SLS AMG, Toureg Challenge, Z4 & More

One of the great things about Summer, and warm weather in general, is that if you’ve got to go someplace you can do so with the window rolled down and the radio blasting.

We had to buy a car recently and we wound up with a nice little sporty number with a great music system and a sunroof. The Saturday after taking delivery, we headed for the beach. It was so very cool. The air rushing through the cabin, tunes pumping out the speakers, cold drinks in the cup holders, and enough power under the hood to get into trouble.

If you’re thinking I bought some hot, low slung two-seater that’s mostly engine and tires then I’d have to disappoint you (and me too). I’m a man of modest means, so our new car is used and Japanese. Bought because of the brand and model’s history of balancing reliability, good looks, and implied, if not actual sportiness. And because it’s what I could afford.

We actually like the car a lot and if I could afford to pay more I would seriously consider buying a newer, and more powerful version of the car we bought. If I had LOTS of money to throw at a vehicle then my eyes would wander to other showrooms and car lots that are homes to brands like Porsche, BMW, Audi, maybe even Tesla (Green is in after all).

Alas, my pockets are so shallow I’d be embarrassed to drive by one of those cars. Luckily I can afford an iPhone and iPad, which means I can download apps that let me dream about driving those pricier, zoomier cars. And I can download those apps for free!

Mercedes Benz is not a brand one might use in the same sentence as the word ‘free’, especially when referring to the new SLS AMG, the successor the to über-chic SLR McLaren. The car will hit the States this year for anyone with about US$200k burning a hole in his or her pocket.

For those of us not so well heeled there is the Mercedes Benz SLS AMG app. For a company as automobile savvy as Mercedes Benz I would have thought they could produce a game that would highlight their new baby in the best possible light. What we get is a tepid game where you steer your car through a series of tunnels avoiding obstacles.

That’s it. Big yawn.

You don’t get a driver’s seat view. No shifting, no speed control, just side to side. There’s an ambitious sounding “Single Player” option, but it’s the only option. They forgot the multiplayer bit. Very odd.

The SLS AMG sure is pretty though, and that may be reason enough for you to download this app and give it a go. It was for me.

If driving $200,000 cars through tunnels is not your thing then you may want to try your hand at driving a $40,000 Volkswagen Touareg through a virtual Costa Rican countryside.

Like the SLS AMG game, the VW Touareg Challenge game is free and is pretty much an ad for the car, but Volkswagen did a much better job with this game. The controls are far more forgiving and the scenery is actual scenery with trees and buildings, even people. You also have a gas and break pedal!

In fact, there are so many options that the game actually fun to play. You can unlock colors, wheels and other options, choose the type of Touareg you want to try out (TDI or Hybrid), and try you hand at different track layouts.

VW Touareg Challenge is an iPhone/iPod Touch only game, but who cares? It’s cool and fun for a freebie. And think of all of the money you’ll save in insurance costs and gas.

I do wish VW included a driver’s view option, but I won’t quibble with an otherwise decent driving game.

I should mention that there a decent VW Polo Challenge app as well. Give it a check out

Any driving game isn’t a great driving game unless it offers a driver view, and while BMW’s BMW Z4 app offers a pretty good view from the driver’s seat, what you see is not all that interesting.

The object is to create art by steering your virtual Z4 around a large white canvas, changing colors as you go.

OK, I take it back, sitting in the driver’s seat while doing donuts in a Z4 is cool, even if it is on a small screen.

The Z4 app lets you do some minor customizations; paint job, swap out rims, put the top down. Once saved your version can be taken out on the canvas for a spin. I know it doesn’t sound like it, but it is fun, and a heck of a lot cheaper than chancing a 360 in your local mall parking lot.

Check out the BMW Z4 app. Art with wheels is very cool.

That’s a wrap for this week.

More freebies below with direct links.

Special note to Joss Whedon fans: Check out the trailer for the new Buffy The Vampire Slayer action comic. It looks pretty sweet. (Come on Joss, get busy with a Firefly action comic.)