I really like Citröens. A lot. And even when they were mundane and faceless. Way back when the DS was something even your dad had forgotten about and they’d long since done everything they could to make their cars as conformist as KRudd. The thing is, during this period they actually turned out some hidden gems. Gems like the BX GTi, a car that really had the whole everything-you’d-ever-need-from-one-car all wrapped up. (Addendum to my last note to Audi: So you don’t have to spin off 452 body styles from the A4 platform of decreasing marginal distinction, how about getting one just right instead? Ask the French for advice.)
The GTi in 16 valve form had 119kW and could meet 100km/h in the mid 7s, which is frankly not slow. And, yet, it rode like the proverbial magic carpet. In all reality this is what you actually want from a car, right? To feel like suspension design has evolved past the antiquity of the horse and cart. Plus, the Gallic charmer could slip around a twisty back road with alacrity. It even raced, and raced well, at Bathurst – confirming their advertising slogan, “Built for driving, not for garages”.
Inside, Citröen managed to put together an interior that was both stylish and well equipped, and far more daring than the typically austere German offerings of the day. Taking this fast and comfortable car design to its logical conclusion meant using the most versatile body style – that of the hatchback. Not for gauche lifestyle reasons as BMW would have you believe, but because it just works better than anything else for Getting.Shit.Done.
Don’t anticipate some sort of qualification because I would have recommended this car to anyone at the time, if I could have found time away from grappling with zits and trying to cop a feel of Jenny Scott’s tits, that is. This car was, and is, a firm favourite of mine.
That I would never buy myself.
I have a mental roll call of brilliant cars that would never grace my driveway. Like the remarkable Mazda MX-5. Every time I see one parking up it just makes me want to walk over to the driver, shake their hand and congratulate them profusely. It was Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond who concluded, in all seriousness and devoid of any satirical antagonism, “Why would you have a Boxster?”
He then did exactly what I would have done and walked to the nearest Porsche dealer and asked for a Boxster. (I know Porsche hoodwinks you into believing the 911 he actually bought is different from a Boxster, but the truth is no more than semantics.)
The job of journos and TV presenters is to offer up the idea of a smorgasbord of choice for you, the punter. Yet we aren’t the ones stumping up two years salary for a car to – let’s face it – get you from A to B without sending you broke or making your commute a misery.
It happens right across the spectrum of professions from a fat doctor telling the patient to lose weight, to the real estate agent talking up a place in Macquarie Fields as the “next Double Bay”. So, I don’t think I’m alone in backing great cars that I love but wouldn’t buy myself – so do tell, what are yours?