Argh. That’s it. I’m tired of swearing. Last week, I got into a Cupra Ateca, the ‘SUV with the heart of a sports car’.
I gave it the benefit of the doubt but, reader, it turns out I dislike this car. Within 200m, I had sworn about its ride quality. Within two miles, I’d had to shout over the road noise. And 70 miles of testing later, with a drive to Oxford and then Birmingham and back still to cover, I was contemplating parking it and taking my family’s 15-year-old, 110,000-mile Seat Ibiza instead.
Then I remembered that the Ateca has adaptive dampers, which would perhaps round the edge off the worst aspects of the ride, if only I’d have thought to put them in Comfort mode.
But, of course, they’d been in Comfort mode all along. It’s a car that takes a question nobody asked, and fails to answer it.
The next day, even though I had become reasonably tolerant of it and found its power and straightforward infotainment system not unenjoyable, I was happy to be swapping into a Honda Civic Type R for testing. Until I quickly realised its ride is even worse, and swore some more.
How did sporting cars get here? What is it that’s remotely enjoyable about routinely cringing every time you see a section of broken asphalt and wincing or out-loud exclaiming words that would make your parents blush if you fail to steer around a pothole? Where is the fun in that?
Today, it’s barely anything of the sort. Of course, it’s firm and well controlled (and a bit creaky like most two-decade-old cars) but, I suspect thanks to a sub-1200kg kerb weight that doesn’t need a lot of tying down, and modest 195-section tyres with 55-profile sidewalls, this is a car – the stripped-out, race-derived coupé, remember – that has more compliance than the supposedly more rounded Ateca or Civic.