Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Golf club

I mentioned in my previous post - under the heading 'Tuesday,' no less - that I planned to write about the hire car I had while Clubbie was … otherwise unavailable. Well, strap yourselves in, because as Nero says in the Star Trek trailer: THE WAIT IS OVER!

So, a few hours after Clubbie received an unexpected and rather unwanted surprise from behind, I found myself wandering into a hire car office to collect a, well, hire car that would be mine, all mine, for the duration of time that Clubbie was off the mean streets of West London being patched up. I fully intended my first words to the people in the office to be a tirade of naughty swears, because not only was I pissed off at the earlier events of the day, but the hire car people had given me a totally incorrect location for where their office was. I had asked on the phone if they were the hire car place near Hatton Cross tube station, to which they had replied "yes"; it was only after Sparky Ma had dropped me off by the tube station - and the hire car place I'd been led to believe was the correct one - and driven off that I found myself asking if I'd been led astray. A quick Google later and I discovered that, yes, the doofus had given me the the completely wrong location.

I subsequently set off on a two-mile hike to the correct location.

So, as you can imagine, I was fully prepared to spout a long list of words that, if written out in an Asterix book, would be represented by exclamation marks, skull and crossbones, and inexplicable swirly things. Fortunately for them, by the time I actually got there the whiplash had begun to settle in and I was properly knacked.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, they redeemed themselves when, upon finding out that I was the victim of the accident rather than the perpetrator, they told me that rather than have a shitty little Chevrolet Matiz (which I'd already massively complained about because quite frankly I would've felt safer driving a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe), I would be upgraded to something a little more becoming of someone of my distinguished status.

And so I got a brand new VW Golf.

And I mean, like, a *really* brand new Golf.

It was a Mark VI Golf GT TDi, which for those of you who don't have a clue what that means, means it's the sixth generation Golf with a powerful diesel engine and a fair few bells and whistles.

Unfortunately, my slightly more favourable impression of the hire car staff took a bit of a knock as I was just about to drive away when one of the guys said to me "I really love this car - try not to crash it, yeah?"

Yes, that's a very intelligent thing to say to someone who'd just been in a car accident.

As it turns out, as I was driving home some wench in an aged Fiat Punto did try to slam into the Golf by cutting me up at a roundabout. Not being terribly familiar with its controls at that point in time, and being unable to locate the horn in a hurry, I made do with pulling alongside her at some traffic lights and extending my middle finger towards her in the time honoured gesture. All in all I found that rather satisfying.

So, the Golf. It was a quality car. It felt very safe, which was just what I needed after the accident. It was gutsy. It was easy to drive. It was … utterly characterless. I think I've been spoilt by driving Minis for so long; as I said when I looked back over all the cars I've owned in March, Minis are by no means perfect, but they've got personality. This kind of makes it sound like I hated the Golf, but I didn't; I was very grateful for the fact that I had a good car to stand in temporarily for Clubbie, but it was so grown-up - so sensible. If I was 40 with a couple of kids and a wife who resented me, it would've been perfect.

More to the point, I admitted to Sparky Ma that I thought I couldn't get enthusiastic about the Golf because its presence merely signified the fact that I didn't have MY car. I honestly believe that if I'd had it as a loan car while mine was in for a service or something, I probably would've enjoyed it a lot more. It also didn't help that a fair few other people were wildly excited by the prospect of me having a new Golf. One in particular wanted to know all about it the day after the accident, and it was only after asking me endless boring questions about how big the wheels were that I was asked how my car was, and if I was OK.

Reasonably unjust prejudice aside, there were actually a few things about the Golf that I genuinely didn't like. The indicator stalks were, to me at least, utterly confusing (although both Sparky Pa and Big Bro, both fans of VWs, have since tried to convince me that I was just being stupid in this respect), it rolled around a bit and the steering was a tad woolly (compared to Minis, at least), the boot lid sounded like it was made from cheap tin when you slammed it shut, and there was a sharp ridge of plastic around the base of the dashboard where it met the transmission tunnel. The leather that was wrapped around the steering wheel and handbrake did a passable impression of styrofoam. Worst of all, though, was the fact that the seat bolsters were made of a coarse, hardwearing material, and every time I released the handbrake I grazed my knuckles on the passenger seat. If I'd had it for more than two weeks I probably would've ended up looking more like an underground bare-knuckle street fighter than usual.

Finally, I'd always been led to believe that diesels were super economical. When I picked the Golf up it was on the red line, so I immediately had to go buy some fuel (annoyingly). Not knowing how long I was going to have it for, I only put half a tank's worth in. In the two weeks I had the car I had to fill it up three times. On the last occasion, the trip computer told me it had a range of 220 miles; three days later, when I returned it, it was back on the red line and at one point I actually thought I'd have to fill it up just to make sure it would reach the hire car place. This was really surprising, because I was only driving to work and back (a round journey of about 25 miles), and I wasn't flooring it or anything; in fact, since the accident I've been driving like an aged nun. If this is how diesels perform in the real world I'm doubly glad I bought a petrol Mini!

On the whole, though, of all the cars I could've had while mine was off the road, the Golf was (without the option of another Mini) definitely one of the better choices. And while I wasn't too sorry to see it go, the hire car guys were definitely happy to have it back.

"Didn't dink it, did ya?" I was asked as I handed the keys over.


CyberPete said...

Oh those hire places think they are so funny don't they.

You are right, the Golf has no personality but it's decent looking. Sort of like Keanu Reeves.

Tara said...

The hire car staff must prefer it when customers are angry with them. They lead you astray with bad directions - bad..But they make up for it by giving you a nice rental car, and then ruin it again by having the nerve to tell you not to crash it.

I actually waited so long to refuel my car last month that my "low fuel" indicator flashed on. First time, too, I usually don't wait that long to refuel my car.

Tim said...

Cyberpete - I think VW should adopt the tagline:

If Keanu Reeves had wheels he'd be a Golf.

Nice one!!

Tara - The low fuel indicator scares me! The first time I needed to fill Clubbie up I let it go low enough that it came on. I always think it means the car could conk out at any moment!

missyandchrissy said...

thank goodness you have Clubbie back...Mr. Golf sounds entirely too boring to be your means of transportation!

Tim said...

Damn right - nice to be back in a characterful motor!