Steve Cro­p­ley

Autocar - - THIS WEEK - Steve Cro­p­ley steve.cro­p­ley@hay­mar­ket.com @Stvcr

Hav­ing faith in the youth of to­day

MON­DAY, TUES­DAY

At last, a de­cent chance of a few days in the new BMW i3s, Munich’s first stab at a bat­tery­pow­ered hot hatch­back. As you can read on page 31, it’s not very sporty, but the firm sus­pen­sion, quick steer­ing, ex­tra rub­ber and in­stant elec­tric en­ergy make you want to give it the beans quite of­ten. Trou­ble is, you beat peo­ple ef­fort­lessly off the traf­fic-light start­ing grid, then in­stantly re­gret it; there’s a ready sup­ply of bat­tery mon­i­tors and bar graphs on the in­stru­ment panel to warn you in­stantly of the hole you’ve blown in your driv­ing range.

Thus my drive con­sisted of en­joy­able short blasts fol­lowed by bouts of dawdling. The lat­est i3s has a reli­able-ish 110 miles of bat­tery range and about 80-90 more petrol miles. As a po­ten­tial buyer, I’d find th­ese amounts still too mea­gre. I’d need a re­al­is­tic 180-200 bat­tery miles, plus 100120 petrol miles to get me home. Then I’d view the i3s as a se­ri­ous propo­si­tion for the home fleet.

WED­NES­DAY

Af­ter a few days dis­cov­er­ing the fu­ture, I dipped pleas­antly back into the past at the wheel of a fam­ily sized VW Tiguan SUV – of­fi­cially dubbed the Allspace SE Nav­i­ga­tion 2.0 TDI SCR 4Mo­tion. In many ways, this was the per­fect car: smooth, spa­cious, sup­ple, sta­ble with plenty of trac­tion and ground clear­ance. It also had at­trac­tively durable cloth trim, a flex­i­ble en­gine (yield­ing 46mpg) and all the gad­getry go­ing for £27,000.

You’ll have de­tected an im­pend­ing ‘but’, and it con­cerns this car’s to­tal lack of char­ac­ter. It’s hard to de­fine, I ad­mit, but for me char­ac­ter is about pride. Your char­ac­ter­ful car is unique in ways that give you un­pre­dictable pleasure. The Tiguan, how­ever, is a car for which I reckon I’d al­ways be apol­o­gis­ing. Hav­ing said that, I have a few handy tasks this week­end for which it’ll be ideal…

THURS­DAY

The Times an­noys me some­times. Hav­ing played a big part in the de­mon­i­sa­tion of diesel en­gines – and then ex­pressed sur­prise at the way car sales have de­clined – my news­pa­per of choice is to­day re­port­ing a 20-year, 40% de­cline in teenagers’ pos­ses­sion of a driver’s li­cence as if it’s the end of the car in­dus­try as we know it. As any teenager will tell you, the prob­lem is caused by a mix of con­ges­tion, lack of af­ford­able park­ing, strato­spheric in­sur­ance costs, the rise of the bicycle and (in places) bet­ter pub­lic trans­port. The wider me­dia would have it that this is a) the be­gin­ning of the end for cars, and b) a threat to Au­to­car-style car en­thu­si­asm. Nei­ther is true. We know from the re­ac­tion of younger peo­ple that they love and de­sire cars as much as ever, and will buy them when they need and can af­ford them. Last year’s UK car sales, clob­bered partly by me­dia-fed diesel un­cer­tainty in the fi­nal quar­ter, still topped 2.5 mil­lion, the sixth-best on record.

You beat peo­ple ef­fort­lessly off the traf­fic-light start­ing grid, then in­stantly re­gret it

FRI­DAY

Scan­ning the proofs of this week’s story about my visit to the Ford GT works near Toronto (page 62) leaves me with one abid­ing feel­ing: that Ford is en­tirely right to vet its po­ten­tial own­ers to be sure they’re the sort who will ap­pre­ci­ate what they’re get­ting. Cars like this are so finely de­signed and su­perbly crafted nowa­days that it’s al­most an in­sult to their cre­ators if own­ers don’t try their hard­est to ap­pre­ci­ate what’s been done in their name. Too of­ten, one hears of the mega-wealthy in­di­vid­u­als ar­riv­ing with the intro-line: “My friends reckon I should have one of th­ese…”

BMW i3s can get you some­where in style – so long as it’s nearby

Tiguan’s per­son­al­ity fails to shine through

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