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Everyone have a cold shower.

It’s 14 sleeps to the Bahrain Grand Prix, so go back to sleep. But two important points if you’re joining me and the old bloke there. Consumption of alcohol in the grandstands and all other general access areas is strictly prohibited.

The second point is that you can have a bevy in the hospitality tent, which “serves as an airconditioned oasis where alcohol and other food and beverages are available to purchase”.

Not only can you buy a cold one in this oasis but, for $1500 a day, you get a toilet that isn’t open to the riff raff and a large, shared TV to be able to follow the race on Foxtel rather than open the tent flap every now and then and look out.

I know you’re saying: “What about all the new F1 cars? The new Merc? The new McLaren? The new Fezzer?” And so on.

As they say in corporate land, let’s go to the major stakeholders with major skin in the game. The bookies. You can’t get a bet on Mad Max. There’s reasonable odds for Chuck Leclerc, Sergio, Lando and the Hamster. The rest are serious longshots.

Back to motoring in the business section, or as you know us, the Consumers’ Friend (CF).

First up, as a result of CF’s campaigning, the Federal Court has ordered Mazda Australia to pay $11.5m in penalties for engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct and making false or misleading representations to nine consumers about their consumer guarantee rights.

“Mazda made 49 separate false or misleading representations to the nine consumers who had experienced recurring and serious faults with their Mazda vehicles within two years of purchase,” ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe said.

“Mazda ignored or rejected requests by the nine consumers for a refund or a replacement ­vehicle. It told them that the only remedy available was a repair, even though their vehicles had already undergone multiple unsuccessful repair attempts, including complete engine replacements. One vehicle had three engine replacements. Ultimately, Mazda offered to refund only a portion of the vehicle’s purchase price, or ­offered a replacement vehicle only if the consumer made a significant payment, after multiple failed repair attempts.

“All of the consumers were given the run-around by Mazda while it engaged in evasions and subterfuges, provided appalling customer service, and failed to make any genuine attempt to consider and apply the consumer guarantee provisions of the Australian Consumer Law.”

Don’t worry, we’ll keep going on SsangYong and Hyundai, and next week we’ll have a good look at Toyota too.

Well, what a surprise then! In the latest issue of our favourite auto buyer’s bible, the Which? Car Guide, the Hyundai i10 is ranked a “don’t buy” alongside the Fiat Panda, the Alfa Mito and the Jeep Wrangler.

Among the best buys are the Honda Jazz (any model from 2020), the Toyota Corolla Hybrid, the Honda Civic (from 2022), the Lexus ES (from 2019) and the BYD ATTO (2023).

Twenty readers and one friend and one of my sons who occasionally reads this column, can I just put a plug in for the Lexus? No, I haven’t got a freebee, never been offered a test drive, but I do have one friend and two readers who own them and the Which? Car Guide lists the 2011-20 Lexus CT as its most reliable used car.

And if you want to know what great dealer service is like, buy a Lexus. Yes, and I know they’re boring but life’s not perfect.

Then again, we here in Albo (and happy engagement Tony) land are banned from buying the most exciting station wagon on the market. Which? ranks the Porsche Taycan Sport Turismo as a best buy wagon.

I know it’s electric, so don’t drive it outside a capital city and don’t try to tow the tinny, but Which? (no I haven’t had a million Coopers, that’s the real name of the mag) raves about it. “There’s no other estate car (soap dodger for station wagon) and few sports cars that drive like the Taycan Sport Turismo.” But it’s not coming to Australia and maybe that’s a good thing because Porsche dealer service has got pretty crappy.

Talking of Porkers, this week’s car of the year is the 1989 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante 6.3-litre “Prince of Wales” Touring just sold by Bonhams for $777k in their Les Grandes Marques du Monde à Paris at the Grand Palais Éphémère, down on Place Joffre.

Yes, the one-owner, 9.5km, 2004 Ferrari Enzo went for $6.4m. But the most interesting was the ex-chairman of Aston Martin, Victor Gauntlett’s Vantage Volante. The last V8 Volante built, two owners after Vic, the factory claimed this was the world’s fastest convertible.

So why two names, Vantage and Volante? The Volante is a convertible, and the Vantage is a convertible on steroids. The first Volante turned up in 1978 and it took eight years before Aston Martin dropped in a bigger engine and machoed up the body with flared wheel arches, a front air dam and a bonnet with a bulge to clear the Weber carburettors, and gave it the Vantage name.

Enter Prince (eventually to become King) Chuck of Soap Dodger land. Chuck didn’t like the macho look so said to Vic Gauntlett, keep the big motor and the bonnet bulge but drop the rest. Vic tells me the Prince of Wales version wasn’t a bad seller. “Twenty-five went out the door, Johnny, with mine being converted to left-hand drive and going to the Middle East”, Vic said from petrol head heaven. Vic was another proper English gent and a super entrepreneur. Known as “MVG”, his clobber was Saville Row complete with gold-chained pocket watch, he was master of the Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers, he started one of Britain’s biggest independent petrol suppliers and sold it to the ­Kuwaitis, then started another oil company and sold it to Texaco. Oh, and he bought and sold Aston Martin on the way through.



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