Mystery Car

Today we will set a modest challenge for you. It might not even be a challenge as inevitably someone will provide the right answer in seconds.

Mystery car
Sorry for the low resolution. The light blue car in the foreground is the one we are interested in.

Still, here we go. I had a heck of a job even finding an example of the car to photograph during my three weeks in Dublin this August. Eventually, I saw just two of them, a metallic grey one in Dublin 4 and the one partially shown above, seen in Wexford. Unfortuately for me, at the time I saw the first one I could nottake a photo as I had neglected to bring a camera with me. I saw this one the day before I returned from my vacation.

One reason I wanted to feature this car was that I had largely forgotten it, though I believe it represented a significant bit of marketing for the firm involved. It just happened to be, in the end, not a very memorable bit of metal. I’ve been too busy looking at rarities and curiosities and have overlooked the important mundanities of which most of the national carpark is composed.

I will give you a clue now. Autocar magazine reviewed the mystery car in 1996. “What impresses about this car is not any single blinding talent but the depth and maturity of the complete product.” They went on to gush “It is refined, economical, practical, stylish, beautifully built and, despite the high list price, good value in the long term. It does everything a good hatchback does but with sufficient additional style and panache to justify premium pricing”.  They summed it up as “the most complete small hatch to date.” The one thing they didn’t much care for was the petrol engine. Its below par character meant it was “not as quick or as smooth as rivals.”

Do you think you know what the car is?

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

7 thoughts on “Mystery Car”

  1. I always thought the A3 was made rather redundant by the mark 4 Golf within a year or two. The A3 was neat but quite anonymous to my eyes; the 3 door Golf would have had my money in preference. Although I actually spent my money in 1998 on a 3 door Focus and didn’t regret it for a minute.

    1. Yes, I think the Golf was the more practical / better value choice – it was considerably cheaper. I got a 1.6 SE 5-door automatic with optional aircon for much less than an A3. The A3 was considered somewhat posher and sportier though, I think, at least initially. That said, a colleague at the time who had just got an A3 was impressed by my Golf – the fact that its interior was cool on a muggy day was quite a novelty and the interior itself was a generally nice place to be.

      Sales volumes for the A3 have held up well over the years.

    2. My mom had a Golf IV. The model designations were a bit different in The Netherlands, you got the base model (I don’t think it had a name), the Trend Line, Comfort Line and High Line.

      My mom opted for a black 5 door 1.6 High Line. The High Line came with sunroof as standard, but for 200 guilders (in the pre Euro era) you could swap it for airconditioning which she did.

      The car got traded in after 18 years of ownership together with my dad’s BMW for a Golf VII Variant as they no longer needed two cars. The Golf IV was well liked in our family. My dad, brother and I drove it too from time too and my mom still misses it.

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