My car history part 12: Old before my time

By early 2014 I’d owned 20 different cars myself, plus also purchased and regularly driven 4 girlfriends cars. I’d found the ideal fun turbo charged MX-5, was waiting for the somewhat short-lived experience RX-7 to be rebuilt before selling it, had managed to get rid of the bloody beamer and had now possibly found the perfect sensible hatchback.

Well, it was a coupe – the VW Scirocco.

The line-up; the MX-5 BBR turbo, VW Scirocco, Mazda RX-7 and the girlfriend's Lexus RX300
The line-up; the MX-5 BBR turbo, VW Scirocco, Mazda RX-7 and the girlfriend’s Lexus RX300

On paper, ‘The Roc’ met all my needs. She was fun to drive and reasonably ecomonical – whilst out of work for a few months at the
beginning of the year and only pootling about on school runs and to the shops, I was only averaging 31mpg, but recently I’ve done
a few longer runs and I could get 39mpg out of her at a push – not bad for a 200bhp ‘hothatch’/’sports coupe’.

But surely I could do better. I could get a 60mpg diesel with a proper hatchback – the ‘Roc’s ain’t exactly large.


I must be getting old.

Am I finally getting the sensible hatchback diesel??

Do I really want to get rid of ‘Siri‘?

Maggy, the MX-5 BBR turbo, resprayed
Maggy, the MX-5 BBR turbo, resprayed

I am finally being sensible and reasonable. Maybe boring. But I have the MX-5 for fun (recently resprayed in Mazda Graphite Grey, from the 2010 model Mazda3). I’ve just started a new job where I’m going to have to drive over 100 miles every day. Buying a diesel could save me £1000 a year in fuel costs. And I could buy a
decent quality diesel for half the price of the ‘Roc.

Where I like the Scirocco, A LOT, and it’s a lovely car, I’ve just not come to love her.


Well, I’ve been trying to work that out.

I think it’s the combination of the DSG automatic gearbox and the small turbo lag. You see, I’m not a huge fan of autos, but as the girlfriend loves them and isn’t used to manuals, and we were planning on selling the RX300 and having a gap before finding her a replacement, she planned to use the Scirocco, and I’d test driven an auto ‘Roc and had been convinced.

At the time.

I’d tried the flappy paddle semi-auto sport mode on the test drive and found it fun. This was the answer to a boring auto, I could still change gear when I wanted!

In practice, I never use it. I just haven’t been able to get used to it; you can’t ‘feel’ which gear you are in or need to be in so much as you would with a manual gearbox. Perhaps with time I’d get used to it, but I’m finding the sheer joy and simplicity of the MX-5’s gearbox is more than enough and leaving the DSG gearbox in auto mode.

The problem with that is the combination of the DSG boxes momentarily lapse to decide to drop down a gear when accelerating, plus the small turbo lag, results in a slightly irritating delay.

Only slightly – its not as annoying or dangerous as the Brera’s turbo lag. But in reality it feels more sluggish than the girlfriends older, lower powered, heavier RAV4 auto.

I can live with it, and still enjoy the car, but I can’t love it.

So why not keep it?

We’ve found the perfect replacement for the RX300, a 2009/2010 Toyota RAV4. It meets all my girlfriends needs, and whilst I’m not
exactly an SUV fan, I have to say, it’s one nice looking beast! The newer post ’08 engine offers slightly more power (up from 150
to 158bhp) and better fuel efficiency (31 to 38mpg) and seems to drive nicer; the standard auto has been replaced by a CVT system
with a semi-auto flappy paddle option. There are mixed opinions about these CVT gearboxes which effectively have no clutch – but
she liked it and it seems a better option that the older models which after 50,000 miles seem to be somewhat tired feeling (see
my post on the Pistonheads forum).

It’s not cheap though. But she needs something decent for her job and it would be a good ‘family car’ for us at weekends and for trips, purchasing things with it’s large boot, etc.

So that’s why I’m considering selling the ‘Rocco. I just don’t need it; it would make more sense to sell it to part fund the RAV4, and then get a cheap diesel for my commute.

During all this debating, the sun came out and I got back on the motorbike.

But I wasn’t happy with Daisy. She was a b1tch, she’d threw me off, I didn’t trust her!

Yet again I offered my business to Pistonheads, eBay and AutoTrader to sell yet another vehicle.

I decided to replace the somewhat excessive 750cc superbike with a little 250cc.

I’d considered a range of 600cc bikes but I hadn’t liked the weight of the Ducati and it had been a pain getting her in and out of the garage, and into tight parking spaces. I recalled how nice and easy life was with my 125. The wet weights of the 600s were all very similar.

I looked at the KTM Dukes, as these are incredibly light yet quite powerful. Unfortunately they are quite pricey, and with me only using the bike occasionally, I felt it was unreasonable spending so much money. I wanted to scrape back some cash from the Ducati and buy a cheaper bike. I was also worried about the more upright seating position compared to a sportsbike due to my tailbone issue (to be posted shortly in the Health & Fitness section).

Then I fell in love again…

Next part of the story: Bikes, planes and automobiles

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