President's Report - August 2012

Greetings All,

I have now owned my 508 for 12 months, having travelled just over 20,000km in that time. Thus far, with judicious choice of parking places, I have avoided side damage from car doors and the like. It might take a few minutes longer to find a ‘safe’ parking place, but I think it’s worth it to keep the car in pristine condition. Apart from a couple of tiny stone chips to the paintwork, and a scuffed wheel rim (my fault) the car still looks, feels and smells like new.

Recently, when I took the 508 into Melrose Peugeot for its 20,000km service, I was loaned a 308 e-HDi for the day. In terms of creature comforts and ride, it was a bit of a come down from the 508, but I was interested to drive it nevertheless.

The 308 e-HDi has a 1.6 litre diesel engine, featuring the so-called stop and start technology to improve fuel efficiency – the engine automatically switches off when the car stops moving. Then, when you want to drive off you simply press the accelerator and the engine switches on again. With a claimed fuel efficiency of 4.2 litres/100km (combined cycle), it’s certainly a fuel efficient car and low on CO2 emissions, too. However, the down-side is the 6 speed ECG semi-automatic gearbox, which takes some getting used to – more time than the one day I drove it, anyway.

ECG stands for Electronically Controlled Gearbox – basically it’s a manual gearbox without a clutch pedal and the clutch is controlled electronically. It can be driven in automatic or manual mode, the latter via the sequential gear stick or paddles on the steering wheel. However, I found gear changes in either mode to be very annoying, entailing a significant back-off in engine revs and speed. There was also a disconcerting lag between pressing the accelerator pedal and forward movement when starting from a stop position – as I found out to my embarrassment when trying to nip across a busy intersection in heavy traffic. I was assured by the sales people at Melrose Peugeot that the gearbox just takes a bit of getting used to, but I don’t think I have the patience!

Last month several club members celebrated Bastille Day with lunch at Le Très Bon Restaurant in Bungendore. Needless to say, we had a terrific meal, complemented by excellent French champagne and some equally fine Aussie bubbly (made locally by Greg Gallagher using the traditional méthode champenoise, but not allowed to be called ‘champagne’). Our table was also in front of a warm fire, which was most welcome for our mid-winter feast. Being truffle season, some of us had truffle dishes, while Barry McAdie had l’escargot. French master chef, Christophe, also found the time to leave the kitchen and say bonjour, which was a nice touch. We all left feeling well fed and doubtless looking forward to next year..

Spring is in the air – it reached 19 degrees the other day – but don’t be fooled, winter-like weather can sneak up at any time in Canberra. Indeed, I can recall snowfalls in October in some years past. However, with the day length rapidly increasing, it’s easier to get up in the morning and nice to drive home from work in daylight. Furthermore, with winter retreating, venturing out at night is more pleasant, so why not join us at the Weston Club for the next club meeting at 8pm, Tuesday 28 August, with dinner from 7pm. The food is excellent.

Keep on Pugging,

Brad Pillans

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