Having driven the C30 T5 a couple of years ago and loved it, I couldn’t pass up the unique opportunity to drive another (this time a C30 VER 2.0) while on a business trip/vacation in California. The manual transmission in the C30 T5 is one of the sweetest and slickest gearboxes available; however, since probably 90% of these cars are purchased with an automatic transmission, this provided a valuable opportunity to experience the other side. With the intended sightseeing route, I figured it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to drop the transmission into D and just go.
Having grown up in the UK, the Mini has always been an integral part of the roadscape to me. From the familiar and traditional 2-door version to a station wagon (Clubman), to a panel van version and even a pick up, the mini was everywhere. When British Leyland (BL) decided to re-design the Mini in the mid-eighties, more than a few people went: “Bluh” and refused to buy it. British Leyland scrambled and re-introduced the “Mini Classic” – basically the original version with a couple of new elements, to it like bigger wheels and brakes, more creature comforts and a price increase to boot. The “Classic” continued to be sold alongside the new one and handily outsold the newer version for more than two decades. BL was eventually sold and carved up, with various parts sold to other manufacturers.
Having grown up in the UK for the most part, the Mini has always been an integral part of the road-scape for me. Although it had a bit of a cult following over here in North America, there were numerous versions of the Mini in Britain and Europe. From the familiar and traditional 2-door version to a station wagon (Clubman), to a panel van version and a pickup – the mini was everywhere. The Post Office had what seemed like millions of them and they seemed to be standard issue for every traveling salesman. And let’s not forget the movie “The Italian Job” – it just wouldn’t have been the same if they’d used VW Beetles, would it?
Last fall I had the opportunity to drive the Mazda6 hatchback, and it remained one of my favorite cars – until I drove the MAZDASPEED6! However, it has one big flaw in my opinion. If you’re a regular reader you already know that I prefer the versatility of a hatchback over a sedan, so to me, it’s extremely unfortunate that the MAZDASPEED6 isn’t available in a hatchback version. Nevertheless, the MAZDASPEED6 is an incredible car – think of it as an RX-8 for families.
While many auto manufacturers are trying to re-ignite the passion for retro-vehicles I never thought I’d see Volvo jumping on the concept – after all what cars from their past would be worth re-creating as a modern art form? When you think of Volvo, generally all that comes to mind is safety and square boxy cars. But wait … wasn’t there one car they made that was actually sporty AND attractive? Yes, of course – the P1800! The original car that “The Saint” drove in the TV series back in the 1960’s. That was radical for Volvo, even back then – but could they do it again in the 21st century?