2020, as we all know, has been a far from an ordinary year and as a result, this won’t be the usual list of amazing road tests and experiences I usually talk about in these annual round-ups. This year has been full of ups and downs for everyone and there have been many struggles and frustrations along the way. However, this is a list of my highlights. My 5 memorable moments from the past 12 months and they aren’t just about the cars I got to test or drive. They are also about the experiences and memories I managed to create through this strange and unprecedented time. Buying my Range Rover
Buying my Range Rover
I know this is far from interesting or exciting for a lot of people out there, but it was actually a great moment for me. I often moan on about how modern cars are rubbish and how I could happily drive cars from the mid-90s/early-2000s for the rest of my days and since picking up my P38 Range Rover back in February of this year, my opinion has only gotten stronger.
I bought the Ranger Rover from Rick of Sprite Photography after a rather worrying diagnosis from my local Ford dealer regarding my trusty Mondeo estate. I had been hanging my nose over Rick’s P38 pretty much since we first met and I decided that now was the time to pull the trigger and make him an offer.
Fast forward to December and up until now, the trusty Land Rover has been relatively hassle-free. The odd low battery here and there and I had to replace a UJ back in the summer, but other than that he’s been a pretty trusty workhorse doing all the dirty jobs like taxiing a dirty dog about and numerous trips to the tip. Admittedly, due to the pandemic, I have only covered 3,000 miles this year and if I’m being *completely* honest I did just get stung for £600 for his last MOT just before Christmas but all in all, I really do love this car. I’ve wanted a P38 since my mother had one before I could drive and now I have one, I really can’t think of what to replace him with should the time come anytime soon… Obviously, keep your eyes peeled for an update in the new year saying I’ve bottled it and thrown in the towel due to something else going wrong…
The Real-World Test of the Jaguar iPace
One of the few new car tests I got to do in 2020 was the Jaguar i-Pace – a car I’ve been very excited about driving since its birth. For me, the i-Pace was the first real contender for the Tesla Model S and X and having driven both of those, I couldn’t wait to see how a company such as JLR were going to take all their experience, knowledge and money to show the Tesla how it should be done. From my first drive home in the i-Pace, it was obvious that this was a much better-built car. The difference in the interior finish was night and day to the Model X I drove, and it gave me a real sense of confidence for the electric car market. Something that I had lacked in the past.
For the weekend, I had bought my partner and I some concert tickets and a hotel room for the night in Central London so we thought what better way to test the Jag than to drive from our house outside Cambridge to Central London and back again to see how it really faired up in the real world. Unfortunately, it didn’t go amazingly. It wasn’t so much the car’s fault, more the lack of infrastructure. Upon arriving at our hotel, which I must add assured me over the phone that they had charging points on site, we discovered that there were no charging points at all and the nearest ones were about a 15-minute walk down the road. On the plus side, we arrived at the hotel with about 60% battery remaining so, in theory, we should be able to get back home without the need to stop – and as luck would have it, we did. Just.
The reason why this was a highlight for me, was it really opened my eyes and my opinion towards electric cars and the future in our country. On the one hand, the Jaguar was excellent. Long charging times aside (we could only use a 3-pin socket as that’s all we had at home) everything about the car felt like a proper Jag and the performance was phenomenal. On the other hand, it made me realise just how far behind we still are if we are to ban all combustion-engine sales in the near future. I live in a small town and in a 10-mile radius of my house, there are 3 fast-charging points. 3. That’s it. And new developments keep being built along with cinemas, shopping centres and all sorts and none of them seemed to have charging points installed. I’ve realised that we are just not ready.
Green Laning in the Isuzu D-Max AT35
Getting muddy in the Isuzu D-Max AT35 was a great highlight for me in 2020, not just because it was during one of the few times we were able to go out test the truck properly, but it reminded me how great the car community is and how we’re all just looking for fun things to do that make us happy. When I told Rick I had the truck and asked if he wanted to shoot it doing what it does best, within about an hour he had arranged a day and time to meet somewhere in his neck of the woods and we even got a few more guys to come along for the fun. What had started off as a standard arrangement to meet up, shoot a car and then leave turned into a full afternoon and evening covering as many miles as we could touching as little tarmac as possible.
The result from the day was not only some fantastic shots but also a reinvigorated thirst for more adventure. Admittedly, the rest of the year hasn’t quite gone to plan so we have not been able to go out again since, but it has spurred me on to get my Range Rover in a reliable and comfortable position to organise more days like this in 2021 with other like-minded people who share a love for getting everything muddy!
Visiting Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast
My trip to Italy wasn’t actually a trip for Well Driven, or car-related, in fact, it wasn’t even planned – but after our holiday in Turkey got cancelled the night before the flight, we scrabbled around and managed to book a truly wonderful week in the Amalfi Coast. I’ve been to Italy many times, but never this part, and the contrast from places like Bologna was incredible. Every day we would see hundreds of little Fiat 500s forcing their way through town, barely missing smartly dressed workers on their Vespa scooters. I was amazed by the lack of supercars and sports cars in the area. Fortunately, we did finally spot a few during a day trip to Positano including this rather special looking Lamborghini Huracan Performante and also an Alfa 4C and Ferrari 458.
It didn’t take to realise why there weren’t many “nice” cars in the area – the roads in Sorrento were like something out of a learner driver’s nightmare. It seems that if you live in these parts of Italy, there is a bizarre and almost beautiful ballet you learn when you either get into a car or on to a scooter where everyone just goes for it and somehow makes it through. It’s like the driving is so bad, but because everyone is driving badly, it doesn’t pose a threat. It really was amazing to witness…
Italy is still, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful countries on Earth and I loved every minute I was there this year and really hope to get out there again soon.
Kickstarting Well Driven Approved
Some long-term readers may remember a few years ago I started the Well Driven Approved page and we advertised one or two cars but due to other commitments, nothing ever really came of it. That was until a couple of months when things took a turn and I had to make a decision on what I wanted to do moving forward. A few phone calls later and I had paired up with an old friend who has the same drive and appreciation for cars like me and we made a plan.
The Well Driven Approved service has been running properly since October of this year and we have already had over 20 cars in stock and sold several. We’re planning on growing this service in 2021 and if all goes to plan, there’s going to be some really cool stuff on the horizon!
There isn’t much more to add on this at the moment as the business is very much in its infancy, but we’re taking enquiries 24/7 and we have new stock going up weekly so hopefully, this will be a much bigger talking point soon.
So there we have it, a slightly less-conventional run-down of the past 12-months. They may not have gone the way we all expected them to at the start of the year, but everyone is doing a fantastic job and making the most of it – so here’s to a stronger 2021 with more adventure and more great stories about cars.