Once upon a time (last year), I rented a car which the Avis rep assured me was ‘Australian’. It was a Holden Astra Classic 1·8 sedan, which I am pretty sure is Polish. Holden, now Korea’s Own Car, has shipped a few lemons over the years and I was shocked to ﬁnd that the Australian rental market would even put up with a Polish-made car with wind-up windows. Still, I am reliably informed (by colleagues in the press and as suggested by the OAP whom I met last week) that the Astra remains superior to its successor, in these markets the Daewoo Lacetti, badged as the ‘Holden Viva’.
My rental Ford Focus over the weekend had electric windows, but, strangely, wind-up rear windows. It also had pretty cheap plastic, and it gave me the impression of poor assembly, even though we now get our Focuses from Germany rather than South Africa.
I can deal with wind-up windows. This is why the Dacia Logan got on to the Car to Be Seen in 2006 shortlist at Lucire, because simplicity is in line with mid-decade values. However, I wonder about the cheap plastic and the feeling of crapness, the massive awareness that I was driving the Claytons Focus.
I can guess that the nicer plastic may cost a fraction more but probably not that much that Ford couldn’t recover on economies. I am guessing here. But why it was ill-ﬁtting compared to the 2005 C307 Focus Zetec I drove some years ago, I don’t know.
One would have thought that post-Bauhaus, and with the success of Ikea, that the idea that good design and quality can only be for the bourgeoisie had long gone. The Focus’s interior could have been slightly better presented. Toyota can make its bits ﬁt better, even if the ninth-generation Corolla, which I have sat in, looks crappy design-wise on the inside.
In Europe, the rental market would never stand for this. All the cars I have rented over there have been mid-rangers. But the C307 Focus I had over the weekend reminded me of the Cortina Mk III—not Gene Hunt’s, but the one with the 1300 cm³ Kent pushrod engine.
How much worse the Daewoo Lacetti is, especially with a 1·8 rather than the Focus’s two-litre, is anyone’s guess. Posted by Jack Yan, 05:46
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