Eurotrip strikes back - Germany and Belgium - Page 2



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Alles Klar Herr Kommissar

Driving at high speed is only one part of the fun equation. You might also wonder how well it behaves in a typical German town? Well, at 4.83 meters, it is a fairly longer piece of machinery, by European standards, although, lo and behold, it is shorter than Insignia. Indeed.

However, judging from the internal dimensions and space, you would never guess its humble figures. The amount of available legroom for the back seaters is simply staggering. Colossal. Mind boggling. You can actually quite comfortably seat two 1.8 m adults in the front, and there would still be roughly one whole meter of space left behind the front row, for people, children or luggage. On top of that, you get a huge, huge boot space that can accommodate many liters of storage, liquid or solid. I do not know how Skoda managed to achieve this, but the car easily trumps all competition, including vehicles higher up the class ladder.

Boot space

Plenty of room for your shi ... stuff, including a couple of adult bodies, if required.

This does not impact the quality, the ride or the feel. It's not like you're driving a truck. Skoda Superb is a highly precise and refined motorway cruiser, as well as an elegant town rider. You don't feel the size, you corner easily, there's no body roll, and you're not even thinking about the external dimensions, the wheelbase or anything of that sort. You just drive, the same you would with Audi A1 or SEAT Leon. The VW Group DNA is there, and it translates into familiar, supple and enjoyable. Not the sharpest or most aggressive, but simply superior.

Town driving also gave us a chance to experience the built-in navigation system. It worked fabulously. You get clear instructions in the language of your choosing, and the navigation instructions are also displayed on the onboard computer between the speedo and the rev counter. The multimedia system central display is easy to operate and use, it responds quickly to the touch, and the maps are rendered with good enough detail to glance down and consult the maps even when driving at higher speed.

Navigation, Nokia Navigation, built in

Both Nokia and the built-in GPS excelled at what they do.

Combine that with an excellent selection of DAB radio stations, and you will be having plenty of fun. Dual-zone climate control is good for choosy passengers, plus those in the back have their own air vents, although no separate dials to set the temperature. The car also comes with parking sensors, which are quite accurate and less noisy than the ones installed in the Insignia. However, Skoda does not come with some of the fancy gadgets that the Opel had, light the auto-beam adjustments and rain sensors.

DAB, dashboard view DAB, playing

The multimedia system is quick, responsive, easy to use, practical, awesome.

If you are dramatically eco-conscious, Start/Stop can also help reduce the fuel consumption, although I found the system extremely annoying. I would usually forget to power it off, and then when it'd shut the engine at the first traffic light stop, there would be much swearing. Besides, the functionality is really not needed. You may find it a little hard to believe, but with 80% highway driving at extreme speeds, way way above the recommended green values, and about 20% urban cruising, normally with three adults plus luggage, total disregard to any frugality in the way we used and drove the car, which means flat out accelerations and shenanigans, and some moderate air con use, with external temperates normally in the range of about 13-15 degrees Celsius, the average consumption was just 6.6 liters/100 km. That's rather amazing. I mean that's a bloody long sentence. And a fairly decent fuel thirst. Turbo diesel wins. Yet again.

German towns are fun for driving. People are skilled and highly courteous. The infrastructure is quite good. Sometimes, it can get a little confusing, because all road signs are in German. Now, a funny story.

While speeding from Frankfurt to Dusseldorf, my friend and I would see road signs pointing to Ausfahrt, and we thought, well damn, that's a pretty big city. And a popular one, it seems, because large stretches of the autobahn pointed yonder. Later on, we learned that ausfhart actually means exit. And that there's an urban dictionary entry for this thing. Now, that's idiocracy at its finest. Me and my pal, I mean.

Ausfahrt

The biggest city in Germany.

Ausfahrt, again

And here it is again, a 100 km later. Blimey. Low res, lame effects, soz.

Likewise, ubergang is not a very large gang, nor is it a place where gang banging takes place. However, if you go into coffee shops, do not be alarmed if they sell sex toys in the toilet.

UbergangToilets

Left: gang bang, 722 people waiting, helicopter delivery; right: toys for bored tourists.

The German police is really nice

Now, we might poke fun at the establishment, but there are also some really nice things to be said about Germany. Their police actually. Some guy told us that the German police is probably the nicest and most polite in the world. We did not believe this statement until we discovered our car has been towed away, for parking where we ought not to have parked. An embarrassing five minute walk to the nearby station, and yes, they towed our car for blocking the bus lane, and it's 132.01 Euros plus 25 Euros processing cost to the police itself, and they prefer credit cards.

We got our car towed, fail

Even automated translation tools are having a laugh at us - no, not really, but almost.

We were also given clear instructions and the exact cost it would take us to arrive at the impound lot by taxi. An hour later, the entire story was over, sans the 150 odd Euro penalty for not reading German that well to know the town regulations. This was in Dusseldorf, where I presented at LinuxCon. Makes it all the more exciting. But yes, the police officers were all courteous, punctual and yet funny, and it was a most pleasant experience. Recommended to all tourists.

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