Chapter 12: Automotive evolution: the car of the future; a future for the car?
I have driven a range of cars over the past few decades and, although I enjoy driving big luxury cars, I have always in the end favoured light and agile cars as I find them more fun to drive. I had the privilege to drive a Rolls-Royce Phantom shortly after its launch by BMW and it was a genuinely great car to drive. What BMW had done is use technology to give the impression of driving a much smaller, lighter car. Starting with a smaller, lighter car seems easier, but would that work on a Rolls-Royce? Actually, it was so agile that you had to remind yourself all the time that you were in fact driving something the size of a long-wheelbase (LWB) Ford Transit van that needed that amount of road. On narrow British roads that adds an unnecessary element of stress. Many desirable ‘sports cars’ have similar problems. Many modern sports cars are in reality GT cars, closer in spirit to the French grandes routières of the 1930s: they are best suited for a quick dash from Paris to the Riviera. On narrow roads their girth becomes a hindrance. This is true for most Ferraris, Aston Martins, Maseratis, Lamborghinis and Jaguars. A few years ago I drove a Jaguar XK-8 at a launch event in the English Cotswolds. This is a lovely car, but in my view totally unsuited to the narrow winding roads of the Cotswolds.
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