During the summer break, I spent some quality time with friends and family over in Spain on the coast and after spending some time doing what I always do, discuss cars, it got me thinking about what I think the perfect 3-car garage would be if I were to up sticks and live somewhere on the Med.
The criteria is fairly simple, but there is actually a lot to take into account when looking at cars on the continent, especially in countries like Spain. Attitudes towards cars are very different, but at the same time, they have some of the best driving roads around. So, for me, the 3 essential vehicles would be a small city car that can fit down those narrow side streets and be parked just about anywhere, a large SUV-style car for when your friends all come over at once and need picking up from the airport and then finally a lightweight, agile 2-seater sports car for those days where you have a few hours spare and you just want to make the most of those stunning coastal roads.
The Daily Runabout – The Abarth 695 Rivale
Like many people out there, I think the Fiat 500 is a great looking car and it fits in perfectly Mediterranean lifestyle, and by adding some nautical cruiser styling and then hitting it with the Abarth stick, you get the perfect blend of inner-city maneuverability and hot-hatch performance. 180 bhp and 184 lb-ft of torque help the little urban racer jump from 0-62 mph in 6.5 seconds, perfect for a traffic light Grand Prix to guarantee that final parking space right outside the coffee shop.
Some interesting optional extras include some mahogany accents inside, giving it that wonderful Riva boat feel and a rather fruity Akrapovic exhaust system.
The SUV / People Mover – The Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG
If I was ever told I had to choose a 4×4 and it could be anything I wanted APART from a Range Rover, the Mercedes G-Wagon would be my choice. It’s a truck I’ve secretly loved for years and always thought about and then earlier on this year I finally got to drive one. It’s a car that looks and feels so wrong, but yet is so very, very right. From its breeze-block modeled aerodynamics to its image of being the first choice for celebrities, footballers and Russian gangsters, it really should be the bottom of everyone’s list, but as the car has evolved, so has its following and this new 2019 G63 AMG model is the best yet.
Whether you’re picking up all your friends and their bags from Malaga Airport or towing your speedboat down to the marina, the military-derived, diamond quilted G63 will get you there in absolute comfort and bloody quickly. Under the bonnet is the 4.0 litre twin-turbocharged V8 familiar with other AMG cars (and the new Aston Martin Vantage) and it linked to a new 9-speed automatic transmission. Together with its 4-wheel-drive setup, the G63 can launch from 0-62mph in a truly-staggering 4.4 seconds. To put that into perspective, that’s over half a second quicker than a Ferrari F355…
The One for the Weekend – The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
The Med may be famous for its all-year sunshine and clear blue waters, but something that often gets neglected is how good some of the roads are. I’ve been lucky enough over the years to drive on many of them and no matter what car I was in at the time, I was left with a beaming great grin from ear to ear, so for my third car in this garage, it had to be something small and nimble, preferably a 2-seater, rear-wheel-drive and convertible.
Now, this brings up a few very tasty options including the un-faultable Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman, Norfolk’s finest in the form of the Lotus Elise, an Abarth 124 Spider and for anyone feeling really brave, a Caterham 420R. As good as all of these cars are, and they all really are, there was only one choice for me, and it was easy… The utterly beautiful Alfa Romeo 4C Spider.
The Alfa 4C embodies everything that makes a supercar great, and then shrinks it down and re-packages it in this wonderful little package – proving that you don’t need huge thirsty V8s and deep pockets to experience the ultimate in driving pleasure. With a carbon tub construction, thinner glass, and a whole lot of other weight saving trickery, the 4C weighs under a tonne and as a result can hit 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds and keep going all the way past 160mph from a 1.7 litre, 4-cylinder engine!!!