Former F1 champ tells TG about his car history, and why he’ll never own a McLaren F1
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The temptation to give a car called the Savvy a kicking, automatically, is overwhelming. It’s made all the more so by the fact that it comes from a stable as feeble as Proton. Add to that the impossibly awkward Euro-Asian styling and it’s a true test of your professional objectivity to ask for the keys, let alone actually use them.
The Savvy is one of those cars you blithely hope will defy your jaded expectations of budget Far Eastern motoring, but it doesn’t. Not by a long chalk. Starting at £5,995, it is cheap, but not cheap enough by today’s standards. The excellent Fiat Panda is only £600 more, a Kia Picanto £300 less. Inside, the quality of materials is not far short of depressing and the dash is a poorly plagiarised mish-mash of other simple city car designs.
On the move, the 75bhp 1.2-litre engine is lively enough, but at high revs it hits a brain-bleeder pitch that reverberates around the cabin and leaves you hurrying for the next gear. And the five-speed ’box is absurdly stiff and clumsy when you do, while the artlessly sculpted steering wheel soon gets genuinely uncomfortable to hold.
On a practical note, rear parking sensors are standard, there’s room enough in the rear for kids, and you get a fairly decent boot, but none of this should ever make Savvy ownership anything other than someone else’s problem.