Looking back on 200,000 kilometres

Six and a half years ago, my VW Golf was showing its age. An increasingly shabby interior which had seen too many hot days and, allegedly, taken against the chemicals put out by too many air fresheners. Its exterior showed 245,000 kilometres of stone chips, and the engine was starting to yearn for a permanent rest.

So I considered and dug deep, and after a moderate amount of searching, upgraded to a five-year-old Audi A4 Avant. After the obligatory waiting period for the dull administrative preparations, I bade my trusty Golf farewell and drove home in my dream car, which we almost immediately christened “Jolene”.

My first Audi, ready for purchase at Auto Center Grenchen in 2015

Six years later, the odometer stands at 340,000 kilometres and tells me that I have driven a whisker under 200’000 kilometres since collecting the car. Aside from a nearly-catastrophic oil leakage problem in 2016, which ended up costing me nearly CHF 2,000 and costing Audi over CHF 11,000, the car has done me very well and has been just as much of a joy to own as I’d hoped and expected. Servicing and maintenance has remained within reasonable limits, even though owning an Audi in Switzerland means a certain financial commitment. One which I’ve been prepared to make, as it’s been a continual investment in a car which I enjoy so much.

Proud new owner takes car portrait, Bantiger, 2015

Just as the Golf took us to many far-flung places between 2010 and 2015, the Audi has spent countless hours taking us on too many adventures to mention. We’ve been to snowy mountain passes, deep woodland retreats in the British countryside, far-flung outposts on the northernmost Scottish coast and to autumnal forests in Germany. We’ve cruised around the Swiss countryside more times than we can count. We’ve sat in traffic jams from Glasgow to the Italian Cinque Terre. We’ve carried our bikes on a tow-bar-mounted rack and returned from a chilly day’s hiking in the English Lake District to find “Jolene” sitting alone, the last car in a slate quarry car park, waiting to take us back to our hotel.

The last car in the car park at Honister Slate Mine in 2015

But just as the adventures continue, the time always comes when we have to admit that the many kilometres have taken their toll. With over 340,000km on the clock and the pending signs of expensive mechanical repair work becoming more evident, the time has come once again to buy a replacement.

I’ve given other brands and other cars due consideration, but I know that swapping in an Audi for a brand with less attention to quality and detail would lead me to regret my decision. One option was to sign a leasing contract for a fully- or partially-electric car like a Tesla or Polestar, but the higher costs and greatly increased impracticality for longer journeys had to make me decline. I’d like to go fully-green one day, but the technology, higher costs (and the poor build-quality evident on Tesla cars) mean that we’re not quite “there” yet. It’s one thing to drive a Tesla in Switzerland, where charging and maintenance facilities are everywhere, but we visit too many less-well-supported places in other countries for the option to be realistic.

Here’s to the next 200,000 kilometres of Audi adventures, during which I’ll look back with fondness on the last 200,000.

Find out more about Jolene’s successor soon.

Cleaning up after a long road trip
Lizard Point, England
Dartmoor, England
Porlock Vale, England
Grimsel Pass, Switzerland
An expensive sledge, struggling for grip in Grindelwald
On the remote northern coast of Britain, at Tongue in Scotland
Rack-mounted e-biks in Lauterbrunnen
The last adventure with my trusty Avant, in the first snow of the 2021 season at Lombachalp

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