The six month itch

I had the thought before I considered why it had happened. The six month irch. I’ve owned 55 vehicles since 1995, but the only ones that have survived more than six months on the fleet are Elly the 2CV (13 years this summer), the stripey BX (two and a half years, with a one year gap in the middle), an Acadiane (which was on the road for less than six months), a Daewoo Matiz (18 months), a Peugeot 306 (three years. Blimey!) and a Citroën H van (eight months, three weeks of which involved driving to Sweden and back). That’s six vehicles out of 55 that have won me over.

I thought that my BX Turbo Diesel might make the hallowed List of Win, and very soon it shall – but only just. You see, I’m having thoughts about its future, set off by that six month itch.

Was this 'saloon' the wrong choice?

Was this ‘saloon’ the wrong choice?

It’s silly really. It’s a truly superb car. When it comes to covering distance with a mixture of speed, comfort and economy, only my Rover 75 gets close – and that only did 49mpg on a run rather than the BX’s impressive 54. My mistake was going for a hatchback – or saloon in Citroën-speak. After years of owning estates, I began to miss the hatchback’s sunroof and map reading lights. Like most Brits, I welcome any chance to indulge in rare moments of sun worship. The estate’s modified roofline makes fitting a water-tight sunroof difficult.

I also miss the practicality. Heuliez in France did a very clever job of converting the hatchback into an estate. The difference (roofline aside) only exists from behind the rear doors. Just a couple of inches in length, but allied to a steeper rear window and a much lower load lip to cleverly boost luggage capacity by a vast amount for those couple of inches.

I’ve now begun my search for a Turbo Diesel estate, but I know it’ll be tricky. Estates are rare as (like my previous estate – oops) most have been driven into the ground and/or suffered corrosion to their bespoke rear panels. Perhaps I could consider a non-turbo diesel again? I’m not sure there’s any going back now. I’ve become horribly addicted to that turbocharger. It isn’t the way the car seriously shifts if you boot it, it’s how easy it is to gain pace without having to rag the engine. Stir the cogs regularly and it’s easy to keep the engine on boost between 2000 and 3000rpm. That’s a tiny power band but your reward for sticking to it is a very relaxing driving experience and excellent economy.

I only once managed to get 54mpg out of a non-turbo diesel estate. 48 was the norm. That’s because in the diesel my foot was welded permanently to the floor to get it up to speed. It’s not just that though. Taller gearing makes the turbo diesel much more civilised at motorway speeds. The difference between 2600rpm at 70mph and just over 3000 is very notable after a couple of hours.

We’ll see what happens. I’m not going to find the perfect estate overnight, and if I do I might find it commands a premium. There’s a very real chance I won’t actually be able to afford one!

In the meantime, I’ll just have to live with what might be the best BX I’ve ever owned.

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