Wednesday, 31 October 2007

The Road Less Travelled

I’ve been out and about again; 200 miles so far this week, enough to more than double my normal weekly mileage. The travelling has not been without its irritants. One particular nuisance is poor road sign positioning. I encountered a classic example in Leamington Spa; the sign was positioned behind traffic lights so that the lights obscured the sign. Whether I sign you can’t read is worse than a sign that isn’t there at all is debateable. It is also intensely frustrating – I wanted to get to Alcester Hospital this morning but drive through the town centre and you will not see a single sign saying “Hospital”. Maybe it is a crude attempt to confuse terrorists – an echo of the wartime uprooting of signposts to confuse German invaders – or possibly a conspiracy by the purveyors of satellite navigation systems. Either way it is incredibly annoying.

The other thing I’ve noticed is how tiring I’m finding it. Maybe it is because I’m used to long motorway journeys not urban and suburban motoring. Maybe it is the stress of finding unfamiliar places or of driving an old car. Listening for new noises, trying to detect unfamiliar vibrations and generally worrying that everything is working as it should.

Only one car I can think of could effectively combat all those various sources of stress. That car takes the slightly unlikely shape and lengthy name of SAAB 9-5 Aero HOT (short for High-Output Turbo). It has to be the Aero version, lesser models lack something (possibly in terms of damping out unwanted suspension movement) that makes the top model feel utterly composed. There were no unwanted noises or vibrations to suggest that the big SAAB would be anything but a faithful companion for a decade or three. The ergonomics couldn’t be faulted and nor could the satellite navigation.

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Now if I just had £30,000 to buy one…

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