Which Car? 'I want to stop driving too quickly'

James Ruppert
Friday 28 March 2014 04:11

Sean O'Brien, from south London, is a 41-year-old press officer. He drives far too quickly and is fed up getting speeding tickets. He feels drastic action is required and now wants to drive the slowest car on the market, the one that will give him the least chance of being spotted by the speed cameras. What should he do?

Mr O'Brien has a problem: almost any vehicle can be caught by a speed camera. They do not distinguish between a bright orange Porsche 911 Turbo or a small grey Fiat Panda. If either are doing 31 mph in a 30mph, they will be speeding. The driver, not the car, speeds.

Without getting into a debate about the rights and wrongs of speeding it probably would not hurt if Mr O'Brien took driving instruction to increase his awareness of road conditions. Signing up for a course with the Institute of Advanced Motorists, www.iam.org.uk would help and is something we should all probably consider.

What we have to accept is that most ordinary cars are capable of high speeds. Most cars can get to 100mph without effort and accelerate to 60mph in 10 seconds or so. But there are vehicles which can certainly discourage you from going too fast. In the main, large, heavy and unaerodynamic off-roaders and people-carriers with low-powered diesel engines that struggle to keep up with traffic, overtake or manage even modest hills.

A car for the heart

Some drivers would find it hard to love a car that was painfully slow, but often slow vehicles can deliver other motoring pleasures.

On Which Car?, we seem to recommend the Smart every other week, but the basic 50bhp Pure takes 18.3 seconds to get to 60mph. That is slow, but it provides an amusing way of getting there. Mr O'Brien could find it too small and not exactly fun over long distances.

Slightly bigger and better would be a Citroën C3. In some ways the spiritual successor to the 2CV, the 1.1 model takes 15.9 seconds to 60mph. But he might prefer a well-established automotive icon, the Land Rover Defender. Over 50 years, it has been slightly civilised but it remains a slow, noisy yet thoroughly enjoyable way to get around. The latest diesel models take 17.4 seconds, but in the old days, when they were just called Series 1, 2 and 3, if it got to 60mph it was a miracle, or the ultimate off-road vehicle had just toppled off a sheer cliff.

A car for the head

Occasionally, a vehicle is not just slow it is painfully ugly. Perhaps Mr O'Brien should be punished for speeding by getting himself behind the wheel of one of the most visually challenged, unappealing and slowest vehicles on sale in the UK. The Fiat Doblo is nothing more than an adapted van which at least means it is roomy. Any ego or sense of style or superiority Mr O'Brien has will be wiped out when he drives a Doblo.

Winding the 1.9 diesel engine up to 60 mph takes an epic 20.9 seconds and is officially the slowest-accelerating car sold in the UK. There are other van-derived alternatives which are not so frightful and have a bit of 2CV chic about them, such as the Citroën Berlingo Multispace 1.9D Forte. This model takes a leisurely 16.9 seconds to 60 mph, is roomy, practical and characterful, but hardly enjoyable to drive which could put Mr O'Brien off speeding for life.

If he does not need the space, perhaps the Daewoo Matiz will do. This tiny and cheap-feeling car has an tiny 796cc engine and struggles to 60mph in 17 seconds.

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