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You get to spot these after a while

What do I think of your car?

Not from everyone, you understand. Not even from most of you. It is, after all, our very purpose in life to shine clarity on these murky waters, to be a pillar of logic in what is the biggest purchasing decision most of us make, after our home.

It is a privilege and a pleasure to help. If our reviews somehow leave you in any doubt, feel free to call for more advice any time during business hours. 

So what am I on about? I'm on about the minority for whom this question is rhetorical, those who will ask: ''What do you think of BRAND X?'' when what they mean is: ''Clearly I've already bought this box of spanners; now tell me how great it is and/or how hot I look in it.''

After a few years you learn to spot this sort of thing coming and deflect the demand with a mild ''I'd really rather not say''. Or ''Please, not while there are children present,'' or ''Look! Over there!'' and execute the quiet sneak. (This works more often than you might imagine.)

The fact of it is people don't want to hear bad stuff about their cars. They take it incredibly badly. They take it, not altogether unreasonably, as a personal slight.

Well, too bloody bad. That is, may I repeat, what we're here for. That said, I do kind of get it when owners of Lancers with continuously variable transmissions complain about me comparing the CVT drone to the voice of Eric ''Oz Car Affair'' Abetz.

In retrospect this was a cruel thing to say about a very sound car that I've personally recommended to several readers.

Of course, there are some people who simply can't be helped. According to the FCAI, three people bought Saabs in February.

Not even the new but stupidly overpriced 9-5 but the rattly relic chunk of nineties-stalgia, the 9-3. I'd love them to ask what I think.