October 15th, 2005

If you're gonna break down, break down in Germany!

So, a couple of weeks ago the grand tour of Europe in my RX-8 happened. I drove from here in the UK to the Nürburgring (a race track) in Germany for a bash round that, then to the south of France to visit relatives, then back home.

We finally get to the ‘ring, and I’m super excited about driving the track in my new 8. We set off, and about halfway round (it’s 10 miles long) the power starts to fade. I thought it was the engine overheating and cutting power so I let it cool off and went out again. The second time, the power cuts halfway round again, but this time we’re down to a top speed of 30mph. Not right. No CEL or anything, just no power.

The next morning, we took it to the local Mazda dealer. At this point, the car decided that something was actually wrong and decided to show the engine warning light, finally.

The dealer connected the magic computer and told us that the catalytic convertor was causing the problem. Uh-oh.

Here comes the good bit:

The cat needed replacing. No parts in stock. Eeek! What about the rest of our trip to the South of France? “No problem”, he said, “we’ll swap it off our showroom model.”

So they pushed their showroom 8 into the workshop:

… and swapped the cat from their only showroom model on to mine!:

I was amazed. Some random English guy comes into this German dealership, and in two hours they’d replaced parts on my car, under warranty, from one of their own showroom cars! You’d never get that service here in the UK…

And my cat? When they’d done, the guy came up to me and said “This was the problem” and tipped the exhaust section they’d removed onto the table:

I think that might’ve been the problem.

And… we finally got to take it out onto the track again. Wow. I swear the car was more powerful than it’d ever been - I reckon that cat was knackered from the start.

Driving the Nürburgring in the 8 is an amazing experience. The 8’s handling is great fun round the twisty track. Got it up to 132mph! Before I get flamed by those people who get up in arms when someone goes 85mph on a motorway, let me reiterate: I was on a racing track.