The Fine Lion Between Good and Bad

Due to the acquisition of a particularly good value voucher from one of the myriad of daily deal sites now available, my cooking duties on Thursday night were shelved in favour of a romantic meal for two at a Takapuna curry house. This in itself is not a particularly noteworthy event; however the meal was, because for the first time in my dining history there was absolutely nothing worth picking fault with.

In my reasonably varied experience of eating out, a restaurant will always drop a little flaw into your culinary experience – be it the food, the décor or even the deeply unsettling perspiration marks on your waiters’ shirt – but in this instance everything was as it should be. The food was good, the beer cold and the staff pleasant and not at all sweaty. In short, everything was nice.

Not just a Peugeot badge - a badge of honour

That’s not to say I couldn’t think of several – in fact probably several hundred –meals I’ve had that were in some way superior, but this one definitely became the new benchmark. It was the kind of meal you hope that food critics would consume on a fairly regular basis in order to keep their feet on the ground and stop them thinking that fillet mignon cooked by Simon Gault is normal chow.

Of course, you know they don’t and that is precisely why you shouldn’t buy a car based on the recommendations of a celebrity motoring journalist.

I wouldn’t trust a man whose daily drive comes with one prancing horse on the bonnet and several hundred more underneath it to give me an objective opinion on a hatchback any more than I’d trust Charlie Sheen to recommend a family night out.  These are people who live in rarefied air with resources that put their lifestyle out of sync with the rest of us mortals and, as such, their expectations will be in a whole different league to those of Johnny Average.

And so this begs the question, what should a good motoring journalist be driving in the spaces between road tests? Which motor is the epitome of that tolerable mediocrity which we call ‘nice’?  What car can really allow you to make a balanced judgement on all others? Well after much soul searching I think I’ve found it.

The Peugeot 306 DT.

Here is a car that was good at almost everything it did – the performance was brisk enough to be entertaining, the chassis tight and involving, a bit of Gallic flair ensured it was a reasonable looker, the interior was a pleasant place to be and thanks to the ancient but bullet-proof 1.9 turbo diesel under the bonnet, it was pretty economical too. Not that any of these things were really capable of blowing your skirt up either, but that confirms it as a perfect yardstick against which others can be judged. If a car trumps the 306 in all areas then an auto-hack can be pretty confident they are onto a winner; failure to do so would root out a potential rotter on the spot.

And that leaves me with a problem – or should I say two. The fleet of vehicles currently servicing the Grimley household contains a Nissan Primera and BMW 3-series, but nothing in the way of the Pug required for cementing my reputability in motoring circles.

So if there’s anyone out there with a 306 DT that they are seriously considering getting rid of, feel free to let me know. Because while a Ferrari may win hands down in the glamour stakes, the Peugeot dishes out the lions’ share of the credibility.

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