Hmmm, nastiest car in the world… There’s quite a big field here. The old Vauxhall Vectra was a barker, a complete dog. To be fair, its replacement, the Insignia, is quite a lot better. However the basic problem with the Vectra was it was simply crap. Rubbish engines, rubbish gearboxes, rubbish ride, rubbish roadholding, rubbish handling, rubbish interiors.
I could make a case for the Montego MG Turbo, one of which I had as a hire car once, and it contrived to nearly kill me on the Lincoln bypass when the throttle cable ceased to work as I passed a truck. Fortunately the upholstery was already brown.
But for me, the worst car I’ve ever driven, including the 1993 Ford Thunderbird, which handled like a carnival float, didn’t go very well, refused to stop, and showered my feet with self tapping screws that should have been securing the dashboard, was a Nubira. This was without any doubt the car that made me feel the most mortal. Not sure if it was Kia or Hyundai made it, but it was a disgrace for any of the engineers and designers involved. On balance I think it was a Hyundai. Whoever made it, it was crap.
I hired one at Edinburgh Airport, and I had two work colleagues with me who, being from the US, were a bit cissy as drivers. They had real trouble trying to cope with narrow roads and relatively high roadspeeds, so I got the short straw. And that Nubira was the nastiest car ever built.
Firstly it had no power to speak of. It didn’t accelerate, it gained momentum by getting more massive, like a particle in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. But curiously it did this with a huge amount of drama, so even though it didn’t like the idea of accelerating like a real grown-up road vehicle, it would just sit there steaming the tyres in the rain that was dropping from the sky. I’ve seen Top Fuel cars do burnouts and have to use more effort.
The brakes appeared to operate with an on/off switch. Either they didn’t work at all and you had to take evasive action to avoid tailending the guy in front, or all four wheels locked, and you had to take evasive action to avoid tailending the guy in front. Hideously bad.
The evasive action was quite exciting too, since the Nubira’s roadholding in the wet was pretty much non-existent, and the handling was bloody awful. You never had a clue what the hell the car was going to do next. No inkling. Not a hint. Oversteer, understeer, four wheel drift, just hang on for the rough ride.
Though it has to be said the ride was not rough. It was simply sloppy, and this awful car wallowed about like a drunken pig trying out rollerskates for the first time.
I still wake up from nightmares about that heap of junk.