MONDAY - If it’s confirmed that Adrian Newey, the world’s greatest race car designer, is working on a road car intended to secure his legacy the way the McLaren F1 has for Gordon Murray, a fundamental question arises: what kind of car should it be?
The presumption is that Newey should create a kind of ultra-aerodynamic, ultra-light, race-derived supercar, given that his formidable expertise goes in those directions.
Trouble is, the gaps in the supercar market were filled decades ago. When the McLaren F1 was new, there was ‘white space’ available that allowed it a different mission from the rest. But what do you do this time? Performance isn’t the answer; the Bugatti Veyron and the near-1000bhp hybrid trio from McLaren, Porsche and Ferrari have so elevated top speeds and slashed acceleration times that making something faster seems fatuous.
Neither does it make much sense to make the new Newey GT ultra-expensive; these days literally hundreds of classic cars, their reputations already set in stone, have the potential to outprice anything new. Exceptional styling is not the way, either; Newey is an engineer, not a colouring-in type. Like I say, finding a unique mission for this car is going to be the key. I can’t wait to hear what it is.
TUESDAY - For the life of me, I don’t understand people getting exercised about the recent budgetary stipulation that cars over £40,000 will attract a payment of about £6 per week in ‘premium’ road tax.
Can’t help thinking that the people who make ordinary cars – the Peugeots, Renaults, Fords and Hyundais of this world – are overdue a leg-up. In my book, they usually build cars that are pretty damned close to BMW, Jaguar & Co in capability and ability to engage a driver, yet because the market says they lack badge appeal, they’re required to charge 30% less. The new tax makes a tiny difference to a big imbalance.
WEDNESDAY - Spent the day floating back and forth from the Cotswolds to the New Forest in the Range Rover Sport, privileged to enjoy a vehicle I’d surely buy with my own money, if I had any.
On one 450-mile sojourn, the car claimed 38.6mpg without even trying, a figure so remarkable – given that we still cruised with the traffic and made no special effort to save fuel – that I double-checked it on the fill-to-fill method and still turned a highly creditable 36 and a bit.
Weirdly, we seemed to have more trouble with trucks than usual. Must be the time of year. They pulled into our path without warning more often than I’ve come to expect, and every dual carriageway featured pairs of behemoths locked in a slow-motion race, occupying both lanes at speeds that varied by no more than 2mph.
Why the slower vehicle can’t concede 40ft and let the rest of the world go about its business, I simply don’t understand. Still, truckers (I was one, once) strike me as rational people, so there must be a reason.
THURSDAY - To Ford in Dunton to tell a bunch of management high-fliers on a training course how their company strikes those of us outside it. Don’t get the idea they’ll be hanging on your wise words, counselled someone who’s done it before. It’s just that they’ve had a week’s brain strain and need a bit of colour.
Still, I found myself telling them that, pretty soon, recently retired Alan Mulally’s ‘One Ford’ approach wouldn’t be enough to face the future with and that someone would have to come up with a new philosophy. Wonder who’ll take the plunge?
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