This year, many things have changed for me. One of the most immediately significant, upon leaving the security-blanket of the Jubilee Line, has been passing my driving test.
More than by luck than judgement, I reached the other side of the high-risk age group (as the insurers so coldly put it) before attempting to drive. I’m lucky enough to be one of those people who picks things up quickly, so I started learning and practicing at the end of June and passed mid-August. Almost immediately, again more by luck than judgement, I walked into a job that sees me doing quite a bit of driving – not least because, as I don’t drink, I’m usually the designated driver after a piss-up.
Driving a car is, for the most part, pretty easy. Once you can get the thing to go where you want, it’s just a question of thinking about where everyone else might want to go in theirs, and trying not to be in the exact same place at the same time. One thing that has really struck me, however, is the sheer variety of cars – all with their own strengths and weaknesses. I hadn’t realised, before driving, just how different the machines are from each other. Seems kind of obvious now, but when you’re a pedestrian, a car is a car is a car.
So, here’s my thoughts on what I’ve driven so far:
- 2003 Rover 200 turbo diesel
- Solid and firm. Good visibility, easy to park, plenty of power for its weight. Fractionally too small in the back and boot. Horrible interior, and not exactly pretty from the outside either.
- 2001 Audi A4 diesel
- Nicely put together. Little to no visibility in any direction, kind of like a tank. Massively expensive to repair.
- 1993 Rover 214
- Aah Daisy. Love of my life. Tatty but reliable (like her owner). Surprisingly comfortable. Plenty of room for drunken friends. Likes going downhill. Also likes going round corners, although passengers disagree. Astonishingly cheap to run, but the rust! Oh the rust! The damp and the rust!
- 2006 BMW 7 Series diesel automatic
- Like a living room on wheels. Comfortable doesn’t cover it. Works best at 100mph in a straight line. Guaranteed to pick up speeding tickets. Impossible to park. Complicated radio. Overall, quite dull really. Not my kind of thing at all.
- 2005 BMW Sprinter diesel van
- Amazingly easy to manoeuvre into tight spaces, given that it’s 14 feet long. Difficult to get out of. Surprising how quick it’ll go, even laden.
- 1988 BMW 3 Series automatic
- Was probably a nice car once. These days, a bit of a burden. A bit like feeding twenty-pound notes into a shredder.
- 2006 Vauxhall Corsa
- More or less parks itself, which is just as well given that it’s just so horrible to drive. Uncomfortable, clumsy, likes drinking petrol and giving dead legs. Tempted to roll it into the canal.
- 1999 Peugeot 306 diesel
- Much stiffer than I’m used to, but all in all a very decent car for the money. Quiet, comfortable, roomy, efficient. Might try and buy a similar one in the new year.