She’s Finally Gone…


There has finally been some changes to my personal car circumstances. I finally bit the bullet and sold the Discovery, it actually went a lot quicker and easier than I thought. Within 2 weeks of being advertised, I had 2 viewings and the second person bought her. The inevitable post-sale regret hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but no doubt it will next time I’m either on a long drive or needing to lug something big across town and realise I only now have access to either a Fiat 500 or my Eunos Roadster. There have been some changes to my personal life that means I am in no rush to replace the Discovery but there will be a replacement at some point. Another good reason to not rush into buying a new car is that I don’t know exactly what I want, I have several different ideas and I really don’t want to commit to one just yet.

One idea I have been toying with is to get something big and comfy again, but also a bit different (and hopefully a bit faster too) and the main contenders are something like a 2.8 V6 Saab 9-3 Aero wagon, a Volvo V70 R or a Subaru Impreza WRX wagon. Obviously, these have their positives and negatives. The positives being they are all pretty quick, all pretty cool in my opinion, none of them are obvious choices, and they are all big enough and comfy enough to use for longer drives. However, they are also NOT cool, they are all terrible at holding their value and to the wrong person, they might be considered boring “Dad” cars… Another concern is that my better half doesn’t like them, and would probably struggle to drive them and it makes sense (given my recent record of breaking myself) to have a car that we can both drive.

Another idea we have had, and the one that is probably more likely to become a reality, is to go down the more sensible route, a hatchback that is good to drive, can return decent fuel economy and can be driven easily by both me and she-who-makes-all-the-decisions. The list for this is pretty short, and by pretty short, I mean just two cars. The boring man in me is looking at early Mk5 VW Golf GTIs. The Mk5 was hailed as the return of the proper GTI for VW back in 2004 and it was showered with praise by the automotive press and I can see why. It drives brilliantly without being slow and heavy like the previous Mk4 model. There was also a huge improvement with the overall finish of the car and top specced ones were very nice places to be. My only reservation is over time the chubby, rounded shape of the Mk5 seems to have aged quite a bit and interior parts also seem to age badly. The other thing is it just looks a bit too “normal” to me. It just doesn’t shout “World’s Best Hot Hatch”. That may be a good thing though, and I already see the irony in this with me also looking at Q-cars like Volvos and Saabs.

The other contender for the hatchback choice is probably a more obvious one for me, as I have banged on about how much I miss my old one, how much I love the new one and how much I wish I had another one… That is, of course, the Mini Cooper S hatch. I have a strange love for Minis, I always have and probably always will. I just think they are great. They are by no means the best in their class, and they all have issues and niggly bits I don’t like, but for some reason, whenever I start looking at new cars or smaller cars, they are always top of my list. It probably helps that over the years the Mini brand has been really good to me. I have had many test drives and event invitations from them and they have always been done really well and I always seem to get the really helpful staff, which is more than I can say for a lot of other manufacturers.


Given that the main focus of this exercise is to keep cost to a minimum, I would not be looking at a new one, even if I do think it is the best one yet. At the same time, I don’t want to go back to an R53 model as I feel a bit like I’ve been there and done that. So that leaves the obvious, the turbocharged R56 model. My old R53 was great and an absolute hoot to drive, however, it did come with its issues. The interior was very plastic and bits did tend to occasionally fall off. It also didn’t help that even though mine was a super low-mileage example with a fully comprehensive service history, the head gasket still went at only 55,000 miles. After much investigatory work, it seems that the newer turbocharged units are much stronger and reliable and the interior finish still isn’t perfect, but it is a major improvement.

As I said at the start of this, I am in no rush to run out and buy a replacement car, and it will probably be a few weeks, or maybe even months before I do, but this is looking like it will be the plan. For now though, I will mainly be driving The Nipper about, which definitely isn’t a bad thing as it’s just so much fun!

There are also going to be some big changes to WellDriven as a blog and as a website in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for updates coming very soon!

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James Ford is a UK-based automotive journalist and enthusiast who has been working with and writing about cars for many years. James recently won the 2019 UK Blog Awards for Automotive Writing. With a focus on luxury, prestige and supercars as well as a keen eye on classics, James reaches tens of thousands of four-wheel fans through his mix of social photography, videos and longer-form journalism. Over the years, James has tested and written about many brands like Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Audi, Aston Martin, Bentley, Tesla, Mercedes Benz to name a few.