When I lived in London, the car I drove was constantly under attack. Whether it was thieves, vandals, bad drivers or traffic wardens, there was always someone wanting to take chunks out of me or my wallet. Now, I've moved to the countryside and my transport - the long-term Mitsubishi Colt - is being victimised. This time, however, the aggressors are of the winged variety.
I've no choice but to park under trees, and the 1.5-litre supermini's silver paintwork is coming in for some serious aerial bombardment. The most irritating thing is that when I go to the car the morning after I've jet-washed it, there's usually a large splat mark on the roof.
Nevertheless, the Colt and I have become firm friends over the last month. It was my runaround while I was on paternity leave, and the fun character and excellent diesel engine made it a real joy to drive. During my time off, the odometer hit the 12,000-mile mark, so the Colt went for its first service. The £207 bill was all for standard stuff, but its day in the garage did give me a chance to drive the equivalent petrol courtesy car.
Given the choice, I'd take the diesel every time. The three-cylinder engine is responsive, has good in-gear acceleration and, officially at least, should give 59mpg economy. I'm only getting 44mpg, but it's better than the equivalent petrol model managed. When we reported on the Colt in Issue 857, I mentioned how impressed I was with the roominess of the cabin. While that's not changed, my criticisms of the car all relate to the interior. The first is the lack of reach adjustment on the steering wheel, which I think is a serious oversight on any new model in 2005.
The second concerns the pump-action height movement of the driver's seat. Because I'm six feet four inches tall, the Mitsubishi's high roofline is great for providing lots of headroom, but the chair has to be positioned at the top of its travel, and after a day or two it begins to sink down.
My final gripe is with the digital display. It's high up in the centre console and the basic design is flawed. The screen gets too much light on it, and even on a dull day it's not easy to read.
I should also tell you that my wife was less than 30 minutes away from giving birth in the Colt. Be thankful she didn't - that would possibly have led to there being a completely different set of pictures appearing on this page...
As I'm not quite as tall as Richard, I don't find the seat adjustment such a problem. But the Colt's boot bugs me, as it's a little on the small side, while the diesel engine suffers from too much rattle. Still, that's not to say I don't like the Mitsubishi - it looks really cute and provides plenty of nippy performance around town.
Eileen Pegden, deputy art editor