Specialness is particularly important when it comes to cars. Recently, onTop Gear, I drove something called the Eagle Speedster. It was a modern take on the old Jaguar E-type and in many ways it was a bit rubbish. There were no airbags or antilock brakes, and while the lowered, more steeply raked windscreen meant the car looked good, I couldn’t see where I was going. And yet, despite the shortfalls, it is the most special car I’ve driven. Do I need it? No. Do I want it? Yes. More than my left leg.. It’s the same story with the satnav. Yes, we like to be able to adjust the scale of the map. But in the Audi you twiddle the knob for 90 minutes and it zooms in from something like 900 metres to the centimetre to 875 metres to the centimetre. That’s not necessary.. So, big on the outside, small on the inside, badly made, ill-conceived, woefully slow, hard to drive and I wish that were an end to it. But no. It’s also uncomfortable.. Recently AMG’s cars have started to become a bit soft. The raw, visceral engines have been muted with turbochargers to keep the emissions down, and the standard automatic gearboxes have been replaced with flappy-paddle-operated manuals that work just fine on the open road but with an epileptic jerkiness in town.. My friends, who are not very interested in cars, said that the ride was‘bumpy’ and that I ought to let some air out of the tyres. They were wrong. The ride is actually quite good. Another friend, who writes about restaurants, said it sounded like a diesel. He was wrong, too. It sounds like a tool for scaring dogs.. ‘Bong.’. I admire the Swedes for the stoic way they continue to go about their business. How they dismiss prangs as part of the price you pay for living among the Arctic foxes and the wolves. But let’s dispel any myth that they have superhuman gifts behind the wheel. Because they don’t.. Naturally Volkswagen will argue that the Up! is a city car and that this lack of oomph is of no consequence. But that’s rubbish. It’s OK to have a
pair of city shoes and a city suit, but when you are spending ?10,000 on a car, you expect it to be able to deal with cities and the countryside equally well.. Mini Cooper S roadster. And now we get to the vexed question of price. Citro?n obviously knows it’s vexed, which is why the actual cost of the car – the single most important fact – is not listed in the press pack. But I’ve managed to find it. And for the top-of-the-range 1.6-litre HDi 115 XTR that I tested, it’s ?16,795. You can have a normal car for that.. Actually, to be fair, the promoter did see a reason.‘There are only three of you,’ he said. ‘We don’t need three coaches. We could go in a van.’ But we were most insistent. One would have ‘Top’ on the side. One would have ‘Gear’. And one would have ‘Live’.. The main problem, however, with the Range Rover Sport was that it wasn’t a Range Rover. Underneath, it was actually based on the Discovery, which meant it came with a complex double chassis system. That made it heavy. And that meant it wasn’t a Sport either.. Toyota, meanwhile, called the first car it tried to sell in America the Toyolet. Until the importers suggested that Toyopet might be a bit better. And then we had the Mitsubishi Starion. Which was supposed to have been the Stallion but there was a mix-up caused by the Japanese problem with the letter‘l’.. All previous AMG Mercs make you feel as if you’re going faster than you really are. This one does the exact opposite.. I make no bones about this at all. If I were in the market for a mid-size executive saloon car and I had one eye on the fuel bills, I’d buy a BMW 3-series with a diesel engine. It would be torquey, fast, cheap to run, smooth and conventional..