Lost and found

A coastal trip north doesn’t go entirely to plan

FUEL THIS MONTH 8.2L/100KM | AVERAGE 8.2L/100KM | DISTANCE THIS MONTH 1977KM | TOTAL 3590KM

A coastal trip north doesn’t go entirely to plan

T SOUNDED like a solid plan. Like many folks, the need to travel between Australia’s two largest cities presented itself over the holiday period, but, with time on our – meaning my girlfriend and I – side and an Audi S1 in need of kilometres, why subject ourselves to the Hume, when in driving terms it’s about as fun as sticking a fork in a toaster?

There are other options, the most spectacular (but also time consuming) of which is to crest the roof of Australia through the winding roads of the Great Dividing Range. It’s a driving paradise, but I knew the temptation of the S1’s agile handling and punchy 2.0-litre turbo four engine would be too much to resist, which wouldn’t leave my longsuffering partner much time to enjoy the view.

So it was to the coast we turned.

The route is slower, though it is only around 150km longer than the Hume, so with two days to burn it seemed like a reasonable undertaking.

Except we didn’t have two days.

A late departure meant precious time had eked away, and the situation only worsened when my “how busy could it be?” attitude to accommodation led to the discovery that virtually the entire eastern seaboard was booked solid. Let’s just say that, at this point, the hardworking air-conditioning wasn’t necessarily responsible for the chilly atmosphere inside the Audi.

We were now faced with a mammoth 700km trek to Narooma, but with plenty of podcasts and a generally clear road ahead, we were making good time – slower traffic I was easily dispatched by 370Nm of turbo torque pushing 1340kg.

With so much grunt, downshifting is largely optional, though selecting third means the manoeuvre is over much quicker.

However, a further fly in the ointment arrived, or should I say departed, during a fuel stop in the picturesque seaside town of Eden when it became apparent at some point in the journey my wallet had made a bid for freedom. Its obvious location was Cann River, where we’d stopped to stretch our legs, but I’d also stopped for a picture at the Victorian/NSW border, a destination that was close enough to make the backtrack worthwhile, just in case.

By this time it was pitch dark, however the S1 made short work of the long, sweeping rural roads. Its grip levels are such that you rarely have to wash off any speed for corners, which makes the journey both swifter and more entertaining, the car flowing from bend to bend.

Which is just as well, as the search proved fruitless and meant we still had a 2.5-hour journey to our overnight halt.

Most of the route is gently meandering 100km/h highway, however the road linking the coastal towns of Tathra and Bermagui snakes its way inland with a variety of second- and third-gear corners.

The S1 was in its element, though the driver (sadly) was not, a combination of fatigue – we’d been on the move for almost 10 hours by now – and kamikaze kangaroos limiting both the pace and the fun.

The next day brought beautiful weather, but as we progressed north e the traffic became as intense as the sunshine, leaving us wondering whether sticking a fork in the toaster might not have been the best move after all.

The journey back home to Melbourne put this theory, and the S1’s luggage capacity, to the test.

The S1 can accommodate 860 litres with the rear seats folded, most of which was in use on the trip north, but with staff journo Louis joining us to Melbourne the poor little Audi was left feeling like it had indulged in two too many helpings at the all-you-can-eat buffet. Despite the heavy load, the S1 returned tripbest fuel economy of 7.56L/100km, while slurping 45.28L from a 45-litre tank, though that’s a world away from its 5.9L/100km highway claim.

Next month our resident hot hatch will take part in something a bit more enjoyable and, hopefully, a bit better planned. – SN in th th b w ta

MONTH

two

Liked

Overtaking punch; agile, willing handling; size makes it easy to park

Disliked

Ride can become tiresome over long distances

MOMENT favourite

Scything through the long curves north of Lakes Entrance

The air-con wasn’t necessarily responsible for the chilly atmosphere inside the S1