A pleasant reminder
I’ll say one thing – there’s certainly plenty of variety in my driving life at the moment. The week started with a Ferrari 599HGTE and Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SV, which provided some entertainment – but this morning the nice people at Hyundai left a Rover Metro 1.4LD at the office for me to test drive.
Most of you will be aware that Hyundai has bought a number of old Rovers and is lending them out to journalists, along with brand new cars from its range, in order to sell the benefits of the Government’s Scrappage Scheme. Hyundai’s approach to the scheme has been pragmatic and, as a result, scored a top ten best-seller in the UK during July. Its first ever time…
Obviously, Rovers have been a prime old car choice for Hyundai. The British company’s no longer around, so there’s no bad blood with any of the other press offices out there and, well – how many pre-1999 Ponys are there out there? Exactly.
The trouble is, I rather like the Metro. A quick jaunt in it this afternoon confirmed that although the styling left a little (well, a lot, actually, but that’s another story we all know the reason for) to be desired, the interior packaging is marvellous. There’s loads of room inside considering the small footprint it takes up on the road. Also, once underway, the PSA TUD engine gives it just enough get up and go to keep up with the flow (while delivering a potential 60mpg).
But the real revelation is the suspension set up. Considering how small and light the car is, the ride quality and damping control are astounding – and it’s a real testament to how good a well-sorted Hydragas set-up actually is. The steering, too, is direct, positive and full of feel. It lacks PAS, but who needs it in a car so light?
Of course, a 15-year old Metro is going to lack the neighbour-impressing kudos of a brand new Hyundai (the i20 is actually very, very good, by the way) but, if you’re not one of those who cares what other people think and aren’t too worried about the odd breakdown, a little DIY, regular breakage and servicing, then serious questions need to be asked about just why we’re scrapping perfectly servicable cars like our Metro (which are also actually surprisingly good to drive) for the sake of getting a new car on the driveway?
However, playing devil’s advocate for a moment, one thing is clear: scrappage has kick started the market and, in these tough times, that’s no bad thing…