Drive: Audi A8 to Dorset

Check controls, prepare for take-off

Audi A8 4.0 TDI Quattro Tiptronic £56,850
Acceleration: 0-62mph 6.7sec
Maximum speed: 155mph
Average fuel consumption: 29.4mpg
Insurance group: TBA

There is a certain sort of Londoner - think Brian Sewell - who holds the view that Britain outside the Circle Line is a frightful place full of kitsch buildings, inedible food and football hooligans.

Well, I sympathise. But how can you confine yourself to W1 when there are exceptions to the rule like the pretty and civilised village of Hilton in rural Dorset, where I have recently enjoyed the use of a weekend cottage? The only problem is how to get there without injury to body or senses on the way.

The ideal solution would be to fly (it's one of the few benefits left to being royal - from back door in London, via helicopter, direct to front door in the country). Since that option is not open to me, I am left to struggle along in a car. And rattling down the motorway in a 10-year old Golf couldn't be further away from a princely experience. But in a new Audi A8... that's another story.

"It's like BA Club Class," said my boyfriend as we set off in a top-of-the-range diesel model. He's right: this is surely the nearest you can get to a luxury airliner without leaving the ground. The seats are so enormous, and the space between passenger and driver so wide, that you are literally in a different climate zone (we had individual air-conditioning controls for our seats - I chose Spain, his was like Siberia, and they barely crossed over).

This being a four-litre giant, it is also extremely fast - which might be fine for the autobahns, but on anything except the clearest and straightest motorway stretch it is something of a hazard. No sooner had I hit the A40 than the speed cameras were flashing (well, you try doing 40 miles an hour in this car - the automatic transmission barely moves out of first).

It was a relief to reach the motorway. I've given up any idea of scenic driving in Britain - even country lanes are too crowded - in favour of late-night journeys on fast roads. For all you see of your surroundings, you might as well be 5,000 feet up - an effect enhanced by the little arrow on the Audi's satellite navigation system, which shows you moving along like a 747. And we soon became best friends with the disembodied voice ("The Lady", we called her) telling us which way to turn.

I never wear anything except jeans for work, so there was some amusement when my parents joined us in Dorset and found me at the wheel of what is an unashamedly executive car. My father, on the other hand, is the real thing: director of a City firm, smart suits, polished shoes, Financial Times, the lot. In short, he is the A8's target market.

While I was sniffy about its pumped-up design (what happened to the sleekness of the classic Audi 100 I remember from the Eighties?) and the excessive and vulgar automation of everything - including a self-opening/closing boot and fingerprint recognition for starting the car - he was very impressed. "You can't fault it," he said, as he looked in the huge boot (ooh, at least six golf bags, I'd say). My mum, who thinks dad's Toyota Camry is like a Rolls- Royce, enjoyed the smooth ride and found "Navigation Lady" mesmerising too. "Amazing," she murmured, every time the voice piped up to say, "Turn left now".

We set off for nearby Ringstead Bay - a beautiful beach, and my favourite place for sea swimming in Britain. It was raining when we got to there, but this bit of coast is spectacular in any weather. There is a free National Trust car park and a wonderful walk across the cliffs to Lulworth Cove. We did a circuit and then enjoyed a crab sandwich and a cup of tea at the excellent Ringstead kiosk.

I don't think the car enjoyed the country drive as much as we did ("Slow down!" screamed a walker as I passed him in a lane; "I'm trying, I'm trying," I mouthed back in the mirror). But then it didn't like the narrow, gridlocked streets of London either.

When it comes to flying along the bits in between, though - let's just say Boeing would struggle to match it.

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

    £23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

    Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

    £14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

    Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower