So, following a very busy few months ‘twas time for a holiday, and time to load up for a trip to Cornwall via Manchester. And there’s no better car than WOY, our Astra Sports Tourer. It’s a 1.6CDTi (136) Elite Nav Auto, so August motorway traffic holds no fear and the electric lumbar adjustment makes the driver’s seat very comfortable – enough to make the M5 tolerable? We’ll see. As for the packing – well, in the cabin there is a multitude of cubbies and pockets, and the boot’s huge, swallowing everything that a week in Cornwall could possibly need, with room to spare. For the passengers there’s powerful DAB hifi, loads of rear legroom and a centre armrest, excellent dual-zone aircon (with rear floor vents) and multiple USB charging points. WOY is very family friendly and the fact that, being an Elite, this Sports Tourer doesn’t have silly-big alloys or ‘sports’ suspension also means the ride is that bit softer and is ideal for long-distance cruising. Add in the torquey diesel engine and the auto-box and you have the perfect holiday transport. Hopefully.
Start mileage: 4187
Day One: Buckley to Old Trafford for a surprise birthday treat with a night at Hotel Football. A gentle start, A55 > M56 into town, no hold-ups but lots of 'Sunday Drivers' struggling to cope with motorway rules - middle-lane hoggers aplenty! Overtaken by a Ferrari 'La Ferrari' doing lunatic speeds just before Runcorn... sounded gorgeous, though.
Grateful for the easy to use satnav finding the hotel’s well-hidden car park. Plush Bentley parked outside, is Scholesy in residence?
End Mileage: 4240 (53.9 miles covered)
Overall MPG: 65.4
Day Two: Old Trafford to Bude. A remarkably clear run down the M6 & M5, with no hold-ups, good weather and even the traditional Bristol pinch-point flowing freely. Cruising at the speed limit, WOY is very quiet with an inaudible engine and very little road or wind noise. Passengers fast asleep for most of the trip. Count two mini-burn-offs as the DPF is cleared - the giveaway's a low bass-note from the engine for a few minutes each time. Cruise control makes sticking to the ‘average speed’ roadworks stress-free and it’s the little things that impress – the perfectly-sited left-footrest, the wing mirrors that offer a wide view, Android Auto that makes connected life easy and the boot’s so big that, despite being fully-loaded, the rear view’s unobscured. DAB holds TalkSport all the way until we get into the depths of Cornwall where even the FM signal disappears, at which point the USB port takes over, unfortunately under the control of the now awake front-seat passenger... we is playing some sick tunes, innit fam. Interesting to watch the predicted ‘miles to fill-up’ actually going up for a while!
Arrive in Bude in time for loaded Nachos and a pint of Rattler. Smashing.
End Mileage: 4539 (299 miles covered in just under 5 1/2 hrs, inc lunch at the glorious Gloucester Services)
Overall MPG: 70.9
Days Three, Four & Five: lots of low-speed hill-crawling as we scrumble about North Cornwall, down to hidden coves along single track lanes (electric folding mirrors very helpful!), a tractor-following crawl then blast (6-spd autobox always seems to be in the right gear for a nifty overtake) along the rollercoaster Atlantic Highway to Padstow to see Rick Stein’s empire, a day on Bude beach… glorious family days not staring at a computer screen. WOY’s parking sensors invaluable, auto box restful, boot very picnic-friendly. Oh, and the USB port has kept the tunes going in Cornwall’s deepest, darkest signal-free valleys.
Day Six: Bude to Home… the polar opposite of the run down, with monster traffic at every turn, M5 stationary and, despite the satnav’s valiant efforts to find a different route, a tedious 9 1/2 hour drive, crawling in traffic for most of it. With a destination set the satnav will warn of traffic ahead and attempt to offer a way round it, but when all routes are chocker, even technology has to give in and just go with the (very slow) flow. We spot a 22 mile Southbound queue as we head north.
But even after all that, driver & passengers reported no aches & pains, the car sipped fuel and the auto-box was brilliant.
End mileage: 4958 (771.5 miles covered)
Overall MPG: 62.0
The perfect car for this trip, economical, comfortable and secure. Highly recommended.
... and now for the clean-up...