Autocar office parlance can be misleading - confusing, even – and when it starts creeping into print, either on this website or in the magazine, it usually needs explanation.
For instance, we conduct two marquee sports car tests every year, habitually titled ‘Britain’s Best Driver’s Car’ and our 'Everyday handling heroes' – the second of which you may have recently read about for 2015.
In the office, we simply call them ‘Handling Day’ and ‘Junior Handling Day’. But the ‘junior’ bit isn’t an entirely helpful part of the description, because it implies a sense of inferiority about the whole shebang that’s wholly unfounded.
‘Junior Handling Day’ is important. There are a vastly greater number of people genuinely interested in finding out how best to spend £30,000 on a new driver’s car than in how to spend a cool quarter of a million.
Much as we all want to know what the best-handling new car of any given year may be, for most of us it’s mainly only because we want to know. And, of course, so we wouldn’t make a bad buying decision after rushing out to spend the white-hot lottery-win cash in our pockets on the day our ship finally comes in.
Although affordable motors have won ‘Handling Day’ in recent years, more often than not they don’t. That’s because value for money isn’t part of the equation during the judging.
‘Handling Day’ is purely and simply to decide what the best driver’s car is at any money; to give the cream of the car industry a platform from which to show us where the very latest and greatest technology and talent has taken their wares.
To recognise greatness, and celebrate the very best of the best. But as the market for six-figure exotics has mushroomed these past ten years and the line-up for our main handling test has appeared more and more rarified, the need for a more pragmatically minded test of great driver's cars to run alongside it has grown.
There’s no shortage of more affordable talent to populate that test either, of course, and no substitute for extended back-to-back driving when it’s your job to know which of any given year’s new model introductions is the very best.
These days, I don’t think the Autocar road test desk could function half as well as it does, week by week, when assessing brand new hot hatchbacks, sports saloons, lightweights and rear-drive coupés, without having the various memories and driving impressions of ‘Junior Handling Day’ to refer to.
After all, most of us live in a world where value for money is very much part of the equation. And thanks mainly to the ‘Junior Handling Day’ field, this is a particularly interesting time to live there.