Six years ago, Candace Radcliffe had a dream of being able to go see a play on the beach in Surrey. In 2012, when Beach House Theatre opened its curtains for the first time at Crescent Beach with performances of Robert Munsch stories and William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
In it’s fourth year of existence the performance is still going on. This year, the group decided to move away from Shakespeare to perform Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, a performance which sold out for all shows before opening night, as well continuing with Performances of Robert Munsch stories in the mornings.
A unique experience is not without it’s difficulties says Rick Harmon, an artistic director with Beach House. “There’s a lot of outside noises that you can’t control. Sometimes a plane will fly overhead. Often times a train will be going by. But, our actors are trained to project so that everyone can hear at all times, or as best they can. Light can also be a problem. When the sun sets it can be very bright on some parts of the audience. We also don’t have any control over light in the morning because the sun is still up.”
However, Harmon says the views of the beach are worth any perceived negatives of noise. “We think the beauty of the beach and the site that we have outweighs the negatives you might experience.”
If you’d like to experience the theatre before it closes for the summer , tickets are still available tomorrow’s closing performance of Robert Munsch stories.
[REVIEW] 2020 Acura MDX A-Spec
Costco runs, after school sports, family road trips. These are just some of the common activities that are shared amongst many who are toying with the idea of owning a 3 row crossovers. SUVs with 3rd row seats have continued to be one of the most popular types of vehicles on the road.
Honda/Acura was one of the companies who jumped onboard the trend relatively early on with their Honda Pilot/Acura MDX models. With the current generation originally launched in 2014 and facelifted in 2017, the MDX is now in its third generation.
As before, Acura has essentially taken the practicality and user-friendliness of the Pilot and added a more premium image, bolder styling, nicer cabin materials, and of course, a higher price tag.
For years, the upscale MDX has been a popular choice in Canadian suburbs so much so that it doesn’t draw too much attention on the street these days. It’s not difficult to see why as it is still rather conservatively styled, comes with Japanese brand reliability, and carries over Acura’s “fun to drive” reputation.
When it was redesigned for 2014, Acura introduced a lighter-weight body structure that was a whopping 700 lbs lighter than its predecessor. Impressive given that the new design also added new reinforcements to help the MDX score well in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) new small-offset front crash test.
What’s new for 2020
Not much changes for 2020 with the MDX carrying over its appearance, mechanical components, and available features. My test vehicle was the A-Spec model, which joined the regular MDX and MDX Sport Hybrid model in 2019.
Since the MDX is Acura’s bread and butter, leading the company’s sales for years on end, it made sense for Acura to add a sportier trimmed model much like its sedans. The revised “diamond pentagon” schnoz that replaced the odd-looking Acura “shield” grille has aged well and looks cleaner and less bizarre than the beak that it replaced.
As cool as the A-Spec may sound though, the trim level doesn’t go too far beyond unique exteriors colour, wheels, and badging. The MDX wears it well though, as the attractive package helps it to stand out from the rest of the line-up.
I particularly liked the A-spec-only Apex Blue Pearl colour which certainly adds some excitement compared to the drab white/silver/black colours that most vehicles seem to be painted in these days.
The half-inch-wider 20-inch grey aluminium wheels wearing lower profile 265/45R20 tires are rather fetching when matched with larger (real) exhaust tips, body-coloured rocker panels, and a unique A-spec front fascia. Body coloured rocker panels and gloss black and dark chrome exterior trim finishes off the package.
Inside, the seats are wrapped in either perforated red or black leather with black Alcantara inserts. I found the front seats a little bit short on thigh support but were otherwise very comfortable. My vehicle was fitted with the Alcantara trim with contrast stitching, which makes it pop out nicely.
Other interior goodies include A-Spec red gauges, A-Spec-badged door sills, black Alcantara door panels, and even a wonderfully perforated thicker-rimmed steering wheel with paddle shifters. There is also red ambient lighting to match and a red engine start/stop button.
My A-spec tester came particularly well equipped with a blind-spot monitoring system with rear-cross traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors, as well as the whole Acura Watch suite of driver assist features. The MDX’s semi-autonomous driver aid systems, once cutting edge, are getting a bit long in the tooth on though, and cannot keep the vehicle in the lane in sharper corners.
Compared to the previous Acura MDX which I drove several years ago, the infotainment system has been updated to include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.
Alas, what you cannot get on the A-Spec is the Entertainment package, with a rear-seat entertainment and comfort package. Nor can you get the Tech Plus package’s second-row heated captain’s chairs, surround-view camera, and active dampers. The A-spec makes do with the standard vibration-reducing amplitude reactive dampers.
Price-wise, the A-Spec is actually the mid-model in the range at an MSRP of $59,690 versus the Tech at $58,090 and the Elite at $66,190.
What is it like to live with?
The MDX’s 290 horsepower, 3.5-litre V6 with 267 lb-ft of torque offers more than sufficient power that most drivers will expect in a crossover SUV. With variable valve timing and lift (aka VTEC), direct injection, and cylinder deactivation, Acura has designed the V6 for efficiency.
The naturally aspirated V6 does need a bit of time to get to power, but its strong and the engine note is pleasant. There is even a bit of an unexpected snarl higher up in the rev range.
Is it as torquey as other SUVs on the market (particularly from the Germans) with their turbocharged engines? No, certainly not. You’ll have to go for the MDX Sport Hybrid and its additional torque and power for that.
Nonetheless, the regular MDX A-Spec can still tow 5,000 pounds when properly equipped, so the engine has been tuned with family hauling duties in mind.
The new 9-speed automatic transmission works well, for the most part, and typically starts off in second gear for smoother take-offs. Flooring the throttle does result in it stepping down to first gear for maximum trusts. There is also a selectable “dynamic” mode, which holds the gear changes till higher revs and is also more aggressive with the engine mapping.
The ride is satisfyingly firm but not harsh and the MDX’s accurate steering rack continues to be a strong point.
What exactly is SH-AWD?
Acura heavily advertises that the MDX comes with SH-AWD; the acronyms short for “Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive. Since the majority of SH-AWD Acuras are based on front-engine, front-wheel-drive platforms, up to 90 per cent of the power is initially directed to the front wheels.
Under hard acceleration, or upon slippage, sensors detect rearward weight transfer and can alter clutch engagement to direct up to 45 per cent of power to the rear wheels for better acceleration.
The way that SH-AWD gets its so-called “Super Handling” characteristics is by the rear differential being able to vector torque (aka the power balance) between the rear wheels.
Depending on the cornering forces, up to 70 per cent of the engine torque can be sent to the rear axle, of which 100 per cent can be directed to the rear outside wheel, helping to push the vehicle forward. This inward yaw moment gives the feeling of rotation through a corner, reducing the need for steering input and allowing power to be applied sooner.
The system noticeably works, and you can really feel it in more aggressive corners where it helps to minimize understeer or oversteer. It was certainly more evident on snowy surfaces, such the week where I had the MDX, and performed flawlessly in poor road conditions.
Just don’t expect the MDX’s system to act as dynamically aggressive as the Acura NSX sports car’s system, as it is still set-up for safe understeer if you go into a corner too hot. Entertainingly, a small display in between the speedometer and tachometer displays a live view of where the torque is going side-to-side.
Tell me more about the interior
It’s easy to see why the MDX has been a popular choice. The cabin is well-rounded and does most things well, such as keeping noise at bay. Better sealing and insulation along with thicker acoustical glass quiet the cabin nicely.
Although it has been around for a couple years now, Acura’s clever one-touch button function to fold the second row seats forward is still rather unmatched for ease-of-use and speed. There are actually two buttons, one on the back of the seat and another on the side, cleverly both are lit at night.
Press either one and the second row can be slid all the way forward on tracks that permit the fore-and-aft adjustment. The system is so easy to use that kids can climb aboard unassisted. When fully folded, the middle and rear seats form a flat cargo floor for maximum utility. There is some cargo area behind the third row, but it’s best saved for a few small backpacks or grocery bags.
The MDX’s third row is perfectly ok for children and smaller adults, even on longer trips. However, due to the limited legroom, average sized adults will likely start grousing after the 45 minute mark. A flat floor, both in the second and third row footwells, maximises as much foot room as possible. Kudos to the engineers for packaging things very efficiently.
Perhaps the areas in which the Acura shows its age the most is in certain interior plastic quality (such as the turn signal stalk and window switches), as well as the dual-screen infotainment system and gauge cluster (no virtual cockpit here).
Yes, I do concede that it is a bit unfair to compare the MDX’s interior with those of posh European competitors since the Acura does cost quite a bit less. Nonetheless, even the MDX’s domestic rivals have caught up.
The infotainment system splits duties by having a lower touchscreen for certain inputs, and a upper display unit that is primarily controlled by the physical knob on the dash. HVAC operation from the dash is intuitive enough, thanks to the physical buttons, but the multifunction knob and the complex menu structure is cumbersome to live with.
While you do get used to it in time, changing radio stations or turning on the heated seats can be a multi-step process.
It’s also a bit weird, and slow, to control Apple CarPlay with the knob as CarPlay seems to really be designed for touchscreens. Acura’s new trackpad infotainment system, on their latest RDX crossover, is significantly easier to use.
Like the Acura brand, the MDX continues to occupy a sort of middle ground in the automotive world. While the brand aspires to be true luxury, it sometimes doesn’t fit the bill but yet is certainly far above mainstream brands.
Despite its jack-off-all-trades-master-of-none positioning, the MDX remains competent, practical, and surprisingly fun to drive for a seven-passenger crossover. The A-spec trim just adds a bit of pop to a recipe which Acura hasn’t messed too much with due to its success.
If you’re looking for a mix of technology, handling, value, reliability and more luxury than the typical mainstream brands, the MDX continues to fit the bill as a fine choice for a family crossover.
[REVIEW] 2020 BMW M340i
The British statesman Joseph Chamberlain is known for his famous quote, “we are living in most interesting times”.
The father of future Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain and future diplomat Austen Chamberlain, Joseph’s speech in 1898 assigned a complex meaning to “live in interesting times” with connotations of opportunity, excitement, anxiety, and danger.
Once Munich’s bread and butter car, the BMW 3 Series invented this category, blending versatility, balance, power, rear-wheel-drive, and most of all fun.
But times they are a changing and the question that will be is whether anyone still cares about such factors. Long a stalwart support of the manual transmission, BMW was one of a diminishing number of car manufacturers that held onto their manual gearboxes.
With the arrival of the seven-generation 3 Series, the manual is gone in North America. It’s difficult to blame BMW though. Statistics don’t lie and not only do a lot of great cars not have manual gearboxes anymore, but people simply aren’t buying them anymore.
Therefore, willing customers find themselves having to likely wait months for special ordered manual transmission vehicles, which likely will cost more as dealers are less likely to offer discounts on special ordered rarer vehicles. And so most customers conceded and opt for automatic gearboxes and thus the vicious cycle continues.
A couple of years ago, BMW introduced their M Performance line-up of vehicles. While not the full tilt hardcore BMW Motorsport models, M Performance vehicles were still factory designed and spec’ed, offering greater performance than standard BMWs.
Fast forward to present day and the M Performance line-up has proven to be so successful that it has grown to include not only the M550i, but also the X2 M35i, the Z4 M40i, the X5 M50i, etc., and of course the M340i.
With BMW’s M division still applying the finishing touches to the next-generation M3, this is currently the hottest member of the new G20-generation 3 Series.
This M-tweaked hot halfway house joins the likes of the Mercedes-AMG C43 and the Audi S4, all of which serve as understudies to more established more powerful flagships. Like BMW, those companies also have had their top engineers applying parts and development from their esteemed performance divisions, making this an interesting time to be a customer.
Beyond the name badge
While the 330i puts out a respectable 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine, the M340i offers up a significant bump in power to 383 horsepower thanks to its new turbocharger and particulate filter among other detailed changes.
With peak torque tuned to be available throughout such a large portion of the rev range, the M340i always feels eager and ready to go. Combined with BMW’s tried-and-true ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox, the vehicle never feels breathless, no matter what the situation.
According to BMW, the M340i just edges out the Audi S4, Genesis G70 3.3T, and Mercedes-AMG C43 in 0-100 km/hr runs by about 1/10th of a second.
The M Performance badge doesn’t just buy you an uprated engine combo. Improving upon the standard 3 Series’ platform, the M340i gets a standard torque-vectoring rear differential, firmer springs, thicker anti-roll bars, a lower ride height, more wheel camber, and adaptive dampers.
The latter has four levels of dampening stiffness via Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus modes to provide what BMW describes as “sporty and authoritative” handling.
What about the tech toys?
The M340i brings along with it seven generations of legacy, and with it, some high expectations. In fact, there seems to be a setting to adjust pretty much every aspect of the car’s behaviour.
Open the driver’s side door and you’re met by a classy-looking cabin with an upmarket air. There are digital gauges, expensive-looking chrome or satin trim bits, and a 10.3 inch infotainment touchscreen.
While it all feels sporty, the cabin doesn’t feel as special as it would’ve in the past. This is in part because Audi’s and Mercedes’ interiors have caught up in recent years.
My test vehicle was also equipped with BMW’s latest Assisted Driving Assistant system, which provides semi-autonomous driving.
There is even an infrared and optical facial recognition camera that is pointed towards the driver to ensure that the appropriate attention is being paid to the road in front.
With the combination of all the aforementioned systems, if the conditions are right, the M340i can even automatically change lanes by the activation of the turn signals when the Assisted Driving Assistant is active.
The G20 3 Series’ centre console and gear lever area now houses the familiar iDrive controller, a wireless phone charging pad, the Driver Experience modes buttons, as well as the engine start/stop button.
Creatures of tactile habit will rejoice that BMW has still seen fit to include an appropriate number of hard buttons for frequently used functions for the climate controls and infotainment system.
iDrive is now more intuitive (and more feature heavy) than ever, and adjusting the various controls via the iDrive controller or touchscreen soon becomes second nature once you take the time to understand its various menus and submenus.
As before, BMW continues to be the only auto manufacturer that supports wireless Apple Carplay, allowing the system to just work (via WiFi) once you step into the vehicle. Place your phone on the wireless charging mat to keep it juiced up with no cables to fiddle around with.
The instrument screen can be modified to show navigation, active safety programs, G-forces, or be minimised altogether. The head-up display, jacked from the 7 Series, is industry-leading for clarity and quality.
Still the Ultimate Driving Machine?
The M340i is one rapid driving machine with the engine revving eagerly up to 6,800 rpms. To be precise, it’s a full 0.5 seconds faster than the old 340i despite its larger dimensions.
To put this in perspective, the M340i is just 0.3 seconds slower than the outgoing fifth-generation M3, whose twin-turbo 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder punches out a greater 425 hp and 406 ft-lbs of torque.
The exhaust note is nicely tuned, goiing from whisper quiet to throaty, depending on which driver experience mode is selected.
While the M340i never feels as precise as that of a true M-badged car, stability and refinement are clearly amongst the car’s strong suit. Challenging roads are where the car shines, and the directness of its handling reins supreme. Until the M3 arrives later this year, this is the most agile member of the 3 Series family.
The M performance brakes are also well worth the upgrade, firm, confidence inspiring but with a strong initial bite and progressive pedal feel.
While some auto critics have criticized the 3 Series for trying to be all things to all people, to me, it simply feels like it has grown up more to suit the tastes of its audience. Those who want something even more engaging can wait for the M3.
Times they are a changing. Perhaps what is the most astounding is that no longer does one need to buy the most expensive BMW in the line-up to get access to 90 per cent of the tech gadgets. You can pretty much have it all on the M340i.
While there might not be heated armrests or built-in fragrance pods, you can still enjoy semi-autonomous driving, BMW’s novel “caring car” relaxation program within the iDrive system, Laser headlights, adaptive dampers, self-parking, and even the ability to use the BMW Connected Drive app to check out what is going around your vehicle remotely via your smartphone. It’s all there…on a 3 Series!
While the M340i may no longer be the only player in the sports sedan segment and the BMW design language has arguably evolved to be a bit derivative, the M340i still feels polished, confident, and the one of the best combinations of status, performance, tech, luxury and value.
The 5th Anniversary Of Fvded In The Park Brings Top Talent
The Best Line-Up Yet For One of Western Canada’s Top Music Festival
Vancouver, B.C. Blueprint and Live Nation Canada present what is sure to be the best FVDED in the Park to date. Headlining the summer’s IT festival are:
Khalid | Zedd
Tory Lanez | French Montana | Louis The Child | RL Grime 6LACK | Lil Yachty | A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie | Kayzo | Lauv Green Velvet | Lil Mosey | Ekali | JOYRYDE | Shoreline Mafia | Elohim SAINt JHN | Yung Gravy | Cedric Gervais | Elephante | Gashi | Felix Cartal Say My Name | Anders | 1788-L | Gammer | Channel Tres | Dr. Fresch Falcons | Yultron | bbno$ | GG Magree | Manila Grey Evan Giia | Baby Goth | Tails | SoDown | Horsepowar We Are Fury | Cozway | Prado
Hip-hop, R&B, rap, electronic, and pop are just a few of the genres that will draw crowds upward of 45,000 people to Holland Park, Surrey on July 5-6. Khalid, who just dropped his latest single Talk on February 7th, is sure to be a festival favourite this summer.
The year’s line-up showcases upcoming Canadian artists, Ekali, Felix Cartal, Anders, bbno$, and Manila Grey. The diversity of musical genres, the scenic outdoor space and excitement that comes with attending FVDED in the Park has allowed for it to become one of the most successful festivals in Western Canada.
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2 Day Festival General Admission and VIP Passes starting at $189.99 + (s/c) & $299.99 + (s/c) and can be purchased at fvdedinthepark.com.
ABOUT FVDED IN THE PARK
FVDED in the Park is a two-day music festival held in Holland Park, Surrey. Going into its 5th and biggest year, it brings in some of the industry’s top talent. Put on by ThisisBlueprint and Live Nation Canada, FVDED in the Park is now one of Western Canada’s biggest musical festivals.
Based in Vancouver, BC, Blueprint is one of the largest lifestyle, concerts and events companies in Western Canada, dedicated to providing the best in entertainment. Always at the forefront of entertainment culture, Blueprint, founded by Alvaro Prol, Bill Kerasiotis, and Chris Kerasiotis offers an impressive scale of nightclubs, over 700 events annually, along with a boundless array of pubs and liquor stores.
ABOUT LIVE NATION
Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE: LYV) is the world’s leading live entertainment company comprised of global market leaders: Ticketmaster, Live Nation Concerts, and Live Nation Media & Sponsorship. For additional information, visit www.livenationentertainment.com.
7-Eleven Canada Celebrates 50 Years and 7-Eleven Day with Free Slurpee Drinks Across Canada
7-Eleven Canada is celebrating 7-Eleven Day and 50 years of serving Canada – and serving Slurpee in Canada – by giving away 885,000 free Slurpee drinks to fans across the country.
On Thursday, July 11th from 11am until midnight, all 590 7-Eleven Canada locations from BC to Ontario will each be giving away 1500 Slurpee drinks in exclusive 12 oz. commemorative cups. Stores across the country will be partying like it’s 1969, as passionate Slurpee fans flock to the stores to celebrate 50 years in Canada.
The first Slurpee was poured in Calgary, Alberta in 1969, beginning a nationwide fandom for the iconic beverage. 7-Eleven Day celebrates Slurpee fans across the country that continue to make the beverage a Canadian favorite. For the 20th consecutive year, Manitoba has been named the Slurpee Capital of the World, consuming the most Slurpee per capita than anywhere else in the world.
“We are honoured to be celebrating 50 years in Canada. The impact our stores have had on Canadian culture has been incredible and the iconic Slurpee has become part of the Canadian identity. We are grateful for the love and support of Canadian Slurpee fans and their loyalty that has made Manitoba the Slurpee Capital of the World. This is our opportunity to thank Canadians for 50 incredible years of memories, and to celebrate 50 more to come!” – Doug Rosencrans, VP and GM of 7-Eleven Canada.
This year’s exclusive Slurpee Cups are a composition of images of fans. Paying homage to the loyal Canadian fanbase, fan submissions are displayed on each cup along with an exclusive Snap lens that can be unlocked to get fans dancing through the decades! The gifts don’t stop with a free Slurpee drink, either. Customers can also scan their 7-Eleven Day cup to get 1000 free 7Rewards points. 7Rewards members can spend 1000 points to ‘pay’ for a medium Slurpee on their next visit.
To make 7-Eleven products even more accessible for Canadians, 7-Eleven Canada has announced their partnership with Uber Eats. This means Canadians can now get the new and innovative feature summer Slurpee flavors in Sour Patch Kids Orange and Fanta Lite Mango Passionfruit delivered right to their door!
A Canadian classic for 50 years, Slurpee celebrations have fans challenging each other to #DancetheSlurp. World renowned dancer Carlo Atienza developed choreography to a remix of the original “Dance the Slurp” record from the late 60s.
The viral dance has fans showing off their moves to help reach the goal of 25,000 uploads, at which time, 7-Eleven Canada will donate $50,000 to Food Banks Canada! $50,000 for serving Canada for 50 years. For more information about 7-Eleven Day, visit www.7-Eleven.ca.
7-Eleven, Inc. is the premier name and largest chain in the convenience retailing industry. Based in Dallas, Texas, 7-Eleven operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 66,000 7-Eleven stores in 17 countries, including 11,600 in North America. Find out more about 7-Eleven Canada at www.7-Eleven.ca.
Thousands attend Surrey Canada Day to celebrate national pride
Surrey, BC – Thousands of people gathered at Surrey’s free Canada Day celebration, presented by Coast Capital Savings, to celebrate the nation on July 1 at Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheatre in Cloverdale. Attendees enjoyed Canada’s birthday with Canadian rock artists Our Lady Peace and Bif Naked on the Main Stage.
“Surrey Canada Day has been a tradition in bringing the community together to celebrate our freedom, national pride and diversity,” says Mayor Doug McCallum. “We are proud to offer the public a memorable free event to honour our nation’s birthday where they can experience homegrown musical talent on the main stage, rides and a variety of activities for all ages.”
The annual event featured live performances on four stages, amusement rides, an arcade party truck, Strawberry Tea for seniors, an Indigenous Village, more than 50 vendors and community booths, a sensory friendly space, food trucks and the much-anticipated fireworks finale. New to the event was the popular Rodeo Zone, where attendees could experience live country performances on the Rodeo Stage, shop at the Summer Market and stay fueled by a variety of barbecue food trucks.
“This year’s City of Surrey Canada Day event was a phenomenal community celebration,” said Maureen Young, Director, Community Leadership, Coast Capital Savings. “Coast Capital Savings’ community leadership mandate is to support youth. Through sponsorships of events such as Surrey Canada Day, we help create a safe and engaging place for young people to celebrate diversity and continue to build connections in a strong community.”
Additional Main Stage performers included The Hip Show, Buckman Coe, Star Captains and Her Brothers. Closing the Tim Hortons Maple Leaf stage was Play Surrey contest winner Nylez K. For more details on Surrey’s special events, visit Surrey.ca
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