I’d like to talk about small cars. Worse, modern small cars. What fresh hell is this, you might be thinking? Regular readers will know I like my comfy barges, and I’ve a taste for the older stuff. But I’ve spent a time with a couple lately, and I think they might just be worthy of a place on the Skelton fleet. But not for the reason you might think.
Fellow motoring scribe James May questions the logic of owning a small car as well as a large one. The small car in such an application doesn’t reduce congestion, it adds to it. And he’s right – the one car family becomes a one and a half car family, and thus even by using the small car for trips to town, you’re part of the problem rather than the solution. But he misses the fundamental point of owning a city car, as do most owners. It’s not about town toddling, nor is it about easing congestion. No, the reason you buy a small car is for fun.
One of the best drives I’ve had in the last 12 months was in a CityRover. Yes, really. It was late at night, I had a CD full of 80s cheese, and I was on the Snake Pass. But give it a bit of stick and – much like a Peugeot Bipper van – the CityRover goes from being a poor city car into an amusing giant go-kart.
It’s much the same with the new MG3. Before we go any further I’d like to clarify that this is a far better car than the CityRover in every test; objective or subjective. Both appeal to the masochist in me, both have that plucky underdog spirit, both are cars from developing nations branded with a first world badge. Both feel cheap, and neither will sell especially well for its class. But the MG backs it up with a substance and charm that most of the time the Indian Takeaway lacks. The MG3 is great fun to hoon down a back road, but we can go one better. It’s a car from that fun-loving nation; the Germans. It has a one litre engine, it’s expensive for its size, and it’s blessed with a stupid name.
The VW Up! is the biggest laugh I’ve had in a long time, despite looking like it was designed by Apple and having very little in the way of power. Show it a B-road – or my local country lanes – and you’ll want for nothing more.
Well, except a proper car to use for those trips into town.