Michael Booth tells Daihatsu where to shove its new Terios

Would suit Being recycled as a fridge or something
Price From £12,995
Maximum speed 99mph, 0-60mph in 12 seconds
Combined fuel economy 35.8mpg
Further information 0870 240 084

I fired a Magnum .38 hand gun last week. As a liberal, tolerant, responsible New Man versed in the panoply of nappy rashes and their treatments, who recycles yoghurt pots, and makes a genuine effort to look large-breasted ladies in the eye, I should not have enjoyed it. But I did. In fact, I loved it.

Something else I really shouldn't have liked was the Daihatsu Terios. And, you know what? I didn't. In fact, I wish they had let me to take the Magnum with me out to the car park and put the thing out of my misery. As it was, I had to drive home from the firing range with the laughter of my friends ringing louder even in my ears than the sound of gunfire.

Let's not mince words (although mincing is this car's default setting): the Terios is a senseless waste of steel, rubber, glass and plastic. Its Duplo-toy styling, gurning face, and attention-seeking tinted windows made me spasm with a visceral loathing. The rudimentary four-valves-per-cylinder, four-cylinder engine, which produces a top speed barely higher than the national limit and a 0-60mph time better gauged by a sun dial than a stop watch, is no more, or less, than this tart's dinner of a car deserves. Elsewhere, the technology is no less antiquated, with full-time four-wheel-drive (ruling out a more economical switch to two-wheel drive on the road), and not a whiff of a hill-descent mode. My memory of the last Terios is of a tottering Toytown tin box with as much charm as a bottle bank. I think it was based on the old Charade hatchback, which meant that humans didn't fit. This one is admittedly more spacious but its ride is every bit as discombobulating, its engine note is as tiresome and its interior, if not as brittle as the old car's, is still suffocatingly cheap.

Like Suzuki and Hyundai, Daihatsu is a company on the move; although journalists don't tend to like it, the acclaim for their - generally - excellent value products and top-notch dealership network is making itself heard in various owner-satisfaction surveys where the brand is always rated highly. The Charade and Sirion are competitive in their respective classes - right up with the best, in fact. But the Terios is obviously the Ringo Starr of the line-up.

To top it all, there is even an external spare wheel, mounted on the rear door and featuring - and I can only urge you in the strongest terms to get down to your local Daihatsu dealership to check this out for yourself - a cover inspired, apparently, by the carpet of a provincial cinema, c1974. It has to be the single, most heinous graphic to have graced an automobile since the gold and burgundy go-faster stripes found on "sporty" Hillman Avengers. It's a wonder they didn't go all the way and give it a vinyl roof and a stick-on Garfield.

And just when you think your opinion of the thing can't get any lower, you discover how much Daihatsu intend to charge for it. The base model starts at £13,000 but, if buyers want things like alloy wheels or an automatic gearbox, they will have to cut back on their tanning salon membership and Bacardi Breezers for a year or so. A Fiat Panda 4x4 is a massive £4,000 cheaper, and infinitely more charming, as is its sister car the Suzuki SX4, but if you want my advice, buy a second-hand Subaru and spend the rest on a holiday and a new sofa. Or, perhaps, a really big gun.

Michael Booth's 'Just As Well I'm Leaving' is out now in paperback (Vintage)

It's a classic: Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow

Contemplation of the cost of a new Terios led me to wonder what else £13,000 will buy you these days. Well, you could buy a Rolls-Royce, of course. At a quick glance, Auto Trader had 50 Rollers for under £13,000, mostly Silver Shadows.

The idea isn't quite as ridiculous as it sounds. Any Silver Shadow costing over £10,000 should have a full service history, a full MOT and have some life left in it, which leaves you £3,000 to run and repair it - enough, with a bit of luck, to last for a couple of years.

There are a couple of Rolls-Royce breakers in the UK that can supply you with spares no more costly than equivalent Ford items (with 30,000 made, there are plenty to pick from), and, don't forget, they were hand built to a fairly high standard when new.

When you come to sell it again, the value should have held pretty firm - which is more than you will probably be able to say for the Terios. Buy a white one, and you might even be able to earn a few bob at weekends doing weddings. Just don't look too closely at the fuel bills.

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