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The Motorists Guide

Steve Q

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  1. Steve Q

    Ford Kuga Mk2 pre-facelift

    SUV’s are forever increasing in their popularity with motorists and Steve reviews whether Fords mk2 Kuga is a serious contender with the buying public. The Mk2 Kuga was released in 2013 as a replacement for the very successful Mk1 version and has been vastly improved both in size and build quality compared to its predecessor. The current Kuga has been designed primarily in Europe under the One Ford policy whereby Ford has one vehicle for each market sector globally. This is also carried through to the assembly process whereby engines are made in the UK and the interiors are made in Detroit for example. The Mk2 Kuga has a sharper looking front end compared to the Mk1 version which has improved the aerodynamics of the Kuga whilst giving it a smarter appearance. The kuga also has good ride height which gives the Kuga great presence on the road and also off it. Like most vehicles in the SUV class the kuga is more of a softroader rather than an offroader but this won’t affect most buyers who I suspect will be buying the Kuga as a family car and thus keeping the Kuga on the tarmac. On the other hand, I feel the most offroad action the Kuga will see is around the campsite where it should perform effortlessly. There are five specification levels to choose from for the pre-facelifted Kuga which give buyers plenty of choice and means there should be a Kuga to fit all budgets. The specifications are: Zetec is the entry level model but is far from basic and comes with 17” alloys, heated front windscreen, SYNC 1 DAB radio, cruise control, electric windows front and rear, manual air conditioning, leather trimmed steering wheel with reach and rake adjustment. The Zetec is available with a 1.5 eco boost petrol engine with either 120ps or 150ps in 2WD form or 182ps in all wheel drive. But also a 2.0 litre TDCI diesel engine with 150ps in either 2WD or all-wheel drive. Titanium has all the features of the Zetec plus automatic headlights and wipers, duel zone climate control, SYNC 2 DAB in replacement of SYNC 1 on Zetec models, stainless steel scuff plates, centre armrest, leather gear knob and lumbar support for the front seats. Engines are the same as the Zetec excluding the 120ps petrol which is not offered and there is an uprated TDCI engine producing 182ps as well as the 150ps version. Titanium Sport has the same features as the Zetec and Titanium but also benefits from a bodykit, boot spoiler, 18” alloys, parking sensors front and rear, part leather seats and active park assist. Engine options are the same as per the Titanium. Titanium X has all the features and engine options as Titanium but gains 182 wheels, Xenon headlights, LED taillights, LED day time running lights, panoramic sunroof with built in sunblind, power folding mirrors and leather seats which are heated. Titanium X Sport is the top spec model and is fitted with the features from both Titanium X and Titanium Sport but has additional 19” alloys, rear view camera, rear privacy glass and aluminium roof rails. All models are offered with either a six speed manual gearbox or powershift automatic transmission. Ford haven’t skimped on safety either as all Kugas come with a 5* NCAP safety rating and are equipped with front, side, curtain and knee airbags as well as a collapsible steering column and pedal assembly. Driving the Ford Kuga The Kuga I have on test is a Titanium Sport model fitted with the 2.0TDCI 150ps engine and manual gearbox which is also fitted with the appearance pack which consists of aluminium roof rails and tinted windows as well as having power folding mirrors and sat Nav fitted. Climbing into the Kuga I found the seats very supportive, as well as very good adjustment with the reach and rake steering wheel both of which made it easy for me to find the ideal seating position. Moving onto the rear of the cabin, passengers are treated to a generous amount of leg space as well as being able to adjust the back of the seat into a reclined position. Ford have also been generous with the storage space, as the Kuga comes with deep door pockets both front and rear as well as having a sunglasses holder and good armrest storage and a glovebox. Now don’t think that with all the cabin space on offer that the boot has been compromised because this is far from the case and comes with 406 litres of boot space and the added benefit of a flat boot floor, meaning loading big items is a doddle. Furthermore the cabin is very well thought out with all switches in easy reach and the infotainment screen which is both clear and well positioned so as to not distract the driver. I found the Sat Nav easy to use and gave clear instructions in plenty of time before the change of direction but did have live traffic updates which could be hit and miss at times and would tell me of an issue whilst being stuck in it. The air conditioning system is also very good and there is an array of vents to distribute the air evenly about the cabin. The Bluetooth connectivity is another standard feature and again, is easy to operate for making phone calls and receiving texts messages which can be both read on the screen or played through the speakers. Driving the Kuga is a pleasant affair and I found the diesel engine both smooth and quiet for general driving, but engine noise would become apparent if the Kuga was pushed hard and naturally a car like this is more comfortable being driven more sedately. This was also clear in the MPG figures as when the Kuga was pushed hard the MPG would tumble but when driven sensibly I was getting between 41.8-43.0mpg with a mixture of town, country and motorway driving. I must admit that despite the kuga’s size it handled very well and found the suspension setup very compliant and had good rebound but I would suspect the ride to be slightly firmer on the 19” wheels fitted on higher spec’d models. One drawback I found with the kuga’s driving characteristics was the level of tyre/road noise entering the cabin but this could be partly down to the Continental tyres fitted to this particular car. The steering too was very good, being light but with plenty of feel and made me feel like I was driving a family hatchback rather than an SUV. The only other drawback I found with the Kuga was the amount of wind noise experienced but again this is partly down to the Kuga’s size and is a small price to pay for its many advantages. The Motorists Guide View: The second generation Ford Kuga had big shoes to fill when compared to the outgoing model but I feel it has lived up to its predecessor’s reputation of being a practical and well-designed SUV, but more importantly a great family car. With the wide range of specifications and engine options on offer, there is sure to be a Kuga to accommodate all tastes. Also I feel that good build quality combined with all round versatility makes the Kuga a serious contender in the SUV market and one well worth considering when you are looking to change your current car. Dimensions Length: 4524mm Width with mirrors: 2077mm Height: 1689mm Curb Weight: 1580Kg
  2. Steve Q

    Product Review: Faraday Pouch

    Following on from our report on faraday pouches, Steve reviews whether or not they make a sensible purchase with a long term test. Keyless entry and keyless ignitions have become a convenient edition to most vehicles in the last ten years, however this has allowed the criminal fraternity to capitalise on this through theft of motor vehicles or theft from motor vehicles. Criminals have been able to obtain the key code for vehicles by using devices which can trick the car in thinking that the key is nearby and thus allowing the criminal access to the vehicle. Since March I have been using two different types of faraday pouches, one which was purchased from an internet auction site for 79p and the other pouch which is available through our website. I must also stress I have not written this review as a selling tool but rather as a crime prevention tool and as a comparison between two similar products. Both products have a plastic vinyl exterior and a soft woven mesh interior and it is the mesh that blocks the key signal. I used the 79p internet auction site pouch for March and April 2018 and then the pouch available from our website from May till June 2018. I have been using the pouches for various cars that I have had the fortune of road testing, but the two I have highlighted in this article is the Suzuki Swift Mk2 and the Ford Kuga Mk2 both of which have keyless technology. With both vehicles I have stood beside them or no more than 2 feet away and occasions the faraday pouches prevented the vehicle from being unlocked. Furthermore I tested the pouches by unlocking the car then placing the car keys in the pouches, and then trying to start the ignition. On both occasions the car could not detect a key present inside the car and thus would not start the engine. Another added benefit I found of both faraday pouches was that it prevented the keys from digging into my leg or scratching my mobile phone screen, as well as reducing the risk of me worrying about whether or not I had left me keys behind. I admit I do this a lot, and the extra space taken up inside my pocket with the faraday pouch helps prevent me from leaving my keys behind. Where these pouches differ is in their quality as can be seen in the picture below. The top pouch was the 79p item purchased from an internet auction site and as can be seen the plastic vinyl on where the flap folds over has split in various places, but I will admit this does not affect the pouch from working effectively. The second pouch is available from our website and as can be seen there is one crack present. The Motorists Guide View: After using the faraday pouch I have found it a cheap, yet effective way of preventing a car from being accidently unlocked or the key signal cloned by a criminal which can help YOU prevent theft from or of your vehicle and I would strongly recommend the owners of keyless cars to purchase one as it is clearly an easy way of giving you piece of mind that YOU have taken added measures to protect both your keys and your car. If you would like further information on faraday pouches then please see our previous article here: Alternatively if you would like to purchase a faraday pouch from us then you can do so here:
  3. Steve Q

    Car Review: Mazda 2

    After the success of the previous Mazda 2, Steve is set to find out whether the current model can build on the reputation. The Mazda 2 is now into its third generation here in the UK and marks a step forward for Mazda, as it is the first small car in over 20 years that Mazda have designed and built without using Ford Fiesta underpinnings. The current model, released in 2015 has also moved away from the curvy lines and bubble shape of the previous model and has adopted a sharper front end partly in thanks to a raked bonnet angle. There is a great range of specifications for buyers to choose from and one to suit all budgets which are listed below and are correct as of 2018: SE+ which is only available with the 75ps 1.5 litre engine and 5 speed manual gearbox. RRP: £13,295 and is fitted with 15” alloy wheels, electric folding mirrors, dual airbags, curtain airbags and hill hold assist. SE-L+ is available with the same mechanical configuration with RRP: £14,095 and is fitted with SE+ features as well as automatic headlights, LED front foglights, electric windows front and rear, climate air conditioning, bluetooth and cruise control. SE-L Nav + has the option of a 90ps 1.5 litre engine with either a 5 speed manual or 6 speed automatic gearbox. £14,895 RRP manual or £16,195RRP automatic and has all the SE-L plus features as well as a 7” touch screen with sat nav and a DAB digital radio. Sport Nav+ has the same engine and gearbox options as the SE-L Nav + with the manual set at £15,695 RRP and £16,995 RRP for the automatic. The sport nav has all the features of the SE-L Nav+ but with added sporting flair. As such this spec comes with 16” wheels, rear spoiler, chrome exhaust trim, tinted windows but also comes with the convenience of parking sensors, keyless entry and rain sensing wipers. Sport black+ is available with the 90ps 1.5 litre engine and 5 speed manual gearbox and is priced at £15,995 RRP. This spec is fitted with all the features of the Sport Nav+ but with an added bodykit and ceratin body parts painted in black. GT Sport Nav+ is available with the 90ps 1.5 litre engine or the 115ps 1.5 litre engine. The latter is the most powerful engine on offer. This spec is available with either the 5 speed manual or a 6 speed manual. £16,495 RRP for the 5 speed manual or £17,095 RRP for the 6 speed. This is the top spec Mazda 2 and is fitted with all the Sport Nav + features as well as having leather/suede seats where the front seats are heated, leather steering wheel, reverses camera, and lane departure warning. Driving the Mazda 2 The model I have on test is a 2016 Se-L Nav model, fitted with the mid-range 1.5 petrol engine producing 89BHP and mated to a 5 speed manual gearbox. Mazda describe the Mazda 2 as a sporty supermini which can be felt through firm but compliant suspension and the snappy gear changes. However I found I needed some time to adjust to the Mazda 2 steering characteristics, as the steering was far too light and found it does not help build confidence to push the car hard into the bends. The 1.5 petrol engine is both economical and quiet in town and on the motorway, but found a vibration through the pedals when the engine was pushed into the higher rev range. Moving into the cabin it is clear that the interior is well put together but seems slightly bland in my opinion and a little tight on the right hand side for the driver. The dashboard is nicely curved and all the controls are where you expect them to be, the exception is the dial to controlling the infotainment system which is set too far back and thus making it harder to reach. Furthermore certain design features appeared borrowed from other manufactures, a good example are the air vents which appear to be borrowed from the current Audi A3 as well as the hazard switch which seemed to remind me of one found in the Vauxhall Nova. The cabin isn’t all bad though, there’s plenty of space for rear passengers and more than you get in the Ford Fiesta. The boot is a good size too, with 280 litres of space but there is a lip which will make lifting heavy or big items slightly cumbersome. The Mazda 2 also has plenty of storage space in other areas, including front door pockets that can hold water bottles and space for mobile phones. This particular Mazda 2 is well spec’d, being equipped with Bluetooth, Satnav, cruise control and a novelty nowadays – a CD player. This last feature is great for those like me who haven’t embraced the 21st Century yet. I found the Sat Nav easy to use and I liked that you could search over the map and look at the surrounding areas, perfect if you get lost as I did when taking a detour. My only complaint with the Sat Nav was that at one point it froze and the only way to resolve the issue was to turn off the ignition and re start the engine but I admit this maybe a fault with this particular Mazda 2. The radio is of good quality too and as you would expect it’s a DAB digital radio which like the Sat Nav was easy to use. I did find that whilst driving at higher speeds there was a lot of road and wind noise which meant the radio had to be turned up but even at high volumes the radio performed well. On the other hand when the radio was turned off and had the wipers on I could hear the rear wiper motor whirring which did get irritating after a while but I guess that’s what the radio is for! The Motorist Guide View: In my opinion the Mazda 2 is a midrange supermini, it’s not the worst in class but it’s not the best either. A definitive plus point is the 1.5 litre engine as it is more economical than the 1.5 litre engine you’ll find in the MG3 and as previously mentioned the rear legroom is better than what you’ll find on a Ford Fiesta. But I felt the steering let the car down due to it being too light for my taste as well as the interior being slightly bland, although well-built and well spec’d. However I do think the current Mazda 2 will be a good seller, partly due to being keenly priced in line with the completion but also its an improvement on the previous model.
  4. Steve Q

    Out to pasture - Volvo 740 estate

    Thanks Trevor I do find abandoned cars interesting as you've finely put it cars are loved and then suddenly discarded. For me seeing this Volvo was like a flash back as my last memories of my granddads Volvo 760 was it languishing in a field on the family farm. A sad end to an awesome car.
  5. Steve Q

    Car Review: Suzuki Swift Mk2

    With its cute and curvy looks, Steve reviews whether the second generation Suzuki Swift makes a good used car purchase in a very competitive market sector by driving a 1.5 petrol GLX model The Mk2 Swift was released in 2005 after being shown at the Paris Motorshow the year before and was poles apart from its predecessor which neither had the look, nor the go to live up to the Swift name. The second generation Swift did away with a lot of the angles as found on the Mk1 and adopted a more rounded, yet sporty appearance. The MK2 Swift became a worldwide success for Suzuki and exceed sales figures in all markets, notably in Japan where it sold more than double its predicted sales figures. The Swift is available in both 3 and 5 door form with a choice of either a 1.3 92bhp petrol giving an average of 45mpg, 1.5 101bhp petrol with an average of 45mpg or a 1.3 69bhp diesel giving a 61mpg average. Both petrol engines are derived from Toyota and are chain driven and give plenty of torque low down which suits the Swift well. Two gearboxes are offered in the way of a 5 speed manual or a 4 speed automatic, the former is ideal for the Swift on city streets or for country roads and makes the Swift an enjoyable drive. However, the manual gearbox is let down on motorway driving whereby you can experience engine noise within the cabin and ideally the car could have benefitted from a 6th gear. But let’s be honest the Swift is naturally going to be geared for city driving rather than motorway driving of which the gears are set perfectly. I found the Swift fun to drive as the steering was light but precise and the car felt agile, as well as having plenty of grip thanks to the wheels being set right at each corner. Two key models are available for the Swift which are GL or GLX, the latter being the top spec model and has features such as a leather steering wheel, front foglights, air conditioning, alloy wheels, electric windows, electric mirrors, keyless entry and keyless ignition as standard. The GL is the entry model and is fitted with windup windows and wheel trims. There is also a limited edition attitude model which is fitted with 17" alloys and a body kit and only available in three door form. At the end of 2009 Suzuki changed the model structure to SZ3 and SZ4 to bring the Swift in line with the rest of the brands modelling structure but this did not affect the level of equipment in each model. For 2009 there was also the SZ-L limited edition model which was equipped with lavishes of chrome on the door handles, front grill and boot edge but more importantly had side indicators built into the wing mirrors. Despite the Swift being designed to be one of the cheaper superminis on the market, don’t think that this has led to a cheap interior, it’s far from it. All models are fitted with a CD player and steering wheel controls, space saver spare wheel and fit five people at a push (5 door models). The grey dash and door cards are broken up by silver inlays which give the interior a sportier touch and I found the seats very comfortable. Suzuki haven’t skimped on safety either, giving the Swift front and side airbags, ABS and Equal Brake Distribution all of which helped the Swift achieve a four star euro NCAP safety rating. Another great feature of the Swift, is the ability to personalise is to your specific taste with a great selection of Suzuki Swift accessories. My test car was a good example of this by having optional extra wheels, spoiler, stripe kit, central armrest, headlight protectors, bonnet protector, front and rear bumper diffusers, mud flaps and door rubbing strips which complimented this Swift very well and made it stand out from the crowd. The Motorists Guide View In my opinion the second generation Suzuki Swift makes a great used car purchase, ideally suited as a first time car or city car. I feel combined with the fun driving characteristics, cute looks and cheap motoring honours the ethos of the original Austin Mini more so than the BMW Mini. My only criticism is the small boot which you can only just fit a pushchair in but despite this I feel the MK2 Swift still feels fresh and current which is remarkable as the oldest ones are now 13 years old and definitely worth considering if you are looking for a cheap city car. Dimensions: Length; 3695mm Width: 1690mm Height: 1500mm Curb weight: 1050kg
  6. Steve reviews another high mileage car which has now been left out to pasture. Volvo is a brand where high mileage cars are renowned and a trend that was started by the 700 series. The 700 series was created by Volvo’s chief designer Jan Wilsgaard over a 10 year period, and was designed to replace the 200 series. The 700 was released in 1982 and the first model available was the 760GLE saloon which immediately became Volvo’s flagship. Being the flagship model the 760 came with luxuries such as heated leather seats, air conditioning, alloy wheels, front foglights, electric windows, electric mirrors and electric sunroof all as standard. Three engines were available for the 760 which included the 2.8 V6 petrol which, ironically is the same engine as found in the Delorean DMC-12 as well as a 2.3 turbo charged petrol and a 2.4 turbo diesel. The engines were mated to either a 4 speed manual gearbox with overdrive or a 4 speed automatic. In 1985 the 740 was released and slotted between the luxurious 760 and the 200 series as a mid-size family car and as such there was slightly more choice for buyers compared to the one spec for the 760. The 740 was available in either GL or GLE or SE (1988 onwards) versions, the GL was the entry level spec and did away with luxuries such as leather interior, front foglights and alloy wheels. Whereas the GLE model was almost identical to the 760 GLE spec and was of the more popular 700 models. The 740 was available with a 2.3 naturally aspirated petrol engine as well as the infamous 2.3 turbo petrol and the same 2.4 turbo diesel as found in the 760. Another key development in 1985 was the introduction of the estate version which was available in both 760 and 740 guises. The specs remained unchanged to that of the saloons but offered far more luggage space, as well as the option of a rear facing bench seat which could fold neatly into the boot floor and self-levelling suspension. This allowed the 700 series estate to become a fantastic workhorse and family car, which could double up as a lovely executive car. This brings me on nicely to our high miler feature which is a 1987 Volvo 740 GLE estate fitted with the 2.3 naturally aspirated engine and 4 speed manual gearbox with overdrive. This is a one owner car from new and was registered in the April of 1987 and was specd with the rare options of a telephone and graphic equaliser. The car spent its life as the owner’s company car for his own business before being retired in 2005 after covering 149,928 miles. Since being retired the Volvo has sat in a field, where rust is starting to take hold. This is no small feat as the 700 series was well rust proofed when new. This car also suffers from the very common sagging headlining issue which can be expected in light of the age and condition. The Motorists Guide View: Sitting in this Volvo brings a wave of sadness over me as it allowed me to reminisce about my late Grandfathers 1984 Volvo 760GLE diesel saloon, and it brought back a lot of memories bearing in mind I hadn’t sat in one in approximately 20 years. What did amaze me was that despite the Volvo’s condition, the switchgear and interior felt well put together and was comfortable place to sit. I would love to see this Volvo to hit the road again but somehow I find it unlikely to do so and I would love to have taken it home with me. Rest in peace faithful servant. Have you got a high mileage car? If so, we’d love to hear from you and share your high miler car story. Regards Steve
  7. The Delorean DMC12, a timeless classic but will the driving experience take Steve back in time or to the future? People tell you never to meet your heroes and for most petrol heads cars are the heroes, whether that’s the one on the poster you had as a child or that famous racing car and in a lot of cases those cars stay within our dreams or memories. However, I’m fortunate as parked before me is a Delorean DMC-12 with the sun reflecting off the stainless steel bodywork and I am preparing myself to drive a car that I have loved since the age of ten. I think many of you will be able to relate to this love affair especially if you have watched the Back to the Future trilogy, but will the car drive anywhere close to how it was perceived in those three fantastic films? Well I intend to find out. I am both excited and nervous as I pull the door handle and the gullwing door gracefully lifts up to reveal a surprising spacious cabin, and not surprisingly I have the Back to the Future music running around inside my head. John Delorean designed the car so that he would fit comfortably inside the vehicle and this was no small feat as he was 6ft 4” tall and as such I have more than enough room being 5ft 8” tall. As I slip into the grey leather seat I find it remarkably comfortable and then I familiarise myself with my surroundings, as before me is three spoke sporty steering wheel and beyond it is the instrument cluster. At this point I have a slight chuckle to myself as the speedometer only reads up to 85MPH which certainly would have made it more complicated for Doc Emmett Brown to get the Delorean accurately to 88MPH. I feel very lucky as this Delorean has the manual gearbox which I feel suits the cars credentials better and was a no cost option when new. The automatic gearbox was a $650 option. As I go to close the gullwing door via the pull strap I find more energy and strength is required compared to a conventional car door, which is partly due to the Delorean’s cryogentically preset torsion bar design which was pioneered by the aerospace manufacture Grumman. Once the door is closed I find that the grab handle has a tendency to hook itself around the handbrake as it is situated on the outer side of the seat as opposed to being in the large centre console. The cabin oozes with 1980s charm both from the boxy lines through to the plastics which would feel cheap by modern car standards. Now the fun really begins as I turn the key and the 2.8 V6 130bhp petrol engine bursts into life and rests as a steady thrum on tick over behind me. Once I’m all set I accelerate down the runway of North Weald airfield and I can’t help but have a big smile on my face as I go into the first corner. Despite the Delorean being rear engined I found the steering surprisingly heavy, which I suspect is due to the wide tyres and heavy body but it meant I felt more connected to the car. I felt the suspension slightly soft but I suspect this preferred for the US market where the Delorean was designed to sell well as a GT car and also due to the weight of the body. I think if the Delorean had been fitted with firmer springs and dampers it would have allowed the Lotus designed chassis full capabilities to shine through, as can be seen on the car that helped the Delorean come into being - the Lotus Espite. The Motorists Guide view: Despite a lot of the Delorean's drawbacks, I found it a nice car to drive but felt it could have done with more power from the V6 Renault engine as well as improved suspension both of which would have probably helped boost sales of the Delorean when new. I was impressed with the build quality on this particular car I drove which is a contradiction to how the press portrayed this car when new but this is helped by the maintenance by the owner. I felt the interior had worn well and didn’t look over 30 years old. The brakes on the Delorean were more than adequate and I felt they stopped the car in a very reasonable distance. For me the best part of the Delorean is how it looks and still appears futuristic now as it did at its launch in 1981. Would I own one? Most definitely and you can too as prices are still reasonable and guaranteed to rise which makes the Delorean DMC-12 a safe investment.
  8. The Renault Clio, a chic looking supermini but is it any good as a used car purchase? Steve went to Northern Ireland to find out. The current Renault Clio model was launched in the later part of 2012 after the Paris motor show, but the design still looks fresh 6 years on. One key change to this new model is that it is only available in five door form, however I feel this does not detract from the Clio’s curb appeal partly due to disguised rear door handles cleverly placed beside the rear window glass. The Clio’s looks are further enhanced by LED daytime running lights, chrome accents along the door and 16 inch wheels. On moving into the cabin the driver is greeted with a dashboard which is very well thought out, the dials are very clear to read and include a digital speedometer. Furthermore all Clio models feature Renaults R link infotainment system which includes a 7 inch touch screen, Bluetooth and digital radio as standard but no CD player is available. Higher spec models also are treated to an Android Tom Tom satnav, leather steering wheel and reverse camera, but the key area where the Clio excels is with its boot space which is a whopping 300 litres. As you can expect with a modern Renault the Clio received a 5* Euro NCAP safety rating thanks to front and side airbags as well as having Electronic Stability Control and speed assistance. As the Mk4 Clio is now six years old buyers will have plenty of choice with regard to the Spec and engine options that should suit most budgets. The key specs available to buyers are: Expression is the entry level model which comes with 16” wheels, DAB radio, Bluetooth, cruise control and electric front windows. Play has the features of the expression model plus air conditioning and front fog lights. Dynamique has all the features of Expression and Play, plus leather steering wheel and upgraded radio Dynamique Nav adds a Sat Nav to the Dynamique trim. Dynamique S Nav adds a touch of sporting flair with the Clio and includes 17” alloys, centre armrest, rear electric windows, LED headlights, climate control and rear parking sensors. Signature Nav adds a little luxury to the Clio by incorporating part leather interior, parking sensors both front and rear and a reverse camera. However, as of 2018 Renault have reduced the amount of choice and new car buyers will have the option of play, iconic and GT line. Renault have been very generous when it comes to engine options by offering three petrol engines and two diesel engines which are as follows: Petrol 0.9 litre turbo charged, 90BHP 3 cylinder engine. 0-60mph 13 seconds. Average MPG: 66 1.2 naturally aspirated, 75bhp 4 cylinder engine. 0-60mph 14.5 seconds. Average MPG: 51 1.2 turbo charged, 120BHP 4 cylinder engine. 0-60mph 9.5 seconds. Average MPG: 54 Diesel 1.5 turbo charged, 89 BHP 4 cylinder. 0-60 13.7 seconds. Average MPG: 88.3 1.5 turbo charged, 109BHP 4 cylinder. 0-60 11 seconds. Average MPG: 80.7 Please note these figures apply to the manual models and as you would expect the automatic has a slower 0-60 and reduced MPG. Driving the Clio The car I had on test was the 1.2 75BHP dynamique nav model with a manual gearbox which was well equipped with the previously mentioned sat nav as well as cruise control and cost £14,950 when new. The Clio feels at home in the city where its soft suspension absorbs all the speed humps however on fast country roads the soft suspension can cause the car become unsettled due to body roll. The light steering also suits city driving as its makes parking a doddle but can feel over assisted and not as precise for rural roads. At motorway speeds the engine can become a little noisy but this is balanced out by a nice cruise control system which was easy to use and allowed me to adjust the speed whilst activated which made the drive out of Belfast to Craigavon more relaxed. The main issue I found whilst driving the Clio was to do with the computer, predominantly with regard to the distance to empty function whereby it would not register below 40 miles of range which I felt was not as precise as it should be. On the other hand, I found the 7” touch screen easy to use and found the Sat Nav instructions clear and precise which was ideal when out in the lovely Northern Ireland countryside. The Motorists Guide View Overall, I felt the Clio was well spec’d and perfect for those living in the city due to the Clio’s driving characteristics. This is also complimented by good build quality and good value for money which makes the 4th generation Clio the best yet.
  9. Steve reviews a timeless classic which every beetle owner or enthusiast should own. This book is probably one of the oldest books that I will get to review, however, the information contained within it is still relevant today and starts off by describing the history of the Volkswagen Beetle. It then goes on to provide a very useful buyers guide which is a must-read for anyone wishing to purchase a Volkswagen Beetle. This book will mainly appeal to those Beetle fans who have or want a Baja Beetle or Wizard roadster, as it provides step by step guides on how to build both. I appreciate that in this day and age enthusiasts would be less inclined to build either due to the price of Volkswagen Beetles but it will surely help those who are trying to restore either a Baja or Wizard Roadster. The VW Beetle Custom Handbook will also appeal to fans of the Cal Look as the author has gone into great detail to explain the Cal Look and the history behind it. Furthermore, this book examines the racing pedigree of the Volkswagen Beetle and the modifications owners can undertake to improve performance, stopping power and drivability of their pride and joys. About the author: Keith Seume has been on the air-cooled Volkswagen seen for over 30 years and is well known amongst air-cooled fans, partly due to him being an editor of Volksworld Magazine and the former Custom Car Magazine. Furthermore, during the 1980s he participated in drag racing in his 1952 turbocharged ragtop Beetle. The Motorists Guide View: Despite this book being over 20 years old, it does not detract from the reading experience and is full of valuable information for Beetle enthusiasts. Not only were the guides useful, but the book is also full of pictures which would be invaluable to an enthusiast wishing to work on their Beetle at home. Bibliographic information: Publisher: Bay View Books LTD Publication: 1992 RRP: 12.95 ISBN: 1-870979-30-3 Binding: paperback Extent: 159 Illustrations: 250+
  10. Steve reviews another book about abandoned automobiles, Sleeping Beauties USA This book is very similar to that of Roadside Relics, America’s Abandoned Automobiles as described in my previous review, however, that is where the similarities end. This book is shorter than Roadside Relics, but this does not make it any less interesting as each vehicle mentioned has a picture and description that covers two pages. Furthermore, Sleeping Beauties includes European manufacturers as well as the American counterparts which may increase its popularity. About the author Bjoern Marek lives in Miami, Florida and works as head of sales, public relations and marketing for the automotive company ABT as well as being a keen author. The Motorists Guide view: Just like the Roadside Relics book, Sleeping Beauties will appeal to anyone who has a keen interest in abandoned automobiles and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I found the pictures fantastic and many were of a better quality than those found in Roadside Relics. My only criticism of this book was that I found it not long enough and I was left wanting to read more but overall it was a great read. Bibliographic information: Publisher: Veloce Publication: 2010 RRP: 14.99 ISBN: 978-1-845843-46-5 Binding: hardback Extent: 96 Illustrations: 58
  11. It is unbelievable mileage and I agree u think this a6 would be around for many years to come. However I feel this is just the tip of the iceberg and I bet there are quite a few high mile cars out there and we'd love to here their story.
  12. Steve reviews an Audi A6 which has covered over 329,000 miles and asks the question, should we really be afraid of high mileage cars? This Audi A6 was ordered as a new vehicle in 2002, in SE trim by the owner’s father who specified it with the 2.5TDI engine and 6 speed manual gearbox. In addition the A6 was fitted with the optional sport seats, sports suspension and rare 7 seat boot conversion. The latter being required for a growing family and owner’s father not wanting to drive a people carrier! The Audi was registered on Wednesday 13th March 2002 at the Reg Vardy Audi Dealership in Leicester, significant as it was the same day as the owner’s grandmother’s birthday. His Father has driven the Audi consistently up to 2013 and it has been maintained regardless of cost with a full service history. The A6 was put into semi-retirement when the owner’s father acquired a company car and at which point his son took over, using the car as my daily driver. Mechanically the A6 has been generally reliable only requiring serviceable items, including new suspension, engine mounts and an alternator throughout the last 14 years. The one key exception was a turbo which was replaced at 3 and half years old and its replacement has been fitted since 2005 and has covered approximately 230,000 out of the 329,000 miles! Furthermore, and without tempting fate neither the engine nor gearbox have ever been rebuilt. The A6 was serviced by Audi for the first 4 years and then at a local garage AC Motors ever since. The local garage has been brilliant and has carried out any work required to the highest standard. I prefer to use Bridgestone tyres on the A6 as I feel it improves the handling characteristics. Cosmetically the A6 has aged well and has only required two new front wings due to the originals rusting at the top of the arches. This appears to be a common fault with VAG cars from the late 90s to early the noughties and affects the Audi A6 C5, Audi A4, Volkswagen Golf mk4 and Volkswagen Passat to name but a few. On the other hand the interior is now showing its age and has a worn driver’s seat bolster, wear on the 3 spoke sport steering wheel, as well as having the soft paint peeling off the air conditioning control unit. These issues have been well documented on various cars and I have chosen not to repair them as they add character and patina to the vehicle. The only exception was the Audi symphony radio which has been replaced under warranty. The Audi A6 has been on various family adventures including trips to France, Belgium, Norfolk, Essex, Royal Ascot in 2002 as well as the annual trip to Northern Ireland which it has done since it was new. Furthermore it has been used to tow race trailers as the owner’s brother has done both Kart racing and Saloon Car racing all across the country. Finally, the A6 has been a fantastic family car and has provided valiant service throughout the last 14 years. I work within the motor trade and find that despite its age and mileage the A6 drives better than some of the newer cars and cars with far less mileage currently on the market. It is a pleasure to drive and has the added benefit of being both comfortable and practical. In the near future he would like to take the A6 back to its birthplace Neckarsulm-Stuttgart, Germany and around the Nurburgring for the ultimate road trip. There is no chance of him getting rid of this great car any time soon. It has become a treasured family possession, and one which he has grown up with and ultimately have come to own. The A6 has now achieved in excess of 300,000 miles and he is looking forward to the next 300,000 miles! The Motorists Guide view: For me this Audi A6 is testament to the owner and shows the true potential of a well maintained car, bearing in mind the mileage covered by the A6 is further than going to the moon and theoretically this A6 is on its way back! What I have learnt from driving this Audi A6 and hearing its story, I feel the key to buying a high mileage car is down to how well it has been maintained and cared for. After driving this A6 I would happily own a high mileage Audi A6 C5 which will eventually become a classic. Have you got a high mileage car? If so, we’d love to hear from you and share your high miler car story. Regards Steve
  13. Steve Q

    Fitting number plates

    A quick guide on how to reattach numberplates with the adhesive pads. Usually once you remove number plates the previous adhesive pads are still stuck to the bumper or what's left of them. 1. Use a hair dryer or heat gun to warm up the pad on the bumper 2. Then use your finger nail or credit card to scrape off the residue of the pads. 3. To further help to remove the residue you can use WD40 or white spirit which will help lift the glue off the bumper. 4. Then repeat stage 2 to remove more residue. Followed by stage 1 and 3 if it is being tough to remove. Hint: you could also buy specific cleaning products to remove glue and tar which unfortunately I did not have to hand. 5. Once the number plate area is clean you can attach the new adhesive pads. 6. Now align the numberplate and make sure it's straight. Job done!
  14. Hope this info is useful Emissions standard Applied to new passenger car approvals from Applied to all new registrations from Euro 1 1 July 1992 31 December 1992 Euro 2 1 January 1996 1 January 1997 Euro 3 1 January 2000 1 January 2001 Euro 4 1 January 2005 1 January 2006 Euro 5 1 September 2009 1 January 2011 Euro 6 1 September 2014 1 September 2015 Euro 1 (EC93) Implementation date (new approvals): 1 July 1992 Implementation date (all new registrations): 31 December 1992 The first Europe-wide euro emissions standards were introduced in July 1992 and the regulations weren’t anywhere near as stringent as they are today. That said, the fitment of catalytic converters became compulsory on all new cars, and Euro 1 required the switch to unleaded petrol. Back then, only hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide were tested, along with particulate matter in the case of diesel engines. Over the years, the regulations have become stricter and the limits lowered. Euro 1 emissions standards (petrol) CO: 2.72g/km HC + NOx: 0.97g/km Euro 1 emissions standards (diesel) CO: 2.72/gkm HC + NOx: 0.97g/km PM: 0.14g/km Euro 2 (EC96) Implementation date (new approvals): 1 January 1996 Implementation date (all new registrations): 1 January 1997 Euro 2 reduced the limits for carbon monoxide and the combined limit for unburned hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide, as well as introducing different levels for petrol and diesel engines. Euro 2 emissions standards (petrol) CO: 2.2g/km HC + NOx: 0.5g/km Euro 2 emissions standards (diesel) CO: 1.0g/km HC + NOx: 0.7g/km PM: 0.08g/km Euro 3 (EC2000) Implementation date (new approvals): 1 January 2000 Implementation date (all new registrations): 1 January 2001 Euro 3 split the hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide limits for petrol and diesel engines, as well as adding a separate nitrogen oxide limit for diesel vehicles. The warm-up period was removed from the test procedure. Euro 3 emissions standards (petrol) CO: 2.3g/km HC: 0.20g/km NOx: 0.15g/km Euro 3 emissions standards (diesel) CO: 0.64g/km HC + NOx: 0.56g/km NOx: 0.50g/km PM: 0.05g/km Euro 4 (EC2005) Implementation date (new approvals): 1 January 2005 Implementation date (all new registrations): 1 January 2006 Euro 4 emissions standards (petrol) CO: 1.0g/km HC: 0.10g/km NOx: 0.08g/km Euro 4 emissions standards (diesel) CO: 0.50g/km HC + NOx: 0.30g/km NOx: 0.25g/km PM: 0.025g/km Euro 5 Implementation date (new approvals): 1 September 2009 Implementation date (all new registrations): 1 January 2011 The big news for Euro 5 was the introduction of particulate filters (DPFs) for diesel vehicles, along with lower limits across the board. For type approvals from September 2011 and new cars from January 2013, diesel vehicles were subject to a new limit on particulate numbers. DPFs capture 99% of all particulate matter and are fitted to every new diesel car. Cars meeting Euro 5 standards emit the equivalent of one grain of sand per kilometre driven. Euro 5 emissions standards (petrol) CO: 1.0g/km HC: 0.10g/km NOx: 0.06g/km PM: 0.005g/km (direct injection only) Euro 5 emissions standards (diesel) CO: 0.50g/km HC + NOx: 0.23g/km NOx: 0.18g/km PM: 0.005g/km PM: 6.0x10 ^11/km Euro 6 Implementation date (new approvals): 1 September 2014 Implementation date (all new registrations): 1 September 2015 The sixth and current incarnation of the Euro emissions standard was introduced on all new registrations in September 2015. For diesels, the permitted level of NOx has been slashed from 0.18g/km in Euro 5 to 0.08g/km. A focus on diesel NOx was the direct result of studies connecting these emissions with respiratory problems. To meet the new targets, some carmakers have introduced Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), in which a liquid-reductant agent is injected through a catalyst into the exhaust of a diesel vehicle. A chemical reaction converts the nitrogen oxide into harmless water and nitrogen, which are expelled through the exhaust pipe. The alternative method of meeting Euro 6 standards is Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR). A portion of the exhaust gas is mixed with intake air to lower the burning temperature. The vehicle’s ECU controls the EGR in accordance with the engine load or speed. Euro 6 emissions standards (petrol) CO: 1.0g/km HC: 0.10g/km NOx: 0.06g/km PM: 0.005g/km (direct injection only) PM: 6.0x10 ^11/km (direct injection only) Euro 6 emissions standards (diesel) CO: 0.50g/km HC + NOx: 0.17g/km NOx: 0.08g/km PM: 0.005g/km PM: 6.0x10 ^11/km Information courtesy of the RAC https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/know-how/euro-emissions-standards/ Regards Steve
  15. Steve Q reviews whether the last incarnation of the Ford Escort will be considered a classic, and which models he thinks could be the most desirable in the future. It cannot be denied that the Ford Escort has become a British motoring icon, and most people in the UK have encountered one. Either by your parents owning one, your mate’s dad owning one or having a ride in one to be dropped off into town. Since the launch of the Ford Escort in 1967 more than 4.1 million were built but now the Escort is becoming more of a rarity on our roads, but this should come as no surprise as the last one rolled off the production line in 2001 in the UK. The MK5 Escort was first launched in 1991 to replace the aging Mk4 variant and despite having a whole new body the mechanicals were transferred over from the Mk4 which meant buyers still made do with the HCS or CVH engines. As can be expected neither the motoring press nor consumers were fooled and as such the Mk5 got some negative press, excluding the RS2000. Ford set to rectify this in the later part of 1992 when the Mk5b escort was launched, which boasted the brand new 16 valve Zetec engines as well as slight cosmetic tweaks and a stiffer body. This meant the Mk5b ended up with a similar front to the Mk5 but a rear that resembled the Mk6. In 1995 the Escort received its final facelift which became known as the Mk6 which included newly designed bumpers, bonnet and headlights. The alterations weren’t just cosmetic as the Escort gained a new interior including, dashboard and seats but equally as important improved handling. Throughout the Escorts production run both manual and automatic gearboxes were available, and in manual form the Escorts with the 105bhp Zetec or less had the IB5 gearbox which was taken directly from the Mk1 Fiesta. The 130bhp Zetec and RS2000 were fitted with the MTX75 gearbox which is believed to be tougher. Over the Escorts 10 year production run there were various models and special editions produced, a brief summary includes: L – entry level with wind up windows and no power steering on early cars LX – gained electric windows and power steering Finesse – gained air conditioning instead of the sunroof as well as alloy wheels. Mexico – only available on the Mk6 and unfortunately was just a special edition with special interior trim and white dials. Ghia – plusher seats, rear headrests, air con, electric mirrors, electric windows and electric sunroof Ghia SI - only available on the Mk5b and was designed to be a sporty 5 door, with RS2000 wheels, wooden inserts on the dash and door cards. Ghia X – Only available on the Mk6 and boasted leather seats and wood dash inserts on top of the usual Ghia trim. XR3i – only available on the Mk5/Mk5b and fitted with a 1.8 Zetec engine which either came with 105bhp or 130bhp and sporty interior. GTI – only available on the Mk6 and replaced the XR3i trim and gained half leather interior, sideskirts and rear bumper spats as well as Cosworth look alike alloy wheels. RS2000 – available in Mk5, Mk5b and Mk6 forms and in 4x4. They were all fitted with a 2.0 litre engine, upgraded gearbox and suspension on top of having disc brakes fitted front and rear. Driving the Escort Now I appreciate that the Escort will drive differently depending on the model and engine but on test I have a 1993 Mk5b LX 5 door model, which is fitted with the 1.6 Zetec 90bhp engine and IB5 5 speed gearbox. I have to admit this particular Escort is in very good condition for a 25 year old car, and with no visible signs of rust which is surprising as the Escort was notorious for rusting on the rear arches and sills. On unlocking the car manually by placing the key in the door I slide into the brightly coloured driver’s seat. On getting into this car it is amazing how our tastes have changed as beside the black dash the seats are a vibrant colour, but I appreciate not all Escorts were like that. It also amazed me how airy this car is, thanks to thin pillars and large windows which helped greatly with all round visibility. The dashboard is simple but well laid out, and you can see where switchgear has been taken from Fords from the 1980s. After putting in the immobiliser key I turn the ignition and the Zetec engine bursts into life, that for me is testament to the Zetec engines build quality. I wonder how many older Ford engines start on the first turn of the key? And to make it clear the engine on this Escort has never been apart and has covered 112,000 miles. On the open road you have to drive the Escort as there are no electronic aids to help you, not even Anti-Lock Brakes unless selected from the options list. The benefit of this is that it gives you a greater feel of what the car is doing but it can become slightly fidgety if you hit bumps in the road too hard at speed, as the suspension doesn’t absorb the bumps as well as a modern car. This may have well been improved on the Mk6 model but some care is required as the steering can be slightly vague, but this is almost to be expected as the car is a quarter of a century old. The 1.6 Zetec naturally aspirated engine being revolutionary in its day isn’t going to win any drag races against modern cars as I found it accelerated the same as a modern 1.2 Fiat 500. None the less it made a refreshing change compared to the small turbo charged engines you find in modern day hatchbacks and it had no problem at travelling at motorway speeds. However, at higher speeds wind noise becomes prevalent which requires the radio to be turned up. But then again, I am not surprised due to the age of the window rubbers. The gearbox was smooth, but it could have benefited from a 6th gear to help quieten the engine at motorway speeds. Overall, I enjoyed driving the Escort as I felt more involved with the driving experience compared with modern cars as I found it bare bones motoring. To buy one as an appreciating classic will depend on the spec and condition, but I would expect prices to rise in the next few years once the Mk4 Escort prices rise the same way as the models before it. But until that time I feel the Mk5 and Mk6 Escort are still considered as disposable but in light of that, now might be the perfect time to buy one. : The Escort models that I consider will become desirable and classic are: RS2000 4x4 RS2000 2WD XR3I GTI – both 3 and 5 door but more so the former. Ghia SI Early mk5 models – early production run Final production run cars Most cabriolet models Potentially classics: Mexico Ghia Ghia X Please note I have deliberately excluded the Escort Cosworth from this article as it is a guaranteed future classic.