The 13 best cars for social distancing
Cars are best enjoyed a good distance from other people and their opinions... er, germs
At the risk of oversimplifying and understating the situation, things are bad. And we have a long metaphorical road to travel before we’re clear of the current miasma.
Even when we emerge, blinking into the sunlight, we’re still going to have to practice social distancing for a good while yet. And that’s going to apply to travelling on non-metaphorical roads, too. So what’s a modern, social-distance-respecting driver to do?
Of course, there’s the obvious answer to this situation: a mahoosive off-roader or ruggedised van to escape to the wilderness until all of this has blown over.
But we think there’s a much better way. Actually, 13 better ways. Allow us to explain.Advertisement - Page continues below
Oh my god, it’s a Mirage. It couldn’t be worse if it were sabotaged*.
And, before you think this is snark just because we’ve been looking at the same four walls for the past six weeks, let’s refer to the contemporary Top Gear road test, from when life was mostly normal:
“It's truly, profoundly terrible. The steering is slow and vague. It rolls extensively. Grip levels are non-existent. Every lump and ruffle in the road is transmitted directly to your backside. It’s inexcusably noisy. Hell, there’s so much slack in the steering that you can’t tell which way the wheels are pointing...”
And you will therefore never be asked to give anyone a lift. Now you see our genius.
*With apologies to the Beastie Boys.
OK, yes, it’s a concept. And yes, you would have to somehow find a way into Museo Lamborghini in Sant’Agata Bolognese, and probably fight off everyone else who thinks that purloining a priceless one-off Lambo is a top idea, but imagine the rewards if you succeed!Advertisement - Page continues below
Bereft of creative spark, imaginative spark, or spark of the divine. The only real crime is that it isn’t also bereft of spark plugs so there’s a valid excuse not to drive the thing.
On the plus side, anyone with eyes and even the smallest amount of self worth will instinctively avoid the Spark, leaving you not just a master of social distance, but indeed a social outcast. Well done?
Here we are, almost approaching legitimate advice! It’s cheap to run, cheap to insure, and small enough to park in your living room – avoiding any issues with leaving your car parked outside. It’ll be a self-contained cocoon for your weekly shopping run and will resolutely only take one person. If ever there were a car custom-designed for this crisis, the Peel P50 is it.
Yes, the TVR has more than one seat. It also has more than one door. It’s a social distancing nightmare! But bear with us: because it’s a TVR, no one will know where the door handles are, and, should they find one by sheer chance, there’s a very large likelihood that the switch will be broken anyway.
So let the ‘handbuilt quality’ keep you safe and sound. As long as you keep the engine ticking over, you’ll be safe from breaking social distancing. But traction? That’s another matter.
What better car than one designed to keep a pontiff safe from anything the world can throw at him? It’s not like the Pope actually uses those things any more… doesn’t he have an old Renault 4 or something, because he actually heeded the Beatitudes?
Anywhos, what we’re saying is that there’s gotta be at least 20 ex-Popemobiles just waiting for this very specific purpose. Our pick? The Mercedes 230 G version – the first with the conservatory-style parapet out the back. Show the whole world how committed you are to staying the hell... er, heck (sorry, Your Holiness) away from them.Advertisement - Page continues below
Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet
At times like these, a convertible seems about as appropriate a solution to the worldwide spread of a deadly infectious disease as drinking disinfectant. But in the case of the CrossCabriolet, the rest of the world (and their dangerous germs) will be doubled over, either retching or howling with derision. Result? Safety!
Remember the early 2000s, when everything seemed a) possible, b) just around the corner and c) not something we’d spend years regretting? Those really were the days. Oh, wait. We forgot how aural-nerve-cripplingly bad the music was and how everyone insisted on having spiky hair. Never mind.
But, somehow, even in the space of three sentences, we’ve digressed. What the early 2000s also gave us is this: it has standard car controls and a bike-ish 660cc engine, but hydraulic rams lean the cockpit over when you turn the wheel. Sartre did say that hell was other people... perhaps the Carver proves that heaven is the absence thereof?Advertisement - Page continues below
Want to head out for sourdough starter and 4000-piece puzzles? Concerned about bringing potentially germ-covered items into your car’s cabin? Have a sense of humour (and style) that can be best described as ‘quirky’? Then step right up for the heroically uncrashworthy but otherwise indomitable Piaggio Ape, or that funny buzzy little thing you saw on holiday in Italy that time.
Inside, you’ll find a right pedal that operates... the rear brake, of course. You’ll also find motorcycle handlebars, including a right-hand lever for the independently operated front brake. Basically, we’re talking a motorbike with a cabin and a ute back. And the possibility of lifting a rear wheel in every corner. Just not if you want to keep your groceries in good nick.
The E20 stands apart as a social distancing device. The second you tell any friends that you have one is the second they become erstwhile friends. One look at its ungainly proportions will send the general public running a mile in the opposite direction, and the prospect of driving it is so unappealing that another few months spent inside, climbing the walls, becomes a welcome alternative.
The Lunar Rover
Specifically, if it’s one of the lunar rovers left on the moon after the later Apollo missions. With just the man on the moon to keep you company (and we’re reliably informed that pareidolic geographical features are not susceptible to viruses), you’ll have ample room to carve around in your buggy on perhaps the most off-road track achievable by man. Also, you’ll be in a hermetically sealed spacesuit! This plan has literally no downsides.
Chrysler PT Cruiser
Is it low-hanging fruit to pick on the PT Cruiser, perhaps the worst car ever made? Yes. Would that fruit, in the case of the PT Cruiser, be unnaturally misshapen, of severely suspect quality and probably unfit for human consumption? Also yes.
Buying a PT Cruiser is a charitable act, because you’re bailing out the last poor sod that owned one. And in times of crisis, charity becomes all the more important. Just imagine the distress caused by having to actually see the keys to a PT Cruiser sitting on your kitchen table and knowing you actually own one. The horror... the horror.
The simplest solution: a damn motorbike
Yeah, this one’s really been staring you in the face all along. If you’re doing the whole ‘All the gear, all the time’ thing that you really should be when on a motorbike, you’ll be covered from head to toe in heavy armour. Plus, unless you’re one of those riders who insists on riding a flat-tracker-knockoff SR400 in riding gear that would have looked period-correct in 1968, you’ll have a full-face helmet. Extra bonus: retractable sneeze guard!