*continued after a quite a break
I must start with a couple of confessions.
Firstly, I've not been in a rush to finish this article (been too busy, really? hmm)
Secondly, I haven't read the first bit of 'the BEST 2 car garage' so this bit might not link up too well.....
.....shoddy work, I know
Anyway, didn't we leave off with post-it notes, porridge and ice-cream or some other metaphor.
The Audi, yes the Audi is a hoot.
Recently, the motoring press have lauded both the RS 4, just gone, and the R8 as proof that Audi actually knows how to create drivers' cars. But in 1999, Audi did this with the humble A2. Yes, no-one said it at the time, why would they, the TT was just a spoilerless concept (yet to kill a few Germans) and RS models were extremely rare, very fettled and expensive objects.
In 1999, Audi was yet to rise as a true status marque it is in 2009 (What a decade in Ingostadt!).
The A2 was difficult to label by the motor journos at the time; was it an entry to the Scenic created mini-MPV niche? Was it a Life-Style Vehicle with surfboards and chunky tyres like the Al2 concept the A2 was meant to based on? (really Luc Donckerwolke?) Or was it the arch nemesis of the A-Class? Yeah, lets go with the that one.
A brief A-class/A2 comparison:
Both compact. Both taller than a standard hatch. Both German? One fainted at the sight of elks and had a dashboard made with, err, monkeys? It was crap, 80's Lada crap. But the other, aluminium and like a, err, an Audi inside. So in Summary: the Merc; rubbish inside, average outside, sandwiches in the middle. Sold in the hundreds of thousands. The Audi; rock solid inside, a rust proof outside, err, can go around corners really well, we'll get back to that in a minute. Sold a few, rocking horse poop a few: 15k in the UK over 6 years. (big rocking horse?)
The diesel A2 that's one half of this Best 2.....blah, is really a hoot, it really can go around corners, not just in relative A-Class terms, but in Ford Ka & Focus terms. No really! It's not as feedbacky as the Fords and sometimes straight ahead it a little cold but it's light, quick and well, good fun.
Whilst down south, around the Eastbourne/Bexhill area, I drove a couple of my favourite back road circuits. I driven them in almost all of the other cars S L and I have owned. The A2 isn't as hard riding as my old Mini (1998 1.3 cooper sportpack) but it's close when compressing after a rise where the Alfa (2003 156 2.0t-s) survived the same landings better but handed similiarly almost everywhere else. The SportKa is a better compremise between the Mini and Alfa on crappy surfaces and, yes ok, landing, but Kolo just does it in a way that makes you feel more satisfied.
After all this, yes that's what I would say, Kolo is more statisfying that SouferKa because it's not an out and out marvel to drive fast on a twisty bit. I guess it's a Stirling Moss thing than a Lewis Hamilton one. As in, you're more alive if you race so close to death. Ok, in an A2 near Bexhill, it's not myself that's close to death but when you win with one hand behind your back it's a better win, is it not?
The SportKa is an absolutely brilliant driving machine, the ultimate in fact, front wheel drive machine that Richard Parry Jones oversaw. But it's brilliance is best when you're commuting. you see, you can drive like a pro without getting close to the cars limit and with only a Monday to Friday mindset but if you really push it on the weekend, it's not that much different because your (or my) talent ends at about 12% of the Ford's on a rest day and about 6% on a working day. It's just never going to be fussed unless it's on a track. It's just so much better than you.
Kolo is less keepy-uppy with Becks and more like reading Heat mag with his wife, Posh. The talent scale is more like a metal version of the average driver. Kolo's limit is your limit. When you can't be bothered going to work on some dull 8.30 crudge, the A2 won't try either. But when you try to be a Le Mans star, so will the Audi. The reward is there, your 100% is the Audi's one-hundred. Go beyond what you're capable of, well, just don't. SouferKa would save your blushes with a mild bit of tyre squeal, just like the old Mini (called Donkey) would, but then you'll think your a better driver, and really, are you? But Kolo knows where the line is, thus it more a unspoken thing between you and machine. A mutual respect, I suppose. (If a car could respect a driver, but you get it, right?)
So essay over.