Tips for the long haul

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By PAUL GOVER

IT’S not an Arnie-style mil­i­tary mon­ster, but the com­pact H3 that was sup­posed to blaze a trail in Aus­tralia and join Cadil­lac and Saab in a side­bar lux­ury fran­chise at Holden deal­er­ships.

Big Steve seems gen­uinely sur­prised that Hum­mer and Saab are dead, that the up­scale Holden plan was trashed be­fore Cadil­lac even reached the beach­head, and that there will not be any more Hum­mers here.

He is even more shocked when, af­ter com­plain­ing about the H3’s cramped cabin, he slides into my Volk­swa­gen CC.

‘‘This is in­cred­i­ble,’’ he says. ‘‘The Hum­mer is like a re­verse Tardis — big on the out­side but small on the in­side. I can­not be­lieve the legroom. And there is plenty of lux­ury in here.

‘‘So, this is a Volk­swa­gen? What does it cost?’’

In a typ­i­cal Cars­guide con­ver­sa­tion, I tell him he could get a CC for less than $55,000, and then we me­an­der through the mo­tor­ing land­scape to talk about ev­ery­thing from qual­ity and com­fort to safety.

Steve has just driven 2500km up and down the east coast and re­ports all sorts of stupid driv­ing.

He wants to know why peo­ple are so bad when they get on the road.

‘‘They just don’t seem to know what they’re do­ing,’’ he says sadly.

It’s true, but no sur­prise. Most peo­ple do the mo­tor­ing equiv­a­lent of a 100m sprint each day on their short-haul sub­ur­ban com­mute, then switch to the equiv­a­lent of an ul­tra-marathon when they go on hol­i­days with no train­ing or prepa­ra­tion.

Steve is also sur­prised to learn that eat­ing a big meal dur­ing a re­vive-and-sur­vive break is ex­actly the wrong thing to do. It sucks the blood into the di­ges­tive process and is more likely to make you drowsy than im­prove your alert­ness.

‘‘And what about mu­sic?’’ he laughs. ‘‘Peo­ple say they are putting on some re­lax­ing mu­sic for the drive but it just makes you want to doze off.’’

We go on and on, solv­ing the prob­lems of the car world in a con­ver­sa­tion that more peo­ple should have be­fore be­gin­ning their an­nual mo­tor­ing mi­gra­tion.

It’s en­joy­able and in­for­ma­tive on both sides. We’re not play­ing the blame game or fall­ing vic­tim to the po­lice pro­pa­ganda.

And we even get to talk­ing about Spotto, a kid’s game we both loved dur­ing the ’60s.

I know it’s just been re­vived as an iPad App, giv­ing young­sters some en­cour­age­ment to look out and around on a trip in­stead of re­treat­ing into a mo­bile movie or their mu­sic.

Car Spotto sounds too sim­ple to en­joy in the 21st cen­tury, but it seems like just the thing to get fam­i­lies talk­ing and con­cen­trat­ing as they look for a yel­low car, or a po­lice car.

It’s come a long way since the days when BP backed Spotto by pro­vid­ing sheets of trip tar­gets, from cars to an­i­mals and — no sur­prise here— even BP road­houses.

It can even be cus­tomised to put the Spotto tar­get on to a spe­cific car or brand — although you might be look­ing for a while be­fore you find a Hum­mer H3.

Like a Tardis in re­verse . . . the de­cep­tively large Hum­mer won’t be seen here any more

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