MONDAY - Stunned, as you must have been, to hear Volkswagen’s bosses admit they cheated so blatantly and for so long over US exhaust emissions, grievously damaging the integrity with which so many of us have credited their cars. Personally, I started believing in VW excellence the first time I ever slammed the door of a Beetle, 50-odd years ago.
Questions tumble over one another like rats escaping a sack. Who would devise such perverted technology? How could anyone in authority be so unprincipled as to use it? Or naïve enough to think experts out there in compliance-land wouldn’t discover it? And could nice, cuddly, car-loving Martin Winterkorn, first of the fall guys, really have known nothing about this?
Then come the practical questions. Do we really believe VW is the only culprit? (I recall stories about motorbike manufacturers building ‘holes’ into engine torque curves to meet drive-by noise regs.)
Is it appropriate for me to feel glad – as, guiltily, I do – that my missus has just changed from diesel to petrol? If I owned a healthy 50,000-mile Golf diesel, what would its value be today versus last week? How sorry are we for the innocent 99.9% of VW’s 600,000 employees? And, above all, how will this thing play out? It strikes me as a proper new-age mess when the owners of problem cars will still need to drive them home tonight, next week and next month.
TUESDAY - Happily, I have an errand in Norwich, away from the news-heavy screens of the office, and my transport is an 89bhp, 1.5-litre, common-or-garden five-door Mazda 2, our departing long-term test car. Rightly or wrongly, I have the strong feeling that Japanese manufacturers would never get into VW-level dishonesty – although a colleague drily points out that, as sellers of mainly petrol cars, they wouldn’t need to.