There’s no doubt, of course, that many car manufacturers are working hard on hybrids – which are normal, petrol-engine cars that have a second, electric motor to keep the rule makers in Brussels happy. But pure electric cars? I don’t see their Blu-ray/VHS/Sky moment until someone commercializes ahydrogen-based system for recharging the batteries. And that’s not going to happen in 2011. Or 2012. Or any time in the foreseeable future.. So, you want lots of space, four-wheel drive and chunky styling. That’s narrowed your choice down to pretty well every single car maker in the world. And to make matters even more complicated, many of the cars that appear to be different… aren’t. Take the Citro?n Cross-Dresser, for example, or the Peugeot 4007. Underneath, they are Mitsubishi Outlanders. They’re even built by Mitsubishi. So which do you pick?. The 9-3 is old. It has a nasty engine. And, while I acknowledge the standard fitment of both an adjustable heater and a clock, it is also quite expensive. But it does have one feature that sets it aside from almost every other car on the market. It’s comfortable.. At the raggedy edge, a Ferrari 458 is more rewarding to drive and a Mercedes SLS is more fun. But both those cars are a bit flamboyant. And that’s where the Aston scores. It isn’t.15 May 2011. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement because the rhinos get to be surrounded by acolytes who agree with everything they say and laugh at their jokes until they are told to stop. And the oxpeckers scratch out a living by selling the rhinos superyacht insurance and hideous watches.. The diesel Accord Type S is well priced, considering the amount of equipment it comes with as standard, it’s pretty spacious, it’s lovely to drive and – I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this already – you only need take it to the pumps every 650 miles.. And anyway, it’s not like the Performante dawdles. The acceleration is savage, the braking is fierce enough to tear off your face and, unlike most four-wheel-drive cars, it does not resort to chronic understeer when you exceed the limit. Plant your foot into the carpet mid-bend and it’s the tail that lets goin an almost cartoonish fog of tyre smoke and noise. In a Ferrari or a McLaren, you concentrate when you are driving quickly. In the Gallardo, you can’t. You’re too busy laughing.. For some time car makers have been treading water in a stagnant pool. If they wanted to launch a new car, it was easy. They called a company that made shock absorbers, a company that made pistons and a company that made satnavs. Then got some Poles or Slovaks to Sellotape them together –et voil?.. Yet there
are one or two small problems that matter. The pillars are so thick that it’s hard to see at junctions. Of course, this isn’t an issue when you’re in a van, because it’s not yours and there’s nothing of any value inside should you pull into the path of a bus. But when the van is a car, it is yours and there are children in the back.. The deck? At the time the Garrard SP25 was popular, but I took a holiday job as a milkman so I could afford the 86SB, which I teamed with a Shure M75ED cartridge. I’m not looking any of this stuff up. It was all ingrained in my head back then and it’s still there now. I actually know what sort of stylus I used, and its code name.. The cocaine chintz has been kept in check. You watch the men pleading and explaining that they are personal friends with the boat’s owner, but this is no good because he’s not at his own party. That’s the key to being a proper billionaire. Throw a party and then have dinner somewhere else.. When you put your foot down in the Audi and that naturally aspirated 4.2-litre engine is energized, it’s just better. You can’t put your finger on why this is so. But it is. This is a tremendous engine – one of the very best in production today.. This is fine, but as the demand for more luxury and more safety grows stronger, the penalty is weight. Twenty years ago a Vauxhall Nova weighed about 800 kg. Its modern-day equivalent is more than 1,000 kg. Many larger cars tip the scales at more than 2 tons. And weight blunts performance, ruins handling and costs you at the pumps. Try playing tennis with a dead dog on your back and you’ll soon see the problem.. There is, however, one Vine discussion topic that is worth the time of day. The new-found fondness people have for SUVs. Naturally in Vineland they’re called Chelsea tractors and they’re all driven by silly rich women and they all have bull bars. And pretty soon the producer will put a caller through from the Labour party, who will say, ‘They were designed to go off road but all they ever do is put a wheel on the pavement.’ And then Iswitch over to Radio 4 again..