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Old 20-06-2015   #1
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4x4 TA to Devon-Umbria-Devon

The 4x4's just brought us back to Pudding Island after its fourth trip to central Italy. We were there for ten weeks and the car did a total of 4550 miles, at just under 40 mpg. I'd normally expect a couple of mpg more in the warmth of Italy - in ten weeks we had a total of five or six days of (torrential) rain but the temperatures were between 25 and 33 all the time otherwise - but the weather was much cooler on the journeys to and from, which make up the bulk of the mileage. Air con was full on all the time.

For a change - and to take in a week's walking holiday in the Provence on the way south - we went via Arras and champagne country rather than Belgium and Luxembourg. The champagne area was really weird - we expected to see vineyards but for 30 miles or more we saw not a single vine - just mile after mile of monocultural wheat growing - hideous for the environment. Walking through the country in Provence was also strange - great walking area but Provence was devoid of wild life - we walked for 8-11 miles each day, the countryside was completely silent, we saw a total of two buzzards, not another bird, no mammals, no reptiles, and just one flock of sheep - in Umbria we’d have listened to and watched numerous birds from before dawn till after dusk, seen beech martens, squirrels, deer, boar, porcupines, sheep, goats, lizards, snakes - very odd - eerie.

The Panda - which goes in for a 26,000+ miles service next week - oil change plus all the filters as Umbria was very dusty - behaved impeccably. Our normal route is bedevilled by an increasing number of speed cameras in the Epinal-Namur-Nancy area, but the Panda is more than happy to sit at 85 mph all day otherwise. Load coming back was 2 adults with quite a bit of luggage plus about 90 litres of wine, 3 of olive oil - commercial break - the best of Umbria's olive oil is arguably the best there is - because of the altitude of the groves there is no need to spray against olive fly, which is otherwise done almost universally, nasty stuff - organ phosphates, which are much better avoided; flavour and aroma are also exquisite.

One of the interesting aspects of the 4x4 is the low rate of oil consumption; also tyre wear is very low.

There are numerous Panda Mk 1, 2 and 3 4x4s in central Italy - - our neighbour has a Mk 1 Trekking that's used more or less like a draft horse round the local woods - almost inevitable that you park beside one which emphasises how ugly the current model is, especially alongside the previous one.
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Old 20-06-2015   #2
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Re: 4x4 TA to Devon-Umbria-Devon

Great post - very envious of your Panda wanderings - and I'll certainly look out for Umbrian olive oil in future.

Agree also with your comments about the styling of the current version. The front and rear end are especially ungainly - fussy and bloated compared to the neat, cheeky simplicity of the previous version - and the Cross is even worse! But in every other respect they are a big step forward, so all is not lost!
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Old 20-06-2015   #3
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Re: 4x4 TA to Devon-Umbria-Devon

Quote Originally Posted by gar074 View Post
Great post - very envious of your Panda wanderings - and I'll certainly look out for Umbrian olive oil in future.

Agree also with your comments about the styling of the current version. The front and rear end are especially ungainly - fussy and bloated compared to the neat, cheeky simplicity of the previous version - and the Cross is even worse! But in every other respect they are a big step forward, so all is not lost!
Agreed - a big step forward in the suspension department. In fifty years of motoring I've had several cars that felt as though they were presenting the tyre tread to the road at the right angle - don't know how else to describe it. Alfasuds had it - I had an early 1.3 with a twin carb set-up before Alfa fitted them - felt absolutely glued to the road; Lancia Fulvia coupé was similar; Fiat 131Sport, once I'd fitted Konis all round; heavily modified Uno Turbo ie was a joy; Panda 100HP was just too stiff, though rear Konis helped; and the 4x4 is very nearly there, if it behaved better on a series of transverse ripples it would qualify. Nothing to do with absolute cornering speed - just the feel of the car on the road.

The TA engine's a bit odd - as I've noted before I don't think it does anything that a well-sorted normally-aspirated 1.4 4-cylinder couldn't do at least as well - but it is relaxed on the motor way and does have really decent mid-range grunt - I have a "test" section on the A30 just west of Okehampton, where I accelerate balls-out from the slip road - the 100HP could reach 80 mph by a bridge across the road with one gear change from second to third, the 4x4 TA is a couple of mphs slower but that's after two gearchanges, so in slightly lazy driving, where you don't always have the car in exactly the right gear for maximum acceleration, the 4x4 TA is slightly nippier than the Mk 3 100HP.
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Old 20-06-2015   #4
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Re: 4x4 TA to Devon-Umbria-Devon

Also, we do quite a lot of driving on gravel roads, and up mountains and so on - where the 4x4's in its element.

The picture is the car 5000+ feet up in the Sibillini mountains.
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Old 21-06-2015   #5
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Re: 4x4 TA to Devon-Umbria-Devon

Try a stop over at Beaune next time, it's at the centre of the Burgundy wine region and is very pretty.
We stumbled upon it one year on the way back from Savona.

Saturdays have their fine food market where you can stuff yourself with local delights, then wash it all down with the local tipples.

The town centre reminds me of 'Allo 'Allo.
(We spent several hours looking for the Fallen Madonna with the big boobies. Obviously after too much wine tasting!)

The villages around (Savigny les Beaune in particular) are stunning, small wine communes where you can see them working the vines, often by hand.
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Old 22-06-2015   #6
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Re: 4x4 TA to Devon-Umbria-Devon

I can highly recommend the Bar500 in Cortona for anyone wandering around central Italy !

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaur...o_Tuscany.html
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Old 22-06-2015   #7
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Re: 4x4 TA to Devon-Umbria-Devon

Quote Originally Posted by Goudrons View Post
Try a stop over at Beaune next time, it's at the centre of the Burgundy wine region and is very pretty.
We stumbled upon it one year on the way back from Savona.

Saturdays have their fine food market where you can stuff yourself with local delights, then wash it all down with the local tipples.

The town centre reminds me of 'Allo 'Allo.
(We spent several hours looking for the Fallen Madonna with the big boobies. Obviously after too much wine tasting!)

The villages around (Savigny les Beaune in particular) are stunning, small wine communes where you can see them working the vines, often by hand.
We stayed at Charnay les Macons not too far away, but I've taken note in case we ever go in that area again.
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Old 22-06-2015   #8
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Re: 4x4 TA to Devon-Umbria-Devon

Quote Originally Posted by Fiat Lux View Post
I can highly recommend the Bar500 in Cortona for anyone wandering around central Italy !

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaur...o_Tuscany.html
I quite like Cortona - it's about an hour and half away from our home in Italy just beyond Lake Trasimeno from our direction - but haven't been there for some years. If you venture past Trasimeno into Umbria there's an amazing ancient hospital in Magione - run by the knights of Saint John, whose capo still stays there for his summer hols. They make great wines, including a lovely red wine introduced two years ago - called Novecento to mark the 900th anniversary of their foundation. The first time we went there I mentioned the Knights Templar in conversation and there was a plumber-like intake of breath as it seems they were sworn enemies during the crusades and haven't started to get over it yet.

The picture shows the courtyard of the Castello di Magione:
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Old 22-06-2015   #9
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Re: 4x4 TA to Devon-Umbria-Devon

Excellent update and further confirmation for me that I was right to get shot of my (little used) Audi S4 and just embrace the little 4x4 TA fully. All it was missing was Cruise Control as far as I was concerned, until last Tuesday......

See new thread for quite report and update.
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Old 22-06-2015   #10
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Re: 4x4 TA to Devon-Umbria-Devon

Quote Originally Posted by babbo_umbro View Post
I quite like Cortona - it's about an hour and half away from our home in Italy just beyond Lake Trasimeno from our direction - but haven't been there for some years. If you venture past Trasimeno into Umbria there's an amazing ancient hospital in Magione - run by the knights of Saint John, whose capo still stays there for his summer hols. They make great wines, including a lovely red wine introduced two years ago - called Novecento to mark the 900th anniversary of their foundation. The first time we went there I mentioned the Knights Templar in conversation and there was a plumber-like intake of breath as it seems they were sworn enemies during the crusades and haven't started to get over it yet.

The picture shows the courtyard of the Castello di Magione:
It's an amazing country isn't it ? I could drive round Italy indefinitely!
Absolutely agree they are far more attached to their towns than to the nation of Italy (which is a very modern idea)
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Old 22-07-2015   #11
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Re: 4x4 TA to Devon-Umbria-Devon

Interesting, and good to hear the Panda is up to it (not that I'd ever doubt it!) I've got a trip to Tuscany planned for September - via Caen, down through France, over the Alps, back via Med coast, south of France and into Spain back from Bilbao.
(phew!)

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Old 22-07-2015   #12
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Re: 4x4 TA to Devon-Umbria-Devon

Quote Originally Posted by PandaMambo View Post
Interesting, and good to hear the Panda is up to it (not that I'd ever doubt it!) I've got a trip to Tuscany planned for September - via Caen, down through France, over the Alps, back via Med coast, south of France and into Spain back from Bilbao.
(phew!)

I did some work in Bilbao many years ago - great city - and went there once "on the way home" from Umbria - it's a long way and (because someone else was paying) I stuck to toll roads, which amounted to a hefty amount by the time I got to Bilbao.
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Old 22-07-2015   #13
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Re: 4x4 TA to Devon-Umbria-Devon

Quote Originally Posted by babbo_umbro View Post
I did some work in Bilbao many years ago - great city - and went there once "on the way home" from Umbria - it's a long way and (because someone else was paying) I stuck to toll roads, which amounted to a hefty amount by the time I got to Bilbao.
If you can spare the time, the non-toll roads across the south of France into Spain are fine, and you get to see some interesting places en route.
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Old 23-07-2015   #14
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Re: 4x4 TA to Devon-Umbria-Devon

Quote Originally Posted by gar074 View Post
If you can spare the time, the non-toll roads across the south of France into Spain are fine, and you get to see some interesting places en route.
I agree. I used to go to Toulouse twice year - another great city - and often drove, via Santander, rather than flying.
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Old 18-10-2015   #15
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Re: 4x4 TA to Devon-Umbria-Devon

Great view!
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