Dream Drives: Navigating the Alpenstrasse in a BMW M140i

They say, good things come to those who wait. While it does seem like a very sensible principle to abide by, i’ve never really been a very keen follower of that philosophy, until recently. An email appeared on my inbox with an invite to Munich, the BMW M Festival and to the 24hour race on the Nurburgring. I could not believe my eyes, i read it and reread it again just to make sure it was really happening.

With my heart already racing at the sight of an email, i could not imagine how i would feel come the day i step onto the hollowed grounds of the ‘Ring. In case you haven’t noticed, for this plucky BMW fan, such a trip meant an awful lot.

To make my journey out into Germany slightly more memorable, i arranged to arrive a couple of days earlier to make my pilgrimage to the BMW Welt and Museum.

With an extra day to spare, the very kind people at BMW Asia then arranged a car for me to potter around town during my one free day, and that’s where i came up with this. A dream drive experience on the Bavarian Alps, the Alpenstrasse. With some help from BMW Asia, i finalized my route.

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For those unfamiliar with the Alpenstrasse, it is a lovely stretch of Alpine Road that meanders along the mountains bordering Germany and Austria. From my internet sleuthing, most visitors allocate around 2-3 days to traverse this pass while taking in all the sights, food and culture that often comes up. For me, i only had about a day and the only sights i’m interested in, was some pure Bavarian asphalt.

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Arriving bright and early on a beautiful Monday morning, i headed straight to the BNW Group Press and Fleet service facility in Garching to pick up a BMW M140i. Remember the saying “All good things come to those who wait”? I never had the chance to sample this magnificent machine on the roads in Singapore, so it felt really good when punched the starter button on this pocket rocket for an entire day out on the roads of Munich.

First stop? I’m ashamed to say this, Baierbrunn, where a rather well regarded Timberland outlet resides. Don’t judge me!

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Admittedly, i was slightly daunted at the thought of driving on the “wrong” side of the car, but the reality was that it took no more than 10-15 minutes to get over any initial strangeness. Picking a more leisurely pace to a shopping destination also allowed me to take in some scenery along the way and get accustomed to the M140i which seemed quite adapt at pottering around towns.

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With shopping done (80 euros for a pair of Timberland boots! Score!), it was time to get down to some proper driving, onto the Autobahn towards my first stop, Walchensee kraftwerk. And yes, there was plenty of boot space for a full sized suitcase, a carry-on backpack, a tripod and a newly acquired shopping bag.

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True to what most people say, there are speeds limits on most parts of the Autobahn but once those magical white circles with diagonal lines appear, it’s hammer time. With my foot buried into the carpet, the M140i’s 3-litre 335bhp Twin-scroll turbo engine came on full song and howled it’s fabled 6-cylinder chorus. You can’t touch this!

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It didn’t take long before some lovely mountains started to appear in the distance with the roads beginning to get narrower and curvier once i turned off the expressway.

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The view gets prettier too.

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Walchensee kraftwerk is one of Germany’s largest hydroelectric power stations and made a rather scenic rest stop for both the car and myself.

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After marveling at some impressive teutonic machinery, it was time to get back into my own German engineering marvel and head towards towards Risserstrasse using the scenic route through Walchensee town.

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Check out that camouflaged BMW. Looks like a 3 Series GT. New facelift perhaps?

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Just before leaving the town that encircles the beautiful Walchensee lake, i had to stop for some pictures.

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Powering on towards Risser Strasse, the public road ended and a beautiful tolled road began along the Isaa River. It was somewhat narrow but that didn’t stop a couple of Germanic Air-cooled 911s from travelling at close to full chat!

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It seems that i wasn’t the only one with ideas for touring the Bavarian Alps.

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Throughout my drive i encountered numerous interesting machinery, a BMW Z1, a BMW 1602 Touring, multiple air-cooled Porsches, plenty of Ferraris and a beautiful Alfa 4C, just to name a few. Of course the M140i had no trouble keeping up with any of those exotics through these narrow roads, in fact, i think i had the faster car.

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But with views like this, if you don’t stop by every once in a while, you just might miss it.

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At the end of the lovely road, straddling the edge of the German and Austrian border, there was a little beer garden restaurant, Alpengasthof. I figured that seeing plenty of other travellers stop by, it had to be a decent place. Lunch time!

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Unfortunately for me, the menu was entirely in German but i think i did rather well for my first proper meal in the Alps.

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With two slabs of Pork stuffed down my tummy, it was time to get back on the road for a very short jaunt into Austria towards Großer Ahornboden. A beautiful nature reserve, covering 240 hectares, with more than 2,000 mountain maple trees.

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Of course with time not on my side, i didn’t pay much attention to the nature reserve and spent my time tracing a line along the twisty roads with my M140i.

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Though the roads were beautiful and seriously tempting, i figured that in the essence of time, it probably wasn’t the best idea to venture further into Austria. Turning back, my next stop was Sylvensteinstausee.

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Seems i wasn’t the only one stopping to take in the view. Shortly after this photo, the 4C powered out loud and proud.

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How lovely is that? From Sylvensteinstausee, i headed towards the beautiful Bavarian town of Tegernsee. Which sits 747m above sea level along the shores of Tegernsee lake.

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Sometimes getting lost means a nice photo op session. When in doubt, don’t rely on your GPS.

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Leaving the very scenic town of Tegernsee after a very brief look around, it was time to drive on towards my final stop, Tatzlwurm-Wasserfälle. A waterfall surrounded by lush greenery accessible via a 10m climb through some rocks.

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Once again with limited time on my side (or so i thought), i decided against the climb and continued on with my journey.

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Interestingly, the roads surrounding Tatzlwurm-Wasserfälle turned out to be one of the most fun stretches of the entire drive. Carving through a forested area with multiple curves and elevation changes, the M140i was now truly in its element, attacking each corner with ever increasing alacrity and displaying a precision of control that can rarely be explored on our local Singapore roads. Leaning into the car on each corner, you can feel the front end scrubbing for grip on occasion but once they hook up, deploying 500Nm of torque through the rears make exiting corners a rather interesting and brisk affair.

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With the Autobahn coming back up, it was time to head back into the beautiful city of Munich before it got dark.

Except, it didn’t get dark, not until 930pm. Though i wish i stayed out on the Alpenstrasse longer, i guess that will be left for another time.

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