Little Rides of 2010

What is it about columnists every December, plundering and rehashing what they wrote that year? And what is it about men who, when they have families, suddenly develop a keener interest in tiny cars which only fit two? Anyway here were my favourite little rides of 2010.

Tesla Roadster – Sheer Electric Sex
Electric cars typically evoke pictures of graying seniors golfcarting about gated communities – until now. The Tesla Roadster is a monster but almost silent. (Combustion engines, its literature reminds us, are so 19th century.) Silent, perhaps, but deadly. It leaps from 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds. Its miles-per-joule, or whatever you’d call that, still needs work. They were sure I’d wring an extra 100km from the ‘tank’ in the 3 hours I drove it. Probably my fault: you simply cannot drive this bullet of electric sex and keep a light foot.
Call for an appointment: $116,500

Honda CR-Z – Stick it to the Oil Companies
This wee roadster is North America’s first hybrid with a stick shift, so a smart alternative for the city, and a hell of bargain. You can switch to sport mode for a tighter, more efficient drive or leave it for a comfortable float. As above, good luck stepping lightly to wring efficiency from the electric motor. (The whole hybrid aspect is a bit weird; like trying to mix a Chihuahua with a St Bernard. Yes, technically they’re the same species, but will the offspring do both jobs?) Still, it’s a great ride. It’s almost as fun as the Mazda MX-5, but cheaper.
MSRP $23,490

Mazda MX-5 – Get Over Yourself
No it’s not a girl’s car, it’s a driver’s! Sure, put a big engine in anything and it’ll go fast in a straight line. Where real driving happens is in the turns, and the way the MX-5 handles curves is like a very experienced and confident man. Other plus: if you can’t find parking, you can pick it up and carry it into the coffee shop with you.
Base Price for GX: $28,995
As Driven: $39,995

Mini Clubman – This May Be It
A few months ago, this column asked for your input. We’re retiring our SUV soon – probably in the spring of 2011 – and wondered what you thought your Urban Driver should own next. The Clubman may well be the choice. BMW loaned us one for the week. It went back just yesterday and there’s still a warm glow in my heart (but that might be the eggnog). Watch for far more on the Clubman in a soon-to-come column.
As tested $31,730

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