Dec 7 2009 Steve Orme
Avoid paparazzi pain, buy this bargain Lancer
LAST week the wives and girlfriends of several of England's premier soccerballists enjoyed their Christmas night out.
Some dressed to kill and others in dressed to die of hypothermia, the wags strutted their Gucci and Vera Wang to a party thrown by a high-end Liverpool knicker retailer.
For this life-enriching knowlege I have the paparazzi swarm that descended on the city, many hospitalised by blunt force trauma elbow injuries inflicted in the rush to capture wardrobe malfunctions, to thank.
To be honest those of a celebrity disposition have my sympathy on this one.
What kind of life is it when you cannot even enjoy a quiet game of golf without some impertinent snapper shouting 'stick it in the hole, Tiger....' from the bushes on the 17th?
What all celebs, waggish or otherwise, would really give their left Rolex for is a little anonymity, a scarce commodity if you drive around in a blacked-out Overfinch Range Rover with a private plate worth very little in scrabble points.
Frankly, you may as well go about your business in a motorised orange.
Ever one to be helpful, I would suggest the answer to their plight is to buy a Mitsubishi Lancer.
I have been driving a 1.5-litre SE and while not unattractive it is fairly anonymous. If you are a perfectly normal human being, who does not see £200 for a pair of jeans as reasonable, the Lancer may be for you.
Introduced in the depths of recession last August, the SE is a four-door saloon costing a paltry £12,500 for GS1 trim.
Which means, you must appreciate, that in parts it is pretty basic, hard plastics, sofas direct upholstery and a fascia only slightly more eye catching than the view on a dark night.
That is not to say there is a paucity of equipment. The interior may well feel like the bottom of an accountant's pocket but beneath that bleakness lie curtain and knee air bags, Bluetooth, air conditioning, repeater controls on the steering wheel and iPod input. There are even 16-inch alloys as standard. Not at all bad for the price.
Those, however, are not the essentials. If you are looking for a low cost family car the Lancer offers reasonable room, a good boot, £150 road tax and 40mpg.
Okay so the 1.5 MIVEC VVT petrol engine is pretty much a chips and gravy affair, At over 11.5 seconds to 62mph there's plenty of time to admire the view.
Generally speaking the SE rides well, there's a bit of harshness on the motorway but no overbearing feeling that the car is underpowered, although the gearbox leaves you searching for a nonexistent sixth.
Above all bear in mind the outstanding value this spacious family saloon represents. And don't expect to see anyone called Rooney getting out of one any time soon.