Letters: Q-cars, BMW grilles, Mk1 Dis­cov­ery


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Fol­low­ing on from Phil Taylor’s let­ter in the Novem­ber is­sue, may I point out that the said Rees-Mogg would also no doubt is­sue an edict about the use of Amer­i­can­isms? I have no­ticed in re­cent is­sues the use of terms such as fender, hood, gas and trunk. What is wrong with us­ing the terms we are all fa­mil­iar with such as wing, roof, ac­cel­er­ate and boot?

To me a fender is a large squashy thing used to stop a boat get­ting bat­tered against some­thing harder; a hood is some­thing I erect to pro­tect my con­vert­ible’s in­te­rior from get­ting wet; gas is some­thing el­derly rel­a­tives suf­fer from; and a trunk is what my par­ents used to pack me off to school with so that I could learn, amongst other sub­jects, the use of English lan­guage! Michael Peters

A day to re­mem­ber

Your 2019 Sports Car Gi­ant Test (Oc­to­ber is­sue) de­clares the McLaren 600LT the win­ner based on a sub­lime day’s drive in Wales and, al­most par­en­thet­i­cally, the Porsche 911 the best car in the test. This be­ing CAR, we can be con­fi­dent both con­clu­sions are well-in­formed. Which do you sup­pose is more rel­e­vant to your read­ers?

Pete Kraus

Used to be good

What are BMW play­ing at with their new grille de­signs? Yes, Audi have de­vel­oped their grille de­sign over the last 10 years to make them bolder and more ag­gres­sive. But the ba­sic Audi grille de­sign suits this de­vel­op­ment. This can’t be said for the BMW grille. All BMWs sport a kid­ney grille – it’s part of the de­sign DNA of the mar­que – but it just doesn’t do bling well. In CAR Novem­ber 2019 there is a pre­view of what is prob­a­bly the ugli­est BMW grille ever on the Con­cept 4 – which you de­scribe as ‘dras­tic’. And now we have a mas­sive grille on the X6 which even has an il­lu­mi­nated op­tion (First drives, De­cem­ber 2019). As the cap­tion states, it’s a great tar­get for Ex­tinc­tion Re­bel­lion. It’s the last thing that BMW should be do­ing. It just cries out gas guz­zler.

I know that grilles now house and hide a lot of tech – but surely this can be hid­den in the lower air in­take?

I have a favourite road I walk down near my house. I love it be­cause it is home to a pris­tine Z3. BMW de­sign­ers should take heed of the grille de­sign. Un­der­stated and el­e­gant. So much bet­ter!

Tim Mein

All aboard

In the De­cem­ber is­sue your Retro Tech on hy­brids states that af­ter the 1901 Lohner-Porsche ‘every­body ig­nores the idea for a very long time’ and you jump to the Prius in 1997.

That may be true for cars, but I have had the priv­i­lege of driv­ing the 1914 Tilling-Stevens TS3 bus at Am­ber­ley Mu­seum in West Sus­sex sev­eral times this year, car­ry­ing many mem­bers of the pub­lic. Early buses were of­ten petrol-elec­tric be­cause of the un­re­li­a­bil­ity of the early gear­boxes. A later TS6 is be­ing recre­ated from parts ob­tained from far and wide. As they haven’t yet mated body and chas­sis it is

pos­si­ble to get a clear view of how the sys­tem works.

I be­lieve that diesel-elec­tric tech­nol­ogy was widely used in lo­co­mo­tives for many years be­fore Peu­geot’s 2012 cre­ation.

Reg Holmes

No­body wants an ugly car

Am I alone in think­ing that car de­sign has plum­meted to an all-time low? While the cock­pit has im­proved in most cases, the ex­te­ri­ors are now al­most in­de­scrib­ably bad.

Your Jan­uary is­sue re­cently ar­rived and I was ap­palled at the ag­gres­sive but ugly ap­pear­ance of most of the grilles. Even BMW (with the X6) is ap­proach­ing the depths of some of the oth­ers. Audi, As­ton Martin, Lexus (ad­mit­tedly only a con­cept), Mit­subishi, Toy­ota, even Citroën with the DS3 Cross­back. If these are the new cars on of­fer, no won­der we are hang­ing on to our older mod­els. What­ever hap­pened to style, sim­plic­ity, flu­ency, etc. With light­ing now re­duced in size, why not lower the fronts of the cars? New de­signs such as Honda, Jaguar, VW, Porsche and Volvo show it can be done.

Geo Wickes

Not too big, not too small

Your Top 5 in GBU in the Jan­uary is­sue, which high­lighted com­pact es­tates, re­minded me just what a good style of car this is for UK roads (and car parks, and garages). And the list could have been much longer – var­i­ous Golfs, Leons, As­tras could have been in­cluded. I think it’s a shame that we don’t get an es­tate ver­sion of the cur­rent Honda Civic. What are they wor­ried about – that it would mess up the styling? I’d much pre­fer that to a Jazz or HR-V or what­ever Honda con­sid­ers the al­ter­na­tive to be.

Mick Adams

It’s a steel

Fas­ci­nat­ing in­sights from Ben Oliver in his ‘Dis­cov­ery at 30’ piece in the Jan­uary is­sue. I had no idea that Land Rover went for the three doors/seven seats/ steel wheels com­bi­na­tion in a bid to stop it steal­ing Range Rover sales. I’m no fan of seven seats, but I love a good steel wheel, and three-door cars tend to look a lot bet­ter than fives.

The hip­sters he speaks of (and I’m pretty sure we don’t have many of those around my way) are surely miss­ing out by not snap­ping them up while they’re still af­ford­able, be­fore they get banned. Adam Plott

‘Van’ is not a dirty word

Ben Oliver is un­nec­es­sar­ily sniffy about the looks of the orig­i­nal Dis­cov­ery. The Sherpa and Mae­stro el­e­ments give it a rugged­ness and func­tion-first ap­peal that’s long since gone miss­ing. The closer a 4x4 is to a van or a pick-up truck or fam­ily es­tate, the bet­ter.

Les White

Who moved the moun­tains?

A CAR reader even be­fore mov­ing to France in 1973, I re­cently re­vis­ited my child­hood haunts of Ch­ester and An­gle­sey. Driv­ing through Snow­do­nia I idly tried match­ing the scenery to the at­mo­spheric pho­tos in your Gi­ant Tests and failed mis­er­ably.

Capel Curig and overnight­ing in Betws-y-Coed creep into your text at times but the nearby roads do not seem to match your pho­tos.

With­out re­veal­ing trade se­crets, which B-road should I be head­ing for if I ever get the chance to re­turn ?

David Ling

It doesn’t take long to track down these roads thanks to the magic of on­line maps. There are ac­tu­ally very few hair­pins in Snow­do­nia: there’s your starter. BM

My man­sion or yours?

In the De­cem­ber edi­tion of CAR the let­ter from one Jeremy Davies caught my eye.

Jeremy needs to con­sider those peo­ple who live in ter­raced houses who do not have any rights to the road space out­side their house and fre­quently are forced to park their cur­rent in­ter­nal­com­bus­tion car some dis­tance from home. That would be some ex­ten­sion lead for an elec­tric car as per Mr Davies’ home-charge the­ory.

Our won­der­ful politi­cians sim­ply say you must go elec­tric but then ig­nore the de­tails. I can see fights in the streets loom­ing.

Paul Dyer

Wrong di­rec­tion

I couldn’t agree more with Ben Pul­man’s ob­ser­va­tions on touch­screens (Our Cars, De­cem­ber).

This is true of so many func­tions on so many dif­fer­ent makes, and even ⊲

more sur­pris­ing with safe­ty­cham­pi­oning Volvo. Can CAR chal­lenge Volvo and other mak­ers on this? Let’s see what the thought process is be­hind this mi­gra­tion to touch­screen over dial. Jonathan Thomas

Hunt the han­dle

Who is this mis­guided per­son or per­sons who keep ask­ing the ridicu­lous ques­tion of car com­pa­nies: ‘Can you hide my rear door han­dle in the C-pil­lar so I can pre­tend my sen­si­ble four-door car is a two-door coupe’?

They are the most awk­ward thing to use and never fool any­one. Or is this an­other in­ci­dence of car man­u­fac­tur­ers an­swer­ing ques­tions that no­body asked?

Richard Gil­bert

Wrong sort of cus­tomer

I very much en­joyed your ar­ti­cle on the new As­ton Martin Van­tage AMR in Is­sue 689 but chuck­led to read ‘Porsche’s Cay­man GT4? You could have two for the same money’.

I’d just re­turned from my lo­cal Porsche dealer in Cardiff and can con­firm I couldn’t have two for the same money be­cause they wouldn’t sell me even one. The sales­man help­fully ex­plained they were re­served for ‘cus­tomers who bought 10 new mod­els from them each year’.

I’m happy to keep my Alfa 4C.

Steve Lewis

Caterham in dis­guise

Hmm… just read­ing Tim Pol­lard’s re­view of the BMW M340i (First Drives, De­cem­ber) and it takes me back, rememberin­g my first CAR mag­a­zine. My brother-in-law, Tom, was a Saab nut and I used to love trav­el­ling in his twostroke 96, with its amaz­ing free-wheel fa­cil­ity, and wav­ing at the other Saab driv­ers we saw (not a lot, to be hon­est). I also used to read his CAR mag­a­zine and I re­mem­ber be­ing in­tro­duced to the idea of the Q-car.

Where are they now – what has hap­pened to this rare breed? The prospect of win­ning the tra¡c-light drag race in a cun­ningly anony­mous­look­ing no-hoper has al­ways been a big at­trac­tion, but in the flush of youth, go-faster stripes and an un­fea­si­ble num­ber of Ci­bie spots on the front bumper al­ways pro­vided a more in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion.

With ma­tu­rity and a bit more cash comes an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the more sub­tle joys of mo­tor­ing, so back to the Q-car. It’s taken al­most 60 years since that first CAR mag, but I reckon I’ve got one of the best Q-cars of them all: my lovely BMW M135i (straight-six and rear-wheel drive, thank you very much). In dark blue it’s re­ally not that much dif­fer­ent from a 116d at a dis­tance, but en­joy­ably quick away from the lights (never too old for that) and not bad on the twisty point-to-point ei­ther. I haven’t smiled as much since I had a Caterham, but I can take my mother-in­law home in this one and have a blast on the way back!

Come on, CAR – more Q-car fea­tures please.

Jon Hughes

Visa to the real world, please

Great to see CAR out and about in the real world. Some of the 300-mile tests you’ve pub­lished in re­cent months have had a strong lo­cal flavour to them, but the best ex­am­ple is the Clio vs 208 story in your Jan­uary is­sue.

Hav­ing driven pre­vi­ous Clios and 208s, and hav­ing driven in Paris on many (usu­ally highly stressful) oc­ca­sions, Gavin’s de­scrip­tion and Alex Tap­ley’s pho­tos were very vivid, and the whole piece felt rel­e­vant. Much more so than the usual blast round the block in Spain or track test in Por­tu­gal.

Lee Bur­ton


You should put these words in large type on the front of ev­ery is­sue: ‘Any­thing big­ger is need­less ex­cess, a waste of road space, metal and fuel.’ That’s Gavin Green talk­ing about Golf-size cars in his Clio vs 208 piece in the Jan­uary is­sue.

Brave words. Provoca­tive. I’m not sure I’d want to sur­ren­der my 3-se­ries in or­der to fall into line with Gavin’s edict, but I know he’s right, and that we need to change our ways.

And, judg­ing by what he has to say about the new French su­per­mi­nis, there’s still plenty of driv­ing plea­sure to be had from modestly sized cars. Jackie Ea­ton

Put a spring in your step

Your com­ments on the man­ual gear­box in the As­ton Martin Van­tage AMR are in­ter­est­ing (First Drives, De­cem­ber). I’ve found that most driv­ers don’t trust or un­der­stand the spring-load­ing and try and ‘stir’ the gear­lever to find the next gear in­stead of let­ting na­ture take its course. Let the spring-load­ing do its work and although the changes will be a shade slower you won’t wrong-slot. I learnt this many years ago on the ZF ’box on my old DB5 which was sim­i­larly, and per­haps un­fairly, crit­i­cised.

Je rey Box

3’s still the magic num­ber

Love the Jan­uary is­sue front cover. That’s a lot of boxes ticked: Fer­rari that’s like a 911, 911 that’s like a Fer­rari, As­ton that’s like a Ford, cou­ple of crack­ing su­per­mi­nis… and right at the top, some real cars that real peo­ple would be well ad­vised to spend their time and money on.

As a BMW 3-se­ries man through and through, it’s re­as­sur­ing to read that the lat­est one still – just about – leads the pack.

Geo In­gle

 ??  ??
 ??  ?? 30 years of change, if not nec­es­sar­ily progress
30 years of change, if not nec­es­sar­ily progress
 ??  ?? You’d re­ally pre­fer a Jazz or an HR-V to a Civic es­tate? Honda thinks so
You’d re­ally pre­fer a Jazz or an HR-V to a Civic es­tate? Honda thinks so
 ??  ?? Com­pact, colour­ful, full of char­ac­ter: Paris gets the cars it de­serves
Com­pact, colour­ful, full of char­ac­ter: Paris gets the cars it de­serves
 ??  ?? BMW M340i: surely all the car any­one could want or need
BMW M340i: surely all the car any­one could want or need
 ??  ?? As­ton Martin man­u­als might need a bit more work, but they’re worth it
As­ton Martin man­u­als might need a bit more work, but they’re worth it
 ??  ??

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