Strangely, though, in this sea of wholesome goodness, the car I’ve been anticipating with the most eagerness is Citro?n’s DS3 Racing. I realize that this is like booking a table at the Wolseley in London and then looking forward most of all to the bread rolls. But the fact is this: when the sun is shining, I like a simple two-seater convertible most of all, but when it isn’t – and this is Britain, after all – the type of car that I most enjoy driving is a hot hatchback. And the DS3 Racing is about as hot as hot hatches get right now.. It’s the coolest name ever given to a car. ‘I’ll pick you up at eight. I’ll be in the Interceptor.’ Imagine being able to say that. Or even: ‘Darling. About tonight. Shall we take the Interceptor?’ It sends a shiver down your spine. Maserati is a good name. Thunderbird is even better. But Interceptor? That’s the best of them all.. I suspect there’s a good reason for this unusual act of generosity. Next year we will see the arrival of a new 911 – which will be the same as all the others since Hitler first came up with the idea – and they need to get rid of all the parts before the production switchover. What you are buying, then, isnot a new car. It’s the last version of the old one.. I also hate the gearbox. The old seven-speed auto has been replaced with the double-clutch flappy-paddle system found in the SLS. It’s electronic, so it works well, except when you are in town going slowly. Then it’s jerky and unwilling to respond when you want to exploit a gap in the traffic.. So, it’s fast, economical, comfortable… and almost unbelievably well made. Slam the door on a Subaru Legacy – another well-made car – and it makes the sound of a shot pheasant hitting the ground on a frosty morning. Slam the door on the Honda Accord and it makes the sound of a pheasant coming in to land… after you’ve missed it. It’s almost silent.. I suppose I ought to point out as well that while the engine delivers all that you could ask, it is not quite as refined as the diesel engine you get in a BMW. And that’s it.. We will start with the seats. Yes, there are seven but there is no one alive today that could fit in any of the five in the back. And there is no boot at all, unless you fold the two rearmost chairs into the floor. It’s hopeless.. The BMW 3-series is now one of only two traditional four-door saloons to feature in Britain’s top 10 bestseller list, which means it must strike a chord here, too. And it’s not hard to
see why: it’s the modern-day Ford Cortina. A no-nonsense design, done well.. It wasn’t just in Newbury, either. Environmentalism was taking off all around the world. Leninism had a new face. It was the face of a drowning polar bear. And everyone seemed to like it.. There are other things he will enjoy, too. The climate-controlled cupholders, the in-car internet access, the Harman/Kardon Logic 7 Dolby digital 5.1 surround-sound system and the darkened privacy glass in the back that not only cuts down the glare on the television screens but also makes it hard for prying eyes to see what he’s up to back there with the girl who liked his button-operated tailgate.. The standard car, I don’t doubt for a moment, is all right. It’s certainly getting rave notices from all quarters. But this hot one? No. It’s surprisingly poor in too many areas.. Unless you are at an oblique junction where visibility is a bit restricted, you forget when you are driving an R8 that it is a supercar. It lulls you, cossets you, soothes you. Which is why you are always surprised when you put your foot down and it takes off like a bloody Ferrari.‘Whoa,’ you say, ‘I thought I was in an Audi TT.’. This, then, is a massive improvement on the old car. It is a Range Rover, it does have a sporty feel, it does work off road and it is comfortable and well equipped. But it doesn’t have a split, folding tailgate. That’s why my eye is still on its more expensive bigger brother.. Which naturally brings me on to Alfa Romeo, an experience that’s subtly different. I had one once, a GTV6, and it was like a coffee machine – that had been designed by a dog. At night it would let all the air escape from its tyres, its clutch would weld itself to the flywheel and once it dropped its gear linkage onto the prop shaft, causing an extremely loud noise to happen, followed by the rear wheels locking up. It was a constant nightmare.. So now it seems Subaru is fighting back by going all skinny latte and arugula metrosexual. The new Forester has been styled and the bonnet scoop has gone and it is big and well equipped and pricy. Which means that it’s just another stupid sports utility crossover vehicle to make people in Surrey feel as if they live in the countryside..