Dropping from third to second, I nailed the throttle and watched the revs soar to 6000rpm. Chasing Greig’s R32 through the esses, with the note from its Milltek pinging back and forth between the trees and my friend’s 200SX in close pursuit, I tucked the front in hard into the approaching right-hander and gunned it over the bridge with the traction control light blinking away. My heavy, leather-clad saloon was doing an admirable job in keeping pace with the hard-driven Golf, but outright speed wasn’t the be-all and end-all of this run.

Living in the city means that opportunities to really exercise the car and test my driving are few and far between. When a few friends, mutual free time and beautiful weather all come together, the result is an unforgettable early-summer drive that shows you the limits of your talent and your car, and puts a massive grin on your face.

The route for this drive was agreed beforehand. Aiming for local landmark the Cairn O’Mount, we’d point our cars out of the city via South Deeside road; a ribbon of tarmac that parallels the city’s River Dee, running through royal Scottish villages and eventually leading out onto the B974 – a twisting, undulating B-road with plenty sharp bends and taxing straights popular with both bikers and motorists alike. After this, we’d fire across to Stonehaven – a small fishing town on the coast – where we’d get some local ice-cream and head back home via the A90.

Sixty-ish miles of curves, crests, sharp inclines and rural bridges equals a good workout for car and driver

The sun came out to play when the cars arrived. In all, our convoy’s Germanic bias was abundantly clear. Rod’s red 1999 Nissan 200SX took the trophy for most horsepower and represented Japan’s effort at a driver’s car. Trebling our number of coupes were Stuart’s 2013 Audi TT TDI quattro (complete with RS3 wheels and S-line bodykit), as well as Brezney’s surprisingly rapid 2009 BMW 118d coupe. Greig’s loud mk4 R32 was the most vocal car for most of the evening. My 320i rounded off the group by being the only saloon and one of only two six-cylinder cars. With a diverse mix of bodystyles and engine types we soon made it out onto South Deeside road, where my passenger Sean assumed the role of snapper for the night:

The tunes were on throughout
Conditions were perfect for a drive

 It must be said, though, that none of us went out there to break the speed limit. Having the space and freedom to experiment with your driving was not only reassuring, but also reacquainted us with the different dynamics needed for country driving – which, for some city-dwellers, is probably a very neglected necessity in their motoring career. Brezney’s 118d proved to a local bird that in a game of car vs. animal, the car will usually win. After trying to build a nest in the BMW’s kidney grille at 60mph, we pulled off to collectively bury the wee man and pick out the remnants from the grille. The bone-dry roads unfurled ahead of us for miles at a time with perfect visibility. Every now and then our concentrated efforts would take us to a small village, where we could burble through at low speed, appreciate the scenery and prepare ourselves for the next straight or sequence of bends.

Bridge over the picturesque Falls of Feugh

Brezney’s 1er was pretty nippy!
… it also never left me alone, despite being a dirty derv.

A moment of solemn silence

When you’re really concentrating on driving, you see an improvement. Freed from the constraints of roadworks, endless junctions and the usual boredom of city driving, I noticed a great improvement in my driving. The wheel would fidget away over rucked tarmac, warning me of where the grip was and was not to be found. I was left-foot braking into corners and trimming my lines better than ever. Gearchanges were now made based just on engine note – and what a note that was. The metallic roar of my BMW’s six made a lovely sound when combined with Greig’s 911esque R32 and the buzzy scream of the Nissan’s turbo’d powerplant. Stuart, meanwhile, had launched himself far further up the road than any of us. His quattro must have egged him on...

Milltek: engaged!

 Once we arrived at the Cairn O’Mount, the group stopped to take pictures and share stories of our drive so far. As the sun began to set and hot engines ticked over in the chill air, I was glad we’d come out here. The road up to the main viewing point swoops and falls dramatically, allowing us a chance to really bunch up shortly before parking up.. Driving these familiar roads has encouraged me to pull my finger out and improve both my driving and my car. There’s absolutely no doubt that I’ll be out on these roads again soon; hopefully with another great group of cars and friends to mess about with.

The gang’s all here

Super-huggy seats help in the corners

Dishy wheels and lows are in the pipeline

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