By James Wong
It’s been one heck of a day. We left London mid-morning and already on the M20 towards Dover I spotted a Ferrari FF, Aventador and Turbo S convoying for a rally. After that it was a relatively fuss-free transfer across the Channel and towards Calais.
A strange thing I find is that it is more natural to drive a RHD car on a LHD road. No kidding. My visibility is boosted considerably because I can always see my side of the car (and that’s the side I am always used to) and well, there is a lot less adjustment needed compared to driving a LHD car. Throughout France, Belgium and Germany today it didn’t pose a problem, except one minor incident in a car park where I didn’t manage to spot a kerb and… You know the rest of the story!
From Calais it felt like we were in France for all of 30 minutes before we stepped into Belgium. I expected roads in Belgium to be great but to my dismay they are as pockmarked as the roads in Britain and what’s more, they seem to do a lot of road works along the motorway. Every 30 minutes I faced with 70km/h single lane traffic due to renovating motorways and that was very irritating. Nonetheless we had some good sun near and around Brussels which was a respite after the gloominess of the UK.
The Clio really came into its own for motorway cruising, settling at 80mph and hovering at a comfortable 3,500rpm. Apart from road roar on some bad surfaces it actually didn’t feel too bad of a distance killer. Still, it’s definitely no luxury and I can’t deny that I was dreaming many a times of having a luxury saloon instead.
We passed by Spa which was pissing down with rain, so I didn’t stop. Before long we were at the German border and unlike the open border between France and Belgium, Germany had some polizei at the border. Seeing as how we were a ‘live one’ with two Asians driving a British-plated French car, they stopped us as expected and asked for our papers, passports and driving licence. After probably 15 minutes or so they returned our documents reluctantly and slipped in a ‘have a nice trip’ before walking away. I am chuckling to myself wondering whether they thought they had a definite fine to issue there!
After sitting through some seriously dreadful 80km/h stretches the Autobahn finally emerged before us. I did not know that it was the Autobahn; I expected some logo of some sort or a sign. But it was just there – a well-paved road and with cars suddenly going at an average of 90mph and higher. It was then that I knew that no speed limits were enforced…
Looking at a long stretch of road in front with 100% visibility for at least 5 miles, I went for it and the Clio managed very well. I was really impressed by the car’s stability and I could really feel the downforce working to keep the car down at above 200km/h. It didn’t feel like it was going to lose it any time. More importantly, it was a life dream fulfilled, something that I promised to do since my first year of uni. In my very own car, on an empty road, and all legal… Bliss. Managed to do 216km/h in the end which is a real achievement for a 2.0L NA.
I was getting tired after more than 5 hours of driving, so we headed to our stop for the night. Cochem is in the middle of the Mosel Valley so we turned off the Autobahn and headed for some B-roads.
There were some really interesting B-roads but my unfamiliarity with them meant I didn’t exploit them fully. That said they were mostly well-paved and even at 50mph it was pure joy. I have to apologise to a W124 driver though whom I didn’t give way to at a narrow road – sorry! I am still new to ze German roads, ja?
The Clio sits in Cochem after more than 300 miles in a day. Good job lad…
Some interesting spots already on German roads.
Cochem is a lovely stopover for anybody wanting a place to rest before visiting the Ring from the UK.
Plenty of Mk2s still hiding about.
Some friends from the UK at Cochem as well!
Time for me to sleep now, the Ring beckons very soon! Stay tuned!