In their first year at Loughborough University, George Sturdee and Thomas Wildman took on the ‘Dash to Dubrovnik’ – a 2,000-mile road trip through 11 countries that must be undertaken in a car costing no more than £500 – in aid of charity. They chose to drive a Toyota Yaris to raise money for Hope for Children.
The Yaris treated them well and successfully made the full distance with no car-related issues along the way, proving to be a strong choice.
Here is what they had to say about their journey:
What made you want to do the Dash to Dubrovnik?
GS: I have always wanted to explore the Eastern side of Europe, and this was a great opportunity to achieve that. Even better was the fact I could do that whilst also raising money for a charitable cause. Also, the route took us away from typical tourist destinations and allowed us to experience the real culture of those countries we visited. Dash to Dubrovnik was a mix of both challenge and adventure and ticked the boxes for a great summer experience.
What did the Dash to Dubrovnik involve?
GS: Dash to Dubrovnik was a road trip of more than 2,000 miles, through 11 countries from the UK to Dubrovnik in a car worth no more than £500, within a week. We raised £1,250 for the charity. It took lots of preparation and research, as well as sourcing a suitable car in the first place.
TW: Dash to Dubrovnik involved seven days of driving. We began in Kent and finished in Dubrovnik, with overnight stops in Brussels, Stuttgart, the Stelvio Pass, Lake Garda, Portoroz, Zadar and Dubrovnik.
What made you choose a Yaris for the Dash to Dubrovnik?
GS: My family has always expressed that Toyotas were extremely reliable cars, and would run forever, from their own experience and from Toyota’s reputation.
How did you get the Yaris? Dealership? Private seller?
GS: I found the Yaris, which was built in 2000 I think (a W registration) while looking on Gumtree for possible cars for the trip. We bought it from a Hungarian man who had previously used it for two years. His wife also drove a Yaris.
Was the Yaris in good condition when you purchased it?
GS: The Yaris was in great condition! The transmission was very smooth and the engine looked in great shape for a 998cc. Unfortunately, we found that it had a slow puncture on the drivers’ front tyre so we had to replace that. However, with 107,000 miles on the clock it was a great economical runner.
TW: The Yaris was in good condition whilst driving it, we found no issues on our journey.
How was the journey?
GS: The journey was good fun. We drove for between five and nine hours each day, taking it in turns, enjoying the views and the very hot weather. We traversed all sorts of terrain and were surprised by the capabilities of the Toyota.
TW: We picked up some great views that we would never have experienced had we have taken a plane, or a train.
Did you enjoy driving the Yaris?
GS: The Yaris was a joy to drive. The smoothness of the transmission meant it was very easy to cruise in and it had a very tight turning circle – something that was essential for our triumph of the Stelvio Pass!
The interior design of the Yaris is great! The small size of the car suited Thomas and I as it was just the two of us. The windows are large, so it was great for visibility – especially when adapting to drive on the right side of the road. The boot is spacious and there’s loads of room for storage. We also had a cassette player which was awesome!
Was the Yaris reliable?
GS: Yes, the Yaris was super-reliable – it always started first time. I was a little concerned after a cold night at the top of the Stelvio Pass that the engine wouldn’t start because the car was also low on engine oil. However, I needn’t have worried, it started beautifully that morning.
What was your favourite aspect of the experience?
GS: My favourite part of the trip was the drive to Portoroz to Zadar. Though the trip was about five hours, the route followed the Adriatic coast the whole way. By now we had discovered first-hand how reliable the Toyota was so I could relax and was in no hurry to get to our destination.
TW: Taking the Yaris up the Stelvio Pass. It was quite a climb and before the trip we were unsure if the car would make it, but it was absolutely fine and we felt a real sense of accomplishment once we had achieved this.
What did you do at the end of the Dash to Dubrovnik?
TW: We took the opportunity to explore Dubrovnik, as well as selling the Yaris off to recuperate funds for a plane ticket home.
Was it sad to see the Yaris go?
GS: Yes, it was. I got very attached to the Yaris and I certainly would’ve been very happy to drive it further around Europe and then back to the UK if we didn’t have flights home booked!
TW: Yes! It felt as though the car had been a person on the journey with us, so it almost felt like losing a team member.
Would you choose a Toyota again if you were to do a similar journey?
GS: I would certainly choose a Toyota if I were to do something similar. They are great value for money and from my experience indestructible. I can’t believe that a car older than me successfully took me across Europe within a week.