WORD reaches me from north of the border that my sister’s looking to treat herself to a festive gift of the four-wheeled variety
It’s a straightforward enough challenge; she’s looking for something small, good looking, reliable and easy to run, for around the four grand mark. Not that she’s going to take any advice off her car nut brother – it’s Life On Cars tradition that whenever someone actually asks me for advice on cars, they listen dutifully to whatever considered opinion I can come up with, pause reflectively for a moment, and then ignore it and buy the car they had their heart set on anyway. This explains why so many people I know own a Vauxhall Corsa.
Then again, my suggestions were slightly more sensible than my sister’s other half’s, who being even more of a petrolhead than I am pointed me in the direction of a Lancia Beta Spider (Google it) which could be under your Christmas tree for just £1,650. A beautiful Italian roadster which would be fine for a classic car bore like me, but hardly the sort of thing you’d rely on to get you in and out of Glasgow on a daily basis!
Trying to keep things as sensible as possible, I went for the original Ford Ka, Toyota’s Aygo, the Citroen C1 and – whisper it softly – the new MINI, with the Peugeot 106 GTi as the wildcard I secretly hoped my sister would go for. All of which are reliable enough to survive life tooling around a city centre for days on end, small enough to squeeze into even the tightest parking spaces and – most importantly for my sister, someone who’s far more stylish than I am – blessed with the sort of chic and sense of fun that, say, a Nissan Micra just isn’t.
I was quietly pleased with my carefully selected shortlist, right up until the point when my sister mentioned the one small car I’d forgotten about; the Fiat 500. Her argument is that it’s far cuter than just about any other small car on the second-hand market (as long as it’s bought in the right colour), it’s got perfectly good underpinnings (which is true, given it’s a former European Car of the Year), and there’s enough of them around for her to pick up a decent one. For what it’s worth, I think the mechanically identical Panda is the better small Fiat, but for what my sister wants the 500’s perfect. I’m just annoyed I didn’t think of it earlier.
To be fair, I agree with her. If you can think of a better suggestion, feel free to send them in to the usual Champion address. Although – in true Life On Cars tradition – she’ll only ignore it anyway. Merry Christmas.