... and - believe it or not - I'm feeling pretty low about my Sportback right now! Not because I can't peel off the Audi's roof, or particularly have a fondness for cheap, hard plastics, but because I've discovered two things; one, what truly constitutes a proper handling front-drive car, and two, how important the driving experience is to me. My fiancée and I spent last week in and around Nice, southern France. When we arrived at Europcar to collect our rental for the week, for no reason at all the girl offered us the StreetKA for no extra charge! We've rented convertibles in the States before which we fun, so we took up the offer. First off, the little Ford doesn't impress for the best part of £13k. The interior quality is very poor; it's not just the hard plastic, it's the visible casting edges you can see where the interior shapes have been pressed that marks it down. The 1.6 engine was noisy and slow, and the gearshift, while very quick across the gate, whined all the time. But the car seriously redeemed itself for the handling which was just sensational. I used to run a Ford Puma for a couple of years and the StreetKA's chassis just brought it all flooding back. Direct turn-in, excellent steering feel, total lack of understeer and perfect balance. It worked all the better on the smooth French roads. We drove along the Col De Turini (where the Monte Carlo WRC stage is run) and I was totally immersed in the drive! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue_out.gif However, the experience has dented my faith in my Sportback, in what I've always considered a tidy handling-car, if a little staid. It's kind of put things in perspective for me; at the time we ordered our SE, I believed that build-quality, reliability, residual values, running costs (and yes, image) were now important for me. But it's not; I forgot about the driving experience which I've now realised is so crucial. Driving the Sportback day-to-day is indeed very cossetting, and with the lack of a long commute any more, I just haven't noticed how poor the Audi's dynamics are. Of course, there's no-one to blame for this but myself for choosing to buy the Sportback, but geez - what an eye-opener!