Motoring: I like big, anti-excitement cars. They cruise along in a lazy, carefree way, encouraging a similar driving manner. They are the perfect foil to a hard day's work
Saturday 01 February 1997
Many car makers crow about "building excitement" and such rubbish, among them Toyota, Japan's biggest maker (and taking both quality and cost into account, probably the world's most accomplished manufacturer of cars). People do not buy Toyotas to be excited. They buy them because they are good value and rarely let you down. They are anti-excitement cars. (After all, there is rarely a motoring event so exciting as being stranded on the hard shoulder of a motorway at peak hour.)
I have just been driving a Toyota Camry V6 automatic and it is, without doubt, one of the least exciting cars I have ever driven. It goes about its business quietly and comfortably and completely fuss-free. Like the best big saloons, it is therapeutic rather than exciting to drive. Its anonymous looks are a boon: they help avoid the excitement of being stopped by the police.
I like big anti-excitement cars. They cruise along in a lazy, carefree way, encouraging a similar driving manner. They are the perfect foil to a hard day's work. Who wants to climb aboard a five-speed GTi buzz box, when the alternative is a soft and supple automatic saloon that can waft you home: the motoring equivalent of a pipe and slippers in front of a fireplace while the butler brings a large scotch?
The best big, anti-excitement cars, in my experience, are Jaguars. (Rolls- Royces would be even better, were it not for the fact that everybody else on the road hates you, which tends to increase the excitement level.) Jags are relatively common, at least in London, and are big and unstressed and comfortable. You can feel your angst dissipate after a few miles. The sporty models, of course, are not so good. Jags are not sporty cars, no matter what the big alloy wheels and war paint and marketing bumf may suggest. Jags are big, soft saloons, or at least the best ones are.
Mercedes saloons are also good. My favourite is the old S-class, as favoured by politicians, plutocrats and peers. They are plush tanks, and all that protective armour tends to reduce excitement, because you know you will rarely be threatened.
Other favourite anti-excitement tonics include the V6 Ford Scorpio (helped by its profound ugliness and its surprising comfort), big Citroens (because they ride with such suppleness and yet reassurance) and most large new American cars (rare in Europe). Off-roaders are too frenzied - they're too noisy and roll too much, although new Range Rovers are almost unexciting. BMWs are hopeless, even the big saloons. They're too sporty and thus about as therapeutic as a 10-mile jog. Volvos don't relax, either. Too many motorcyclists abuse you, in anticipation of eventually being killed by you or a fellow Volvo driver. Most Japanese saloons are also poor. They are too energetic of ride and too buzzy of motor.
Which is why the Camry V6 was such a surprise. Quiet, refined, anonymous. I hardly remember a single journey I did in it, it was so relaxing. In fact, it was so unexciting, I barely recollect the car at all. It merely served up entirely fuss-free transport, like a good, big saloon car should.
Life & Style blogs
Naked yoga: the bare truth - it's already big in the US, and has now landed here
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
The 10 Best kitchen knives
Angus Steakhouse: How does tourist staple continue to thrive in today's gourmet market?
Kim Jong-ale: How did Ushers brewery of Trowbridge end up in North Korea producing Pyongyang's number one beer - and what did it take to set up a taste test back in Wiltshire?
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
- 1 'Natural' energy drink banned for containing erectile dysfunction drug
- 2 Dylan Tombides: West Ham confirm 20-year-old striker has died after battle with cancer
- 3 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 4 Angus Steakhouse: How does tourist staple continue to thrive in today's gourmet market?
- 5 Cover up! Mother told to show less cleavage during Disneyland family trip: 'Are we supposed to wear turtlenecks our whole lives?'
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...