By James Wong

Just a quick update here. The search for the replacement has finally made some progress and now we are down to two choices: The very special and individualistic 1997 Toyota MR2 N/A or the peppy 2009 Clio 200 Cup.

It’s a really tough choice. So tough, in fact, that it’s the main thing that I am thinking about these days (or, to the detriment of school, weeks). It wasn’t difficult to eliminate the other two choices. The RX7 is by all measure a fabulous car, but as a ownership prospect it proved too daunting for a short 1.5 year period, especially for a student like me with limited time for fettling about. The Peugeot, while lovely in all of its handling glory, has two of the Must-Nots of being French and Old. It is OK to be one of those, but not both.

So that leaves the two – Toyota and Renault. Odd choices you might say at first, but give it deeper thought and then it becomes clear that these two cars are the antithesis of each other, the contradictions so great that it is very clear that both has to be considered very seriously. Furthermore, it is because of their complete difference to each other that it is so very difficult to accept just one. There is just so much to learn from either car.

It is even hard to place my priorities nowadays, but given a push I’d merit fun to drive as the most important factor, followed by reliability and then practicality. Both cars are fun to drive, but out of the box – the Clio is likely to satisfy more. The Clio would probably be more reliable (coming with some warranty too). And of course, the Clio wins on the practicality front. Easy choice?

Not really. The Clio costs 11,000 pounds – which is just about 8 times more expensive than a good condition MR2. Is it really worth the extra money?

There’s also the “problem” of it being FF. I know I have been unfairly discriminating against front-wheel drive cars, but then the situation here is that I’ve owned two FF cars in the last few years. Some part of me says it is time for a change to a different layout. I’ve always liked to own a RWD – but is the MR2 a RWD worth owning? The N/A model is just about the mid-range of the pack of those sold in the UK – the basic being the lower model and the Turbo the most powerful of the range. The Clio, however, is probably one of the best front-drivers in the modern day. So, excellent FWD or, according to reviews anyway, a mediocre RWD mid-engined car? I’d say that excellence matters more, because ‘I’ll have nothing but the best’ is what I always like to say. I mean, there’ll be another time in my future where I can own a RWD worth owning, I reckon. But will I be able to pick up a Mk2 MR2 then (which has always been something I’d like to own)?

All’s said and done, it’s not an easy choice at all. Despite the price gulf. Despite how different they are. Despite everything.

Time’s helping though. By next weekend I should have something new parked downstairs. Whichever I choose, it won’t be a mistake.