Monday, 19 September 2011

An Occasional Motoring Column

As long-standing readers may or may not know, I don't own a car. I simply Hire one as and when I need one (roughly 2-3 times a month). This gives me a unique opportunity to test-drive a number of cars, and tell you what I think. Most of the time they're bog-standard golfs, vectras and occasionally a Mercedes A -Class, which leave me thinking that driving completely sucks arse.

However the firm I use (the very reasonable EasiDrive) occasionally run out of such mundane vehicles and I get upgraded. I learned to drive in a Porshe, and my last car was an Alfa Romeo, so I have some understanding of what a good drivers' car is & Everyone knows hire cars are the fastest things on the road. However regular readers will know that I hate driving (on the road) so who better to review cars? I am naturally sceptical.



This weekend, I was given a new Citroen DS3, A special edition 5-speed manual with the HDi90 engine and sports trim, with just 3,000 miles on the clock, and I have to say it is the best little car I have ever driven. Lively, responsive, stable, quick off the mark, comfortable, surprisingly spacious swallowing 2 adults, a 2-year old, luggage for same and a folding bicycle with ease. It's economical - the day's driving cost less than £10 in (yes, really) diesel and when you consider that hiring the thing cost £28, why would anyone who doesn't need a car daily, own one?

I drove the twisty A600 from Shefford to Bedford and it just loved the roundabouts. Being small, it was easy to find room to widen the corners and when Mr. The Cat decided to leap out in front of me, it stopped extremely quickly. All this potential fun, though merely reminded me why most drivers are so frustrated. The roads are not race-tracks, but this car was able to accelerate quickly enough and corner fast enough to make overtaking safe. The Mitsubishi Evo (VI, I think) with who's driver I was playing silly-buggers, had selected the wrong gear coming off the roundabout on the A428 at Warrington and I was able to overtake with a cheery wave. This was the highlight of the drive. Obviously he was able to blast past later, but I had rubbed his nose in driving incompetence. Wrong gear? - pah! The Citroen's engine had such a wide torque band, it accelerated acceptably from a standstill in third.

Channelling my inner Clarkson, if this car was a dog, it would be a well-mannered but mischievous spaniel with a wagging tail who wants to play. With my beige trousers on, it ticks all the boxes, reliable, efficient, spacious, safe etc. But when you want to put your cap on at a silly angle, it's fun when necessary and surprisingly quick. I did not perform a crash test, nor did I (honestly, officer) test the top speed, which isn't published but may or may not be 115mph.

If you absolutely must own one, you could do a lot worse than this little car.



3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am a car owner, living in the country with 3 kids requires it.

I travel trgularly to England and rent. I drive all sorts (but usually medium to big) and last time was offered this car on a preferred customer upgrade.

The bloody suitcase (a monster I must admit) couldn't be forced into the boot. Arghh! For once I was going to get the chance to have fun, I had to ask for a down grade.

Glad you enjoyed it.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"If you absolutely must own one, you could do a lot worse than this little car."

As long as you don't want it to last long, of course.

Being French, all the electrics will go wonky after about three years, and after five, it will mysteriously leak rain water in ways that no agent or garage will ever be able to cure.

Anonymous said...

Because this was posted on the Monday after the Goodwood Revival Meeting (another triumph for Lord March an his team and petrolhead heaven for the rest of us) I thought you were going to write about that! But I value your opinion so will try the firm and the model.

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