Saab 9-3 SportWagon Aero TtiD 180PS. I think I don’t like it because of the flooring or because I have it in my head that everyone in the queue for the tills is going to be a magistrate with firm home-county views on youth crime and bad language. But I can’t be sure because I’ve never been through the door.. So, to conclude. What we have here is one of the most beautiful cars ever made, stripped down to the bare metal, repainted, retrimmed and fitted with just enough mechanical components to make it handle properly, ride even better and go like a bastard. That’s a properly good idea.. From the front the new one is even better, but, as with other new Mercs, there’s a styling detail over the rear wheelarch that simply doesn’t work at all. Styling details need to be there for a reason – a hump in the bonnet hints at great power beneath, for instance – but this one is just fatuous. I pretty much hate it.. Volkswagen’s advertising agency told us for years that its cars were very reliable. But then the agency decided that actually you don’t buy a VW because it’s well made; you buy one because it’s cheap. Right? So. Has there been a philosophical sea change at the factory in Wolfsburg? Or has there been a meeting in Soho?. The upside comes, though, when you get off the motorway, because, wahey, this is a car that takes you back to the mid-Eighties. It feels eager and crisp, so it turns even the most dreary journey to buy milk into a fun-filled extravaganza of puppy-dog enthusiasm, squealy tyres and grinning.. I don’t know where the car I drove was made. Or who made it. But I suspect he was very angry about something because it was horrific. The steering column appeared to have been welded to the dashboard so that it wouldn’t turn. The brakes caused the car to speed up a bit and turn left, violently, at the same time.. Then there’s weight. Even though the new car is bigger than the old one, it weighs about 40 kg less. That’s good for the ecos, and as a bonus it makes the whole package feel livelier. And it really does feel very lively indeed.. Then there’s the problem with buying a 3-series. Go on, try it. Engage your internet, go to BMW’s website and try to make sense of what’s there. You can’t. Not till you’ve found your reading glasses, and then gone to Boots to buy a pair that is even more powerful. And even when you are able to readthe microdot typeface, your computer won’t have the plug-in necessary to enjoy any of the site’s features. Not that you will understand what’s on offer anyway, because it’s either flowery rubbish or techno gobbledygook.. Actually, there is a reason. It’s this: back in 1970 some Leeds supporters put dog dirt in my school cap because I had dared to walk
through a Yorkshire town sporting a Chelsea scarf. That, then, is what made me so happy in Munich. Because I knew that in a working men’s club somewhere, the little gang would be sitting, staring into their stout, feeling terrible. I was happy because they weren’t. That’s what football is all about.. They all had their cameras out, videoing my every move, and not so they could show their friends back home how well I’d done. No. It’s so they could put on YouTube the precise moment I hit a wall and my head came off.. The rear seats, apparently, are 38 mm lower than in the previous model. I mention this simply because I’m running out of things to say. As the miles droned by, I began to wonder who on earth would spend more than ?31,000 on the model I was driving. It has no more seats than a Vauxhall Astra, and if you really need part-time four-wheel drive and a tall boot, Ford, Hyundai, Kia and many others can sell you something similar and better for less.. Which brings me on to the nutty question. Should you be buying an RS 5 cabriolet at all? Well, let’s start with the engine. It’s a joy. To meet stringent emission regulations, most new engines are turbocharged. You can’t really tell. There’s no lag any more between putting your foot down and the commencement of acceleration. And yet…. You see, people were not exchanging their old cars for BMWs or Audis or Range Rovers. No. They were going for cheap runabouts. The scrappage scheme – not just here but in Germany and France as well – took Korean car dealerships from small lots on industrial estates in towns you’ve never heard of to centre stage in the cities. Let me put it this way: 98.8 per cent of all the cars Kia sold under the scrappage scheme were to people who had never owned a Kia before. Frankly, Mandelson should be given the freedom of Seoul. Certainly he should be adopted as a bonnet mascot for Kia. Especially as the name is derived – and I’m not making this up – from the Korean word ‘to come out’.. So the Sandero must be judged as a car, and I’m sorry, but for ?5,995 you can do quite a lot better by trawling through driving.co.uk,The Sunday Times’ second-hand-car website. This, then, is why buying a cheap new car is so much more difficult than it was. Because without anything that identifies it as new, you may as well plunge into the vastly more complex world of pre-owned.8 December 2013.