LEAVING for a 70 mile journey across country, I decided to start early to miss the worst of the traffic since I was heading towards London on a weekday.
The start of the drive was magical, as I had the whole world to myself on a lovely sunny morning and could really crack on.
And what a fantastic car I had for the day - the latest small SUV from Kia called the Stonic.
Normally, I look up the cars I want to drive beforehand so that I know a little about them when they arrive.
But I had not done so with the Kia, and what a revelation it turned out to be.
It in the same genre as the VW T-Roc and SEAT Arona - smaller high riding SUVs meant mainly for the road.
I will be driving the Arona soon, but this Kia is also an absolute gem - a lovely car to drive and very easy to live with.
It's a sister car to the Hyundai Kona and both have been receiving rave reviews because they have so much going for them - not least of which is the best warranties in the business.
The Stonic is a cracking not-so-small car with a very good ride giving a high level of comfort even over rough country roads at speed.
It copes well with speed bumps and rough surfaces in town and a fairly short length means it's easy to park and manoeuvre.
Better yet for an enthusiast like me, it has a really good feel on the road, with strong grip and excellent road holding and positive and tactile steering giving the driver loads of confidence,.
I drove the 1.0-litre petrol with 118bhp and it lacks nothing in performance, managing the 60 miles an hour sprint in under 10 seconds.
There is even good acceleration in top (sixth) gear on the motorway, and it will happily pull the same gear from just above tickover.
This car is a gem, with a sweet sounding engine that's never intrusive and a willing nature in all situations.
Although it's an SUV, it is not available with four wheel drive. But the majority of owners are quite happy about that if sales of existing small and medium models are anything to go by.
Inside, there's enough seat and column adjustment for anyone, the seats support well in the corners and there's good rear legroom behind my six foot.
A clear binnacle has full sweep speedo and tacho, together with fuel and temperature gauges, and a seven inch touch screen takes care of many functions. But the ‘2' model I drove does not come with sat nav.
It does have a DAB stereo, electric mirrors and windows, a leather covered steering wheel, MP3 connection, Bluetooth, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, alloys, air con and automatic headlights.