On the upside, the Countryman is available with four-wheel drive. It’s a simple system that would be flummoxed by the weather we had recently but would get you up and down a farm track easily enough. The thing is, though, that the model I tested – a Cooper S – costs more than ?22,000. And that makes it about ?3,000 more than the similarly powered Skoda Yeti.. I know that people in a focus group will tell the inquisitors in the polo-neck jumpers that they would like their next car to be‘sporty’ because that’s the motoring dream and has been since Christopher Plummer roared away from the battle of Britain in his zesty MG. But in reality, sportiness is a pain in the backside.. You might imagine that the new Porsche 911 had been spared all this nonsense – 911s, after all, are meant to be pure, clean, unfettered sports cars. And there is no place for complexity in such things.. Simply the best, but so bashful buying one is verboten. Almost every country has a unique detail that sets it apart from anywhere else. In France, for instance, you can’t walk for more than 100 yards without treading on a dog turd. Australia has too many dangerous animals. Germany has too much armpit hair. India needs a spring clean. And then we get to Sweden, where I spent a recent weekend. The little detail here is odd: there aren’t enough chairs.. I’m not quite sure why, but today you can be a bank robber or a pugilist or a benefits cheat, and that’s fine. You can be a drug addict or a Peeping Tom. But woe betide anyone who is rich.. There’s no getting around the fact that the DS5 you see here this morning is extremely striking, and I don’t mean ‘striking’ in the way you’d describe a friend’s hopeless attempt at an oil painting. I mean striking as in Kate Moss. This is one good-looking car.. However, even here there’s a problem. Because for ?29,500 minus the whistles and bells, I’d expect more than a four-pot turbodiesel engine. I’d expect more than 0 to 62 mph in 9.8 seconds.. As time went by, the makers of supercars started to think more seriously about longevity and convenience. But even in the 1990s they were still not really there. The Ferrari 355 GTS I once owned was plagued with seatbelts that strummed like guitar strings if you had the roof off, an engine that had to be taken out of the car to be serviced and a two-stage throttle that made only two
speeds available: 2 mph and 175 mph.. But Vauxhall goes even further because the VXR comes with an adaptive ride and‘floating’ front brake discs designed to reduce unsprung weight. Make no mistake: the underside of this car has been created by someone who was concentrating, and funded by a company that plainly wants to lay the ghost of the Vectra to rest and be taken seriously.. Then you had the supercharged HPE. Made from steel so thin you could use it as tracing paper, and sold as an estate even though it was no such thing, this was a triumph of style over absolutely everything else that matters and I loved it.. All things considered, the VW is a vastly superior car. But in an accident you will probably be better off in the Volvo. Think of it, then, as Cuba. In terms of Caribbean islands, Mustique is much better. The food, the beaches, the crime, everything. But if you become ill, you can’t get round the fact that Havana has better hospitals.2 December 2012. Normally I’d simply sit in the resultant jam, accepting that the people in charge are morons. But because I had a cold, I needed to be at home. So I set off on a hate-fuelled charge through the back streets, hurling insults at absolutely everyone and everything.. An Alfa Romeo Spider. That was a sports car. So were the Fiat 124 Spider and the MG. The Triumph TR6 was a sports car, too, as was the Sunbeam Alpine. These cars were built for fun, for a laugh, ha-ha, ha-ha. You could keep them by the racehorse that the Aga Khan bought you for Christmas. Even by the standards of the day they were not especially fast, but they were pretty and they all came with simple canvas roofs. They were like tenting but without the dysentery. And I miss them all.. With the 435i you still have the near-perfect weight distribution and an extremely low centre of gravity. The engineers have worked their traditional magic to make everything balanced and just so. It may not be the fastest car in the world but it is extremely rewarding to feel it turn one way as you go round a roundabout and then the other as you leave. Some cars wobble about; some lurch. A BMW just does as it’s told..