My holiday this summer consisted of a 3800km round trip in 6 days. I drove all of it, with my wife on board all the way, and my sister with us on the way out. We took my mothers’ Hyundai i30, seen here on this bridge of disrepair in Albania. This grey DD got the job done, but i thought, there should be a better car for the task. Your quest, Oppo, if you fancy it, is to find this better car.

The point was to drive my sister from Budapest, Hungary, to Athens, Greece, but we decided to travel on a longer route to see some sights along the way. First POI was Croatia, and we got off the motorway to see some lakes in the mountains, so right on the first day i got a proper switchback mountain road to drive. Next day we visited Mostar, and then went on the mountain route towards Kotor in Montenegro. Lots of switchbacks on our way, some one-lane, some wider, all lovely, all marvelous. Then came Albania, with it’s special kind of driving environment - roads disappearing then reappearing, farming equipment going the wrong way on the highway, goats and stray dogs, and a road that should have been a nice highway according to the map, but turned out to be a frighteningly rocky dirt road through the drained oil field of the American-Albanian Oil Company. Scary scenery filled with lovely people. Greece and our way back was straightforward compared to this, though there was a 6-hour stretch that I had to really push, because we had to get to the Athens airport at noon sharp, to pick up my brother-in-law...

But anyway. The point is, that the car we are looking for:

- has a good aircon, that’ll work flawlessly even in 38°C, but will not freeze occupants

- has a powerful motor, enabling safe overtaking and uninterrupted drive up mountains with the aircon blasting and a some load on board.

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- seats four and their luggage

- does not average significantly worse mileage than what the Hundai did: 6,8l / 100km (34,6 mpg US).

- is comfortable enough to drive 700-900 km a day

- is fun on curvy and switchback roads, but can also settle well on the motorway blast

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- is able to take a rocky dirt road without puncture or bottoming out.

- and finally, has to be something that an everyday human being can afford to buy and upkeep

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Trickier that I would have presumed at first. I’ve gone for a manual BMW 330i Touring at first, but the mileage would be worse, and I would have sure as hell broke something on it on the dirt road. At least some plastic skirt or sorts. My Peugeot 505 would also work well in quite few respects, but has no air-con, so we would have straight melted to a puddle in the scorching heat (the reason we didn’t take that in the first place).

So what can you come up with oppo? I’m picky and particular to driving fun in the mountains so don’t even bother with Land Cruisers or sorts...