Not so. I sat next to Rauno while he hurled it down the mountain road, opening up and breaking traction at any opportunity with a booming smile on his face. Rauno described driving the car as “like dancing with a light-footed girl”; an analogy I don’t think could be applied to the following Countrymans.
So, this being the cold season, it was a good chance to find out how Rauno suggests us Brits cope with the snowfall.
Although this one didn’t come from his mouth, it seems you should drive everywhere in second gear and at least 60mph, no matter how narrow the road. When questioned whether this may be a bit too fast, Rauno suggested at least 100mph should be possible if he thought those behind would be able to keep up with him.
More usefully, you should grip the wheel with your thumbs in the quarter to three position and steer with your arms. That way, says Rauno, you get the best feel for the road. And if the car doesn’t respond to your inputs due to a lack of grip, “keep turning it until it does”.
Conversation soon turned to whether Rauno preferred the simplicity of the Minis of his day or today’s more complicated models. “It’s 50/50,” he says, “I chose to embrace the electronic age of the car in the early 1980s so I could communicate better with my race engineers.” Rauno has been a fan of gadgets and technology ever since – he’s now into Skype, but not really Facebook. “People don’t need to know when I’m in the bath,” he says.
Should the worst come to the worst and you break down in the cold weather, Rauno proved to be quite the agony uncle for tips on keeping warm. He recommends a hat similar to his – a 350 euro bundle of warmth made from wild Russian dog – although a cheaper 80 euro one made from rabbit will also do the trick. He doesn’t like scarves as they can freeze onto your face, and lots of thin layers are better than one big coat.
And should you be stuck with an idea for a winter holiday, Rauno can help here, too. Even at 73, he’s a regular on snowmobile tours with his mates a few hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle – where temperatures often reach as low as minus 40.
For all this, you’d think he’d be used to the cold. “Not so,” he says. “My house does have central heating, you know…”