More Praise For Small Cars

For the last week, I have been driving the new Fabia courtesy of Skoda (pictured). More on this shortly but the point is, despite it being small and – by today’s standards – pretty basic, I absolutely love it. As I’ve mentioned before, I own a city car and feel the same about that too.

As a person who really loves his cars and driving, this is a bit of a departure to say the least but, if I‘m honest, I have never, ever, been satisfied with the car I‘m running at any one time, believing the grass will always be greener if I spend even more money and change it for the umpteenth time.

I have therefore owned many cars. Some have been good; many have been average and a few have been tragically bad. To demonstrate the fickle nature of my thinking my previous three cars have been a sports car, a motorway express and a hot hatch. The last, a mad SEAT Ibiza Cupra, was selected because I felt a subliminal need for my cars to get smaller. But not slower – at least until now.

This is possibly due to the relentless head pecking we get from green agencies, mad-eyed climate change acolytes and nannying government departments all trying to wear us down with a sort of ‘it’s for your own good’ parental attitude. Couple these gripes with all the rising costs of motoring; the fuel, the insurance, the various additional stealth taxes and I’m sure you can see where I’m coming from.

For now, I seem to have settled upon this idea of petite, frugal cars that are nonetheless fun. Remember fun? The idea is for something small, manoeuvrable and easy to park around town that is nevertheless still a real car with real drive-ability. This is my new thinking when I consider car ownership in general.

I have realised that with all of my recent previous cars I have never, ever, exploited anything like the full potential of their abilities because of the nature of this country’s rules and roads. Certainly, I’ve accelerated quickly but – and I’m sure you’ve experienced this yourself – within minutes of starting a spirited drive something happens to bring you down. Your sat-nav might bleep and warn of an impending speed camera or a slow moving vehicle will pull out in front of you and it’s all over.

The state of British roads doesn’t help either. Years of under-investment, bad design and shoddy workmanship (and we call it ‘road tax’. Ha.) has resulted in some roads being no better than tracks. Apropos of nothing, you might like to know that over the last twenty years or so Spain has undergone a massive transformation in road building and refurbishment. The roads out there are a driver’s paradise as anyone who has driven up the E902 from Motril to Granada, as I have, on a bright and sunny morning will attest. FYI, this was all paid for with EC money, including some of yours, and yet we must crash and plunge around on roads not fit for purpose.

Then, of course, you’ve got the relentless rise of the 20mph zones. These are being brought in by ill informed councils for the wrong reasons. Nobody is bothered by them when, say, they are near schools, but other roads are now being reclassified without any good reason or without consultation. This is because local authorities have been made responsible for improving public health by the Health & Social Care Act 2012. Some councils are now using lower speed limits as a convenient way to improve their performance stats. So, political expediency then. Nothing changes.

All this kind of sums up how I’m feeling about driving these days. That’s why I’ve chosen the small cars option. Much of my daily driving is within a fifty mile radius of my home. My own car, I’m pleased to say, hasn’t missed a beat. It’s three cylinder 1L engine has some zip, largely because the car is so light. With all four wheels right out on the corners the handling is remarkably composed and the seats are comfortable. I’ve now done some long trips in it and the car was fine – we’re crossing England here, not Siberia.

So, can it be? Can DriveWrite finally be content? Yes. All in all, I am, for once, happy with my small car. It’s basic and it’s fun – as simple as that. A bit like owning a small friendly dog. Only without the reciprocated unconditional love, obviously.
Geoff Maxted