Kia Rondo7 Long Term Update - 1700km Family Road Trip
Flying is the better option, given you can spend two extra days on the beach, and with cheap airfares, which have historically cost us less than $800 return for all four of us, it's the way to go, isn't it?
But things took a turn for the worse in November last year, when I logged on to the Flight Centre website for what I thought would be another good deal, only to received a rude shock.
This is the problem when your parents decide to pack up and leave Sydney for the Gold Coast, as they did some 24 years ago. Your annual holidays are always to the same place, but who's complaining.
That said, the Rondo7 was packed to the rafters complete with a good supply of lemon sherbet lollies and freshly made bread rolls, in readiness for an early morning start, or so we thought.
Our six year-old is already standing up on her pink Softie surfboard and loving it, so I was determined to take it with us so she could continue practising. With a stack of presents and bags consuming the third row seat area, the board would need to go on the roof, so we needed to hit a surf shop and buy some straps.
My wife is a stickler for speed limits and worse still, she has trained the kids to watch the speedometer, whenever I'm behind the wheel, and report any violations.
As the only male in a family of four, this is what I have to contend with on a regular basis. The fact that we at CarAdvice have driven some of the word's fastest cars, at speeds up to 300km/h, counts for nothing with this lot.
After almost two and half months with the Rondo7, I maintain that it's always fun to drive, despite lacking some low down torque, We've learned to live with that, but a diesel option would solve the problem entirely, as long as it's a quiet diesel.
If the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway were extended all the way to Brisbane, then there would be no complaints, but the fact is, once the motorway ends at Newcastle, you face hundreds of kilometres of undivided two lane roads with 80km/h speed limits, countless bottlenecks, and more police than at a police academy graduation day.
To the state's defence, there does appear to be ongoing road works along much of the route, which if they ever finish, will no doubt make this high traffic route, both quicker and a lot safer.
The Rondo7 performs well enough in freeway mode, despite its under-gunned four-speed automatic box. It's only when you want to overtake slower moving traffic at 100km/h, or negotiate undulating terrain at these speeds, do you ever need to bury the throttle, and hold it there!
That said, a five or better still, a six-speed gearbox, mated to this not so powerful 2.0-litre engine, would offer better driveability than the four-speed, and even better fuel economy. It would also be more cost effective, than the diesel option.
However, when I was speaking with legendary ex-race car driver Kevin Bartlett about the state of the Pacific Highway and the time it took us to get to Tweed Heads, he scalded me for not taking another route, which he says, takes him no more than nine hours from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast. I'll get proper directions from him and come back to you on that one, as it seems too good to be true.
Fortunately, we only had to endure one McDonalds hit on the way up, in what looked like a boutique version of the fast food chain. I try desperately to avoid this kind of food, but its hard to hold out, when you're surrounded by burgers, nuggets and fries and that intoxicating aroma, which is always more intense when you're hungry.
Given the mix of freeway, stop-start bottlenecks, and more than a few driver changes, we managed to clock up just over 500kms on one 55-litre tank of fuel, which I thought was an excellent result, considering four people and a 'tonne' of luggage.
There's a great local Chinese restaurant with superb food and reasonable prices, up near Bond University, called the Asian Court, and that's where we were heading for dinner soon after arriving and unloading the car.
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