The perils of practice on a press car

Long term test cars are loved and loathed in equal measure by motoring journalists.

Some (like me) adore the idea of regularity, of not losing sunglasses and CDs, of being able to go on a car launch without worrying about rejuggling car collection.

Others like the variety, the constant discovery, the bottomless fuel tank. What’s more, become a test car regular and you don’t think twice of switching between Audi MMI and BMW iDrive, or remembering which side a Kia’s fuel cap is without looking at the dial. You become a car Prof, where no AM/FM switchover is a challenge.

I’ve done this, but, for the past year or so, have been a long termer convert. I was struck today at how it’s changed my driving style, and how I apply this to other cars.

For two months, my (almost) sole mode of transport has been a Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion. And just as pets and owners look and act alike, or married couples begin to mimic one another, so I’ve become a bit of a walking Golf.

I realised this when I appeared on my first Alex Goy Podisode the other week.

Three blokes, one mic and only two of them with much idea what to say. You may be able to detect this, though I did slowly get into it. Not before a little ineptitude was captured on Goy’s Mac mic, though.

So, here are my excuses:

•    The Golf has a sharp throttle, so I stalled the MINI Countryman when I first pulled away.

•    The Golf has a really light gearchange that swallows the next ratio with the merest brush of the lever. That’s why I crunched the MINI’s weightier shift.

•    The Golf generates turbo boost virtually by looking at the throttle pedal. That’s why Baggott and Goy thought I’d anaesthetised my legs.

Sounds tenuous, but those are my excuses, and I’m sticking with ‘em.

Yup, motoring journos who do the test car cycle amaze others with their ability to switch. Soon as you stick with the same car for 1200 miles a week, this starts to slip.

Good thing or bad? Well, it sure highlights the differences in cars, meaning it may actually make you a sharper tester. But that’s another blog entirely. Right now, I need to carry on trying to salvage the ignominy of such a public stall.

At least it wasn’t the highest profile stall ever…