foot down

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 February, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 February, 2005, 12:00am

Now that you've studied Vehicle Body Language (see above), here's our guide to Hong Kong's flirtiest cars and flirtiest places. Keep an eye on the road, and remember the basics: mirror and signal before manoeuvring.


FLIRTIEST CARS


1. smart fortwo: The naughtiest car in Hong Kong. Its smiley grille and impish headlight eyes (right) suggest naughtiness is just around the corner. It is, if you switch the gearbox into manual, settle into the comfiest seats in town and let its weeny 698cc engine tell you you're going faster than you actually are. The fortwo's best pick-up line is that it's environmentally friendly, but it's windscreen's so broad that it's a flirtbox on wheels. Now you know why the local smart club's so active.


2. Mercedes-Benz CLS: A new entry on account of perhaps the most emotionally charged lines on the road. Sophisticated, powerful and quiet, this Lauren Bacall of cars can intimidate less experienced drivers. But if you press the right buttons, the 500's V8 leads you on to a discrete and memorable embrace with the road.


3. BMW Mini Cooper: All things to all men and women, the social butterfly of Hong Kong traffic mixes the sophisticated charm of Bavarian engineering with cheeky English curves. The young and beautiful regard its stylish blend of chrome and plastic as an extension of their individuality; oldies adore the Mini's comfort, leg room and a zip that recalls a lost youth.


4. Toyota Alphard: Luxurious walnut and leather hide starlets behind curtains and tinted glass and advertise the owner's wealth to eager paparazzi and nervous police. Drive one of these and you don't have to smile to rev anyone's engine. Just flash the cash, click open the doors and, as you turn your prey's second-row seat towards you with the remote, say: 'Welcome to my world.'


5. Alfa Romeo 147: A pert body and suggestive grille shows what happens when a marque forgets to put bromide in its design team's espresso, but who cares; the 147's probably the lustiest car in Hong Kong - and about as controllable as a Mid-Levels spaniel that's just sensed a Yorkie on heat in Tai Po. When one of these rolls by your window, you sense that it's driver might cut corners, and not know when to stop.


6. Lotus Elise: Spartan, fast and less overtly nudge-nudge, wink-wink than the new Exige, the Elise is a tyre-squealing sex toy on wheels for people, usually men, who cannot afford a Ferrari 360 Modena and whose bottoms are too soft for a Caterham. Even so, an Elise has the breath-taking acceleration of a lift between floors and is a spontaneous joy for the skilful in tight spots.


7. Mercedes-Benz SLK: You can pick your nose and squeeze your zits and still look sexy and interesting in the lights in the 2004 South China Morning Post Convertible and Car of the Year. Activate that Vario roof and in 20 seconds you become the peacock of The Peak with an obviously generous eye for beauty and a love of image-enhancing electronics to match.


8. Aston Martin DB9: A fast car driven by rich people who have everything, but are probably far too driven to flirt. A thumbs-up at the car could stimulate a burst of breathtaking performance.


9. Bentley Continental GT: A fast car driven by rich people who yearn to be gentlemen. Good-looking and a little too smooth, the average GT is unlikely to reach top on our restricted roads, but that's perhaps the story of the owner's life.


10. Daihatsu Gino: You have to admire the gusto of this otherwise unremarkable Japanese runabout. It looks like a Mini and has assumed a Latin name, just to weedle its way into your heart. We're not sure how this minnow made it past our door bitch, but there it is, ready to wink at your emotions in a moment of madness.


FLIRTIEST PLACES


The Transport Department (www.info.gov.hk/td/index.htm) and Hong Kong Police websites highlight the biggest traffic halts and you can even see the current flows (on http://traffic.td.gov.hk/selection_e.htm).


Airport Express turn-off, Connaught Road, Central: Where IFC2 shoppers and movie buffs meet the biggest swinging Richards in finance.


Central Building, Pedder Street: Packed with commuters and still the best drop-off for the rich.


Cotton Tree Drive, Mid-Levels: If you can't find someone interesting at the American Consulate crossing, try the 'old Hilton' stop below, or when the St Joseph's faithful spill from the pavement and slow traffic to Manila speeds on Sundays.


Ice House Street, Central: Good for accountants and lawyers in classics, Elises and 5-Series at commuting time. But be quick; time's money.


Wyndham Street and Hollywood Road: Where smarts and Minis dogfight for the arty, advertising set. Wear black and be expressive in your creative communication concept.


Fo Tan Road, Sha Tin: If you're lucky, you might find a university professor in a Volvo S60, a doctor in a Saab 9-3s, or a jockey in an S-Class, fresh from trackwork.


Discovery Bay Road, Discovery Bay: Flight crew, journos and bankers, fresh from the flirting capitals of the world, cruise their buggies down the Route 66 of DB to the Plaza, where they'll pick up the dry cleaning, walk around a bit and then go home and watch telly.


Sheung Shui: Teeming with big, rough cross-border trucks.


Finally, the MG Car Club Annual Concours will be held at Taikoo Place on February 27. Inquiries: 2807 6219.