Temperamental car and man-shaped wishlists

Horse, aka Amanda’s beloved 68 BHP 2002 Skoda Fabia, my commutermobile, has been faltering a bit lately. All through winter I’ve had long waits in Bas-Vegas car park, waiting for the windscreen to thaw out (Horse’s climate control isn’t the best), and last week the engine management light flicked on and stayed on.

Crap, thought I. And having finally managed to book in for a date Amanda could drop it in for servicing and lend me the other car… it went off again. Hopefully for good this time.

Not that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with it (we hope), but between the two things I’ve added ‘new car’ to the list of things I obsess over quietly but have no actual intention of spending money on. That said, my obsessions tend to take a semi-practical nature, so rather than dreaming of a Maserati or vintage Mercedes SL I could never afford, I’ve been day dreaming about semi-practical cars.

Criteria? Affordable ish. Modern-ish. Proper heating, central locking and automatic windows (non of which Horse, for all his strengths, has in any great measure). Back doors and seats that will fit a carseat. Reliable. Relatively fuel- and maintenance efficient. Fun to drive and a bit sporty.

My current fantasy frontrunner? The Mazda RX-8. Jeremy Clarkson loves it (for what that’s worth), and I think its a pretty good looking car. It is ludicrously affordable second hand and there’s a Mazda dealer about 500m from my house with a pretty good looking one on the forecourt. Maybe a test drive is in order… as well as someone explaining the benefit of a rotary engine to me.

But other than this, semi-aspirational cars seem to be few and far between. I couldn’t get excited about driving a Seat Léon or something like that. Any other ideas from my petrolhead friends?