I’ve been very fortunate to have driven a great variety of cars over the years and the ones that stand out in the memory are ones that have brought a smile to my face.
There haven’t been too many, which may suggest that either I’m not easily impressed or I have a perverse sense of what is good. The ‘power of smile’ is not influenced by brand, price or technology but by something inherent in the car that makes you enjoy the moment.
Some of the cars that have made me smile include the Alfasud, Daihatsu Copen, Fiat Uno Selecta, Fiesta XR2, Lancia Delta Integrale, MGB GT V8 and the original Skoda Fabia VRS. Let me explain why the Fiat is on such a distinguished list – any car that can travel as fast in reverse, thanks to its CVT as it can going forward must make you smile!
Did anything make me smile at the WGMW Driving Day? Yes, but more of that in a minute.
There were more than the usual number of ‘look at me cars’ at Castle Combe this year including an orange McLaren. Whether the orange was a tribute to Bruce McLaren or not is unclear but it was a very loud ‘look at me’ statement which overshadowed others in less imaginative colours. The Infiniti Q30 stood out in what a colleague described as the sort of blusher pink found on a cosmetic counter at Aldi. The only accessory missing was a buxom blond who had been tangoed – that would have been a colour palette to enjoy.
Although Fiat and Ford are not always considered to be direct competitors they are if you have about £34,000 to spend and want something a bit different. In the blue corner you have the Ford Mustang 5.0 litre and in the red corner the Abarth Biposto Record 1.4 TurboJet 190 hp.
Abarth, like DS, is just a brand marketing exercise to either distance the product from a more mundane, less aspirational brand or an opportunity to introduce a price premium, or both. So to me it’s still a Fiat. It’s also a Fiat whose name is longer than its list of standard equipment.
Can someone explain the role of the Ford EcoSport? It seems to be neither Eco nor Sport and the only eco that I could detect was an echo of the past when consistent quality wasn’t a feature of all Ford models.
The Honda Jazz proved to be something of a surprise. Traditionally associated with the older generation the 1.3 i-VTEC version could easily transform ‘seasoned’ drivers into Saga louts.
BoosterJet sounds like something that applies to the latest domestic appliance from Dyson but is an appendage that brings the Suzuki Baleno to life. Honda may offer The Power of Dreams but for me the Suzuki brings the Power of Smile – and a smile is real.