Thursday, 10 January 2008

The Mighty versus The Mini

Today's watchword is affordable.

A David and Goliath situation has arisen.

Whilst among an artsy, square-bespectacled lot watching Blood Simple at the Cornerhouse last night, an ad for the much demonised 4x4 Hummer came on (oooh, tough crowd). The smallest of the Hummer range - the still sizeable H2 - was winging its way to Manchester, via upmarket city centre dealership Bauer-Millett.

Prices start from £26,795, which, while unlikely to leave you much change post-purchase to pick up some shopping, is still a vastly more reasonable than H1 prices. It brings the Hummer into the price range of the popular 3.2litre Land Rover Freelander, or Hyundai's gloopy-looking Sante Fe. I know global brands are hard to resist, especially if they're cheap (TK Maxx, your ears should be burning), and you can now own a slice of American beef for nearly half price. Just be ready to have it scraped all the way around Manchester city centre, as you appear to be a Magic Bus in the rear view mirror.

At the other end of the scale, influential Indian motor company Tata revealed a potentially life-changing car, the Nano. This is a tiny 624cc car based on the modus operandi of the first Volkswagen (of course translating as "people's car"). Unveiled at the New Dehli Auto Expo today, and weighing in at a meagre £1,255, it's been billed as the world's cheapest car.

Owner Ratan Tata claims this sheet-metal and plastic car will solve an Indian transport problem; getting families off two wheels and onto a more stable four. As production is designed to hit 250,000 in the first year, critics have been flapping their heads, saying it may lead to a vast increase in the number of families owning a car, and increased emissions. So the little fella might actually do more damage than the hulking great beast. Told you it was David and Goliath.