Data, data, data. The amount that we collate for our road tests is (smarm alert) one of the things that, we think, sets us apart from our rivals. But I’m wondering: can you have too much?

Specifically, I’m wondering about lap times. Now, we’re not alone in taking these. We’ve recorded them since we moved our road test figuring sessions to MIRA in 2007, and taken them on features and Handling Day sessions since long before that.

And I like them. They’re objective and repeatable and give a broad overview of a car’s capabilities, especially as we take them on wet and dry circuits. 

The number that we get out of it isn’t always relevant to the buyer but, as assessors, we find out a lot about even an everyday hatchback’s stability, safety, traction and braking systems by punting it around a track.

And the thing is that we don’t drive absolutely flat everywhere. Drive every lap like it’s a qualifier and, eventually, even the best tame racing drivers will fall off. And we’re not tame racing drivers. 

Drive at 80 per cent and you’ll be able to do it on a Monday morning after a rubbish commute or a Thursday afternoon after a cup of tea and a Twix, and whoever the tester, you’ll get the same result. Sometimes we try that with the same car, just to be sure.