DRIVING more than 600 miles in two days might not seem everyone's idea of fun but I recently did just that in a little supermini and had a whale of a time.
I had to go to North Yorkshire overnight and, as usual, ran late leaving which meant using the motorways all the way - not so much fun.
Except that I kept up with the traffic all the way at normal motorway and dual carriageway speeds, with my usual fairly heavy right foot whenever opportunity offered, and the car still returned an amazing 49.7 miles per gallon.
Even better, it had a petrol engine. What's not to like?
I was driving the marvellous Mazda2 with a sweet revving 90bhp 1.5 engine under the bonnet and not a turbo in sight.
Most of the other car makers have now gone down the smaller engine plus turbo route for their small and medium petrol cars.
But Mazda has chosen to achieve the same results with a larger but much more efficient engine along with a range of aerodynamic and weight saving improvements.
The ethos is called SKYACTIV-G and it's an approach that obviously works. Even the listed emissions are almost the same as the 1.0-litre turbos from other makers, but few of them can match the Mazda's superb real driving economy.
And it gets even better. In the search for low emissions and high economy, performance can suffer - but it doesn't with this one.
Unlike the little turbos, which pull harder from low revs, this incredibly smooth and refined Mazda engine starts delivering real power at 3,000 revs and if you want to keep speeds up then you have to use the lower gears more.
In most cars that hammers the economy, but in this one it doesn't seem to make much difference.
I drove back from my job, over and through the Yorkshire Dales on ordinary roads and country lanes with sudden bends and corkscrew surfaces.
The ‘2' loved everything I threw at it, only becoming slightly unsettled over the very worst of surfaces at speed, but otherwise riding very comfortably.
The road holding was absolutely top notch for the class, with tremendous grip and very little roll along the switchback roads.
The handling has lovely balance and direct, positive steering tops off an amazing array of attributes, making a car that is not only very safe but great fun to drive and easy on the pocket.
The model I drove was the SE-L Nav, which comes with an excellent array of standard equipment.
The steering wheel is adjustable for height and reach, the driver's seat adjusts for height, it has electric windows and heated folding mirrors, excellent air con, a trip computer and a DAB radio with aux in and USB port.
There are audio controls on the wheel and it comes with stop/start, cruise, stability control, hill hold and tyre pressure monitoring.
The list also includes alloy wheels, seven inch screen for the sat nav and stereo, lane departure warning, and emergency city braking.