If I had a pound for every time someone wanted to know what my ‘best car in the world’ was after discovering my occupation I’d, well, I wouldn’t need to write about cars for a living.
To avoid the predictable hassle, I’m more likely to keep schtum about what I do for a living when in the company of strangers. Be it in the back of a taxi, down the pub, a dinner party or any number of random social gatherings.
When rumbled I often take one of a handful of approaches. If I want to be predictable I’ll say Porsche 911, Bentley if I want to be flippant and the “Whatever’s outside your house right now” line if I want to wrong-foot the inquisitor.
The truth is, we all know there’s no such as a bad car anymore. Sure, there are some spectacularly dull ones, but few that encourage you to park up and walk the rest of the way home.
Why the glib response to a perfectly reasonable question? Simple really: we work in an incredibly subjective business dishing out opinion. What works for me might not work for you.
However, and this is the bit the general public conveniently forgets, the difference between two pub bores arguing the toss over a Porsche 911 and Ferrari 458 is that we’ve probably driven them. It’s still going to be an opinion, but what adds the value is the informed nature of such opinion.
Still, for my money, Audi’s latest A3 is the best car in the world. What, nothing ending in GT3 or AMG for me? That’s not strictly true, as I’d take one of Stuttgart’s expensive Beetles any day of the week.
No, the A3 just happened to be outside the house when I needed reliable, comfortable and frugal transport for an extended period of a time when family needs trumped the demands of professional life.
It delivered the goods in all weathers and all times of the day and night. The xenon headlights were reassuringly bright and fuel stops were pleasingly infrequent.
Could a Proton something or other have done the same job? Probably – assuming you could find one. And if I were honest it wouldn’t have mattered one bit if I had to rely on Malaysia’s finest in my many hours of need.
But the fact was I had the use of an A3 not a reskinned Mitsubishi, and I’m in no doubt it made my time behind the wheel a more pleasant one. I’m even happy to forgive the car’s diesel clatter and firm ‘Sport’ suspension. Not so much the lack of cruise control, though.
Still, as sure as one bloke called Sebastian follows another to win a world rally championship, I can predictably say that the A3 is a good car. Best in world? Don’t be silly.