Along with shoes, handbags, cake, and running, I like cars. I like driving them, I like reading about them, I like talking about them. So when my friend Lizzie said that she was in the market for a newish car to replace her faithful but aged 1.4 Polo, I volunteered to be her support person. We discussed her vehicular requirements so that I could keep her on track during the actual shopping phase - four wheel drive, low miles, nippy enough that she could overtake on the A9 without needing at least three miles of clear road ahead, and a cup holder - all very practical indeed.
Yesterday found us meeting other friends at a car lot in Inverness so that they could introduce Lizzie to their neighbour, a mechanic who is selling a 2001 1.8T Audi A3 Quattro (177.5 bhp and 0-60 in 7.5 sec). Both Lizzie and I were a bit sniffy about the Audi's exterior - it was a bit conservative for our tastes - and it didn't have the all-important cup holders but it met all of her other requirements and Mr Mechanic encouraged us to take it for a test drive.
After a couple of false starts as Lizzie got to grips with the bite point of the clutch and with a car whose brakes actually work, we were off. Big time. A quick left turn out of the car lot that had both of us shouting 'Whoa!' as the car accelerated led through a couple of roundabouts to a long uphill section of the A9. Cue much discussion about the joys of driving a car that not only can make it up a long hill at faster than walking pace but that leaves all the other cars in its wake. Also cue much discussion about whether a nippy car that isn't even red can make up for the lack of cup holders.
We did look at other cars in other lots, and even test drove some. All red, all little, all cute. None of them made Lizzie smile as much as the Audi. I got an email earlier today to say that, all being well on another test drive tomorrrow, she's going for the Audi. Cup holders can be added. Brake horsepower can't.