The best cars in life are free… of pointless options

The Clio is also much more pleasant to drive than most big cars. It had been a while since I drove one, and the road testers told me it was the supermini class swot, but I didn’t realise it would ride with such deftness, be so absorbent, yet settle so quickly – and steer so nicely.

Of course I’d like it to be faster, its plastics to be softer or thicker and it to be quieter, but here some of the things money buys you still apply. Soft-feeling thick polymers and real metals cost more than scritchy-scratchy plastics, and remember that they’ve made a whole Clio for less than the price of some luxury car options.

And what clearly isn’t price-dependent is reliability and engineering-style quality – as in how often a car goes wrong. In the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey, the top 10 most reliable cars included two Suzukis, a Ford, a Toyota and a Hyundai. Luxury stuff this is not.

This doesn’t ring true for every small or big car, but at this end of the market are products that are nicer to drive, easier to live with, practically as comfortable and even more reliable and trustworthy than cars costing three or four times as much.

I’ll go further: if the Clio and some of the market’s most expensive cars were outside my house every morning, I’d climb into the Clio more often than not.

I’m wary of saying ‘this isn’t how the world used to be’, because that way dufferhood lies. But I don’t think this is how the world used to be.

On a not entirely unrelated note: car feature subscriptions. Thankfully manufacturers seem to be backing away from plans to charge drivers to use hardware features that are already fitted to their cars.

But I have a counter-offer to any manufacturer that does request a subscription fee to turn on, say, a heated steering wheel or a cooled seat.

Look here, matey: it’s costing me money to ferry around this feature that I don’t want, and evidently you own it, not me. So either come and take it out or pay me a monthly fee for the cost of transporting it.

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