A Pain in the Neck

We’ve been here a few days, now. We arrived on Tuesday and, fo the first time in three attempts, we actually made it through the awful automated passport checking machines that Alicante airport has seen fit to install. Again, mercifully, we seemed to be the only recently arriving flight, otherwise the queues would have been a lot longer. As it is, we got through in about 15 minutes. [It felt like longer but probably wasn’t.]

After a very short wait at the Centauro desk, we got the keys to our rental car. On our last two visits we’ve been given a Skoda Fabia – a reasonable car but then, it’s German, in reality. 😉 This time. we’d been allocated a Lancia Ypsilon. Warning bells! I’ve previously made my feelings about Lancia known in Tabling a Modification. Depressingly, It seemed that I was about to drive one.

In another first, the car was actually in the correct parking bay. We did a quick tour of inspection and sat in. I found the controls I was likely to need – lights, wipers, indicators – and and stuck the key in the ignition. I turned it to fire the sucker up. [Apologies if this doesn’t work, I’ve never done a video in a blog before.] Check this out:

What was that? What on earth were those main dials doing? It’s almost mesmerising – you want to keep turning it off and back on again, just so you can keep watching those dials dance. Last time our Skoda Fabia had a blue warning light that didn’t constitute a warning, now we’ve got dancing dials. Such is Italian design.

Jelly-MouldOn the trip up the autopista, the car was OK, mostly. Our neighbours, who eventually caught us in their own car, christened this thing the jelly mould. I see their point. For those who won’t have seen a Lancia for many years [fortunate people], here it is.

I’ve been driving this car for a couple of days, now, and it has become clear that, once taken off the autopista onto ordinary roads, particularly onto relatively mountainous Spanish ordinary roads, that it becomes a complete pain in the neck. I’m tempted to say a dangerous pain in the neck. There follow a couple of examples. The photos are taken from my eye position in the driving seat.

View RightLet’s approach a right hand bend on a simulated relatively mountainous Spanish road. This is a genuine Spanish road but it’s on our development, which is on the side of a mountain, where I could stop in safety to enable a snap of what I’m talking about. The rear view mirror is very low and there is a solid piece of Italian artistry above it, just where sensible car designers would have put a windscreen, seamlessly blending in with the no less solid roof. As I think you can see, the driver’s view around the curve is almost completely obstructed. Car, cyclist, pedestrian? Who knows? [This wasn’t intended as a selfie, I hate selfies and I hate the very term. Just so we’re clear on that. Blame the rear-view mirror.]

View LeftNow let’s approach a left hand curve on my mountain route simulation. Here I am, once again stopped on our development. The left hand view is actually even worse. There is – I think you can just see the beginning of it through the windscreen – a road turning off to the left. Now it is the duty of the low, down-curved roofline and thick front pillar to combine and completely obscure the view. There’s about a hundred metres of straight road made utterly invisible. The 9th Panzer Division could be approaching down that road and you wouldn’t have a clue.

The net result, if the driver intends to avoid a fatal accident for very long, is an almost constant ducking, bobbing and weaving motion to see under and/or around these very effective obstructions.

One positive about the car is that it has very good road holding and cornering, as one might expect from a country where all cars and drivers are expected to emulate Ferraris and Lamborghinis. However, it is now the turn of the stiff suspension, the reason the road holding is effective, to kick in bouncing and shaking the driver’s already strained neck.  The neck rapidly becomes sore.

It’s all very tiring and, indeed, tiresome. I hate it!

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Posted in 2016-02 Spain
One comment on “A Pain in the Neck
  1. BlasR says:

    Good grief! Dreadful “design”, but I really think you should lay off cars for a while cos they are increasing your stress levels no end.

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