Saturday, December 11, 2010

Champagne Taste, Beer Pocket

Nothing better describes my recent experience of car testing. Driving through France in the new Citroen C3 shows how mature this car company is. Famous for its slab-sided 2CV, and the Light 15, as well as the divine Goddess, Citroen has developed a fabulous, contemporary new small car, with a low price, that performs like a big car.

I've long had a taste for good champagne, and also a fascination with motor sport, so during this trip the new C3 and I visited the champagne house of Mailly Grand Cru in the tiny village of Mailly-Champagne, just south of Reims.

Which is also very conveniently located near one of the most famous race circuits in the world. You probably know it as the Reims Circuit, but it's just outside the city linking the villages of Gueux and Thillois. My friend Stirling Moss raced there many times, winning in a Jaguar C-type in 1953. He described it as 'scary and fast, but fantastic' - which is just great for a guy who always raced flat out.

There's hardly anything left of the old track, just the skeletal remains of some old buildings, and the old racing pits, plus the ghosts of great drivers who raced here.

The little C3 will become famous for its panoramic front windscreen which reaches over the front seat occupants and becomes the sunroof too. However, it will be the driving comfort, and the 5.2 l/100km fuel economy I will remember best. The little car swallowed a lot of luggage, sped along the autoroutes, and boasts one of the best sound systems I've sampled in such a keenly-priced car. Check it out.

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