American cars

When I was away I drove a Dodge Charger, a big dumb car that I’m reliably informed is the choice of annoying people with no class. Which, of course, is why I chose it. And you know what? I loved it. Sure, it doesn’t go around corners, but the Americans have solved that problem by not really having any corners. It eats petrol, but despite the price hikes petrol’s still laughably cheap compared to here. And while it’s one of the smallest things on US roads it’s still massive by UK standards. When I got back, the Saab felt like a Tesco shopping trolley, or maybe a roller-skate.

One thing did strike me, though: US (or at least, Floridian) roads are brilliant. Glass-smooth, impeccably maintained, and generally great, if boring, to drive on. And yet the cars are so insulated from the outside world you don’t feel anything even when you do encounter a rare imperfection. By insulated I mean *really* insulated: I managed to run over various orphans, nuns, deer and puppies without feeling a single bump.

And yet in the UK, whose roads are uniformly terrible, everybody’s driving cars whose suspension is designed to transmit every last wrinkle through the steering wheel and driver’s seat. Given that the roads round my way, and in pretty much every bit of the UK I’ve driven in, would need thousands of pounds of upgrading in order to reach pockmarked dirt track status, that means UK car buyers are all nuts (and getting screwed – you can lease a brand new BMW 3-series in the US for about 3p a month).