Sometimes the car really is a better proposition than a plane, I thought, as I crammed two big suitcases, a kit bag full of race gear and the carrier containing my Arai and HANS device into the boot of the XF. Cheap airlines can look appealing, but you’ve got to get to the airport, park, pay for excess baggage and then arrange transport on the other side. So with our luggage stowed, CDs and iPod tucked in the centre console and the Nürburgring dialled into the satnav, my brother Chris and I set off on a week-long trip during which I would do the 24-hour race with Volkswagen.
We met up with VW UK’s Dave Eden in a Scirocco (natch) at the tunnel and pondered the route options to the Ring, three being suggested by the Jag’s nav. As we’d be passing through Brussels at around 3pm and there were no hold-ups shown, we plumped for the direct route. I should have known better.
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About 40 minutes after emerging from the tunnel I decided, not for the last time, that I didn’t like the satnav’s way of doing things. Now that we were committed to this route, it began to get covered in arrows of the yellow (sticky traffic) and red (stuck traffic) variety. Luckily, to start with at least, they were all pointing the other way, but there were hold-ups around Brussels and beyond. Even when we got into Germany there was no respite and Chris only got room to get to about 120mph. Shame, because I had checked the oil (and added one litre), other fluids and the tyre pressures in anticipation of finding out how strict the SV8’s 155mph limiter is.
On the upside, we arrived at the Ring ache free and fresh – the front seats can pump cool air through the leather’s perforations to prevent sweaty backs and, er, other bits. Each time we stopped, the XF attracted admiring glances – it really does look sharp on its five-spoke 20in alloys – and it was the same at the Ring. We also recorded a high score on the fuel economy front, the average for the 300-odd miles being a remarkable 27.9mpg.
On the Monday after the race we put in an appearance at this month’s cover group test before setting a course for home, this time avoiding Brussels and heading instead for Lille, which has to be the route of choice. We stuck to our guns as the map got ever more plastered with pesky arrows – this was a bank holiday Monday and it seemed that most of the holidaying Brits were heading for the French crossings. At one point, while diverting us around a jam in Liege, the system lost it and froze, then unfroze but refused to give directions. We followed road signs (old fashioned but remarkably effective) and selected some soothing music from the iPod until it calmed down.
There are few more comfortable cars for dispatching vast distances, the XF racking up 2000 miles in one week. The upshot is that it’s now overdue a service. Naturally, I blame Catchpole, who borrowed the XF while we were at the Ring to nip over to Budapest…
|Date acquired||November 2008|
|Costs this month||£13.25 (1 litre oil)|
|Mileage this month||2655|
|MPG this month||23.9|