Don’t go taking my car
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.
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.
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.