Sunday, 17 October 2010
Fiona makes her first 10,000 miles in less than five months
Apart from a glitch with the airbag warning light in the first weeks, which was put right and has stayed fixed, nothing has gone wrong. She's still in showroom condition. I've got most of the controls as I like them, though some are not yet used, such as the catches to let down the back seats for a long load. The oil level (you check this electronically) is still at 'full'. I've had to top-up the screen wash at intervals, and I've checked the tyre pressures before every major trip. And of course I've brushed her out and washed her bodywork and wheels a few times. That's about it. The most chore-free car I've ever owned. Highly suitable classy transport for a girl who likes to get about.
And the significance of 2,000 miles a month shouldn't be missed. I'm no timid stay-at-home. I go out and meet people and do stuff. Fiona lends herself to a certain kind of highly mobile, long-distance, go-anywhere existence that fits in nicely with my photography, my liking for eating out, seeing friends, cultural events, and visiting beautiful places. And also, let it be said, for the routine transition-related visits to London or Kent. I just press the button, fire her up, and take off.
Of course, £5,400 is a lot of money, whichever way you look at it. Some might call it a financial pain they'd rather not have. But then the other side of the coin is that I get to drive a fast, powerful, luxurious, well-built, safe, very practical motor car that hauls the caravan as if it's nothing at all, and looks right at any classy venue. Fiona is in many ways my passport to a nice kind of life, and she feels like some sort of compensation for the downsides of transitioning. I threw an awful lot of my capital into her purchase. But I haven't been disappointed. One friend, R---, has said we were made for each other. Well, Fiona certainly does what I want from her and does it well.
But the 'safe' aspect is almost the most important thing. I don't just mean Fiona's ability to protect me in an accident. I mean the secure feeling I have, in or out of town, when driving about in her. I can't be got at. I've got enough power and speed and acceleration and traction on all four wheels to get me out of any likely trouble, and the sheer size and look of the car means that I am high on the 'who goes first' pecking order at road junctions and roundabouts - a fact that I've exploited shamelessly at times. I am quite an adroit, quick-thinking driver and if need be would certainly barge my way through without compunction if I had to get somewhere very quickly, or escape some road-rage maniac. Naturally I'd smile dazzlingly and gush soundless apologies as I did so. But normally I just serenely enjoy the ride and the view from my high-up, climate-controlled travel capsule. The climate control means of course you can show off your shapely girly arms and low neckline even if it's desperately cold outside. Roll on the winter frosts!
Fiona handles very well on scenic country roads, but is absolutely in her element on fast motorways. It's curious how hushed and smooth things are at 2,500 rpm at a steady 80mph, and amusing to note that even at that speed the average mpg will creep up (I can get a continuous electronic readout). Incidentally, modern diesels have a particle filter that traps the naughty black soot associated with them, and recycles the stuff if you get the engine hot enough to reburn it, as you do at motorway speeds. So it's actually green to take Fiona out onto the highway and let her rip. What an excuse for a nice, fast drive somewhere!