For Xmas we went away as a family, which when the dogs and presents are included meant my Audi A5 convertible was not big enough, and so I went to Enterprise Cars and hired a small SUV.   I should say at the outset that Enterprise are great with drops offs and pickups so nearly all of the following comments are really addressed to Toyota.  I took charge of a Toyota Rav 4, which to be fair was nearing the end of its hire car life with over 36,000 miles on the clock.

Toyota, known for the sports car in “You Only Lived Twice” which fired missiles out of its boot, 110% reliability and its luxury big brother, but ultimately, as Alpha Papa’s steed of choice, A-Ha!!, naff.  So what could go wrong?

Well it has a tiny turning circle, good MPG, and the first car I have driven with 6 forward manual gears.  The gear box is tight and sporty.   The doors opened (except for the boot from the key fob didn’t).   And the clutch is a long way away.    Basically, if you are Tyrannosaurus Rex, this is the car for you, long legs and then a tight close steering wheel to suit your tiny arms.  In addition, gears 2 and 3 are too high.  You have to be well over 10 mph to have a chance in 2nd, and over 20 mph for 30.

The car bleeping bleeps a lot.   I mean a lot a lot.  This is extremely irritating, more so when you cannot find the source of the bleep.

One source was the lane change bleep which I switched off as it bleeped every time I changed lane on the motorway.   Another, which took some working out, was the bleep warning of a speed camera.   But the one I could not cope with was when we were in a traffic jam, the parking sensors would start  up when we pulled up behind the car in front.   The handbook said the bleeping bleep only comes on when reverse gear is engaged.   Oh not it doesn’t.     Oh yes it does (said the handbook)    cont. ad liberandum.

I have not experienced a car with such massive understeer (although no torque steer) for a long time.

The sat nav had some sever mental problems.   First, it refused to accept my destination post code.  Apparently I was travelling to either another dimension or a parallel universe.  I had no idea Toyota made the TARDIS.   And its route choices were bizarre, including a weird obsession with St Albans, even to the extent of doubling back on the correct route saying we should pay it a visit.

The only other Toyota I have driven was a Corolla in 1997, rear wheel drive and massive oversteer, huge, it was like driving a wriggling snake, did not even brake in a straight line.

Everyone tells me Toyota are the world’s best cars; Top Gear even blew one up on top of a block of flats and it still worked, but for me the Rav 4  was more of a Rav 2 times too bad.

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