The G1000 installation in this airplane has an elaborate leaning page that gives word on what is going on with all six cylinders and both turbochargers. With the turbine inlet temperatures about 50 rich (they are never exactly the same) and with the power set for maximum cruise, at 11,000 feet the true was 199 and the fuel flow 24.7 gallons per hour. Leaning the TIT through peak and back to the lean side of peak, about 50 or 75 degrees lean, and without moving the throttle, the fuel flow dropped to 17.8 gallons per hour and the true airspeed to 189 knots. The engine was as smooth lean of peak as it was rich of peak. Then we tried it rich of peak at the 17.8 gallon per hour fuel flow and the true airspeed was about 10 knots lower than it was in lean of peak operation at the same fuel flow. Since all this lean of peak business started, I have tried it in a lot of airplanes, a previous Columbia included. This is the first airplane in which I found both smooth operation and a substantial fuel savings.
Much of this advantage comes because of the induction system on this series of Continental engines. It does a much better job of getting an even and abundant supply of intake air to each cylinder.
So, at non-oxygen altitudes the 400 is a 200-knot cruiser if you burn more fuel and a 190-knot cruiser if you burn less fuel. These speeds translate to the 235 knots at 25,000 feet that is advertised, though lean of peak it would be more like 225. The airplane has 98 gallons of usable fuel, so at the higher fuel flow it would be just under four hours to dry tanks, where lean of peak it would go five and a half hours. That is a substantial difference.
The trip back took the same time as the trip over, so the round-trip block groundspeed was 188 knots. The G1000 said that the airplane had averaged 183.1 knots over the total 4,605 miles that it had flown. My P210, which I cruise at 75 percent power, rich of peak, on about the same fuel flow as the Columbia when lean of peak, has averaged 152.2 knots over a lot of miles, so it's safe to say that the Columbia is a good 30 knots faster even when cruised at non-oxygen altitudes. The round trip took a total of three hours and 24 minutes. The best my airplane has ever done is four hours even, so speed does make a difference.
So does the complete G1000 system. I have never flown a light airplane that is so well integrated and that also has things like a complete dual and redundant 28 volt electrical system. One of the systems will run everything in the airplane, and when the ice protection and A/C are installed they get another, dedicated, alternator and electrical system.
The Columbia is a good ride, too. The wing loading is high for a single and in enthusiastic turbulence over the mountains it gave a good account, though I did find one bump that ranked pretty high on my all-time list. No yaw damper is included and it does not need one. No rudder trim is included and it does need that.
The comfort level is great, too. With Bose headsets it's like being in a jet. The general feeling of the airplane is solid, like a much bigger and heavier airplane. It just feels good. With the G1000 they were able to raise the bottom of the instrument panel a bit for more front-seat legroom and tall guys will find plenty of headroom. Everything in and about the airplane exudes quality.
The panel is clean in appearance and while all the requisite switches are there, they don't clutter. The standby instruments are two-inchers and are mounted to the left of the G1000.
I expected a lot from the integration of the autopilot into the G1000 and it is truly all there, as a part of the total system. With separate autopilots I always think in terms of interpreting the information from the navigators and instruments, and then telling the autopilot what to do with the airplane. With this system, the autopilot is clued into everything from the start and pressing the appropriate G1000 buttons gets the desired result. You fly the airplane through the autopilot. It does doglegs in a flight plan perfectly. When the controller calls and gives you direct to the destination, tell that to the G1000, and the autopilot (in the nav mode) makes a snappy turn and tracks to the destination.
Coupled approaches are beautifully intercepted and flown as well.