My city car has just had its annual service. While it was in the garage the dealer gave me a ‘courtesy’ car. For this pleasantry, later, they charged me fifteen of my British Pounds. I succinctly pointed out that by making a charge the vehicle ceased to be a ‘courtesy’ and became, in effect, a ‘hire’ car.
There’s no upside to that. It all went a bit quiet as my eyes pin-wheeled across the bill, hardening to a flinty stare. A dangerously tense moment ensued. To be fair though, the car was thoroughly cleaned inside and out – as a courtesy. Stalemate.
The ‘courtesy’ car was a SEAT Mii in iTech trim and it was great. More comfortable and roomy than my own ageing city car and with a lively engine. I don’t mind SEAT cars and have indeed owned an Ibiza Cupra in the past. What I don’t like about SEAT is that I once travelled a long way to review a couple of their motors only to be soundly patronised throughout the short time I stayed.
That’s a whole other story, but it was while I was out driving in the Mii that I had my great epiphany. This, I mused, is in fact all the car I could ever want. Certainly it is lovely to test all the performance and prestige cars that come my way and it’s a privilege to be asked to review them, but, when it comes down to it, the whole business of motoring is, as I’m sure you are well aware, getting increasingly expensive, whilst the act of driving a car for pleasure is diminished.
Why do we feel it is necessary to buy costly and fast cars when we are penalised at every turn by greedy, grasping government? What’s the point of high speed on our ruined and regulated roads? The Mii had basic air-con, a radio and CD player and an Aux socket. Some models have Bluetooth but you can buy a Bluetooth device that works fine for around twenty quid from Curry’s.
No, you can’t stream music but this is why I also put downloaded tunes onto an old MP3 player; there’s always a solution. The Mii is nimble, easy to park and has, as mentioned, a sprightly engine that at least gives the impression of performance, especially around twisty country roads. It cruises easily at 70 and, with the coming of iniquitous average speed cameras, it doesn’t really serve any purpose to go faster, alas.
Most impressive of all is the price. You can get a new car for under ten grand and it will be fine. No good for the bigger family obviously but there are inexpensive cars like the Dacia Duster that can fulfil such roles. Or how about a used Fiesta, a car that is renowned for its driveability? Or maybe a sporty pre-loved MX-5?
I am persuaded that this is the way forward. You may choose to disagree. I have no need of a multitude of bleeping, irritating technology. I have a device that multiplies the 12v socket so that I can run a sat-nav, a dashcam whilst at the same time charging my phone. I don’t need to pay thousands to get gadgets that I will hardly use.
This then is the DriveWrite epiphany; my ‘road to Damascus’ moment if you will, except it was Swindon. I will immediately and henceforth become an evangelist for small cheap motors. Obviously, I will continue to review cars as and when. There’s a fast Honda coming soon and possibly the best Peugeot for years and I’ll enjoy those. January will be the ideal month for a Range Rover and so on but we have reached a stage – whether we like it or not – when the power and the glory has been over-ridden by cold reality and the dead hand of regulation. Don’t worry about what you’re driving; just enjoy the ride. Geoff Maxted