Road Tests

Road Test of the Year: Let the fun commence

Time 13 years ago

 

‘An Aston Martin DBS, Caterham R500, Mitsubishi Evo X.. and a Twingo.’

‘And a Twingo?’

‘Yes, and a Twingo.’

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That’s pretty much how the conversation went whenever I told friends, family and colleagues what we had planned for the inaugural Car Dealer Road Test of the Year.

Ok, so I admit this is a rather eclectic bunch of cars – but there was some rationale behind our thinking. As you’ve probably guessed from the vehicles tested over the past year, Car Dealer likes to feature the machines you can drool over rather than those you’re stuck flogging every day.

So, with this in mind, we set about planning RTotY ’08. The premise was simple: Pick four cars that arrived in dealers this year that we could enjoy in the supercar playground more commonly known as Wales. There were, of course, other conditions: most notably the chances of wangling one out of the manufacturers. But a shortlist was drawn up and phone calls made.

The first – and most important – of the lot was to Aston Martin. Having spent far more time lusting after the DBS in Casino Royale than the leading Bond girl, I desperately wanted to get my hands on the £165k stunner. After a rather exciting game of telephone tennis (40-love Car Dealer), we managed to set a date with the British manufacturer.

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With the DBS taking care of the luxury category we wanted a raw alternative to pitch it against – and things don’t get much more pink in the middle than a Caterham R500. The legendary pocket rocket underwent a series of revisions this summer, most important of the lot being an all-new 263bhp 2.0-litre Ford unit under the bonnet. We didn’t need much more of an excuse to line the R500 up as our second car.

When you’re heading to Wales, car nuts’ thoughts turn to one thing – the Wales Rally GB, so our third car pays homage to that great motoring showpiece. Obviously we couldn’t bring ourselves to take the motoring monstrosity that is the new Subaru WRX – we wanted to be battling to keep our lunch down because of the cars’ cornering prowess not their looks – so instead we opted for the prettier Evo X. With more electronic trickery than Microsoft, the Evo would be a perfect contrast to the refined DBS and simplistic Caterham.

With three bases covered – ultra-luxury, rally, and raw we wanted something a little more real world; something that would prove you don’t need 200+bhp to enjoy a drive. Deputy ed Rich had sung the praises of the Twingo Renaultsport 133 a few weeks before we made the cut – with a sporty chassis and the joy you only get from thrashing a small French car, the tiny Twingo was our final pick.

Being a small, but perfectly formed, team here at Car Dealer, we needed a hand getting the cars to Wales and testing them – needless to say, finding some willing participants wasn’t hard.

We wanted two truly different opinions to counter those of Rich’s and mine – so where better to turn than to our faithful subscriber database where we found a car dealer salesman and a real life punter. Two calls later and Chrysler salesman Duncan Chappell and buyer-to-be Daniel Harris had joined the team.

So that was it. The stage set, our Class of ’08 picked – just 1,500 miles, £643.43p of super unleaded and a barrage of service station sandwiches separated us from our pick of the bunch. Let the fun commence… 

by JAMES BAGGOTT

NEXT…

Part 2: Aston Martin DBS

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Part 3: Caterham R500

Part 4: Renaultsport Twingo 133

Part 5: Mitsubishi Evo X

 

 

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Car Dealer has been covering the motor trade since 2008 as both a print and digital publication. In 2020 the title went fully digital and now provides daily motoring updates on this website for the car industry. A digital magazine is published once a month.

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