Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Mr Darling's Hyundai Sonata

During government crises, the 24 hour news channels follow the main players' every move - that includes hanging around just to get a shot of, say, Mr Darling getting into his car outside 11 Downing Street for the short journey to Parliament. Completely pointless in terms of advancing anyone's understanding of the real story but moderately interesting for the automotive anorak.

As chancellor, Gordon Brown seemed to stick for ages with a maroon metallic '51' reg Vauxhall Omega. That looked to me like a not so subtle attempt to highlight his supposed modesty and parsimony with the public purse by way of contrast with you-know-who next door at Number Ten.

Anyway, yesterday, I couldn't help but notice that Mr Darling was being shuttled about in, of all things, a Hyundai Sonata. I can't think of any other country in the world where the finance minister would be issued with what amounts to a Korean-built minicab as his chauffeur-driven car, but the more I think about it, the more I like the idea. The Sonata says 'I've got nothing to prove' and also demonstrates Britain's commitment to free trade and the genuine openness of its public procurement policies.

It would be nice if the Rover 75 were still available or if the budget would stretch a Jaguar S-Type or XF, but I wouldn't like the UK to be like protectionist France, where the car manufacturers seem to feel obliged to produce big, crap, unprofitable cars that don't sell, just so that French politicians can travel in a home-produced vehicle.

Actually I have to admit I quite like the Sonata. Apart from the rather vague steering, it's a fairly good effort - although the one I saw Mr Darling getting into on the telly yesterday was only about the second or third I've come across since we featured this model on the Verdict over two years ago. And the Treasury could have saved even more if it had gone for the Sonata's cheaper sister model, the Kia Magentis.

No comments: