Don’t go tak­ing my car

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test - TIM BLAIR blairt@dai­lytele­graph.com.au

FOUR cylin­ders in front and rear-wheel-drive.

It’s a sim­ple com­bi­na­tion, but get it right – as with ev­ery­thing from the Model T Ford to the bmw 2002 (to say noth­ing of the new 328i) – and buy­ers will prac­ti­cally line up out­side deal­er­ships to of­fer their chil­dren.

The least help­ful ones, any­way.

Toy­ota and co-de­vel­oper Subaru are the lat­est to re­dis­cover this for­mula with their re­spec­tive 86 and BRZ mod­els, to be launched here (first in Toy­ota form) by mid-year.

I of­fered to take the first lo­cal road test, but the queue in front of me at Cars­guide is longer and po­ten­tially more vi­o­lent than the his­tory of the Mid­dle East.

Ev­ery­one wants some wheel-time with the 86.

An­tic­i­pa­tion hasn’t been this great since the 1990 launch of Mazda’s first MX5, an­other front-en­gine rear-drive four.

That year I some­how snagged a rare test MX5 for a whole week, in­fu­ri­at­ing more se­nior test­ing folk. Then, af­ter just a cou­ple of days, Mazda called to ask for their car back.

El­ton John was in town. He wanted the MX5. A word to any­body who se­cures a test 86: Don’t go an­swer your phone.

FLAWED FOR­MULA

One has much go­ing for it. It’s the premier form of mo­tor sport on earth, pro­vides (for now) the most pierc­ing en­gine notes and up­sets staid Vic­to­ri­ans when the Aus­tralian Grand Prix is run ev­ery year – but there is a down­side.

The sport’s ad­min­is­tra­tors are hope­less at judg­ing broader public mood.

First came the since-re­jected decision to ap­pease green groups (not over-rep­re­sented among F1 fans) by man­dat­ing tame four-cylin­der turbo en­gines. Now comes F1’s decision to re­turn to Bahrain later this month for round four of this year’s world cham­pi­onship.

The race was can­celled last year amid up­ris­ings from the Arab na­tion’s re­pressed pop­u­la­tion. Australia’s Mark Web­ber, more alert to hu­man rights is­sues than many in the sport, was prom­i­nent in sup­port­ing the can­cel­la­tion.

But Bahrain is back on the cal­en­dar in 2012, de­spite on­go­ing ten­sions.

Feel­ing over this may be judged by an im­age cur­rently cir­cu­lat­ing on Twit­ter: http://twit­pic.com/97mtkt F1 should shun the loud-but­dy­ing green move­ment and fo­cus more on hu­man be­ings.

Per­haps a min­i­mum stan­dard of civil­i­sa­tion might be re­quired, be­gin­ning with fewer troops shoot­ing civil­ians, be­fore any coun­try is granted a For­mula One race.

BAT­TER­IES BAT­TERED

AUS­TRALIAN fig­ures will make in­ter­est­ing read­ing, par­tic­u­larly as the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has spent mil­lions of your dol­lars try­ing to dorkup the place with hy­brids.

In the US, around two-thirds of hy­brid own­ers de­cide against an­other hy­brid when pur­chas­ing their next car, ac­cord­ing to re­cent re­search.

The thrill of be­ing par­tially bat­tery-pow­ered might be wear­ing off.

Pos­si­bly co­in­ci­den­tally, 2008 saw the peak US sales for hy­brids, at just 2.9 per cent of new-car sales. Last year US sales were down to 2.4 per cent.

Toy­ota 86

coupe

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