Things have been quiet on here lately, because I’ve been having a holiday type thing. After a week in France, we spent another six days in Sussex with more kindly family folk. For two entire days, I didn’t drive anywhere at all. The horror of the drive up from the ferry port at Newhaven was still large in my mind. Roads that congested are just no fun at all.
Stupidly, I then decided to go and have a nose around Brighton. I don’t recommend this. Endless jams eventually overcame my desire to see the sea and I bolted for it. I was planning to head back to base when I was contacted by the man behind Fu’gutty Cars. I won’t go into too much detail, as it’s his story to tell, but it involved spending an afternoon tinkering with an elderly Citroen to try and ensure it could make it 500 miles back to Scotland.
It was a nice way to spend an afternoon, and I got to have a drive in a CX again. Always an incredible experience. I was glad I hadn’t forgotten how to drive one. They really are like nothing else.
After a couple more family-filled days, it was actually time to head back to Wales. It was a Sunday and we’d hoped to get the jump on the worst of the traffic. I was amazed at how busy the roads were though, and things got very slow at the meeting of the M23 and M25, where queue-jumpers conspired to balls things up for everyone else. Idiots.
The M25 itself wasn’t too bad apart from the people who still have no idea about lane discipline. Idiots. I mean, how hard is it to keep left unless overtaking? And what was the point of constructing five lanes if people will only use three of them? As luck would have it, we nipped off at the M4 junction just before everything ground to a halt. Phew.
Things got better from there as traffic levels continued to drop. Getting away from the frenetic madness of the South East is always a pleasure. In fact, we reached Crickhowell in just under three hours, which means our average speed since leaving Sussex was 67mph! Amazing. That was cruising at an indicated 75-80mph too, so hovering around the speed limit once you factor in the built-in speedometer error. The XM felt fabulous at cruising speed too. It’s remarkably refined.
From Crickhowell, things naturally slowed down a lot. No more motorway – in fact, not even so much as a dual-carriageway for the next 58 miles. There was even single-track roads as we headed over the stunningly beautiful Elan Valley Mountain Road.
What amazed here was how the XM was incredible fun to drive. It manages to be a comfortable barge that remains tight and entertaining in the bends. It doesn’t wallow and just grips. Furthermore, because the engine has so much torque, you find yourself driving very quickly in a very relaxing manner.Despite a boot full of shoes, bass guitar, ukuleles, bass amp, a large crockery plate, beer, wine, tools and spares (suitcases relegated to the back seat), it hurled itself over the undulating terrain with delicious composure. Perhaps not quite as fluid and controlled as a 2CV, but hey, no car is perfect.
Sure, the XM has its (minor) faults, but it really is very, very good at the things I want it to be good at. It must be. I’ve now covered nearly 11,000 miles in it and am a few weeks away from one entire year of ownership. After that enjoyable adventure, perhaps it’ll be here for even longer yet.