SUNDAY, MONDAY - We’re all seized, at the end of the year, by a desire to complete things we should have done – and in this spirit, I accepted BMW’s kind invitation to drive an i8 hybrid supercar for a week. It turned out to be one of the best things I’d done all year.
You’ll know the broad layout of the i8: 228bhp mid-mounted 1.5-litre turbo triple driving the rear wheels, with a 129bhp electric motor to turn the fronts. It’ll do a creditable 15 miles on the battery alone, yet with both motors working it’ll dispatch 0-62mph in just 4.4sec and easily hit the governed 155mph. You can get 40mpg from a tankful (provided you also charge the battery) and its cunning carbonfibre construction means that it weighs a miraculous 1575kg.
Such things are impressive, but mere details beside the way it drives. It’s fast rather than blistering, but this helps you realise it’s not a sprinter but the consummate GT: long-legged, deliciously precise and either exciting or relaxing, depending on how you configure it. Best of all, it copes with the modern driving environment with an alacrity that induces you to take the long way home – in conditions that can reduce many a big-note supercar to a scary, backlash-ridden behemoth with bad visibility. The i8 isn’t everyone’s £100k choice, but it would be mine.
TUESDAY - Our EU law makers are no doubt hugging themselves with self-satisfaction, thinking that they’ve done mankind a big favour by pushing back a car manufacturer’s request to relax exhaust emissions for diesel cars before 2020 while they grapple with the nitrogen oxide issues that are a by-product of the Volkswagen kerfuffle.
To me, this decision goes back to the dark ages (25 years ago) when legislators thought their job was to teach the motor industry a lesson. That simply isn’t appropriate any more. Whatever you make of Volkswagen, the fact is that much progress has been made on exhaust emissions recently, and much more is in prospect. It needs to be understood, quantified and valued.
THURSDAY - It’s almost exactly a year since we proudly unveiled the Ariel Nomad at Autocar, and in honour of the fact (and because I like the place), I dropped into the company’s emporium outside Crewkerne, Somerset, for a bit of seasonal chat.
One of the ironies about this go-ahead little company – which makes some of the most far-out machines on the planet – is that its own selection of hack vehicles, the ones its inmates use for business trips and stray errands, is amusingly prosaic.
Current pride of the fleet is an 85,000-mile, 06-plate Honda Civic 1.8 Executive, bought from a local old lady for £3000. I borrowed it to run an errand and was impressed with its no-nonsense willingness. It did nothing really well but nothing badly, and you can see why it has become indispensable.
I love cars like this, ripe for the James Ruppert Hall of Fame. It’ll be worth £3k for the next three or four years, and when it hits 150,000 miles the bods at Ariel might remember to move it on.
FRIDAY - Could I encourage you to contact us more frequently in the coming year? Please believe me when I say that contact with you, our loyal readers, provides the only enduring justification for our work. I can promise, faithfully, on the head of my apple-cheeked old grandma, that everything you send will be read and considered. We may not like every idea, but we are well aware how many good ideas have their beginnings at your end of the pipeline. Please, get writing…
AND ANOTHER THING...
My key new year's resolution is to persuade someone to let me have a go in a Mk2 Jaguar, a car I've never driven. Started reading about them as a pre-teenager, so I'm determined to learn what all the fuss is about.