On Saturday, I picked up my Peugeot 106 Rallye from Pug1Off where a Satchell Engineering shifter had been just been installed, then dropped in to see our Technical Editor, Ryan and check out his E30 track car progress.
I realised that we hadn’t been out for a drive in what seems like ages, so we made a plan to swing past the Auto Finesse Car Wash Club the very next day.
The following morning there was some detailing geekery going down at AF’s new HQ; we grabbed a coffee and I bought some product to give the Rallye a clean. Ryan turned up fashionably late with a Mk3 Golf VR6 piloted by Chris O’Day in tow. I finished my drink and we went for a drive.
In the UK, the roads get graded with a letter, which is usually A or B and then followed by a number designation. So, you get roads called ‘A465’ for example. It sounds complicated, but soon makes sense and you quickly get familiar with your favourite road numbers.
I grew up dangerously near Wales and the roads near my parents’ house are a mix of very fast A and twisty B-graded, with pubs, petrol stations and more pubs. This means there’s loads of places to stop and get something to eat.
Not familiar with the good (read: fun) roads in Essex and feeling hungry, I opened Foursquare and led this unusual trio of cars to the nearest place to eat that scored above an 8/10. The app took us to a place called The Cricketers. Sat outside with a cuppa tea, I admired Ryan’s 450bhp M3.
His E92 boasts a dream list of parts from legit brands, and it’s all been screwed together and set up with love and care. From the Pirelli Trofeo R tyres, to the Recaro seats, and the Akrapovič, BILSTEIN, BBS and CSF upgrades in between, I absolutely love this thing.
Reading Jordan’s recent story about 300mph+ got my brain whirring – I think there’s a lot to be said for keeping it simple. Ryan’s M3 is a dream to drive in pretty much any situation: fast road driving, track days, long-haul European adventures to the Nürburgring. Heck, a dash to the supermarket in the M3 is dead simple, too. But the cost of consumables like tyres and brake pads quickly adds up due to the car’s size and weight. Even running a car like this is a big expense.
So, when it comes to cars that do 300mph, it’s just not reality. This kind of speed is high risk and takes a huge amount of planning even for one of the world’s largest car makers. Doing this on the road? Forget it.
For me, the joy of driving is all about the BHP-per-tonne ratio. That’s the vital metric for making a car great fun to drive: power-to-weight. So, does horsepower matter? Yes, of course – to a degree. But that lightness-to-power ratio is more important. Cars like Chris’s Golf VR6, my Rallye and Ryan’s E30 offer loads of smiles without much power.
The S2 106 Rallye kicks out a wild 103bhp and tips the scales at around 865kg (1,907lb). That’s just under 120bhp per tonne. For ‘Sunday Funday’ blasts on my favourite roads it’s pretty much perfect for me. If the Rallye wasn’t so prone to rusting itself to death, then it might just be the best car I own! And here’s a fun fact: those three aforementioned cars – 106, E30 and VR6 – combined have less power than the E92 M3. How wild is that?
With Frankfurt about to kick off, a bunch of EV launches planned and more talk of sustainability than ever, there’s never been a better time to get your hands on a machine that offers a back-to-basics driving experience, point it towards your favourite road, and enjoy it whilst you still can.
What’s your ideal car with a ‘keep it simple’ philosophy? Let us know in the comments section below.
Photos by Ryan Stewart