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Letter from Europe - Subaru Outback Touring XT, Copenhagen, Sweden, St.Petersberg, Monaco, Fancy Lunch and More


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Letter from Europe
By Andrew Frankl
European Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel

After 5 long weeks away it was good to be greeted by Subaru’s new Outback Touring XT.


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The neighbors were seriously impressed. The SUV looked great in autumn green metallic-very appropriate at the end of the Summer- and predictable it never missed a beat. Subarus don’t do that. I saw a statistic , apparently a huge number are still on the road after 7-8 years. And let us not forget the hammering these SUVs receive in the mountains where Subarus are literally kings of the road.

The new 2.4 liter turbocharged boxer engine made a fair amount of noise under hard acceleration but apart from that it was fine. As was auto stop and start although -like with every other car using this system

I am always a bit concerned- it only has to malfunction once. Mercifully it didn’t.260 hp are plenty most of the time, whether I would have to stay in the inside lane on the way to Tahoe with five up remains to be seen. By the way the cargo volume has been increased by 2.4 cu.ft.

I love the Eye Sight warning, a great idea. I narrowly missed a deer the other night but with the help of the LED headlights with High Beam assist I was able to spot it and swerve round it.


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Must admit I did not fall in love with the11.6 inch Multimedia Navigation, there are so many bells and whistles it took a while to find 88.5 FM . The A/C controls were also quite difficult to locate. Once ?ve I found them it was just fine. The Subaru a very complete package, it seems to me that a chief engineer went through every single weak spot and corrected them.

For 40 thousand dollars-remember no extras a la German cars- you get everything bar the kitchen sink.

I might seem biased as far as Subarus are concerned but if the product is good why knock it just for the sake of it?!

The Subaru greeted me after 5 weeks in Europe and as you can imagine all sorts of things happened while I’ve been away.


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First of all I had an exceptional BMW 640 GT from my good friends at BMW Hungary. As I was there to give away my god daughter at a lavish ceremony in the country it was absolutely the right car for the event. The Bimmer was everything I could have asked for. Elegant, powerful, comfortable and was far and away the best looking automobile in the car park. Never missed a beat and as all my colleagues in the world of auto writers agree it has to be one of the best touring machines, the kind that would take you from Stockholm to the South of France quickly and efficiently.


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I heard rumors that the company discontinued making it, I am checking up on that. Should that be the case snapping up one from 2018 would seem to be very logical indeed.

Then it was time for getting on a Norwegian airline flight to Copenhagen, a city I’ve never visited before. I was certainly in for a surprise. Virtually everyone was cycling! And those who were not tried to stay on these new electric scooters which are sprouting up all over cities here in the USA as well. The country of Denmark is so far ahead in terms of the use of hand-held devices that during my stay I did not even see the local currency. The same happened in Sweden a week later. Taxi, restaurant, coffee shop, once more I never got a chance to see the color of their money.


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I did see a few cars , mainly Volvos and Teslas and I did spot one Ferrari outside a golf club. Pretty cool I have to admit, his number plate is 46 which is the country code for Sweden!


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Two truly advanced countries, both very ecologically minded, a bit like the young lady who was talking at the United Nations the other day.

They even vote in elections using their phones! We certainly have some catching up to do.

St Petersburg was of course a very different proposition, money, as in rubles was very much in demand. The old folks who remember the harsh times during Communism just seemed to be happy to be alive while the young look very much like their European or American brothers or sisters. Elegant, Maui Jim sunglasses, iPhones, you name it.


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In restaurants you were greeted with the very same “sparkling or still” as you would have been in any American restaurant.. Perfect English, taking orders on iPads, pretty amazing stuff.

As far as transportation is concerned the locals tend to use the vast subway system. Very impressive it was too!


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On the roads the smelly old Kamaz trucks seem to be something of a rarity having been replaced by modern Western trucks such as Scania and Volvo. The taxis were mainly Mercedes but there were Czech Skodas, BMWs and the odd Mini. The enclosed picture shows the one which was owned by the restaurant where we had lunch.

The scene then moved to Monaco to celebrate my grand daughter’s first birthday. I think when she looks at the pictures in 10 years time she will say WOW, that was something else!


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Lunch at the magnificent Monaco Yacht Club followed by a quick trip to St Tropez-my all time favorite watering hole.


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Back in 1958, yes folks 1958 I got involved in a soda syphon fight with Roger Vadim and Brigitte Bardot. Although she has aged considerably since pictures of her are all over the town. Full credit to the mayor, he made sure that the place looks exactly the same as it did 60 years ago.


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The world-famous bar Senequier is as good as ever although, alas, they’ve banned soda syphon fights!

As for the cars in Monaco, well, what did you really expect?! Probably more Rolls Royce and Bentley cars for the size of the population then anywhere else in the World. The owners are preoccupied to pay the valet a small fortune to leave their cars outside the Casino before walking over to the world famous restaurant at the Hotel de Paris run by Alain Ducasse.

Then it was time for a quick dash to London’s much loved Royal Automobile Club before getting on to Virgin Atlantic’s non-stop flight to

San Francisco. 5 weeks, planes, trains and automobiles. The astonishing thing is that every plane time took off on time, arrived on time and none of the luggage was missing. Lady luck must have been in my side.

As I am sending this article off to my boss Bob Gordon in Louisville, KY


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A brand new BMW i3 just arrived outside my door. Full report in the Letter from Europe soon.