Driving Practice (16th August 2009)

Got to drive my mum’s Nissan Almera and my dad’s Ford Ranger Wildtrack today.

We went to some private land which has various access roads and car parks. It felt quite natural right away, even though the last time I drove was in 2001 or 2002. That’s when I passed my test (first time) aged 17.

That was so long ago it predates my blog!


Spent quite some time practicing my parking into many empty spaces. Seemed pretty easy but I dare say would feel very different if there were more cars around and people queuing up behind me.

Stalled a couple of times and slightly grinded reverse gear once. Pretty good going, all things considered.

The 1st and reverse gears feel very tall. Have to ride the clutch for ages before the revs are high enough to avoid stalling. But it does put 1st and 2nd quite neatly together, making that gearchanges easier to manage.

Got up to 20mph which felt really quite rapid! Somehow feels much faster when I’m in the driving seat than when I am a passenger!


This is a much longer vehicle with a much wider turning circle. This meant my first attempt to enter a junction failed. But I backed up (without hitting a nearby fence) and made it on my next try.

Similar number of turns on the steering wheel to get from lock to lock. However, the wheels don’t turn to such an angle because it is four wheel drive.

My first gearchange was rather slow and flustered, since 1st is a lot shorter than 2nd. After I got used to revving a bit further in 1st they became much smoother.

The extra torque of the big diesel engine and the smoother movement of the clutch make that aspect easier to operate. The reduced turning circle means you need quite a lot of room to enter a parking space. I got into one, albeit a bit crooked.

Reached 25mph on a straight part! Was surprised how much later I could have slowed down. I was barely crawling along by the time I reached the end of the junction. Seems to have a lot of engine braking; I guess that’s due to the higher compression rates diesels use.

Anyway, it’s favourable to be too early than too late with the slowing down aspect of driving.

Exciting Experiences!

When my mum gets her new car in September, I’ll probably get the Almera. This will mean I can drive to and from Fleet Station for my London commuter trains.