I just want something nice

I blame the Ford Puma I drove a few months ago. It was a car I actually refused to buy, as it had a number of issues. That’s incredible in itself. However, jumping from that into my BX was an eye-opening experience for sure. To be fair, since the Mk1 Escort, Ford has been very, very good at making cars that are very, very easy and pleasant to drive, if not exactly exciting. But going from the Puma to the BX felt like going from a light moccasin to a pair of old, worn-out workboots. It was horrible!

I’ve not really recovered from that experience. It really was blissful how easy the Puma was to drive. Such light controls and a responsive, eager engine. The only reason I don’t own a Puma now is that I found the rearward visibility absolutely horrific. Not that this feature differentiates it from many modern cars…

I’ve decided that the BX must go. I’ve also decided that perhaps my time owning BXs should come to an end. There are some features of the BX that just annoy me, so perhaps it’s time to remember the good times and move on. One problem is that the fleet in theory has three slots on it. One is taken by the 2CV. Even though I’m going through a bit of a rough patch with it, I can’t see me selling it. Ever.

The ‘Toy’ slot is currently taken by the Discovery. It has also played host to cars such as the Austin Westminster, Reliant Scimitar, Maverick, Range Rover etc. The Discovery is good in that it is flexible enough to be a very useful vehicle. Yes, I do actually have two cars in this slot with the Mercedes still being on the fleet and yes, that is a problem!

Which brings me to the third slot. The very useful vehicle. For much of the past four years, a BX has filled that slot. And very well. Hugely practical, cheap to run and supremely comfortable. I like the BX a lot. But, when you drive a car a lot (and I’ve covered in excess of 40,000 miles in BXs), things start to bug you. Like the fact that generally, all BXs have starship mileage, so they always feel a bit worn out. The gearchange annoys me too – it’s rarely good, especially on diesels. The clutch is a pain because it’s always heavy – something shared with the Peugeot 306 I used to own. The single wiper infuriates me. I live in Wales – I need a better set-up than that!

So, I think perhaps it’s time to have a think about what vehicle really fits the bill. It doesn’t have to be a classic, though that’s always handy. It must be small yet practical – no bigger than an Astra. It must be free of toys, because I don’t like technology and Rachel hates even electric windows. Reasonable economy is good – 40mpg on a run would be very handy.

Oh, and it must be cheap to buy. Sadly this seems to be pushing the later Fiat Panda out of budget – a car I admire.

I have found something, but I’m not sure I’m on to a winner just yet. I give you, the Perodua Kenari.

The Perodua Kenari. Glorious isn’t it?

Yes, ok. You can stop laughing now. I accept that compared to a BX, it’ll ride with all the composure of an X-factor contestant telling their life story, and the engine will be as punchy as a glass of water. But I must confess to a love of oddball, three-cylinder motorcars with tiny dimensions. I’ve long been a Daihatsu van, and the Kenari is just a Daihatsu Move with a more attractive nose and a slightly larger engine.

I’ve already had more than a few dabbles with the Daewoo Matiz for instance. I bought one brand new back in 1999, when I was utterly clueless about money. It looked like this one.

A blue Daewoo Matiz SE just like the author owned

It was a great little car. Daewoo had done little more up to this point that re-hash old Vauxhall designs, so the Matiz was quite a leap. A Tickford-tuned 796cc triple-pot engine provided 42bhp and sounded great. The later four-cylinder one-litre didn’t have any appeal at all. I loved the froggy-styling and was horrified when they facelifted it. It really didn’t work. Guigiaro’s Ital Design was responsible for the looks, which were meant to be a fresh take on the Fiat 500. Fiat turned down the design, but Daewoo lapped it up.

Dynamically, the car wasn’t great. The ride was bouncy, the cabin narrow and cramped and understeer was easily encountered. It was noisy at speed too, though I did once hit an indicated 100mph on the M40 – at which point the rev-limited kicked in…

I did 18,000 miles in that little car then stupidly traded it in for a Subaru Impreza. Idiot. It was a big mistake as I soon missed my little Daewoo. When I went to Malta on holiday in 2003, I was dead chuffed to book one as a hire car. It brought back many memories. The following year, I chose a company to service my Isuzu Trooper just because their courtesy car was a Matiz. More happy times.

So, I think the next car has to be small and fun. It may even be a Matiz. After all, I’m still clearly not over my addiction to them, and there is a novelty in owning a car where the headlamps seem larger than the engine…

Matiz engine – smaller than the headlamps

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