Aventador vs 2CV


I suppose it is just possible that it was not me who had the broadest choice of motoring pleasures at his or her disposal this past weekend. Someone, somewhere, may have woken on Saturday morning and pondered the relative merits of going about their business by Bugatti Veyron or Contal Tricar. But probably not.

My choice lay between a brand new Lamborghini Aventador Super Veloce with 750hp and exhausts loud enough to make me consider writing letters of apology to my neighbours before it even turned up, and my trusty 1958 Citroën 2CV with, I kid you not, less power than my ride-on mower.

Which would you drive, purely for fun? The answer might seem obvious, but when I put the question out into the ether via the medium of Twitter, every single respondent said they’d take the blue one. But that might say far more about the curious coves with enough time on their hands and kindness in their hearts to follow what I have to say than the relative merits of the cars in question.

So I did the only sensible thing and drove both.

The Lamborghini’s fun day out started with a pre-dawn blast up into the mountains, then across England to a runway, along which I drove at 200mph because, well, why wouldn’t you in such a car if you could? It’s a speed it would be terribly easy to be blasé about, because the first time a car travelled that fast was almost 90 years ago – Le Mans drivers have been doing as much, at least twice a lap, every lap, for almost the half century.

But to sit in a car, even on as broad an expanse of concrete as this, at a speed that if it could be maintained would take you from London to York in an hour, or Glasgow in two, is still something both special and remarkable. And though it requires almost no skill at all in a car as unerringly stable as the Aventador, it’s still a mildly frightening pastime and only truly enjoyable in retrospect, after you’ve eased off the power, squeezed the brakes, felt mighty calipers bite into monstrous carbon discs and know you’ll stop with space to spare.

Having not liked the last Aventador I drove in the UK at all, the Super Veloce is a car transformed, because its abilities are so great, its character so powerful, its many failings are dwarfed by comparison. Cutting-edge though its technology might be, at its heart this is an old school supercar of a kind not even Ferrari makes anymore. And for being the first Lamborghini I have driven in many years with a driving experience that at least matches the promise made by its appearance, I welcome it and applaud its creators.

I didn’t take the Citroën to a runway, even though I am confident it would break its manufacturer’s claimed top speed of 45mph. Indeed I recently saw a GPS-corrected 48mph on the straight and level. Instead I went to the shops, albeit by a slightly circuitous route.

I will spare you a detailed analysis of the 2CV’s dynamic envelope (largely because it doesn’t have one) other than to say any of you who have experienced a later 602cc 2CV would simply not believe how much slower an early 425cc car is; that’s because 29bhp doesn’t sound like much, only until you’ve got just 12bhp at your disposal. In terms of the percentage drop, it is exactly the same as getting out of the Aventador and into a top of the range Golf.

But because it was designed and engineered by a bunch of free-thinking geniuses, the 2CV remains once of the most instantly charming cars of any kind I have ever driven. If you like to be kept relentlessly busy just maintaining your point-to-point average pace, this is the car for you. Of those in my very small accumulation of determinedly not valuable machines, it is the one I know I will never sell.

So, Aventador or 2CV? The only sensible reply is that they are beyond comparison, so utterly different as to render those things they do share – four wheels and an internal combustion engine – almost irrelevant compared to those that they do not.

Except this: what both cars prove is that it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, or are drawn towards cars that are new or old, fast or slow or anything else in between, there is always something out there for you. There are cars to appeal to almost every taste, every budget, and every set of individual circumstances. If you’ve not found yours yet, keep searching: it is out there, and it’s waiting for you.

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