Letters: Q-cars, BMW grilles, Mk1 Discovery
STEEL WHEELS + SAABS + THANK HEAVENS FOR THE 3 SERIES
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.