I’ve not yet reached the age of forty but it’s pretty clear I am entering middle age. However none of the usual signs are there – I’ve not lost my sense of humour, I still listen to new music, I don’t read the Telegraph and neither am I afraid of immigrants.
Yet it’s clear I am a flabby old man. Why? Because I’ve just discovered the joys of an automatic transmission and can’t imagine owning a car with anything else.
Let me step back a minute and explain. We recently traded in our trusty much-loved Ford C-Max. We replaced it with a shiny Citroen C4 Grand Picasso. The Citroen is loaded to the gunwales with technology – there are rear parking sensors, traction control, dual-zone climate control, central computer display, automatic wipers, speed limiter, cruise control, automatic lights etc. But the major clever piece of technology is the transmission.
The car will quite happily work as a regular automatic. But thanks to Formula One style flappy paddles behind the steering wheel you can also override the gearbox’s own decisions. Not that you have to do this often, put your foot down on the throttle and the computer realises you want plenty of acceleration and avoids changing up. You may go once step further and put the car in manual mode, changing gears yourself with the paddles.
Now when we were looking to buy this car I thought wifey would happily drive it in auto mode. But me? I’ve always loved being in complete control, I like to change gear in a manly deliberate fashion, throwing the cogs at the car as I accelerate. I’ll most likely drive the car in manual, I thought. After all, I don’t even use auto gears when playing driving videogames.
And how often I have I driven the car in manual since we bought it? Once, for about 100 yards before I said to myself “Oh I can’t be arsed” and flicked it back into auto. Oh God that auto gearbox is sublime1, it just works, giving you the power you need when you need it. The car even adapts to the way you drive – learning how heavy your right foot is over time. Add the auto wipers and auto lights and driving this car really is ridiculously easy. And so comfy thanks to the typically excellent Citroen suspension.
Should I ever win the national lottery I won’t be buying a Ferrari or Lamborghini, oh dear no. Instead I want the kind of comforts offered to me by our Grand Picasso, albeit in a more luxurious package. Terrible isn’t it, where you reach the point where changing gears on a car feels like too much effort?
This week I began playing Test Drive Unlimited 2 on Xbox 360 and for the first time in a long time I’m playing a racing game with auto gears. I blame Citroen. I have most definitely reached middle age. Where are my slippers?
1I should point out this is in no way a sponsored post from Citroen. I don’t do that kind of thing