Sunday 22 September 2019

All I want from motoring this Christmas (and 2015)

Mercedes S Class Couope: we can all make a wish this Christmas
Mercedes S Class Couope: we can all make a wish this Christmas
Jaguar F Type Coupe
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

FIRST things first. I'd love to have the money or wherewithal to buy the Jaguar F-TYPE Coupe. It is a sensational drive and gorgeous to look at.

So that's the dreaming and delusion out of the way. From here on in it's sensible.

Mind you I could also readily accept the Mercedes S-Class Coupe. Or the Ferrari California T. That's what happens when small-farmer's sons are exposed to so much glitz and glamour.

No, on a semi-serious note it would have to be the Jaguar. Nothing quite like it for the money out there.

2 I'd love to see people less strained and stressed at the wheel. That is especially true of mums and dads in suburbia, I feel. I probably was like them once upon a long time ago.

The reason I place this at No. 2 is that stress and strain impair our ability to drive more safely and with children on board that can be a significant contributor to accidents.

3 I understand the argument on oil prices and petrol costs but I find it hard to take. When oil prices go up on world markets, the price at the pumps doesn't take long to follow suit. When oil plunges I don't see a corresponding mad headlong rush downwards.

My wish is that every fuel station carries a total breakdown of the cost of a litre of petrol and diesel. I want it prominently displayed - I stress prominently. It should be done electronically. And it should, most certainly, should show how much we are paying in duty for every litre. That way we'd see the real state of play and not spend our time grumbling when prices go up - and down.

4 I'd love to see more manufacturers - and this is a wish that has been expressed and unfilled for a long time now - make provision for a proper little waste slot in their cars.

Have you any idea (I suspect you have) of the amount of bits and pieces generated in the course of a journey by a couple or three children and their parents? What happens?

Much of it ends up under or between the seats, on the floor or shoved into existing little slots that were never designed to be waste-bins.

Car designers are great at coming up with new shapes so this shouldn't really pose much of a difficulty for them. Hope springs eternal.

5 A big wish is that automakers could fit a full-size spare wheel to every car. They increasingly don't, as you probably know, because they are trying to reduce the car's weight so they can cut fuel consumption and lower emissions. And every kilo cut is vital in that exercise - a wheel weighs a fair bit as any of us who have had to change one will testify.

However, it is in my opinion a big price to pay for the peace of mind that comes with a sturdy spare wheel snuggling at the back there just in case.

6 I'd love all cars to have proper - and I mean proper - lumbar support for the driver and front-seat passenger.

Yes, I suffer with the back a bit. And I am not alone judging from reaction I get every time I mention car seats or lack of support from them.

Lumbar support is not always fitted as standard. I think it should be. Oh! oh! I hear you say; that's going to make cars more expensive. It probably is: but by how much I wonder?

My case is that the legislators insist on items that cost billions to protect people outside the car - I'm talking about the impact of the front of a car on pedestrians. It's a worthy undertaking, of course, but looking after the occupants a little more wouldn't go amiss either.

7 I still think many of our road signs are inadequate. I pity any visitors coming onto the road system in a rented car from Dublin airport. I'm not the greatest at finding places (I've been lost in virtually every city or country in which I've driven) so I'm particularly sensitive to what is needed to avoid confusion.

I think there is an overload of signs in some parts of the country and not enough in others. I know there is a fine line between bewildering people and having them scratching their heads in ignorance.

And I know sat navs can be great at getting you to your destination but it doesn't mean we overlook the need for better signage. The time has come for a major review, I think.

8 Mentioning sat navs: why can some cars have clear and straightforward systems that even I can follow and others have what can only be described as crossword puzzles?

They are improving overall I have to say. And with the integration of smartphone and car display, we are getting there. But some still leave a lot to be desired. Speed it up there. It's not magic any more.

9 I really want to see more and more distributors bring in on-the-road prices for new cars. At the moment the vast majority quote prices that exclude delivery and related charges. Some say how much those charges come to - Volkswagen, for example, make it clear it's €750.

A good few now operate an On-The-Road (OTR) price policy. I wish, fervently, everyone would. It would make life easier for buyers especially.

10 Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could just infuse our driving with a little bit of the seasonal goodwill all year round?

There has been a detectable increase in the sort of intolerance that marked the worst excesses of the boom.

More people are flashing lights, honking horns and shaking their heads. It's not road rage but there is anger afoot. Let's cool it, okay?

A couple of minutes one way or the other isn't going to make much difference. So can we chill? Not just for a few days but every day?

11 I hope families who need a new/newer car can find the means of doing so over the coming months. It isn't easy. But if there is one thing to spend money on it's safety and there is no doubt in my mind newer cars are saving lives because they are better equipped to do so.

Allied to that wish is another: that people won't overstretch in their attempts to update. Just be careful. There are all sorts of deals and schemes out there. They are perfectly fine so long as you are aware of the small print and the commitment. And so long as you can truly AFFORD them.

Don't fool yourself into thinking you can if it means scrimping on something else. It is a recipe for disaster.

12 I've left this wish til last merely in the hope it might linger the longer.

It is: That no one is killed or injured on our roads over the festive period. I say that in the sad acceptance that it is unlikely to be the case. How awful.

It would be a real Christmas miracle if it did. The killer is speed. Slow down by a few kmh and God knows how many lives and limbs will be spared. Please. This is the biggest wish of all.

Have a safe motoring Christmas - and let's make it a habit for the new year too.

Irish Independent

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