This nightmare highway – subject of the Chris Rea song 'Road To Hell' in case you didn't know – has become so bad that wherever possible, I use the train. Unfortunately this was not an option last month.
Worse by far was the return journey from a trip to Brighton to see my long-lost cousin. I rather foolishly decided to head back towards my Peterborough home through the Dartford Tunnel during the recent weekend of high winds. With the Queen Elizabeth bridge closed, there was a 15-mile tailback northbound.
However, there has been an upside to all this. Sitting in jams all those hours has allowed me to get pretty familiar with the Vel Satis and I'm not a happy boy now that the keys have been swiped from my desk. Because if there is one car that is an ideal traffic jam companion, it must be this.
The interior of the Vel Satis is massive – you can't appreciate how big it is from the outside. And the seats are like huge club armchairs – not too hard, not too soft and heated to boot. Being an automatic, it is also easy to nudge along in queues without constantly pressing on the clutch pedal and flipping from first to neutral, thus wearing out your left leg.
And with a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine under the bonnet, there is no shortage of power to pull away when you finally get to the end of the traffic queue.
As mentioned in my last report, the Vel Satis is a mass of hi-tech gadgetry with a wow factor that just goes off the scale. I am still discovering new functions. For example, when closing the boot there is no need to give a great heave as with most cars. Just touch the rear hatch against the catch and it whirrs shut automatically.
And if you accidentally leave the lights on or don't close one of the doors properly, you don't just get a warning signal - a very nice lady informs you exactly what the problem is – nice touch.
The Vel Satis is a car that invariably courts comment, such is its unusual shape. The vast majority of onlookers have voted the outline a big turn-off, although I think it looks interesting, different and stylish.
However, I wonder how many people will change their minds in the future? The new Megane takes its lines directly from the Vel Satis and I have yet to hear anyone complain about its shape – in fact most people I know think it is cute and trendy.
Renault never expected to sell a lot of Vel Satis models. The car was always intended as an introduction to the French maker's new styling direction.
So in that respect the Vel Satis is a triumph and I take my hat off to Renault for daring to break the mould and actually produce a car that is totally different.
Company car tax bill 2002 (40% taxpayer): £313 per month