Spotted one of those adverts that Toyota are doing about their optimal drive thing, which got my Inner Engineer Geek (think Inner Child but with more expensive toys) curious. Wasn't too bothered by the Optimal Drive thing, which doesn't actually seem too different to what we've seen before powering cars. Bit more efficient, bit cleaner but nothing actually new.
I then spent over an hour peeking through all the info on their new Prius. Which really did get that Inner Geek Engineer going ...
I seem to cycle with my cars, one that's sporty, one that's soft n fluffy :
1st one doesn't count, it was a Fiesta 950cc which was only really good for knowing the basics of cars. Especially cars that are reluctant to go but when they do fire up, they're good for a new driver cos they're not fast enough to really let get you into trouble.
Next car was the Buggy :-) A Mk1 Astra 1.6. Enough power to keep an 18 year old interested but still old n feeble enough to hit the Fluffy tag. Cars of that age (made 1982, had it from 93 to 97) tend to need to stay in the cotton wool cos things might drop off. Like front bodywork under the bumper that was so rusty you could call it an ill-kempt scabrous beard.
Oh - it was fun to find out that the Buggy had a fitting end - it died in a Pillar Of Flame :-) And nearly took someone's house with it too ... It was the bloke we'd sold it to, doing a bit of welding on it. He'd left the windows open and a welding spark flew in and onto the seats ... WHOOOMMFFF ! Byebye car. No one hurt in the incident but I get the feeling Mr Welder got a few slapsies :-)
Third car was a Belmont SRi, which I took over from my mum cos it was pulling her arms out of their sockets. My arms weren't much better either cos I'd dislocated my shoulder the year before but it was an excellent car to take me through my first year of work. 1.8 litre, 130bhp, 43mpg (just got made before catalytic convertors wrecked fuel economy) and sporty suspension worked very well for me doing over 20,000 miles a year.
Back to Fluffy ... And on to a Rover 420 GSi Executive Limited Edition. Niiiice. Especially when left out with the seats in the full glare of the sun. This car taught me that Leather Seats = Scorched Arse. Lol :-) Honestly, not a bad car but terrible reliability. The mechanical failures went on and on and it did a few showstoppers on me.
Zoomzoomzoom - Puma :-) Probably my most favourite car so far, although the Astra will always keep the sentimental Buggy crown. 130bhp again and in a very effective package. When sitting behind the wheel, you feel connected to what the car's doing in a rather special way. It drove like a Road Legal Go Kart, you could predict exactly what it would do and what mad stuff it would let you get away with. It also felt like it would be cheering you on to the next Crazy Stunt (usually with a white knuckled passenger too). And on top of the sportiness, it was highly effective as a day to day workhorse too. Did 60,000+ miles in that car :-)
But - I think it's given me a few unfortunate expectations from my latest car, which is another Sporty job in the form of a Focus ST170. You'd have thought that 170bhp, traction control, 6 gears, electronic stability gubbins and other assorted toys would hold the interest but honestly ... yawn. It's not as connected as the Puma, feeling as if the driver is a lot more insulated from what's going on. The electric squirbly widgets get in the way of the driver thinking they're the one keeping the car straight.
The Prius sounds rather interesting though. It would have nowhere near the potential performance levels of the Focus with a 0 to 60 of 10.4 secs compared to about 7 for the Focus but the motors give a handy bit of Surge power. There's a 100bhp engine in there that is supplemented by 82hp of electric motor, which is actually more power than the Focus ... Interesting ...
So - lots of toys under the bonnet to give the Inner Geek Engineer something to play with (my drive to work would fit right in with the Hybrid Stuff) and toys in the car to satisfy the Cushy aspect. They're a bit expensive at £18k, so I'd need to wait a couple of years before going for one. I'll be waiting a few years anyway cos the 3 year loan for my Focus has 2x years to run. And I'll probably change my mind again before then too :-)
Last thought - bit disappointing to see that Toyota aren't saying anything about the MR2 on their site any more :-( The world needs Bad Boy cars which emphasise Fun in driving and convertibles like the MR2 are only good for one thing - driving quick with the top down.
... looks outside - sees dark dismal and rain - thinks "DOH!" ...Need bigga house, garage and Kit Car :-)
Hmm - thinking Prius, greenie stuff, thoughts of trying for 100mpg. I better do something stooopid before people think I'm getting sensible in my old age :-)