Friday, March 14, 2008

Quattro Roadster


Would suit: Felons
Price: £31,535
Performance: 155mph, 0-60mph in 6.1 seconds
Combined fuel consumption: 27.2mpg
More information: 08457 699 777

You may have noticed that in recent weeks (OK months, oh alright then, since it started) this column has become as much a platform for me to spout my puerile, often incoherent opinions on stuff, as it has been a place for rational contemplation of contemporary automobiles and their role in society. But as Paul McCartney sang with searing self awareness in "No More Silly Love Songs", well, here I go again.

I've been thinking: isn't it about time that we calculated prison sentences on a sliding scale according to the age of the felon involved? You are familiar, I am sure, with the idea that time passes with increasing speed the older one gets? Surely then, while a three-year stretch for robbery will seem an eternity for an 18-year-old, for an 80-year-old it will be two Sidney Sheldons and an afternoon nap.* Let's get a little balance here: why not weight sentencing according to age with, say, 70 as the threshold for significant sentencing reductions? Sentences can be reduced by perhaps a month or two for every year that you are below that figure, so that if you are, I don't know, let's say, 35 (coincidentally my own age), you can knock off 35 months from a standard sentence for, let's for argument's sake say, car theft.

I raise this now mainly for the altruistic reasons that lie behind all of my writing (or, as I call it, my "giving"), but also because I have just driven the new Audi TT V6 convertible and I now want one so badly I am not going to let a little insurance fraud, a few covert raids on my wife's bank account, or even the temptation to just steal one outright get in the way of raising the £31,530 shortfall in my current budget.

It's a cracker, the new TT, not only subtly sexy, but at last now a proper, tight little sports car. I tried the entry-level, 2.0-litre coupé a few months ago and loved it, rashly pronouncing it far superior to the larger-engined, V6 version, despite never having driven that car (I do the same with films I've never seen and books I've never read). I claimed the 2.0 litre handled better because it had less weight over the front wheels. I was guessing and I was right, but what I had forgotten was that, in most circumstances, more power means more fun, and damn the consequences.

Taut, agile, fast and extremely well made, the new TT is very nearly so perfect it's annoying. In fact the only criticism you can really level against it is that, if the ubiquity of its predecessor is anything to go by, we will be sick of the sight of them in a couple of years' time. That's not Audi's fault of course - the iPod is still a work of genius even though there are now more of them than grains of sand on Bondi - but it might well be all the likes of Alfa and Mazda have to hold on to if they are to remain sane. s

*My wife has pointed out that, although time does seem to go by more slowly for the young, old people have far less of it ahead of them, so time is more precious to them and so their sentences should be shorter. Or the same as they are now. She is also changing her passwords.

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