President's Report - February 2009

Greetings All,

Welcome back after the Christmas-New Year break. As I have said before, in this column, I generally dislike travel during the summer holiday season "too many people, and often too hot, at all the nice places one might like to visit". Indeed, I spent most of the time at home, in the garden. However, Sue and I did take a short trip to northern NSW Bellingen, via Tamworth to be exact, which is about 1,000 km each way. One of the justifications for adding a 407 to our Pug collection last year was to use it as a touring car, and this was its first real test. Needless to say, the 407 passed with mostly flying colours.

I say mostly, because despite the excellent level of comfort, ride and handling, the 407 Hdi does tend to be a little sluggish on hills. Just occasionally, it would have been nice to have a bit of extra grunt to get past a slow vehicle when the passing lane was short. I could have put the auto gearbox in sport mode, I suppose, but we were in no real hurry. Our route to Bellingen was inland, via Yass, Cowra, Molong, Dubbo, Gilgandra, Tamworth, Armidale and Dorrigo.

On the first day we stopped for lunch in the Japanese Gardens at Cowra and stayed the night in Coonabarabran, where we enjoyed a terrific Chinese meal in a restaurant sporting large golden lions (or were they dragons?) at the entrance. The next day we had lunch with relatives near Tamworth and ambled across to Bellingen via the scenic Waterfall Way from Dorrigo down to the coast. Near Bellingen we stayed at a wonderful B & B called Lilly Pilly for two nights of luxurious living. Nearby Dorrigo National Park was explored and enjoyed all the more because it is higher and cooler than Bellingen which tends to be hot and steamy in summer. The efficient air conditioning of the 407 was most welcome, of course.

Coming back we stayed overnight in a forgettable motel near Tamworth and had a memorably bad Chinese meal in a local golf club. Between Dorrigo and Tamworth we took a wrong turn and ended up traversing 40 km or so on dirt roads that were little better than farm tracks. As it happened, apart from having to be mindful of the low clearance of the 407, the dirt experience was lots of fun and the handling and ride remained excellent. The next day we drove home via the Hunter Valley and the motorways (M7 etc) that bypass Sydney. Cruise control is a wonderful thing!

So, does the 407 live up to expectations as a touring car? In my opinion it does - absolutely. It was a pleasure to drive, though I will think about replacing the Pirelli P7 tyres with Michelins when they wear out. The ride on the Pirellis is not exactly hard, but I have felt, since owning the car, that the ride could be softer. According to Dennis Backhouse at Woden Tyre & Exhaust, by replacing the Pirellis with Michelins, I will save a heap of money and the ride should be softer. Sounds good to me, Dennis.

Last week I had a quick trip to Arizona, but since the USA is essentially a Peugeot desert, I have no Pug-related stories to tell. Grand Canyon was nice, though. We will start the year with our usual meeting at the Canberra Services Club at 8 pm on Tuesday 24 February. Dinner will be at 7 pm for those who wish to join us.

Keep on Pugging,

Brad Pillans

Picture of grand canyon