I opted for the OFFD budget plan, so I got a nice, leisurely two hour introductory lesson pottering around Castlepark circle; “this is a CAR”, “these bits make it stop and go”, “try not to hit anything”, etc.
I was pretty hyped up rather than nervous, so we stopped halfway through for me to smoke several thousand cigarettes and calm myself down. I was a bit mystified by John’s enthusiasm for the car itself – I was, like, ‘Well, it’s a car … it goes, it looks smart … and whit?’ I put it down to the charming tendency of guys to get rather boyish about gadgets.
However, once I’d got beyond my first few lessons, and had a shot of a couple of different friends’ cars, I realised it’s not just the cute ‘folding ears’ lock of the DS3 that makes it so fab to learn in – it’s actually helped me to become more confident as a driver. Because it’s a diesel, rather than petrol, engine, (Petrol=fast, Diesel=power, as I understand it), it has much more ‘torque’ (oh yes, get me – I’ll be on Top Gear next lol!), which means it’ll accelerate, even in high gears, yet still remain stable. It’s also able to trundle at very low speeds in higher gears (around 15mph in third f’instance), so you have time to assess a roundabout and then have the power to zip into a gap.
From a learning point of view, it basically ‘sticks’ to the road better, so if you take a roundabout or corner a wee bit faster than intended (ahem, oops), you can steer firmly, an’ you know it won’t go wibbly and land you in the ditch, heh. (Wait til you do Old Loans Road, and you’ll know what I’m on about … )
As learners, we’re taught to slow down when we spot a hazard developing. From watching masses of vids of both novice and experienced/advanced drivers online, and my own limited experience, this is true 90% of the time, 100% in a standard wee car. The DS3 gives you that other 10%, when you need to accelerate out of trouble. This can only be judged when you’ve got some time under your belt, but knowing you have that option allows you expand your skills significantly as you develop … allows you to touch on the realm of advanced driving.
Once I’ve passed, I’m going to buy a spacious old 4×4, as I’m going to be touring, and motoring ‘dahn sarf’ hundreds of miles on a regular basis to visit m’old Maw, so need armchair rather than sports seats. However, I’ll be keeping a weather eye on used DS3′s, should I get a windfall, for short runs and economy; having driven it, I suspect this baby is destined to become a sought-after classic.
Pauline, Irvine, June 2014