We're midway through the long-term loan of our Audi A6 Avant and after a whopping 4,971 miles behind the wheel, someone has finally managed to prise the keys away from my death-grip grasp long enough to have a go themselves.
To say I've been hogging the Audi would be somewhat of an understatement – much like a toddler's comfort blanket, I've found the Avant's comfy white leather seats and heated steering wheel a reassuring friend in all manner of circumstances.
One of our directors pleaded for the keys when he was staring a long haul from the south coast to the Lake District in the face and a typically unsuitable city car to do it in. He returned, 400 miles later, full of compliments for the Audi I've grown to love.
'The seats are fantastic,' he said. 'It's so comfortable over distance, the sound system is amazing and the air suspension makes it so relaxing – I just couldn't get over the whistling noise.'
While I wholeheartedly agreed with the comfort levels and brilliant stereo, the whistling noise was somewhat of a mystery. I hadn't experienced any problems, even with a snowboard strapped to the roof for 1,500 miles to the Alps so was rather baffled. It transpires my colleague had whipped the dedicated ski carrier off the bars in an attempt to improve fuel economy, but in doing so created a whirlpool of whistle right above the front seats.
I didn't believe him until I tried it for myself, removing the ski carrier for a trip to the beach with my kayak. My word, he was right – the noise is frankly unbearable. Have you ever been around a six-year-old who has just learned how to whistle? Well, take that white noise, add a family of foxes howling outside your bedroom window all night, and a side of U2 piped through covered market-bought Bluetooth speakers and you're getting close, ever so close, to the levels of aural infuriation said roof bars inflict.
'Why not whip them off?' I hear you scream as you read this. Well, that would require tools and some level of knowledge on how to use them. As I possess neither I'm forcing the Audi keys on to anyone in the office with a caveat they have a go at removing the bars for me. I'm still waiting for someone to successfully complete the task.
As well as the whistling, there's also been bad news from Audi. An email arrived from the manufacturer to say a dreaded notice of intended prosecution had arrived from Sussex Police.
It transpires it wasn't me who got nabbed, but my father who had strayed over the limit when he borrowed the car to collect a newsletter we had produced for the lifeboat station I volunteer for. I felt for my dad having to cough up, especially after giving up his time to help out, but he admitted the way the A6 masks the speed you're travelling at makes trickling into ticket territory all too easy. 'Great car, but I'll have to face the music,' he said.
Interestingly, the Avant hasn't got quite the thirst for AdBlue as the Audi Q7 I ran before it. The speedometer is rapidly approaching 5,000 miles and I'm still yet to top it up. The Q7 slurped the mystery fluid at a rate of six litres every 3,000 miles, so the Avant's relative rationing is rather pleasing.
Despite the roof bars I'm still very much enjoying time in the Audi. I've spent a few weekends lately giving it a thoroughly good polish and the way the Gotland Green paint shines after a good buffing makes it stand out even more from the usual boring silver and black German motorway munchers.
The giant boot has come in handy when transporting the family dogs around too. I particularly like the built-in dog guard – it's just a shame the lack of corners to it means Lucy the Doberman can lick the ears of back-seat passengers. But who doesn't love a dog bath? Oh yes, everyone.
One thing is for sure, I'm definitely looking forward to hogging the keys to the Audi again – before then, though, I just need to find someone in the office with the appropriate roof-bar know how. Perhaps that's a job for the apprentices, in between shopping for that tartan paint they're currently googling.