Letter from the UK: driving our lives
The United Kingdom is a mixed place; it's like the United States as I imagined it. Some privileged people live in fashionable places such as Islington in London, and spend a comfortable vacation in an organic yurt with their organic children Jocasta and Tristram. They eat organic foreign food and drive the environmentally conscious Prius because they believe what they say and want to help save the planet.
Sometimes they are right.
Other people in other places like powerful, brutish cars. They like to eat McJunk foods and generally couldn’t give a monkey’s pink butt about the environment because they think everything they are told by anyone official is a lie. Curiously, they are sometimes right too.
Giving It Some Thought
Don’t Worry: Be Happy
The rest of us, the great silent majority or “plebs” as we are officially called here, can swing either way regarding the environment and much else. We want to help because it makes us feel less guilty, but we can’t be sure how much of the issues surrounding climate change are true and how much of it is whipped up by frenzied anti-car monomaniacs and vested interests. It is we, the huddled masses, the plebeians, who buy the everyday bread-and-butter cars that keep the automotive industry afloat.
Giving It Some Thought
I’ve been thinking about this, because at the time of writing, I am driving the latest version of the inoffensive Peugeot 2008 crossover, which is every bit an every-man motor. Also, I have just watched an old Top Gear (UK version) DVD where two aging fellows (who seem increasingly to be resembling a bickering old married couple) are seen roaring about the exquisitely beautiful Italian countryside in a selection of cars few people can actually afford.
I have been fortunate enough to have driven three of the cars featured and owned another, yet such delights are routinely out of sight for the average driver as we plunge on through the rain and murk of Britain; as the storm clouds gather for yet another governmental General Election this coming June. Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.
If you think about it, without the mainstream cars we routinely drive, there would be no supercars and no Top Gear or Grand Tour as we know them today. No motoring life at all. There would be no exotic car posters on the walls of small boys’ bedrooms (alongside Cheryl Tiegs in my case); no automotive dreaming, no wishful thinking. Cars, if they existed in any recognizable form at all, would be dull and uniform.
Peugeot 2008. Photo: DriveWrite Automotive.
Don’t Worry: Be Happy
This is why we should be grateful for the cars we can afford. The Peugeot 2008 I am currently driving isn’t particularly exciting, but it is at least better looking than many of the SUV/Crossover vehicles we are offered today. It has a lively and economical three-cylinder (1.2 liter) turbo-petrol engine, is made up of many quality parts, and has some pleasing and thoughtful attributes. Just like, in fact, most of the cars in reach of normal household budgets today. It is reasonably good to drive and can apply itself to many things with its versatility.
That’s the point. When you watch car shows or glamorous motoring events from far-flung locations it is important to remember that it isn’t real life. That car outside your home, mundane though it may be, is your ticket to ride. It is the freedom of the open road; it is the pleasure of loading the family up at short notice and going where you want to go when you want to go. Most modern cars are decent to drive and there is pleasure in doing a good, safe job behind the wheel. That’s enough isn’t it?
Geoff Maxted is a motoring writer, photographer, and author of our Letter From The UK series. Follow his work on Twitter: @DriveWrite
Peugeot 2008 interior layout. Photo: DriveWrite Automotive.
Cover photo: Peter H.
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