Sometimes I get this inexplicable urge to go for a drive. When I first got my license, I would drive into the early hours of the morning with no destination in sight just for the thrill of it. Over time, driving became like a friend I could turn to in times of need; it became my thinking place, where I could crank the music and mull over the answers to life most pressing questions.

 

I’d forgotten just how satisfying driving can be until recently, when Mazda invited me on an experiential weekend to drive their collection in beautiful South Carolina. I was excited for the trip, of course, but as I pulled into the place I’d be staying, I realize just how little of an idea of what was in store for me. The views are incredible, and some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen was laid out before me.

 

Mazda USA Active Lifestyle Drive Program at Montage Palmetto Bluff, In Bluffton, SC. Participants test drove cars between Montage Palmetto Bluff and Sea Pines Resort, in Hilton Head Island, SC. At Sea Pines, participants kayaked and explored on bikes. © Tim Zielenbach for Mazda USA
Mazda USA Active Lifestyle Drive Program at Montage Palmetto Bluff, In Bluffton, SC.
Participants test drove cars between Montage Palmetto Bluff and Sea Pines Resort, in Hilton Head Island, SC. At Sea Pines, participants kayaked and explored on bikes.
© Tim Zielenbach for Mazda USA

 

Upon arrival, I took a golf cart to travel to my room. This was a far cry from a hotel, and after a trip across the gardens, I found a suite that featured a decadent marbled bathroom, with an infinity bath and all the trimmings. There was a flashlight on the nightstand, which puzzled me for a second before concierge politely advised that it was for checking for gators before walking near the lake out back.

 

The Premium Collection Every Man Can Appreciate

 

As I got ready for my welcome dinner, with the other influencers, I was struck with how incredible my trip was; and I hadn’t even turned a key in the ignition. I would realize how this experience mimicked the Mazda brand, where from the moment you set your sights on the car, to the final whirr of the new and improved engine, every second is designed with a premium feel in mind.

 

Throughout the trip, I learned about Mazda, and the exciting updates they are making to their line up and their campaigns, and I got to mingle with their designers and engineers, who took amazing pride in telling me about their passion for Mazda and the automotive industry. By the end of the weekend, I too shared their passion for the love of driving and was thoroughly impressed with their efforts.

 

Mazda USA Active Lifestyle Drive Program at Montage Palmetto Bluff, In Bluffton, SC. Participants test drove cars between Montage Palmetto Bluff and Sea Pines Resort, in Hilton Head Island, SC. At Sea Pines, participants kayaked and explored on bikes. © Tim Zielenbach for Mazda USA

 

A fun highlight was seeing the entire lineup parked side by side in front of where we were staying; it was like walking through the set of a Mazda commercial, and each car was begging me to touch it and sit inside. I loved getting to learn about the intricacies of the Mazda collection, and how the designers are always looking for ways to create a premium experience that puts a smile on your face.

 

One of the things that impressed me most about Mazda, besides the incredible handling and premium ride feel, was their stereo systems. Usually, a standard stereo is not the best, let’s be honest, and one of the things I tend to do first when I buy a new car is to upgrade the audio system, but as I tore up and down the Savannah roads, I was wholly surprised; Kanye sounded amazing.

 

Photographs © Tim Zielenbach for Mazda USA Mazda Active Lifestyle driving event at Montage Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, SC.
Photographs © Tim Zielenbach for Mazda USA Mazda Active Lifestyle driving event at Montage Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, SC.

 

I know it sounds funny to focus on the stereo when most guys want to know the specs and tech (and I’ll be covering those soon, I promise), but I am quick to judge a car on its audio equipment because it tells me what to expect elsewhere. If a brand can get the stereo right, it tells me they are passionate and have the knowledge to deliver a premium ride.

 

One of my trip highlights was pulling in at a scenic lookout to watch the sunset over the beautiful city of Bluffton, South Carolina as dolphins played in the sea breeze. It was an incredible backdrop to a night of live music and fairy lights, where we dined on traditional cornbread and black beans, and enjoyed the best of what life has to offer; Mazda left no stone unturned and ignited my passion for driving once more.  

 

Many thanks to Mazda for inviting me on this trip and for letting me test drive some incredible cars on some of the best roads in America. I can’t wait to tell you guys more about the cars, stay tuned!

 

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