I think that yesterday neatly summed up who I am. I was incredibly excited to get the chance to drive a vehicle that would struggle to set a good lap time on a race track. I was thrilled to drive a machine that made the National Speed Limit seem like quite a challenge.
I see rather too much pant-wetting excitement from people who’ve had the chance to drive something really fast. Sure, even I am not immune to the spine-tingling power delivery of a TVR Chimaera, but even in one of those, I find the thrill doesn’t take long to wear off. When you’re not testing your neck muscles in a race to 60mph, you find yourself driving a car with not enough suspension, poor visibility and a driving position that while comfortable, requires some ambition and flexibility to reach.
Sod that. I want something that’s easy to drive these days, and preferably comfortable. The Pajero Junior was a disappointment in the power stakes, but only because I’m used to the delightful flexibility of the 2.1-litre turbo diesel engine in my XM. I love having enough torque to accelerate, even in top gear. I’m not really interested in the 0-60mph time, but 50-70mph in top I find more interesting. You rarely see magazines quote such figures these days, but I seem to recall that an Escort Turbo Diesel could give an Escort Cosworth a run for its money in the 50-70mph dash in top gear – though the Cossie obviously does it much more quickly if you downshift. What a bore. It’s a far more useful measure of a car’s ability than 0-60. I mean, how often do you actually accelerate to 60mph from a standstill anyway?
But mostly, I just love getting my driving kicks from pretty much any car. I don’t wish to boast about powerful machines and I’ll get just as giddy about a Pajero Junior as I have previously about Jaguar E-Types or Porsche 911s. Maybe more so, because a Pajero Junior is a vehicle I can actually see myself owning at some point.
Perhaps I can stray too far the other way, and end up in the murky world of inverted snobbery. It’s certainly true that I do delight in dreadful cars. It’s just who I am. Just remember, simple things can provide a lot of pleasure. Trinkets and power do not necessarily deliver any real-world benefits.