MONDAY - Ker-runch! There goes an alloy wheel. We’ve just swapped car parks, the exit on the new one is very confined for big cars, I’ve misjudged my trajectory by an inch and [insert words not fit for publication here].
The continuing vulnerability of alloys is a matter of ongoing annoyance to me, given that you can do hundreds of pounds’ worth of damage with one small error. The car industry (and the law) spends so much time protecting us from things that any fool can avoid that it seems amazing this one wasn’t magicked away long ago. Or is the boost to spare parts revenue just too good to lose?
TUESDAY - This week turned out to be exactly the right time to take lunch with Citroën’s dynamic British CEO, Linda Jackson, plucked last year from the job of running Citroën UK to steer and inspire the whole company. Led by her, Citroën has been reviewing its 96 years of strengths and weaknesses to help set a course for the future – and at the risk of sounding sexist, I’d say such exercises are particularly well conducted with a woman in charge.
Current moves include sensible rationalisation of a straggling range, a strong but realistic sales expansion plan, a determination to establish ‘daring’ and ‘comfort’ as standout values for the future and a unique-to-Citroën replacement for the much-loved gas-over-oil hydropneumatic suspension that has become – whisper this – too complicated and expensive for this day and age. Result? At least one Citroën owner (me) is feeling confident about the future.
WEDNESDAY - Interesting how much fuss surrounds the new Fiat 124 Spider, given that it’s so closely related to the Mazda MX-5 that the proportions can’t disguise it. Mind you, cheap Fiat roadsters have always had convenient relationships with bigger-selling cars, so we shouldn’t be too surprised. I still find myself fondly eyeing the mid-1990s Barchetta, based on the crude, first-series Punto saloon. Its front-wheel drive layout made it pretty ordinary to drive, yet it’s an enduring standout.
THURSDAY - Christmas motoring matters to me. On one particular Silly Season day, there’s always a need to tote self and Steering Committee, two adult sons and at least one girlfriend, plus Granny, halfway across England. And we prefer to do it in comfort. That takes a reasonably spacious seven-seater – and for me the default choice is the Land Rover Discovery. I’ve already made the request to the generous and discerning people who run the LR fleet (approaching them on my knees) and have just received the nod. A proper Xmas pressie if ever there was one.
It’s important to spend time in this machine, because it’ll be leaving the new car lists next year. One of my fetishes is ultra-low road noise, which was never better delivered than by the current Disco’s meaty but quiet twin-rail T5 chassis, complemented by all-independent air suspension. The replacement will be a rationalised, modernised and beautiful all-aluminium model. I’d bet my mortgage on liking it. But I’ll be sorry, too.
FRIDAY - People get furious with you for anticipating Christmas, but I like to plan mine from a driving point of view. Long experience tells me there are times (Boxing Day) when the roads are clogged, and others (the day after) when they’re usually deserted. So it’s fun if you have a journey to do on 27 December, especially if you start early. This year’s car choice will be between the Disco and our new long-term Bentley Continental GT, so the driving will be fantastic whatever the weather.