lunch and at 38 degrees it was hotter than yesterday’s lunch break in Nuremberg. After lunch we hit the trendiest streets of Berlin to create some photos of the GLE 63 AMG S that looked brilliant in the narrow and characterful streets.
After a few quick shots and ice-creams, we hit the road again. Since Leipzig we have been at the helm of the GLE 400 4 Matic SUV. So far it has proved to be another great cruiser, its V6 is strong and quiet on long stretches. Tonight we are staying at the stunning Blow Up Hall Hotel 50/50 in Ponzan. We will be back with more tomorrow morning!
Update: Day 3 Starts Here…
Welcome day 3 of the #MBPolarSun road trip. This morning we leave Leipzig and cross yet another border as we enter Poland. The drive is a little shorter that yesterday’s marathon, we’ll drive 400 kilometres to Poznan. Being a shorter drive we’ll have enough time to stop at some interesting sights and locations. Our first planned stop is Berlin. Be sure to check back this afternoon for the next Live Blog installation!
Update: Day 2 Ends Here…
Driving the GLE 500 e feels like a lifetime ago and not this morning! We left Austria in an attention grabbing convoy that snaked through the mountains back into the land of speed, Germany. We were in the perfect machine for the journey, the all new and extremely potent Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe and boy oh boy ain’t it fantastic?. This car chews miles almost as quickly as it chomped fuel on our high speed autobahn runs.
We were taking great chunks out of the trip to Leipzig so we chose to take a leisurely lunch break at a traditional German Sausage restaurant in Nuremberg, Bratwurst Roslein. The food was sensational, almost enough to distract us from the sticky 35 degree heat. We scampered away from the scorching sun into our comfortable air conditioned environment eager to reach Leipzig, our destination for the evening. We were in for a shock.
We quickly ran into one of the lengthiest and most frustrating traffic jams we have ever experienced. Sitting idle with the extremely helpful Distronic system accelerating and braking in the traffic for us, knowing that we had 585 horses pulling at the leash was almost unbearable. We decided to ditch the car and have a chat with the locals and lorry drivers that were glancing across at the car in the humongous traffic jam.
Almost an hour later the traffic steadily began to flow and we could finally could push the GLE 63 AMG S. Downshifts are quick and crisp, plant your right foot and the seemingly large gap ahead would shrink at an alarming rate. Draw for and upshift, and another, and before you know it the acceleration stops, the 250 km/h limiter makes the car tap out!
The brakes inspired confidence – braking on steep slopes from over 200 km/h was strong and did not fade even after repetitive stress. This live blog is coming from the chic and very comfortable Penta Hotel in Leipzig, the drivers and MB staff will be departing for dinner soon so be sure to check back tomorrow for the latest updates on the next leg of the trip! There will also be a full review of the GLE 63 AMG S live in the next few days.
Update: Friday, 10:55 am – Leaving Grand Tirolia Golf & Ski Resort
After a sublime continental breakfast, we left the Grand Tirolia Golf & Ski Resort very bright and early to collect the cars we would be using for the 660 kilometre drive to Leipzig. Mercedes-Benz provided us with a collection of GLE 500 e cars to cover the 60 minute drive to the rendezvous point. The car features a 3-litre V6 combined with electric motors resulting to a very impressive hybrid drivetrain.
The short drive gave up plenty of insight into how the car performs, it is a very convincing drivetrain, the transition between electric and combustion drive is seamless and was almost unnoticeable.
We arrived early and grabbed the keys to the meaty GLE 63 AMG S Coupe. Out car is finished in a gorgeous deep blue with very smart unpainted wheels, wood dash and brown leather interior, the most grown up spec for the car if there ever was such a thing for this savage machine. We will be keeping you updated as our journey progresses so stay tuned!
Update: Thursday – Day 1 From Munich to Kitzbuhel
Today we drove from Munich to Kitzbuhel, Austria in a very capable GLE 450 AMG Coupe and finally the 63 AMG Coupe. On the way we stopped for a twenty minute off-road course in a GLE equipped with the off-road pack, the performance on the testing track was faultless, the car felt safe and secure even going up and down the most extreme gradients and cambers. Tomorrow promises to be another fantastic day, the trip will be taking us from Kitzbuhel to Leipzig, back in Germany.
Tonight we are staying in the spectacular Grand Tirolia Golf & Ski Resort hotel that is arguably one of the best hotels in Europe. This is the same hotel that we stayed in during the GTspirit Tour 2014.