THEREis nothing like a cross country trip on a quiet evening to revive your flagging driving spirits.
After about 8pm the roads get much clearer in many parts of the country and you can really enjoy the drive - wherever you're going.
Obviously, it's better not to use the motorways if you can - no fun in that - and map out a basic route beforehand, even if you later decide not to stick to it.
I recently had 180 miles to do on A roads, or 205 on the motorway - which would have been quicker of course.
But I had the most wonderful time on a route that even took in some B and unclassified roads just because they made a better straight line.
I was behind the wheel of Peugeot's excellent 308 SW estate and, despite it being a diesel automatic, it suited the trip really well.
Power came from the well-known PSA 2.0-litre diesel in 150bhp form, which is very quiet and refined on the road.
It's almost the most powerful diesel in the range, but still managed a real 50 miles per gallon on that journey and comes with pretty low emissions.
Performance is excellent, with plenty of punch for overtaking and an immediate response from the engine at almost any speed.
The smooth changing conventional automatic gearbox has a manual setting but actually works very well when left in full auto.
Ride quality is good, even over indifferent B-road surfaces, and it takes speed humps in town very easily.
But there seems to be little effect on the handling and road-holding, which are both excellent, with enough grip and safe balance for swift cornering.
I suppose I would like a little more feel from the steering if I was to be picky, but again, it's not half as bad as some.
All 308s have a small steering wheel, with the instruments in a binnacle on top of the dashboard and viewed above it.
It takes care to get the wheel adjustment right, so that you can use it easily and see the instruments, but I found, as before with the model, that I soon got used to it.
The SW estate 308 has a longer wheelbase than the hatch, giving improved rear legroom and a huge boot. The rear seats also fold completely flat to make a massive loadspace - which I found very useful taking a couple of loads to the tip.
Stop/start - which works very well - is standard to help fuel economy, while a large touchscreen takes care of most of the controls.
However, using that touchscreen while driving can be fiddly and distracting and you need to be firm and accurate to hit the right buttons.
It controls the aircon, standard sat nav, multimedia, and any inked Bluetooth phone.