Anniversary Waltz 2000 – New Millennial MINI. 

Sputnik Falls, MINI rises.

“What do you mean ‘what dome’? And you call yourself a location scout?”  The 2000 Mini range. (c) thelastminis

It seemed for a time that it would simply go on indefinitely, but in 2000, after 41 years, time’s irresistible march finally caught up and Sputnik came home. The last years of Mini production saw it become something of a tribute act, with a bewildering array of special editions being offered, (mainly for Japanese consumption) culminating in the wide-tracked Cooper Sport 500, an example of which being the very last Mini built, leaving the Longbridge tracks on October 4th that year.

The advent of the new millennium was greeted with lurid fireworks along the Thames and thousands queuing to be underwhelmed by Mr. Mandelson’s Millennium Experience in Greenwich, but it wasn’t just Mini that sputtered and popped that year, so too the unhappy BMW-Rover alliance. Unravelling for some time, the Vierzylinder officially announced plans to sell the troubled carmaker, with MG and Rover brands offloaded to the so-called Phoenix Consortium, along with a goodwill cheque and a ‘don’t darken our door again‘ invocation, by late Spring.

While the demise of the much-loved Mini elicited a tremendous outpouring of nostalgia, the same could not be said when Escort production ceased that summer (after 32 years). By then, Ford’s C-sector stalwart had become a hallowed out shadow of its former swaggering self, eclipsed by its radical and immeasurably superior successor. Creating further faultlines was Dearborn’s announcement of the cessation of car production at Ford’s sprawling Dagenham plant (opened in 1931) in East London. The final car – a red Fiesta, was built in 2002.

Also making his departure (aged 84) was Major Ivan Hurst, the former British army officer and engineer who oversaw the resumption of car production at the Volkswagen plant at Wolfsburg in the aftermath of hostilities 1945. Without his stalwart efforts the Wolfsburg plant’s potential might never have been realised. One Anglo-German alliance that did work out, Wolfsburg authorities naming a local road, Major Hirst Straße in his honour.

2000 Alfa 147. (c) autoevolution

New cars there were aplenty as well. Alfa Romeo debuted the 147 that summer, a suave, stylish, upmarket C-segment offering, replacing the well regarded, if somewhat frangible 145/146 models. Technically similar to the mid-range 156, employing a good deal of shared hardware, the 147 brought much of the 156’s virtues and overall appeal to a smaller, more youthful, yet still mature package. Unfortunately, it also came with a similar array of weaknesses. Nevertheless, it garnered the Euro-COTY trophy the following year, and sold steadily, with perhaps the best balance between verve and practicality ever offered by the Biscione in the sector.

2000 Daihatsu YRV. Image ultimate-specs

Billed as the Young Recreation Vehicle, the Daihatsu YRV was introduced to slightly raised eyebrows, not simply because of the rather contrived name, but also owing to its appearance, which was part hatchback, part MPV – odd looking by 2000 standards, not so much now. Distinguished by a double wedge beltline, courtesy of the sideglass outline slashes, the YRV cut a bit of a dash – if only a bit. Powered by a Toyota-sourced 1.3 litre engine with 83 bhp – a 130 bhp turbocharged variant was also offered, which undoubtedly concentrated minds. Not a huge success outside of Japan, but being a Daihatsu, probably a thoroughly decent little brick to knock about in.

2000 Honda Civic 5-door. (c) honestjohn

Osaka to Minato, where Honda eschewed the over-familiar conformity of its outgoing Civic for a (briefly) less familiar one – a reinvented, cab-forward design. A determinedly mainstream C-segment fighter, the sixth generation Civic came as a somewhat upright and almost Minivan-esque five door, or a (slightly) more rakish 3-door. More Eurocentric than of yore, this generation of Civic was something of a breakthrough model saleswise, earning a fine reputation, to drive, to live with, if not necessarily to behold. The Civic R model however became something of a minor post-millennial legend, but the entire range was quickly eclipsed by its science-fiction-inspired successor.

2000 Suzuki Ignis. Image: wikipedia

Minato to Hamamatsu: Suzuki introduced the Ignis (dubbed Swift in its native Japan), a supermini-sized MPV-esque hatchback in the YRV vein. Quite a neat looking device and something of a proto-compact crossover in style, like most Suzuki offerings, it was resolutely conventional from a technical perspective, but well engineered, reliable, and not without charm; if perhaps like its fellow Japanese offerings, ultimately not a car to inspire a tremendous longing at ten paces. Its 1.3 litre engine developed a healthy 83 bhp, and combined with light weight, the Ignis might not have lived up to its name, but was a decent performer nonetheless. Three and five door versions were offered. Shortlived, it was replaced by a visually similar, but considerably improved 1.5 litre model in 2003.

Fast standing still. 2000 Lotus Exige. Image: silverstone auctions

The 1997 Lotus Elise was a lifesaver for the Norfolk-based specialist carmaker. Arriving at a time when sportscars were once again good business, the Elise’s combination of comely looks, performance and superb dynamics made it a nailed-on classic in the making. But for those who wanted more power and track-focused dynamics enter the 2000 Exige, a heavily revised fixed-head version of the Elise body, but with an overt track-car focus.

With little pretension towards comfort or compliance (yet despite this surprisingly supple – they know their stuff at Hethel), the breathed-upon 1.8 litre K-Series engine lent the Exige strong top end power, a collossal aural assault and possibly the most sensual pleasure it is possible to derive in a clothed, semi-recumbent position. As a day to day proposition, only BDSM adherents need apply, but as a means of banishing ennui, the Exige was unrivalled.

Lotus 340R. Image: Cameronsportscars

Well, perhaps not, for there are those for whom an Exige isn’t nearly elemental enough. Fortunately for them, Hethel offered the 340R. First shown as a concept in 1998, the 340R was basically an Elise platform clothed in most rudimentary fashion, making as few concessions to road legality as possible. 340 were built, all pre-ordered, spending their lives carving track apexes and doubtlessly placing large grins on their owners’ faces – if not their passengers’.

‘Crosseyed and Painless’ Morgan Aero 8 with its New Beetle headlamps:

While Lotus was getting with the post-millennial zeitgeist, Morgan appeared trapped in period drama. However, by the turn of the millennium, the carmaker had belatedly awoken, preparing a car which was as up to date beneath the skin as it cleaved to tradition above. The Aero 8’s advanced bonded and riveted aluminium chassis design was the brainchild of former Jaguar engineering chief, turned academic, Professor Jim Randle, originally intended for use in Lea Francis’ stillborn 30/230 model.

This lightweight and immensely strong design was adapted for use by Morgan, firstly for their racing programme, but also the production car, which was developed under the supervision of veteran engineer, Chris Lawrence, with a (somewhat questionable) body design, allegedly by Charles Morgan. Powered by a 4.4 litre BMW V8, the Aero 8 came with the performance, road manners (and crash performance) a traditional Morgan owner could only dream of – the resultant car immeasurably better than it looked.

Hic! (c) bestcarmag

With the original Mini gone to commune with its beatified creator, BMW officially introduced its New MINI at the close of 2000, before going on sale the following Spring. A finely realised pastiche, the design married retro with modernity in a very pleasing manner, maintaining the original’s pertness, if not proportions.

As much a packaging miracle as Issi’s ’59 car, the wizardry seemingly taking place beneath the bonnet, rather than inside the snug and rather overstyled cabin in this instance. But it was all good fun and with a range of models, engines (1.4 and 1.6 Tritec units), not to mention a world of personalisation options to agonise over, MINI was greeted with rapture by legions of devoted new owners and aficionados.

Traditionalists and engineering purists might have been horrified, but there can be no doubting that BMW pitched millennial MINI to market perfection. New Labour, new MINI – it all amounted to a similarly Cool Britannia flavoured Alco-pop. Hangovers optional.

Read more on the class of 2000 here

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

50 thoughts on “Anniversary Waltz 2000 – New Millennial MINI. ”

  1. I see the dear old Ignis gets a name-check today, and it´s the rounded version, of which one lives in my immediate neighbourhood. The Ignis is a charming car with distinct looks unrelated to any obvious design objective. And I happen to like that unselfconsciousness. The present one is probably the right car for today – it sells well around here – I merely wish its design had a touch more pointlessness to it. I´ve probabable never seen an Ignis in anything other than metallic grey or white. Suzuki are missing a trick with this car because it could benefit from being sold as vehicle for paint coatings, much like the enduring 500 or indeed the Mini this article kicks off with. Imagine an Ignis is any of 50 paint colours? Super!

    1. Ignises (Igni?) in the UK were popular in red, blue or a slightly washed-out shade of yellow – quite a few early ones still around, too, here in the impoverished north.

    2. The ignis was pretty popular here in Norway with the elderly, but it always felt like a rather tepid car compared to the more fun Wagon R+ that preceded it.

      Especially in purple 😉

    3. It never occurred to me to see the Ignis as a replacement for the Move. They very nearly do the same thing though the move is a bit more versatile and has a much more functionalist character. If Renault or Citroen had produced the Move it would have been hailed as a 2CV/Renault Four for our times. It probably goes as fast, holds as much and is as entertaining to drive as either of the two French cars.

    4. The Ignis probably was one class up in terms of size compared to the wagon r+, but i think they had pretty much the same buyers – people who needed a dependable small car with 4wd for the winter.
      They were quite a bit more expensive compared to the competition due to the 4wd, but if you lived in a snowy area, that extra cost was worth it.

  2. Good morning Eóin. Another nice retrospective, thank you. The Alfa-Romeo 147 was a nice car, good looking and less frangible than its predecessors. A friend of mine had one for a few years and ran up a reasonably big mileage without trouble. The only thing I recall going wrong was both exterior front door handles becoming detached, an odd fault, I would think.

    My pick of the class of 2000 mainstream cars (excluding the 147) from a design perspective would be the Civic, especially in three-door form:

    It really was a nicely resolved design, very calm, but still with enough Honda DNA to make instantly recognisable as such. Your comment about its successor made me take a look at it too. Although it was quite a shock when released, it now looks remarkably restrained, at least in comparison with what followed, from Honda and others.

    The 2000 R50 Mini was a great recreation, capturing the spirit of the original, but the details of the design were nicely refined in its successor, the R56. This was effectively a reskin of the original and, for me, marked ‘peak new Mini’ in design terms, before it all began to go wrong. That said, the third generation F56 is a demonstrably better car. It is certainly less pretty than the R56 but, in three-door form, still the best looking of the current crop. BMW has promised that the next generation will be smaller so, hopefully, will recapture some of the charm.

    1. This Civic is the one where I stopped accepting the designs as Civics. The crease running to the front wheel arch is rather unhappy. The rear is better, I admit. But no, this isn´t a car I´ve ever accepted with cheer.
      The Alfa, on the other hand, is a gem.

  3. The 147 is, arguably, an even better car than the 156, although it did not have the same impact on me on launch as the saloon which I thought stunning and near perfect in its design.

    The version of the Civic featured looked better with three doors than than five, and, like the 307 of a similar era, was in concept some kind of a cross-over between a hatch and an MPV. As such it was spacious as well as having the potential for great ride and handling, with its independent rear suspension. I agree with Richard, though … is it really a Civic (ditto its predecessor which shared a lot with the Rover R8 200/ 400)? I feel the same about the current and previous gen Yaris’s – they are more like its predecessor, the Starlet, in concept and character.

    The R50 MINI was, in my opinion, the best looking of the BMW era cars (if one ignores the run-out of the original), with amazing packaging of the engine and front section to create such a short front overhang – no doubt it would not be repeatable today due to pedestrian collision safety requirements. The size was about right at the time, and it now looks kind of small compared with the latest versions.

  4. Eóin, thank you for reminding us of the bright, heady days of the Millennium. How did we get from there to here? Anyway in the spirit of a new millennium Mrs. M decided she wanted a more exciting life after 20 loyal years with Golfs. Free tickets and champagne at a dealer sponsored performance of Aida were enough for her to write a cheque for an Alfa Red 147 that was sitting in the showroom. The joys of Alfa ownership were soon to arrive when she discovered that there was only one key; after a number of increasingly tetchy phone calls it was discovered in the salesman’s pocket, not mislaid by Mrs M as suggested. Soon there were multiple and random computer warning in wet weather, expensive cam belt replacement and finally it stopped starting, again randomly. Three days and a substantial labour bill later she was told it was a poor earth connection and now it would be trouble free. She never found out as it was traded in for a Golf ASAP.

    A beautiful car to admire and to drive and possibly to own with a different approaches to quality control and dealership support.

    1. Oh dear, Barry, just when I thought that the 147 had risen above Alfa Romeo’s previous woes.

      Regarding the Millennium, it was indeed a time of optimism. The Cold War had ended in the early 90’s and the former Soviet Bloc countries were increasingly opening up to Western Europe. Even relations with China were warming up. The Middle-East was, as ever, troubled, but a regional rather than global issue. We all thought the 21st Century would allow us to lay to rest the ghosts of two World Wars and many other conflicts and enjoy a brighter more secure and peaceful future.

      Then came 9/11…

    2. Things looked like they weren´t too bad circa 1999. I imagine the world would have been so much better had the Supreme Court of the US not decided to stop vote counting in the US. Scaglia later described his judgement as a “piece of sh*t” and those are his word. In the event is has led to 20 years of wasted time on the climate issue. Bush parked it; Obama couldn´t move it and Trump went backwards.
      It wasn´t so much Bush´s first term that demoralised me as his second one. He won that election.

    3. The Alfa story is as sad as it is typical. 99 percent of Alfa trouble is caused not by the car but by dealers and their stubborn insistence on delivering non-service. My own Alfas (and I had a sizeable number of them) invariably came back from dealers with more faults than they had when they went there.
      The 147 easily is the best made of the trio 147/156/166 with the highest quality for interior material and the best fit and finish. Except for some cost cutting measures like steel rear suspension instead of aluminium and steel seat frames instead of magnesium it was nearly identical to the 156 and it only lacked its bigger brother’s laser sharp steering.

  5. I always had a soft spot for the 147. As the Giulietta would prove later on, it’s not as though the simple additions of a Scudetto at the front and slim, horizontal lights at the rear automatically create charisma – which the older car had in spades. I do remember it doing very poorly in crash testing though, which prevented me from recommending it to anybody in the market for an interesting second-hand Golf alternative years later.

    1. If crash safety is of any relevance to you look no further than here

      Like all cars based on the Tipo Due platform the 147 had miserable crash performance.

    2. In the front offset the airbag stops the head hitting the wheel, the head slides sideways and hits the wheel anyway and then swings back so the b-pillar cracks the crown. That is a really dreadful result. In the sideways test you see potentially awful hip injuries.

  6. An interesting piece so thank you. This is not intended to be a criticism but I find comments such as “The crease running to the front wheel arch is rather unhappy”somewhat difficult to understand. However I now enjoy looking up words such as “frangible” and phrases such as “Distinguished by a double wedge beltline, courtesy of the sideglass outline slashes..” so it’s not all bad. Keep ’em coming!

    1. Mike: fair point. There´s a crease running under the window line and it heads to the flare of the wheel arch and fades out. I think it is a forced resolution but better than the woeful way Peugeots and some Mercedes had the crease meet the flange of the wheel arch. … Or does it meet the flange of the wheel arch? It would have been better not to have a crease that ended up being a problem. It is not nicely resolved. It could have been carried on to intersect with the top corner of the headlamp.

    2. Richard: Thanks for the clarification. Having looked at other images on line – omg!- I thing the crease actually passes over the front wheel arch to the headlight and does so at the rear too. The things you notice reading DTW!

    3. Take another look: the crease drops downward as it tracks frontward. It bends over the side indicator and then stops when it hits the flat surface around the wheel arch. The crease diverges from the fold of the front wing. To surface that intersection of forms must have been a horrible job becuase so many curvatures had to be resolved where the crease meets the flat of the wheel arch. Eurgh.

    4. Hi Mike. The crease Richard is talking about is not sharp, but quite soft, so is barely visible in many photos. This photo shows it clearly, and its intersection with the wheel arch:

      It’s not great, granted, but I don’t think it’s terrible. A neighbour had a Civic and my eye wasn’t drawn to it particularly. It looks a bit like the designers weren’t quite sure how to finish the crease. It would probably have been better if it had continued in a straight line onto the wing, then just faded out above the wheel arch.

    5. That side view makes the crease look like a bad line. It curves down and it meets the wheel arch in such a way as to look like a wobble from middle distance. It might have looked better as a clay model.

    6. Here’s a more considered resolution of the same detail on the Opel Vectra C:

      Here the crease curves down ahead of the wheel arch and actually continues across the bumper. Unfortunately, this nice detail was lost when the Vectra was facelifted:

      Here endeth the automotive design tutorial!

    7. I’ll take the original, thank you, Richard. The facelift always looked a bit heavy and ‘beaky’ (if that’s a word) with its ‘V’ shaped bumper and overly large headlamps. In particular, the kink in the outer edge of the headlamp where it meets the aforementioned crease is unsettling.

    8. yeah, the facelift ruined that generation of vectra.
      The original model was so pure and solid looking, while the facelift just looks like a generic cheap car.

    9. It´s possible to see the original Vectra C as better though I´d be hard pressed to see the facelift as actively bad. I think the new work blends very well with carry-over metal. Either version, especially with coloured paint, look fetching. Metallic mid-green is one of my favourite. Car magazine detected airs of “premium” about it and I can´t disagree. I find them quite imposing in a way the 3 series from the same time wasn´t.

    10. I’ve been thinking about that unhappy crease on the front wing of the Honda. I think the problem is that it drops too abruptly and hits the wheel arch awkwardly. If it were a smooth curve that flowed smoothly (tangentially) into the front wheel arch at bumper level, it might look less odd. Original and adjusted:

      I’ve also altered the shape of the rear quarter window to stop it looking quite so dissonant.

    11. Oh, that looks suspiciously like homework, Richard!

      Thanks, I will study it.

  7. Poor Daihatsu. I can’t recall ever having seen the YRV. All the other cars I have seen in the flesh, but never driven any of them. One of my friends had a 147, but I only was in a passenger in it once. Very likable car, but I always thought the interior was a bit flimsy. Poor safety figures too, but they sold quite well.

    My mum had an Alfa 33 for about 4 years, but truth be told I drove it for most of the time. During that time we had an excellent experience with our dealer. Sadly they went out of business when the Dutch importer changed.

  8. Broadening out the discussion from the Civic´s wrinkle, I recall the period of 2000 as being one where the new crop of cars seemed consistent with what went before. Things like satellite navigation (which is now, I am told, referred to as “savnat”) were not a big element of the cars and cupholders were still debated. Alfa Romeo seemed to be recovering from the last time it recovered; the 147 and 156 provided grounds for hope and the 166 (despite its silly lamps) was a decent machine, especially in 2.0 litre guise. Ford were going like blazes with a string of well-balanced cars: the Focus was a major feature of the automotive landscape and you could hear it sizzle everywhere.
    Troublespots were Mercedes who were a decade or more into the ongoing malaise-phases where incredible demand for their cars led to an incredible drop in standards. Audi ploughed a good furrow and BMW were breaking moulds but in a good way. Citroen had some acceptable vehicles and not more than that: the Berlingo is a jolly car; the Xsara had great seats but the C5 had appeared and 20 years later the car still makes no sense to me; and the XM departed this vale of years, not to be replaced.
    How was life at Coventry? Not bad, all told. The S-type sold quite well and wasn´t a total disappointment (“Jag in not-bad car shock”) and the XJ was reaching the apogee of its refinement. I saw one the other day, an XJ-R (I think) – impossibly low and long and sleek. Overall, not a bad period for cars.

    1. Hi Richard. There’s a C5 retrospective coming up shortly. Stay tuned!

    2. The C5 retrospective might be a bit like the famous Big Ask series we did on the Carisma. It´s like trying to write an essay about a glass of water. The C5 really frustrates me. It has the visual character of someone´s mistaken idea of a Japanese car. Or a satire of mid-1990s Korean car. And both comparisons do considerable injustice to the Japanese and Koreans, none of whom managed a car as off-the-line wrong as the C5. Somewhere out there is a retired designer who is really proud of that car and who worked really hard on it. I can´t stand them.

    3. Hold onto those thoughts for a few days. It is certainly a puzzling car.

    4. Early 2000s was a really interesting for car design, with lots of experimentation and almost every carmaker evolving their own distinct look – i remember being really stoked each time a new car was revealed, as there always seemed like another styling revolution was waiting just around the corner.

      Maybe its just because i’m getting older, but nowadays it feels like car design is moving at a snails pace, with mostly busy decorations added on top of the same old ungainly shapes.

      As for the last truly beautifull XJ – i’ll just leave some pictures of my new old XJR here, from my trip to go buy it in germany last august 😉

      Will we ever see such a perfectly proportioned car again?
      probably not…

    5. bjarnetv: I think it’s fair to say that the X300 was at its apogee as an XJR. The redesign needed those wheels to balance out the longer overhangs. The less emboldened versions never quite sat well as with me visually, but that’s a personal opinion. Yours looks a very nice example. I hope it’s running well for you.

    6. Eóin – in addition to the rim-design, i think its also the heavy handed and misplaced use of chrome that lets the standard x300 down.
      The thick chrome window surrounds, stuck on grille and large bootlid-strip all work together to make the car look more top heavy and less planted, which is a weird thing to do for such a low car.

      The lack of chrome on the XJR allows the shape of the car to speak for itself without any distractions, and the rim design is of course one of the all time greats.

      Since prices are shockingly low for x300’s at the moment, i decided to buy the best one i could find, so its in great low mileage condition, and most importantly, totally rust free, being a recent japanese import.

      It still has some old crusty rubber here and there that needs changing, but the engine runs great and its got very little wear on it, so its i’m impatiently waiting for spring to arrive, so i can get it out on the road again.

    7. The survival rate for the 300 is not good. Especially in the UK/ ROI. They were capable of big mileages if looked after, but I believe they were even more rust-prone than the ’40, and given the shared inner structure with the later-era XJ81, probably suffered the same issues with terminal rot in the front bulkhead – the death knell of so many. The AJ16 engine though was pretty bullet-proof. Best of luck with it.

    8. Hi bjarnetv. That’s a lovely XJR and I hope ownership goes very well for you. An acquaintance of mine has recently bought an X300 XJ8 in metallic pale blue with a grey interior. It was in immaculate condition sort from a non-functioning digital clock and drooping headlining (a common fault) both of which have now been fixed.

      I take your point about the chrome being a bit heavy-handed, but I didn’t mind it. Perhaps it stands out less on a light coloured car? There’s a real sense of occasion sitting behind the wheel. I actually prefer the squarer dashboard and instrument binnacle to the ‘wavy’ dashboard on the X308.

      Good luck with your XJR. It’s great to see such cars being appreciated and cared for, otherwise they would disappear completely.

    9. @bjarnetv: that’s a truly lovely looking example of that XJ-R; beautiful and quality.

    10. Daniel – yeah, its not like the chrome absolutely ruins the car – its just that i could have been better resolved.
      I actually almost bought a blue, very chromed XJ8 with celtic alloys, so i can see the appeal of the look, but after seeing a x306 in the flesh there was no turning back for me.

      I did test drive a lot of v8 X308’s before going for the x306, and the interior was actually one of the biggest reasons i went for the older car – the swoopy updated version just didn’t do it for me, and the supercharged l6 just felt right for the car.

      in the UK the x300 XJR’s seems to be cheap as chips at the moment, which is odd, considering they only made around 6500 of them.
      I guess most people have forgotten about them, and only remember ze german super saloons of the 90s.

    11. Sweet mother. I’m no X300 man, but an XJR I find very alluring indeed. Like others, I find there’s just too much chrome on the regular models. The ‘R’s large, somewhat butch wheels also do wonders to the ‘300’s stance, which is immensely improved. Generally speaking, an XJR like Bjarne’s lovely example is as far removed from the retired Florida dentist flair of many ’90s Jaguars as can be.

      As a former XJ owner, I wish you all the best with your new chariot, Bjarne. I hope it reciprocates you having saved it from the nauseating tedium of Pinneberg!

    12. Thanks guys – i have pretty high hopes for the reliability (i am changing everything i can as preventative maintenance, like fluids, filters, belts and pulleys), though they just passed a law allowing local governments to ban ICE cars from city centres, so seeing as i live in the middle of Oslo, i fear the day is fast approaching where i will no longer be allowed to drive an old petrol engined car here… hopefully there will eventually be some kind of exception for vintage cars.

    13. Hmmm. That´s tricky. I think it ought to acceptable for people who live in city centres to drive the car they own. I think the normal turn over of car ownership would mean cities would mostly have newer cars; the few people who own or want to own old cars won´t make a difference. I am aware that air pollution is a killer but at the same time, in a large city, a few thousand cars mostly run on weekends won´t make a detectable change in comparison to an ICE ban.

    14. its all about sending a message unfortunately – private car ownership is something the green party dont want in the big cities, so they have steadily been closing off roads, raising the tolls and parking prices, and generally made life miserable for motorists.
      As an avid road cyclist, i’m all for making people cycle to work, but outright banning ICE cars has nothing to do with emissions, as more then 50% of new cars sold here are electric already, and most of the pollution is from road dust, not emissions.

  9. Daniel, for me the biggest eyesore on the five door Civic is the window aft of the C-pillar, just a total mishmash of conflicting angles. Your photos of the three door look so much better.

    1. You’re right, Andy. Here’s a contempory of the Civic, the Kia Cerato, which handled that detail in a more conventional way:

  10. Oh, the Alfa 147! I arrived in Spain in late 2004 and by 2005 I had bought a second-hand 1.6 SX Fiat Brava that I kept for several years, during which I always considered upgrading to a 147. The problem was that depending on the day and even the time of the day, I would consider the Alfa either as a wonderful upgrade worthy of the extra cost and reliability risk, or as not much better than my Brava, which was already a great drive, really, and absolutely reliable. Still, I wish I had bought a 147 with the 120hp 1.6.

    One of the things that always disappointed me about the Alfa 147 was the front door handles. On the 156 they were glorious, sleek, and solid aluminium sculptures. On the 147 they were just typical plastic chrome handles.

    As for the Honda Civic of that generation, to me they looked like Barbapapas, especially the three-door 🙂

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