This is why marquee luxo-barges are a great idea.

The Geneva Motor Show 2012 is in full swing and motoring journalists all over Europe have been poring over the latest metal from automotive manufacturers the world over. The show is an opportunity to show off the hottest new product, ranging from new technologies and design features to outlandish concepts and highly sought after supercars.

Sure, I could sit here and talk about the ball-achingly sexy Lamborghini Aventador J, a one-off mental chopped up Aventador that has been sold for $2.8million to one very lucky person. I could be really technical and look at Toyota’s green technology showcased in their bubble of fun FT-Bh concept. But these subjects have been done to death and I want to talk about a slightly different subject. I want to look at the positive side to Bentley’s controversial EXP 9 F SUV concept (well, they’re calling it a concept but it seems about as production ready as a concept is likely to get).

Firstly I should explain what it is. It is potentially the ugliest car to be smuggled out of a motoring factory in the dead of night since those Chinese copy cat cars were hot topic. Seriously, just look at it. It is trying to uphold Bentley’s current butch-elegance design language but it just fails miserably. It can’t decide whether to be blocky or curvy and ends up being neither. The only (arguably) inoffensive angle is its profile, where it kind of looks like a typical Range Rover. A typical Range Rover that has been mauled by a tasteless rapper, mind.

Bentley call it a ‘design concept’, and the only concept they can really be toying with is whether they can still sell a car that even their designers must be ashamed of. But let us be objective for a moment. No, it isn’t what you would typically call a Bentley, but doesn’t the point lie therein? Bentley’s Director of Design, Dirk van Braeckel, says:

“EXP 9 F had to represent the absolute pinnacle of the sport utility sector, setting a new benchmark for this type of vehicle. The style had to reflect Bentley’s sporting character despite its radically different package and purpose together with sculptured, flowing surfaces in keeping with the Bentley tradition.”

Okay so I left the second part of that quote in purely so you could all see where they were aiming, even if they clearly missed the mark. But the key thing to take from van Braeckel is the aim to be the ‘pinnacle of the sport utility sector’. They’re not concerned, necessarily, with it being a beautifully elegant sports car. They clearly accept that this is a ‘radically different package’ and they’re trying to create something different.

Don’t worry, I’m getting to the part where I justify my claims that the EXP 9 F and its ilk are good for car nuts, and to do this I need you to think Porsche Cayenne. Upon its announcement, the motoring world was disappointed to see such an iconic sports car maker cater to rich mums and the school run, but it makes business sense. Why limit yourselves to relatively low sales of your sports cars when you can sell vast numbers of these luxury SUVs and feed that huge income into your sports car program. Even in 2011, demand for the Cayenne was so high they increased production to help cut waiting lists of up to 12 months in some areas.

Emerging markets are huge business, and the likes of China demand these types of vehicles. It is one of the countries suffering those huge waiting lists, and its clear that the Sheikhs and oil barons love these cars, too. In this difficult economic climate, companies can help themselves survive by catering to emerging markets and new audiences. Companies like Porsche, Maserati and now Bentley can drift away from their traditions, but continue to produce exceptional cars that make enthusiasts moist. Even Ferrari made the FF because its buyers wanted something more practical.

To sum up my point, I give you the Porsche GT3 RS 4.0. Widely regarded as the wonderful culmination of all the work put into the 997 series of 911s and instantly became one of the most incredible sports cars ever created. Without the Cayenne’s huge sales it would still have been a great car, there’s no doubt about that. Porsche have been doing that for decades. But that increased revenue allowed for greater research, bigger technological advancements and even more rigorous testing. So the question is… just how much of the GT3 RS 4.0’s brilliance is down to those huge Cayenne sales?

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Ford EcoBoost: Is “More Frugal” the new “More Power”?

I came to the realisation earlier that I am possibly more fascinated with new, frugal engine technology than I am by big horse power claims and 0-60 times. Can this be true?! Is it just a sign of the times or a sign that I am growing up. Becoming more mature. I like to believe it is the latter, but I have my doubts.

As a kid, like any other, I was obsessed with big, powerful cars that had seemingly astronomical power figures, unachievable high speeds and cared nothing for how much it might cost to run them. But these days it all seems fairly irrelevant. Even big saloon cars are pushing out 500bhp-plus, which just isn’t particularly usable on the clogged up, badly maintained highways and byways of modern Britain.

So these days whenever a new supercar comes out I pay little attention to the power figures and more towards how it puts that power down. How it drives. The McLaren MP4-12C is a case in point, as I personally found the supple ride and everyday usability  of a track weapon far more interesting. The regular comparisons to the 458 rarely even introduced serious power comparisons.

So is it that nobody really cares about power anymore? I don’t believe this is so, but the attitudes are certainly changing. To explain my point, I present to you Ford’s 1-litre EcoBoost engine. I’m a little obsessed with this engine, to be honest, and I’m not even a mechanically minded geek.

The engine will feature in the all new Ford Focus in either 123bhp or 98bhp forms. It uses turbocharging and direct injection to produce 56mpg in the former and a class leading 109g/km in CO2 emissions for the latter. Pretty impressive, I’m sure you’ll agree, but I just find it fascinating that a mid-sized car can run with such a tiny engine. In my mind only the preserve of matchbox learner cars, the fact this engine will also be chucked in across the C-MAX range is simply incredible.

But it gets really interesting when you read that, by using twin sequential turbochargers, Ford will be using this engine in future sporting models that produce 177bhp. From a 1-litre engine that is phenomenal. And to think not too long ago the Focus ST170 produced slightly less power for double the engine displacement.

Ford aren’t the only people creating interesting solutions to our need for cheap as chips running costs. My dad’s business lease is running out on his new 2010 A4 TDIe (the little e stands for ‘eco’), and his boss has indicated that he’ll likely get the DS5 hybrid when it is available. Doing a little research for him I found even more examples of simple but brilliant engineering ingenuity.

The DS5 hybrid will feature a similarly turbocharged (though not so impressively tiny) 2-litre HDi engine powering the front wheels. But here’s where things get a bit more interesting. The Hybrid4 model also has an electric motor powering the rear wheels, providing 23bhp. In sport mode these combined provide an impressive 200bhp (though, of course, we don’t care about that…) but the really interesting bit is that pottering around town can be executed solely on electric charge.

Now I know this isn’t exactly ground breaking new technology but it does provide a staggering 70mpg. In a car with 200bhp. Now that is when power remains interestingly relevant. Now here is a gratuitous picture of a Nissan S14 going sideways, just to show I haven’t gone soft.

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Toyota GT86: Past to Present

Later this year Toyota releases the much anticipated and critically acclaimed GT86 sports car (alongside Subaru’s BRZ), the fruits of a joint project between Subaru and Toyota to create an affordable, back-to-basics sports car. I take a look at the history of Toyota’s iconic ‘hachiroku’ line of sports cars that have influenced the development of the Toyota GT86.

The GT 86 heralds a return to form for Toyota. A history of iconic sports cars that goes back to the mid sixties has provided the inspiration for a modern take on back-to-basics motor sport. All too often modern cars are over laden with technology that not only adds weight, but also contributes to a detachment from the driving experience.

With the GT 86, Toyota wanted to create a performance car that was not all about high performance figures that the marketers could shout about. From the very beginning their aim was to create a drivers car and a future icon.

In 1965 Toyota launched the 2000GT, a limited-production, front-engine, rear wheel drive coupé. Designed in collaboration with Yamaha, a 2-litre, 150bhp straight six engine was placed in the front of Toyota’s first foray into the sports car market in 30 years of car production.

Originally a concept by Yamaha, Toyota bought the prototype and employed its own design, unveiling the 2000GT at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show. Japanese sports cars had always been known to be technologically basic compared to European rivals.

The 2000GT changed that, becoming the first Japanese car to feature 4 wheel disc brakes as well as magnesium alloy road wheels. It also included a fully instrumented dashboard, modern heating and ventilation and a telescopic steering wheel, all features considered luxuries for a sports car at the time.

Perhaps the clearest link between the 2000GT and its modern counterpart is the way it drives. A Road & Track article, written in June 1967, claimed that “When it comes to ride and handling, nobody in his right mind could need or want more in a road vehicle”, an ethos echoed in the GT 86.

Nearly 20 years later in 1983, Toyota launched what is arguably the most iconic sports car in their history – the Toyota Corolla AE86. The Corolla has become a familiar sight in motor sport and in recent years has made a return in drifting series’ thanks to its light weight and rear wheel drive, front engined layout.

There were two variants – Trueno and Levin. The only difference between the two was the headlight design and it became more commonly know by its chassis number AE86. Fans of the model often affectionately refer to the car as ‘hachiroku’, Japanese for 86. This is also the official name of the GT 86 in the Japanese Domestic Market, a conscious decision by Toyota to associate it with the iconic Corolla.

As well as the lightweight, rear wheel drive structure, the other key to the AE86’s success in motor sports is the fact that the engine is easy to tune. This meant that private owners and racing teams could unlock the true potential of the engine without the restrictions placed on Toyota by legislation. With the GT 86, Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s President, was adamant that the new Boxer D4-S engine followed the same route. Tetsuya Tada, Chief Engineer on the GT 86 project, revealed that this meant that they used the simplest system possible at all times, and restricted the use of computers that govern engines to make tuning simple.

Toyota has tapped into the spirit of the 2000GT and Corolla AE86 to create what they believe will be a future classic. An affordable performance car that returns the driver to the forefront of the driving experience.


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Work Experience at Autocar

A few weeks ago I spent 5 days working at the Haymarket offices in Teddington. It was my first opportunity to see how a magazine works and I’m not afraid to admit that at first I was terrified! I’ve got to be honest, I don’t read Autocar that often as it caters towards a more technically knowledgeable audience. I just about know how to change a tire, so that counts me out.

Regardless of this fact, I turned up at 10.30 on the Monday morning before being shown around and briefly introduced to each of the team members. The first thing I was tasked with was to have a look around the internet and see what’s going on in the motoring world to see if there was any news stories that Autocar hadn’t yet covered.

The first thing I found was about a styling pack for the Bentley Conti GT and Alex Kersten, the Junior reporter, asked me to write a story for it. As this was my first attempt at writing a story, especially with Autocar’s particularly all-fact-no-frills ‘house style’, it was perhaps no surprise that my article was not used… Nevertheless that afternoon I sat with Allan Muir who talked me through all the subbing that goes on, and how the pages go between them and the colourists (an external company) before finally being given the green light for publication.

Tuesday I helped write a small section of the magazine, ‘In The Classifieds’, for the new vs old feature. In this case they compared a brand new SLK drop-top against a mid-noughties Maserati GranCabrio that can now be bought for around the same price. I had to find 3 Masers and summarise their advert text into around 25 words. Was pretty satisfying to pick up the magazine at work the next week and see my words down on the page! I had also been asked to write a brief summary of the weekend’s Formula 1 action, which I noticed had been put online when I got home, so all in all a quite satisfying day!

 

Wednesday was brilliant. By far and away the highlight of the week just confirmed what I had already decided – I really want to be a motoring journalist! And to be more precise, a road tester.  I arrived at Longcross Test Track at 9am and pulled in among some brilliant metal. A BMW 1M (more on that in a moment!), a Jaguar XF, BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxster S before the Merc SLK and Bentley Convertible joined shortly after me. My little 106 had never looked so out of place!

The plan for the day was to spend the morning doing tracking and static shots at the track before heading to Shropshire for some more scenic photography in the afternoon. Fortunately it was a lovely day as we were doing a triple test between the Porsche, Merc and BMW – all convertibles. It was also convenient as I spent a lot of time standing around watching static shots (although it was quite interesting to see the meticulous preperation undertaken for even the simplest photos).

Then possibly the highlight of my life, let alone my week. Steve Sutcliffe, the most highly regarded driver in Autocar’s employment, screeched up next to me.

Steve: “Are you the guy on work experience?”

Me: “I am, yeah.”

Steve: “Jump in. Allan asked me to take you out…”

I tried to act cool but couldn’t hide the massive grin that had taken over my face. Steve said he wasn’t going to go too mad, which was a lie. And if it wasn’t a lie I’d LOVE to experience him actually going mad! Started out relatively easy as we drove onto the track where we chatted about what I was up to and my university course. And then we got to the first corner, at which point he dropped it a gear and accelerated. The tires squealed in disdain as they grappled for grip, at which point my inane ramblings about why I chose Huddersfield ceased mid sentence. My smile was now ear to ear and so was Steve’s. We then turned off the main track into what he called ‘the snake’, at which point he put his foot down, the back stepped out, and he held it for what seemed like forever. I hadn’t been expecting that! He straightened up and turned around and repeated this 3 more times. Amazing.

On the third attempt he carried the slide on further than before, picking out a small road between the overgrown rough surface with incredible precision. Sideways. The car straightened up perfectly at the start of this stretch of track and hit a puddle that momentarily blinded us. Steve’s talent was seriously impressive, particularly apparent as he told me “it’s actually not as hard as it seems, you just need to practice.” Mid slide…

After he dropped me off again, Vicky Parrot, a road tester, told me to jump in the Porsche with her. Not a bad day, then. Roof down, we left the test track and it was really interesting sitting and chatting with her about how she got the job and she was really friendly. It’s weird how you kind of put these people on pedestals but they really are just normal people!

After an M&S road side sandwich we, along with Stan the photographer and Richard who had been brought in to drive the third car, finished the trip to Shropshire. Much to my surprise we turned off down past Stonehenge, which I’d never seen in real life. Quite interesting really. Richard was also a really nice guy, I would say he is a couple of years ahead of me career wise and I got on really well with him. He was saying how he’d done a couple of stints at Autocar on work experience, and after the second week they had asked him if we would drive from time to time. It doesn’t pay as well as writing but gives you invaluable experience and, let’s be honest, I can think of worse ways to spend a day. You basically drive a car with the road testers to a location to help with photographs, though he did say that sometimes on particularly long days you can spend 6, 7 maybe even 8 or more hours driving, at which point you tend to start hating whatever it is you’re driving, no matter how much fun it was at the start of the day!

The last couple of days were fairly uneventful, I wrote an email out to entrants for Autocar-Courland’s Work Experience competition and impressed the marketing guy with my basic HTML knowledge, which was nice. I also went through the year’s flat-plans of every Autocar magazine released to find ‘green car’ articles, although I kinda fucked this one up as I only found about half of them… oh well, I’d never even heard of a flat-plan before, let alone read one and interpreted it, so I’ll know better for next time I suppose..! I also wrote a little bit about new gear that was available to buy, all motoring related, to go in the magazine. I think it will probably be in the current magazine, but I haven’t had a chance to have a look yet, so hopefully it was up to scratch!

The final day saw my first proper news article posted on the site. Everyone had a “shit-storm of work”, to quote one staffer, as it was the Goodwood Festival of Speed that weekend, so I was kind of at a loose end on the Friday. In the afternoon I noticed a press release about a new Alfa MiTo, so I wrote a story about it and emailed it over to Alex who was pleased with it. Brilliant! I’d finally got the no frills style down and he said he would post it on the site. Was nice to see my name up on the site and Autocar’s faithful fans commenting on it also made me feel pretty chuffed!

So upon reflection, in all honesty, I could have done a lot better. Looking back I know I didn’t make enough of a nuisance of myself and pester enough people, but this was my first time so its all still a learning process. The problem I found was that, as its a weekly publication, everyone was incredibly busy pretty much all of the time. This kind of put me off because a few times I went round and people were often too busy at that moment and I kind of felt a bit useless wandering back to my seat. I’d love to go back, though. It was a brilliant experience and I want the chance to prove myself again. I’m going to continue to apply for experience at other publications as well.

I love being at work, having a purpose and something to work towards is really important to me. Being in that environment was incredibly stimulating and I can’t wait to have another chance! My confidence is building all the time…

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Little Audi Gets Big Power

Audi’s diminutive A1 has grown some balls. Big, V6 driven, Quattro engineered balls that will ensure this aggressive little upstart will even give its biggest of big brothers, the R8, a run for its money.

The Audi A1 Clubsport Quattro (to give it its full, snappy title) is a one-off creation using the same turbocharged 2.5 litre petrol engine that can be found in the TT RS and RS3 Sportback, albeit a heavily modified version that produces a quite frankly astonishing 500bhp.

This hot version of Audi’s smallest model has been created for Wörtherseetour in Austria, an annual event that brings together fans of VW Group models – and boy, are they in for a treat.

The engine is the undoubted star of the show, with that 500bhp complimented by 487lb ft torque – substantial gains on the original figures. This combined with the diminutive stature of the baby Audi, not to mention the Quattro system, help to propel the Clubsport A1 from a standstill to 62mph in just 3.7 seconds – that’s nearly a full second faster than a V8 R8.

But Audi’s tuning arm didn’t just steal the engine from the TT RS, they also used the same 6-speed manual gearbox, which helps the A1 surge towards that magic 155mph governed top speed we’ve seen in other hot German cars like the BMW M5.

But Audi didn’t just stop there. Helping to reign those horses in are perforated carbon fibre-ceramic brake discs at the front, held by six piston callipers, while the rear axle gets large steel discs. The Clubsport Quattro also boasts adjustable compression and rebound damping of its coilover suspension.

The exterior does nothing to hide its intent. Audi have seemingly taken Focus RS levels of commitment to dramatic stick-on bits – just look at that large spoiler round the back, and that huge front bumper and splitter, though there’s no fake carbon fibre here. The A1 certainly looks the part.

The body’s Glacier White matte paint finish looks stunning alongside the high-gloss black roof, made from carbon fibre-reinforced polymer. Or CFRP, if you like your cars with acronyms. Widened by 60mm, this modern quattro has horizontal ‘blister’ edges apparently inspired by the Audi Ur-quattro, and their aggressive nature screams DTM.

Audi’s identikit range means that there is still something lacking. It looks a little too commonplace that something with this drama should present. The Focus RS is a perfect example, transforming a relatively boring car into something exceptional. This still looks too much like an Audi for me.

But there is no denying that it does look brilliant, and those statistics are enough to make anyone drool. I think its about time we got onto Audi and pestered them to make it…

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Objectivity in Motoring Journalism

I would suppose that the holy grail for journalists has to be an objective view of whatever it is their journalistic skills may be deployed to report. But is it actually possible to be completely objective? Clearly not, for we all live different lives, have different experiences and opinions. And, importantly for motoring journalists, the things that give us joyful butterflies in our stomachs and make us smile from ear to ear are also very different. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has enjoyed an album recently seen slated in NME.

Today, flicking through my Sky+ planner, I found the Top Gear New York trip from the most recent series. The choice of cars was entirely predictable: James May in the European supercar, Jeremy Clarkson in the latest big Merc and Richard Hammond in a 911. The subjectivity on show is clear to see, particularly with Hammond’s choice. Clarkson himself said ‘you’ve brought a knife to a gunfight’. Hammond chose the GT3RS despite it not really being on equal measure with his compatriots choices.

In all fairness this particular feature was approximately 1% focussed on delivering opinions on the cars and deciding what is best, and 99% an entertainment feature that just happened to be a road trip. And for a road trip you need a car. And, well, you might as well pick pretty, fast ones that people will like to gawp at. But what happens when you bring subjectivity into serious motoring journalism?

A prime example of this is down at Evo. I subscribe to Evo so my subjective opinion is that it is the best motoring magazine on sale. And as a regular reader I have become familiarised with their journalists’ styles and opinions.  I’m going to pick on Chris Harris, not in a negative way, but he is particularly outspoken about his opinions.

Chris is clearly a big fan of the M division down at BMW. He is also a big fan of going sideways. Now, this leads us down two different lanes of motoring objectivity. Firstly, knowing that he is such an outspoken fan of Beemers, how do I trust that any review is not clouded by this love? The new M5 is a prime example of this, as it breaks from the traditional. If Chris loves it, do we believe the new way is a brilliant evolution for the brand? Or, with the new guts under the metal, will any negative reviews purely be because he is annoyed at change? As a journalist at such a well-respected magazine I highly respect what he says and trust that he is giving me all sides to a story, but if I was in the market for such a car I would be inclined to take a look at what other journos had to say – regardless of whether it was Chris or anyone else who had written that original article.

Then we move onto the sideways action. Chris demonstrates both on Evo’s video pages and the race-track that he possesses super-human driving abilities, the likes of which myself and many others can only hope to even get close to. This ability means his love of ‘natural’ cars – those which reward drivers such as Chris with hugely rewarding drives full of feel, and reward their driving prowess thanks to a lack of electrics getting in the way – is fully understandable. Now to be fair to Chris, this is something that is evident throughout the world of motoring journalism, but I often wonder – if I drove that car, would I find it crap and frustrating?

I consider myself to be a good driver. I am pleased to say that a couple of my friends have said I am one of the few people they trust behind the wheel. But I’ve never driven a car anywhere close to the limit. I’ve never driven on a track. If I got behind the wheel of such a car would the rewarding drive I’d read so much about transfer to my fingers? Or would the comfort blanket of those electronic aids make for a far more rewarding experience.

It could be argued that, well, does that even matter? Personally I highly doubt I will ever be in a position to own one of these vehicles thanks to my prowess on the football field or my hard work in the City, and I would assume the majority of other readers of such magazines are in a similar position to me. This makes reading the articles purely for reasons of entertainment, and having such skilled men behind the wheel to relay their experience is a benefit.

For me, as a budding motoring journalist, I like to think that I can view things objectively. Firstly, however, the fact that I have not driven the vast and varied number of cars most of these journalists have means I cannot compare until at least a short time into my career. In the early days, everything would be amazing when compared to my old 106. It would be like suddenly dating the girl everyone wants after putting up with the girl everyone’s had.

I also have a love of Japanese sports cars. I would always choose a Skyline over something big and American, for example, and I’ve never driven either. Journalists will, of course, have their own preferences. So we’ll keep reading these brilliantly written articles and lusting after the vehicles within those glossy pages. We can also sit back and know that true objectivity is not possible, look at the arguments laid down before us and come to our own informed decisions if it so satisfies us. Motoring is, after all, a pursuit of the heart, not the head.

And one day, hopefully not too far in the future, I will be writing about these cars too. Objectively, of course.

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March/April Update: Living with…

I know, I’ve been a bit slack of late (aside from a quite frankly pants article about Prince Charles’ Aston, which I hurriedly wrote while suffering from a heavy cold in an unforgivable attempt to divert attention to my blog via the fact Aston Martin was trending on Twitter). I’ll get my excuses out the way – heading up to deadline day at university, I had to give my priority to that work, unfortunately. But, I’m home now to the rolling hills of the South Downs, and so my attention turns back to my motor writing. This is, after all, the sole reason I’m attending university in the first place.

So what has happened in our time apart? Not a lot, to be honest. During March I got a pair of new tires for the front and that’s about it. Other than the fact I’m beginning to loathe this car more and more every day that I drive it. I’m trying to use it as a motivation for working hard to get something good, but the day I get to burn the little lion is one I am very much looking forward to.

First things first, the tires. It always blows me away just what a difference new tires make. One of the major frustrations with the Pug was its heavy handling – maneuvering in a tight space took more effort than wrestling underwater. A new pair of shoes turned everything on its head. It was like driving a new car.

Reversing out of the garage I couldn’t help but laugh at the ease with which I could navigate the tight space. Even at very slow speeds I could have pulled away using the palm of my left hand, right arm resting on the open window, hand free to acknowledge potential mates that may be hanging around the car park, reminiscent of many a spotty teenager’s post-test-pass evenings.

This feeling of happiness is one of very few similar feelings experienced in this car. I can think back to only two: the day I bought it (wasn’t especially thrilled by the purchase, but as my dislike has increased that is still the day I have liked it more than any other day…) and the day I ‘christened’ it (and that was no mean feat either, not the most spacious of cars).

Over the past couple of weeks, though, Peter (as ‘he’ has been named by my flatmates as the number plate ends PTR…) seems to be on his deathbed. Well he probably isn’t, but like that annoying friend that tags along bringing all their issues that you have no care to fix, Peter has begun clonking away from the nearside front whenever I turn right. Sounds like the wheel is breaking loose on roundabouts. Every time that kerdunk-kerdunk-kerdunk rears its head I do my very best to ignore it, hoping it will take the hint; no I will not fix you, I do not care for your troubles.

Its latest trick is perhaps even more annoying. Thanks to the tinny speakers that parp and fart if anything bassier than Adele comes on, no matter what the volume, I cannot just turn the music up to ignore its latest attempts to get under my skin. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, but it sounds like the indicator ticker is stuck on. The indicators go off, but it carrys on ticking – sometimes fast, sometimes slow – and I can’t figure out how to stop it. I say I can’t figure it out, I can’t really be bothered to try. The extent of my findings come from opening the glovebox and discovering the noise gets slightly louder if I do so. My brother has also attempted kicking and hitting the dash in various places, to no avail.

Now I’m well aware that I’m coming across as a grumpy old bastard, and to some extent I probably am. But I am a very vain person; I like to wear nice clothes and have nice things, and that extends to my car. Its not a penis extension, I resent that. I merely like cars and I enjoy enjoying my car. If I had a Ferrari it would be because I wanted that Ferrari, not because other people would think I’m cool.

People often ask why I spend money on these 4 wheeled bottomless pits, where money goes to die a fiery, pointless death, but they are my passion, the thing I get most enjoyment from. We work to spend our money on what we like, whether that is going to the pub or going to gigs. Imagine if I told you that from now on you can only go to gigs showing bands you don’t like. You wouldn’t be happy, would you? And this is how I feel about this car.

So someone please take away my Justin Bieber and hand me some Bloc Party, please. It’ll make me a lot cheerier. I’m a good cause – do you really want anyone to have to ride Bieber for any amount of time?

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