I hired a Fiat Panda.
OK, after all I’ve said about upgrading to a nicer hire vehicle to treat yourself to a car you wouldn’t usually get to drive, you might be forgiven for wondering why I’ve gone for the economy option.
To be honest, it’s because it’s quite a month long hire and costs start to mount up. And it’s in Germany (the shame when there are so many fine marques to choose from). And it’s not for the kind of driving I do at home. Which is irregular schlepping round rural roads with interestingly deep potholes and various types of surfaces, carrying van loads of country stuff. Unless it’s a nice car day - in that case I’ve worked out ‘nice car routes’ that get me safely onto the kind of roads that befit the Sunday best mobile.
The Fiat Panda is specifically for driving 40 km and back between two smallish towns in rural Germany on pristine German roads with smooth surfaces and soft curves. It is left hand drive, thus helping ease me into a month of driving on the right. It sips petrol for the duration of the journey, slips into the smallest parking spaces at either end and waits patiently for me to complete hospital visit (at one end) or the rest of the day (at the other). In short, it’s almost an invisible vehicle.
Yes, it has the overall power of an angry gnat as I try and keep up with its larger brethren - and the one motorway trip I've been on it became a bit vibratey once past 120km/h. On the rural roads that wind between villages it works well. Its acceleration may not be great, but once it gets going it completes the journey at a respectable pace. It’s not uncomfortable, it’s just not particularly luxurious. But it gets the job done.
The Panda is reassuringly slim in the face of oncoming traffic, no worries as the roads narrow through towns. And on dark nights in the glare of oncoming headlights it’s easy to thread through the gaps in this unfamiliar environment. And like I said, you can park it on a pocket handkerchief.
Meanwhile, I get to admire the view as I slip between small towns and back onto the frankly gorgeous inter urban road network. How do they get the tarmac that silken? Maybe next time I’ll bring the best car with me.
By Beate Kubitz at 28 Dec 2018, 00:00 AM