Episode 139. Aixam 500-5. WJ52 WNV. (Part 3).

I am clearly a glutton for punishment. The other evening, spurred on by the sheer boredom that was setting in for the evening I decided that I was going to go out in the Aixam... For fun... No really!

I had some errands to attend to including a little bit of shopping, and so after filling up with petrol, I headed out into the evening for some driving, and some thinking about what it is that I am driving! I have to say that on the school run in the morning the Aixam is OK, as there's only two of us in the car it's not too bad, especially as the journey is only five or ten minutes long! But for an evening of motoring pleasure the Aixam probably isn't the way forward. But I was determined to spend an evening blatting about in it. The Aixam, being small should be a little bit kart like, and to an extent I guess it is, but it's not as kart like as say a Mini, and by a Mini I mean a proper Mini, and not the BMW junk that I swapped this for! Blatting about the town on a warm, dry evening it was kinda fun, it's not especially fast, but with the town roads being quiet for some reason it was quite a chuckle.

The tyres, despite being a tiny tyre that clearly belongs on a bicycle offers more than enough grip on the dry road to keep the car on the black stuff. Having said that, although the tyres are just 145/65R13 I reckon that even if they were just half the width it would still be enough to hold this tiny thing on the road, especially in the dry! I don't think that I've ever had a car with tyres that are as small as this, but that being said, I've never had a car as small as this either. One of the reasons that I agreed to a swap for this car was that I've long been a fan of the Smart. At some point I do hope to get a Smart just so that I can see if they're as bad as the Aixam, and by bad I guess I mean un-refined. My feeling is that the Aixam is nowhere near the quality of a Smart, but at some point hopefull I'll be able to tell for myself.

The seats in the Aixam are clearly not designed for spending a long time in, the school run is fine, doing a 100 miles or so is not so great. Alot of the problem is that they're not really supportive, and the lower seat squab feels like it's leaning forwards when you're sitting in it. Another thing the seats were not designed for is spirited driving, blezzing around corners I feel that I am going to fall out of the seat, if not out of the car at any moment. It's not a great feeling, but at least I have the steering wheel to hold on to, although the way that vibrates I feel like it's doing its level best to stop me from being able to grip it! I had plenty of time on my hands and so I planned to do a massive circuit passing through several towns, and passing by several supermarkets.

After just over an hour and a half of driving my back was getting a little stiff, but I had reached what I considered to be the furthest point from home on my circuit that I was planning. I was at Asda in Havant. I'd planned my route to pass several large supermarkets, the reason for this was that I thought when I break down, atleast I'll be able to wander around the supermarket and get some shopping while I wait to get picked up, and if the worst comes to the worst, most of these supermarkets have petrol stations, so in theory I should be able to buy a gallon of petrol to tip over the thing to help to get it burning quicker! By the time I got to Asda in Havant I was pretty glad to be getting out to wander around getting some shopping. I didn't have a lot to get, but I took my time and pretty much looked at everything they have just for a break! If their café had been open I would've sat there drinking a coffee reading the copy of Street Machine magazine that I'd bought, but it wasn't, so I headed back out to the carpark, and the Aixam. It was then that I realised that I might have a little problem...

Although I managed to get all my shopping in the boot, I now couldn't close it because it was hanging out a couple of inches too far! I chuckled about this briefly, before sitting down on the ground, putting my head in my hands, and having a cry! After a while I dropped the back seat down and slid it all forward, this allowed me to close the boot, and get back to driving! Once I was back on the road I seriously considered just heading straight for home, but I was determined to see if I could actually manage 100 miles, in one go... Ish! It was starting to get a bit dark by now, and to be honest I think that the winding B-roads were a little bit scary due to other road users who through no fault of their own were travelling much faster than I was. I don't think they were speeding as such, it's just I couldn't go as fast as they were due to not having the power. Well, that, and the fear that I might get into an accident with a Pheasant, and the Pheasant might win! I headed on, I was going to need fuel again pretty soon, but by now my hands were numb with the vibration, and my ears were tingling with the constant din of everything vibrating, and now joined by the cacophony that was the rattling glass bottles in my shopping! As I approached Petersfield it was definatly time to re-stock the petrol tank. I pulled into the first petrol station I saw, and climbed out of the Aixam. Being able to stand was a welcome relief, but I struggled to grip the petrol pump, let alone squeeze the trigger! I took my time and eventually squirted another 14 litres of go-go juice into the tank. I climbed wearily back in, turned the key, pushed the gear lever forward, and once more headed out into the night. Nearly four hours after leaving BelongaClint I was finally passing the last supermarket of my circuit, Asda in Andover. By now, google maps estimated that I would've been home, but of course google maps had no idea what kind of car I'd be driving, if it did, no doubt it would've told me not to bother! But no matter, with just 15 miles of my journey left to go I went for it a bit. Another twenty five minutes later I was pulling up outside BelongaClint, and I was pretty tired. I parked the Aixam next to the Mustang.

The backs of both cars were against the wall, I leaned into the back seat from over the front seat to retrieve my shopping. I was glad that my little circuit was over, it had been long and frankly quite gruelling little circuit, but despite my ears ringing, and my hands tingling I think I may have actually enjoyed it. Either that or I was just delerious with joy at being home again... Thinking about it, it's probably the latter. The following morning I looked at the pair of them sitting there, and thought to myself what kind of idiot has a Mustang and an Aixam, but chooses the Aixam to drive over 100 miles in an evening? Further more, one of these two cars is a real gas guzzler... The other one is my Mustang!! On my little circuit I reckon that I used the best part of eight gallons to cover 110 miles, that means that I was averaging a whopping 13.75mpg!! Thats probably the worst fuel economy I've ever had from any car! So my deductions about the Aixam so far are thus, it's not particularly comfortable, it's noisy, everything vibrates, it's got the structural integrity of a sandwich box, and it's not even good on go-go juice!! I'm struggling to work out why anyone would buy one of these in the first place! Although, it does have to be said that when I drive it I do still get the delusions of granduer that I get when I drive most of my cars. In the Mustang I think that I'm Frank Bullitt, and in this...

I'm Bob Parr, or Mr. Incredible if you like! I probably look just like him when I'm behind the wheel, I feel like I'm wearing the car more than I'm driving it, and there has been a couple of occasions when I've felt like picking it up and throwing it! But I've not done it yet! The big question is though, am I enjoying it yet? Well, sort of, I'm definitely getting into the spirit of the thing a bit more, and I think that I actually like it, despite all it's faults, but I doubt that it will go down as one of the highlights in my automotive back catalogue. I think that it is now coming to the end of it's time with me, and to be honest it's been fun, an experience, but it really is time for a change, Summer is right around the corner, and I think it might be nice to be driving something that I actually fit in! Incredibly though I have been offered a swap, as it seems nobody buys cars with money these days, they just swap for other stuff, or maybe its just this car that gets swapped about. I'm not sure if I'm going to go for the swap, as I'd really prefer the money, but having said that I doubt that I'll get the money for it that the Mini One owes me so maybe the swap will be the way forward. The other thing is, I'm not really sure how serious the guy is about swapping, but I'm going to follow it up and have a look at what he wants to swap for this at the weekend. Only time will tell, and in all honesty if he is serious about the swap I'd probably be foolish not to swap with him, but, much like the Aixam it's for something like what I want, but not actually something I want. But for the next week atleast I'll be burning fossil fuels at an alarming rate in the Tupperware racecar, better go and fill it up again!