Matt's long-term Toyota GT86 seems to have a calming effect on other road users
This week, the odometer on the Toyota GT86 I’ve been looking after since last July clicked past 27,500 miles. Which means I’ve been driving it a lot.
And it has been easy, not only because of the qualities of the car, which are legion, but also because of the reactions of other road users to it.
What you drive, as you’ll suspect, is intimately related to the way you’re treated by other road users. I’ve known about this for a long time, but until the Toyota came along, I tended to swap between cars as often as I swap socks, and any niggling suspicion here or there that I wasn’t being let out of a junction because I was driving, say, a BMW X6 M would soon be gone, because the car would be, too, and the moment would be past.
Now, though, it’s easier to see the differences. I’ll be in the Toyota for a week and everything will be rosy. Yes, the GT86 is a sports car, but an unassuming one, so nobody gets annoyed with it and a few people are impressed by it.
If you’d like to be let into a busy flow of traffic, the chances are that if you drive a GT86, you will be. If you pull into a faster flow of traffic, nobody really minds because it’s assumed that you’ll hitch your skirt up and get on with it. I’ve come to be very familiar, and extremely content, with the way the Toyota is viewed.
Then two things happened. First, I spent a few days in a Suzuki Celerio. The Celerio is a car I like very much, but a small city car is something that the rest of motordom views as if it found it on the bottom of its shoe. If I was overtaking a slower lane of traffic, I was tailgated. If I was waiting at the lights, somebody would pull alongside, not behind, so that I didn’t hinder them when the lights turned green.
It was the single most frustrating thing about driving the car. And then I spent a while in a Range Rover Sport SVR. In white. With very large wheels. Now, certainly, I wasn’t tailgated, but never was Igiven an ounce of courtesy or an inch of room where it could possibly be avoided. The inference was clear: “You, mate, are not the boss of me.” It’s no wonder so many are fitted with privacy glass when the hostility is so open. I’d want to become a recluse, too. In the end, I drove it with unfailing politeness, waving everybody I could out of junctions, just to see their reactions. I can see, then, why people who can afford supercars do not necessarily drive them very often.
Sometimes, you just want to go about your business, unnoticed, in a car that says as little as possible about you.
Me? I’ll go back to the Toyota. I like it there.
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