Back on track – Devon roadtrip

After last week’s brain fart, I’m pleased to report that sanity has returned, helped my a marvellous weekend roadtrip to visit family and do some other things in sunny Devon. I often seem to find myself travelling solo long distance in the XM and I really do enjoy it – though naturally it seems a bit selfish to be wafting along in a huge barn with even my lovely wife joining me.

Another roadtrip, almost flawless

Another roadtrip, almost flawless

There was an added element of panic initially when paranoia got the better of me, and I decided I simply had to get the XM’s cambelt replaced. I had no idea whether it had been done recently or not and the last thing I wanted was an expensive, engine-wrecking failure. So, the XM was whisked over to Sparrow Automotive all a bit last minute, which helps explain why it was still being worked on when I arrived to take it to Devon. Pete is a very busy man!

I had to turn my sat nav into a manual map to navigate my way across Hereford due to simply horrific jams. I’ve no idea what was going on, but cars simply weren’t moving. Eventually, I got to the other side, after exploring many side roads, and filled the XM’s tank. Over £80. Gulp.

Then it was down to Newport, across the Severn Crossing, down the M5 and the rest was easy. Or was it? No. The motorway had been pretty blissful considering it was rush hour by the time I got past Bristol. But roadworks on the slip road at junction 27 of the M5 were absolutely crippling. I’d like to meet the person who decided that was a satisfactory way of doing things. It took over half an hour to travel one mile. ONE!

At this point, I noticed the temperature gauge was sweeping upwards. That was impressive in itself, because The Seahorses “Blinded by the Sun” was blaring out of the cassette player with perfect timing – the XM still had no headlining after the sunroof saga, and I therefore had no sunvisors. There was no doubting it though. The gauge was now above 90 and didn’t seem likely to stop. I’m sure the fans are meant to kick in at that point. I resorted to putting the heater on full blast, which took things back below 90. So, Devon’s stupid road planners almost cooked my XM.

Once up to speed along the A39, the temperature went back to its usual spot and all was well. And all remained well for my time in Bideford and the surrounding area and my return home. In fact, the XM really is a truly marvellous weapon for a long-distance jaunt – though my only points of reference at the moment are an exceedingly tiny, Malaysian city car and a French peasant wagon. Still, the XM is relaxing in the extreme. Best of all, I got back home after over 400 miles with well over half a tank of fuel left. Astonishing given that I was hard on the speed limit at all times.

XM pauses in Welsh border country. Stunning. View and car.

XM pauses in Welsh border country. Stunning. View and car.

And there’s another point of reference. This was a repeat of the trip I attempted in an electric car in November last year – a journey of stress, boredom and cold toes. The ‘range’ of the XM meant I simply didn’t have to worry about whether I would make it to the next stop. At one point, I drove for three hours without a break (other than sitting in a stationary car in the first lane of the M5 for half an hour) which is something most electric cars can’t even contemplate. I even avoided a breakdown by merely putting the heater on. Something I’d been loathe to do in the Nissan e-NV200.

I enjoyed it a lot. I just love long-distance jaunts. Driving into the sunset, music playing, car wafting – as much as I love the 2CV, this really is something the XM is exceptional at. It’ll be even better when I refit the sunvisors…

What are your thoughts? Do share them!

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