“We drove from my house in Mayfair down to Goodwood which is as good a route as any to test a car: round Hyde Park, through the suburbs, a bit of motorway and then taking the country route over the South Downs. “My first impression was its discreet styling. The Bora is not a car that shouts its presence, it doesn’t sit there making statements. My second impression was how spacious the boot is, and my third was how driver-friendly it is. And that’s before I’d driven it. I’m very fussy about my driving position. I could get it exactly right on the Bora by adjusting the steering column for angle and length. The seats are extremely comfortable and grip one well, plus the visibility is excellent.
“The walnut cappings are a nice touch, but much more important is the fact you can read all the instruments clearly and the controls are well laid out.
“When I first heard about the V5 engine, I have to say that I wondered about it, but I was surprised just how smooth it is and how flexible in top. There are no problems going for gaps in London traffic and it’s a car that doesn’t say, ‘Hey, I’m front wheel drive’, which is quite an achievement. “Driving as much as I do in London traffic, I’ve come to appreciate automatic transmissions, but the five-speed manual ‘box on the Bora is so good that it’s a positive incentive to want a manual. It’s a beautiful gear-change, with third particularly well suited to driving in traffic.
“I’ve read about Volkswagen’s laser welding, but frankly I don’t go round looking at welds on a car. The driver, however, is made aware of how well it’s built because the shell feels so rigid.
“We drove through London on a baking hot day so the electronic climate control was most welcome. I had intended to drive over Hammersmith Bridge and join the A3, but that’s still closed so we headed down the M3 and onto the M25.
We had fairly clear roads so we could cruise at a good brisk speed and that’s when I couldn’t get over how quiet the Bora is. There’s very little noise from anywhere, engine, wind, even the tyres. With comfortable seating, climate control and low noise, it makes for very relaxed motoring.
“We left the M25 at Junction 10 and I was reminded just how much motor racing history there was all around us. Within a radius of a few miles there had been the workshops of HWM, Connaught, Cooper, Alta, Tyrrell, Brabham and Ralt. There was Brooklands with all its history, and outfits like Thomson & Taylor who made John Cobb’s record breakers. And McLaren, of course, is still there, in Woking. It’s incredible just how rich in motor racing history that part of England is.
“South of Guildford we headed towards Petworth on roads which would detect any shortcomings in ride or handling. The Bora has a sporty feel, with a ride firm enough to give precise handling, yet without being uncomfortable. In fact the chassis is so competent that I felt I could easily use more power. That’s not a criticism of the V5 engine which, with 150 bhp is plenty powerful for most circumstances, it’s a compliment to the chassis. It’s really very good.
“Lunch was at the Goodwood Marriott Hotel which incorporates the building of the old Richmond Arms pub which was a favourite place to go after racing at Goodwood. It’s now a lounge bar. but they’ve lined the walls with racing pictures and memorabilia. It’s nice to see that sort of thing preserved. “Naturally we finished up at the circuit where there was a test session going on for some of the drivers entered for the Revival Meeting while all around there were grandstands going up ready for the event. Goodwood has so many fantastic memories for me, driving the Bora is now one of them.