Let’s begin with a standing-start full-bore acceleration run. You put the gearbox in race mode, and then you hold down the traction control button for a moment, put your left foot on the brake and mash your right foot into the carpet. When the revs have settled, and the 523-horsepower 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged engine is screaming its head off, you take your foot off the brake.. Many years ago, when cars were judged only on acceleration times, Austin Rover made all sorts of wild claims about how its new Maestro turbo could get from a standstill to 60 mph in six seconds. And indeed the press-fleet cars supplied for testing could do just that. But only once. Because then they’d blow up, causing everyone to wonder if the wastegate valves hadn’t been welded slightly shut.. I spent a lot of time thinking, Crikey. This whole thing was designed so the Americans could post a cruise missile through a letter box 7,000 miles away and it can’t even find a sensible route from Beaconsfield to London. Now, though, I have to say, mistakes are extremely rare.. Handling? That’s terrible. The ride? Terrible. Seat comfort? Terrible. And to top it all off, it was plainly styled by a man who gets tumescent at the thought of house bricks, and finished off on the inside with a range of plastics that feel like Cellophane.. In Australia, for instance, people drive much the same sorts of car as we do, on the correct side of the road and in a similar fashion.. Which brings me on to the ideal Swedish car. It’s the new five-seat BMW 328i, which in Stockholm is probably sold to school-run mums as an eight-seat MPV.. However, it was perceived to be strong and safe, so it attracted all the people who were not very good at driving and thought they may crash. This was unbelievably useful for the rest of us. If you saw a Volvo 340 DL coming the other way, you knew to be on your guard.. To find out what it might be, I’ve just spent a week with a 208, or to be specific, the mid-range 1.2-litre VTi Allure. It’s a good-looking little thing and at ?13,495 it’s well priced, too, especially given the amount of equipment provided as standard.. Not to worry.
Unlike other XKRs I’ve driven in recent times, this one doesn’t bang and crash over potholes. It’s actually quite smooth. You can therefore cruise about the place, no problem at all.. There’s a similar problem on the inside because it has the sort of upholstery used to make jackets for German newsreaders. VW will tell you it’s a nod to traditionalism since it’s the same material used to line the seats in the original Golf GTI. But what’s the point of resurrecting something noone remembers or cares about?. And all so they can save a pound in tax. This makes it the world’s largest open prison for lunatics. And then, once a year, the grand prix circus rolls into town – and it all gets worse.. I know lots of people who have what I call the proper Range Rover. In fact, I’m struggling to think of any friend in the country who doesn’t have one. But I know only one chap who has a Sport. And there’s no other way of putting this: he’s called Gary. A point made plain by his registration plate.. This morning a man in a chunky-neck jumper and corduroy trousers is sitting down to his plate of kippers, blissfully unaware that he’s the last person in Britain to have been christened Malcolm. It’s much the same story with his wife, Brenda, and his friends from the lodge, Neville and Roger.. But I’m being a dinosaur, aren’t I? I’m judging the baby Lexus on speed, which these days is bit like judging a dog on its ability to write poetry. I care about speed. Frank Beard cares about it. But everyone else? No. Not really.. So here we have a car that is deeply unhappy on a wet night in town, that doesn’t much care for track work and that fills me with a teeth-itchingly morbid fear of being stopped by the police. Oh, and it had been decorated by someone who had a mental age of four..