Are Useful Things Ugly?

Are Useful Things Ugly?

I know this is a car blog, but I wanted to mention my bike today. Go with me for a bit because I’ll get round to the Audi RS3 eventually. I gave up smoking last year and started running. I’m not a jogger. I do not jog. I am a runner and I run. As part of the ‘get fit to stave off imminent death’ thing, I bought myself a rather sexy bicycle. It’s a Ridgeback Flight 02 and it’s a light, all-aluminium thing with flat bars, 18 gears and disc brakes. It goes like stink, even with someone with my pipe-cleaner thighs. What it would be like with a proper cyclist on board terrifies me. It’s a proper hooligan’s machine, as the bloke in Evan’s put it. I have to say that having been told off by an older lady on an older lady’s bike for pulling a zoomie on her on a cycle route on Cambridge’s back roads, I agree with him. As the words “It’s not a race, you know!” faded rather quickly in the slipstream I realised I’d turned into a cyclopath.

That was a few months ago. I’ve indulged in a little customisation since then. It has new, clipless pedals and today I had it fitted with full mudguards and a luggage carrier. I bought the bits to fit myself but I have all the technical ability of a dormouse so I had to take the bike and bits back to the very nice people at Station Cycles in Cambridge for them to fit the accessories for me. I’m so inept. Anyway, what had been a lithe, lissom, little thing has become just a little middle-aged. It won’t now spray my back with mud nor will I have to carry my gear in a backpack when I’m on the bike any more, so that’s all good. Nonetheless, I can’t help thinking that I’ve taken Keira Knightley out of her perfume ad and given her a rucksack and a pair of walking boots. And a kagoule. I’ve certainly slowed it down. I mean, there’s no way Tanni Grey-Thompson would be as quick had her wheelchair been fitted with panniers.

And that brings me to the Audi RS3. As we know, it’s only available as a five-door Sportback. I’ve never liked it. The three-door is fine and proper five-door hatch would be fine too but this abomination is… well, abominable. The profile is of a half-hearted estate, as if the designers suddenly realised that they weren’t supposed to be doing an estate but they were too lazy to rub all the bits off their drawings.It’s a shame because there is little to dislike about the rest of the package. It’s going to be a quick, powerful, beautifully built car with an interior you could probably spend the rest of your life trying to destroy. If you believe the roadtesters, it might have a hard ride and leaden steering. It probably won’t matter to the few hundred people who will buy one. They’ll think they have the hottest hatch around, even if they’ve really bought a rather poorly done small estate with a stupidly powerful engine and nice stitching on the steering wheel. What if they’d all bought TT-RSs instead?


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