No backward glances in this final sketch.
If the casual reader was to view the previous posts in this series as a barometer of the local vehicle population in this part of Southern Spain, they might be forgiven for believing that people here were trapped in some bizarre thirty-year time warp. In fact, modern machinery by far outweighs the old timers, as one might reasonably expect.
Those more familiar to the site will probably acknowledge that contemporary fare used to feature a good deal more regularly on the pages of Driven to Write. However, since the Covid pandemic and the supply-chain crisis that came in its wake, not only has both news and new metal been rather more thin on the ground, but in addition, what little there has been (in either case), is of the thinnest gruel imaginable.
And speaking of gruel, a selection of new(ish) automotive fare – certainly new enough to warrant a second glance, if more of a struggle to write about – await your perusal this Saturday morning.
The first of which is before you. It’s a Tonale of course, Alfa Romeo’s new C-segment crossover offering. The subject in question was dubbed Speciale, which externally at least, appeared to mean blacked out body trim and the requisite telephone dial wheels no self-respecting performance-impersonating Alfa can seemingly do without. These at least lend this Tonale a more planted stance – more so than the lesser-spec version I sighted a few days later. That one looked as insipid as I feared it might from the initial photos.
On balance, it’s a pleasant enough device, if this is your idea of a good time, but this Alfisto’s bell remains decidedly unrung and furthermore, how anyone can justify the front numberplate’s giddy angle is beyond human comprehension. Charges deserve to be sought.
The Peugeot 308 has been available across mainland Europe for some time now (it arrived in the UK and Ireland in the Summer, I believe), but apart from a dealer’s forecourt, this was the only example I sighted during my stay. By rights I should detest this car, the styling after all, being everything I normally hold in contempt in contemporary car design. Visually, I think you’ll agree, it’s colossally over-egged. Yet, I found myself transfixed, intrigued, unable to peel my eyes away.
I wasn’t an initial convert, but I am forming the opinion that this side of Hyundai/ KIA, the mainstream carmaker building the most visually intriguing designs today is Peugeot. And while I don’t think I’d really want to own a 308, or indeed any of the current lions from Belfort, I do quite enjoy looking at them.
Yes, Andrew Miles, they do exist. The Peugeot’s platform-mate from Rüsselsheim, captured here as proof, presents a calmer face to the world to that of its Sochaux sibling. It’s a little poignant to relate, but in my view the most cohesive aspect of Opel’s current design theme is relegated to the grille treatment, which is to these eyes quite effective.
The rest, however, leaves little impression. Even allowing for the colour, this Astra presents very much as automotive white goods – and even if we can agree that a lot of Opel products did fall into that category during the GM era (although some may disagree), the one aspect that was never in doubt was the quality of Opel’s exterior design.
Perhaps we are becoming inured to expressive styling (or I am), but at least the Peugeot gives you something to fixate upon.
By the way, just in case you think this is turning into a total Stellantis-fest, here’s something a little more out of the blue. This actually required a bit of an initial double take on my part. It’s a Lynk & Co 01 – obviously – I knew you wouldn’t fail me. A Geely Auto/ Volvo joint venture – which so far hasn’t made it as far as Britain – this model shares both platform and powertrains with Volvo’s entry-level XC40. There were a number of these knocking about, I discovered, so somebody appears to like them.
Curiosity did not give way to fascination in this case. It is after all rather difficult to get terrifically excited by yet another torpid looking crossover. Mind you, I did find the blue highlighting a bit different and well, okay, no, I probably wouldn’t either. Look, I was on painkillers at the time (having had three stitches in my thumb earlier in the day), so I wasn’t quite myself. But I nevertheless felt impelled to show a modicum of interest, as a duty to you, dear reader. Not that you care.
Moving on… Renault were thoughtful enough here to save me looking it up – they stuck the name on the side. It’s the new all-electric Mégane E-Tech, the French carmaker’s newest C-segment offering, one which is set to replace the combustion model on these right-hand drive shores at least, since the latter model has recently been pulled from sale.
Visually, it’s modern-day Renault by numbers. On one hand, quite well executed; clean surfaces, decent proportions, muscular flanks and so on. But on the other, it’s just a great big lump of anthracite. And that slammed canopy is just offensive. For reasons I still haven’t entirely processed, this car made me rather cross, which is also rather silly, you will agree, given that it’s so… inconsequential.
My advice to the locals? Hang on with grim determination to what you’ve got – even if it is thirty years old. The future, if this lot are anything to go by, really is nothing to get excited about.