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Steve Q

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Steve Q last won the day on April 22

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  1. Steve reviews whether the current Mercedes SLK is a perfect car for summer. The Mercedes SLK is now into its third generation and was first shown at the 2011 Geneva Motor show in preparation for its release later that year and designated by Mercedes as R172. This SLK model aimed to improve on the quality and equipment from the previous R171 model and adopted various options from its predecessor such as Mercedes airscrarf system and also gained the front engine, rear wheel drive set up. The third generation SLK was a stark contrast in appearance compared to its predecessor which had based its looks on Mercedes Formula one cars and the SLR Mclaran supercar. The current SLK has adapted a more of a conservative look in my opinion by having less of a raked/pointed nose, but this has also made the current model look more grown up as well as bringing the design in line with the SLK’s bigger sibling the SL. As Mercedes has had over 20 years to perfect its baby roadster you can expect the quality of the product to be top class. Needless to say the SLK does not fail to disappoint thanks to its wide track with wheels at the edge of all four corners, as well as having a large bonnet gives the car real road presence and should please style savvy customers. On top of this the car benefits from having a hard top folding roof which only increases its desirability in a very competitive sector as road and wind noise is reduced over a conventional folding soft top. Obviously there is a price to pay for a metal folding roof which is increased weight compared to fabric roofed competitors, but I feel this is a small price to pay for the added benefits of a hard top. It’s worth noting that in 2016 the SLK range was revised and renamed the SLC to bring the model marketing on par with the rest of Mercedes products. The SLC is in effect a facelifted version of the SLK with revised engine options but may easily cause confusion amongst used car buyers. However for this article we are only focusing on the SLK spec and drivetrain options as these are more plentiful on the used car market. The SLK range is a available with four petrol engines and for the first time ever, a diesel engine. The engines on offer are: Petrol SLK 200 which is the entry level engine - a 1.8 four cylinder turbo charged engine producing 181bhp. SLK 250 has the same 1.8 four cylinder turbo charged engine from the 200 but with increased power to 201bhp. SLK 350 is a 3.5 V6 turbo charged engine producing 301bhp and as fitted to the previous SLK. SLK 55 is the AMG derived 5.5 litre naturally aspirated V8 producing a whopping 416bhp and 398lb ft of torque. Diesel SLK 250CDI is as mentioned earlier the first ever diesel engine fitted to the SLK and should please the fuel conscious. It produces 201bhp/ 369lb ft of torque from the four cylinder twin turbo unit, but benefits from a combined manufacture stated figure of 56.5mpg and 132g/km. What’s more, the diesel version is available with the 7 speed automatic gearbox as standard. It must be noted that both the SLK200 and SLK250 are available with a six speed manual gearbox as standard but the 7 speed auto is available as a £1500 extra as on our test car. All the other models in the range come with the automatic gearbox as standard. Driving the Mercedes SLK The SLK I have on test is a 2015 SLK 200 AMG sport which is fitted with a 1.8 litre turbo charged petrol engine which produces 181hp (184ps) and mated to a 7 speed automatic gearbox. Sliding into the black leather bucket driving seat I found it to be very supportive, with very good side bolsters as well as being electrically controlled and fitted with lumbar support. I felt the SLK cabin oozes with quality, thanks to soft touch plastics, leather trim and nicely positioned switch gear makes the SLK a nice place to sit. Naturally there is a good level of equipment fitted to SLK models and our test car was no exception. This particular car had the niceties such as heated electric seats, sat nav, parking sensors and the airscarf system for keeping your neck warm whilst driving with the roof down. Turning the key the 1.8 engine bursts into life with a nice rumble and selecting drive on the tunnel shifter the car pulls away effortlessly. Out on the open road I found the 1.8 turbo engine refined and 7 speed automatic a nice duo as the engine had plenty of torque united with smooth and quick gear changes, combined with a good kick down. I found the 1.8 lump more than adequate for all driving conditions and would please most buyers. Obviously the more powerful SLK250 may be a nice compromise for those wanting a balance of economy and more power but it had a £4,000 premium when new and this will reflect in the used car market. If outright power is what you’re after then you would be better off with either the SLK 350 or the range topping SLK55, both of which will provide the extra power and sweeter engine note which will make the SLK more enjoyable. As one would expect from a sports car the handling of the SLK was also impressive as it ironed out the bumps well despite being naturally firm and yet surprisingly this still allowed the handling to be composed, comfortable and obviously agile. This is due to the SLK being fitted with Mercedes Multilink suspension setup and further improved with passive dampers and a stiff chassis. In addition the steering matches the cars sporting credentials by being nicely weighted, allowing it to be light relatively precise. I will admit that the steering could be slightly more direct to improve response and feel for the driver. However, overall I found the steering helped build confidence to push the car hard into the bends and thoroughly enjoy the SLK on country roads. The handling characteristics are finished off with large perforated brake discs front and rear which stop the SLK on a six pence, and partly due to Pirelli tyres as fitted on this car. The brakes have an added purpose as the SLK can active any of the brakes individually to improve cornering. The Motorists Guide View: The third generation SLK is a vast improvement on its predecessor which is thanks to both mechanical improvements and enhanced styling which make the SLK a good sports car purchase thanks to an all-round package making the current SLK worthy successor. This is further supported by superb build quality, with nice materials and a quality fit and finish that consumers have come to expect from Mercedes. Let’s also not forget a key feature of the SLK is a car to be enjoyed for country drives and one where the SLK does not fail to disappoint, thanks to being comfortable, fun but also a relaxing place to be behind the wheel, which most owners will happily drive for long distances. Dimensions Length: 4,134 mm Width: 1,817 mm Height: 1,303 mm Curb weight: 1,475 kg
  2. Steve sets out to find out whether the Land Rover Defender is the best 4x4 by far, and a future classic. It cannot be denied the Defender is a true British icon and one of the few vehicles in the world which is truly classless. It’s a car that is befitting of Royalty, as well as farmers or builders and as such it is a vehicle which does not look out of place either in the country or parked on a suburb. Launched in 1983 to replace the venerable Series 3 the new model was designated either 90, 110 or 127 dependent on which wheelbase was chosen and came with an array of improvements over its predecessor. The 110 model came first in 1983, followed by the 90 in 1984 which had improved handling characteristics thanks partly to the fitment of coil sprung suspension all round which not only made the ride more compliant on tarmac it also improved axle articulation on the rough stuff. The 90/110 models were further refined over the series 3 with an updated interior including wind up windows and one piece windscreen which increased visibility. The most noticeable change however, was the aesthetics of the vehicle which not only had a longer bonnet; it also received a different grill and larger dimensions. Despite the level of extensive changes the design department were able to keep the 90/110 looking conservative, thus keeping their target audience happy. Mechanically on release the 90/110 was available with Land Rovers traditional 2.25 four cylinder petrol, 3.5 V8 petrol or 2.5 diesel available in non turbo and turbo variants throughout production. Most of these units inherited their design from the previous Series Land Rovers but were updated to offer more power and improved reliability. The combination of drivetrain and looks saw the 90/110 model into the 1990s where the model was later revised with not only a new name “Defender”, but mechanical enhancements in the way of Land Rovers brand new TDI engines. The first of these was the 200tdi which despite having the block and some internals from the Series 3 2.5 unit, produced 107hp/264 Nm torque thanks to direct injection, alloy cylinder head, improved turbo charging and improved intercooling. These changes helped the Defender to have a higher cruising speed as well as better fuel economy. In 1994 the 300tdi engine was introduced which was a completely new engine which gained power to 111hp/264 Nm torque. It wasn’t just the mechanical components that got an upgrade as the Defender also received some cosmetic tweaks to try and cater for the recreational market. As such the Defender became available with alloy wheels and more comfortable seating amongst other additions. Heading towards the Millennium marked an interesting time for Land rover as a whole thanks to coming under the ownership of BMW. This naturally had an effect on the Defender where BMW introduced yet another new engine, the TD5 which was a 5 cylinder engine offered more power and greater fuel efficiency. During BMW ownership the Defeneder also gained upgraded electrics including an improved ECU. However it was discovered that despite its efficiency these ECU were more vulnerable to damage when wet compared to its predecessors. This naturally caused issues for owners who used their Defenders for series offroading. BMW further improved the Defender design by installing revised weather seals, enhanced dash controls and improved instrumentation in the way of new dials plus upgraded illumination. There was a later change in Land Rovers ownership in the mid Noughties when they were bought by Ford, who just like BMW changed the Defenders engines to Ford 2.2TDCI duratorque diesel engines which allowed the Defender to meet stricter EU emissions rules as well as increasing performance to 122hp/ 300 Nm torque, plus mated to a 6 speed manual gearbox. Ford further improved the interior with a completely revised dashboard, instrumentation taken from the Discovery 3 and improved heater/demister. However, despite all the improvements the writing was on the wall for the Defender and the model finally bowed out on the 29th January 2016 due to a fall in sales thanks to stiff completion as well as ever stricter safety/emission regulations. Driving the Defender The vehicle I have on test is a 1996 Defender 90 County Station Wagon which is fitted with the 300tdi four cylinder diesel engine, producing 111hp/264 Nm torque. Climbing up into the cabin it feels archaic compared to its competitors but I love it more for this. For those who are used to more main stream vehicles they will have to get used a more cramped interior and unique driving style. Turning the key, the diesel engine rumbles into life which can be clearly heard through the bulkhead due to a lack of sound deadening. As one would expect from a utilitarian vehicle there is more vibration and less luxury compared to other European and Japanese rivals, but on the plus side the interior can be hosed down and wiped down which overall makes the interior more durable. I found the seat base comfortable but less supportive for my back. For rear passengers the Defender came with either four separate seats or bench seats. The former is a lot safer thanks to independent seatbelts, and Id strongly recommend you carry out this conversion if the vehicle you are considering doesn’t have them already. On the open road the Defender experiences a lot of wind noise thanks to that flat windscreen and angular body which cannot be muted by the radio at higher speeds. Let’s be clear though, the Defender is not a vehicle to be pushed at higher speeds as it can start to get fidgety on the motorway and on the whole you are confined to a cruising speed of 60-65mph. The steering can also be slightly vague but has the benefit of being power assisted and on the whole you can sense where the wheels are which is certainly helpful when travelling offroad. The brakes can also take a little getting used to and will surprise those who are used to cars that can stop on a six pence. Offroad is where the Defenders pedigree shines through as it can master most inclines without hesitation as long as the correct gear has been engaged. As well as being able to lean at an agle of 45 degrees without getting flustered. Generally it will go where ever you point it and can be forgiving for the novice offroad driver. The Defenders offroad prowess is impart to a short over hang both front and rear and good ground clearance. Plus the defender has a wading depth of 500mm. However consistent offroading can be the Defenders downfall as mud, water and salt can wreak havoc with the chassis if not jet washed or waxoiled and serious rust will inevitably set in. Usually it’s the rear cross member which goes first thanks to getting all much and road salt from the rear wheels. But corrosion will set in on the chassis rails and bulkhead, the latter requires a replacement in a worst case scenario and involves a complete strip down of the vehicle. The body on the Defender is made mainly from aluminium but can get dented or distorted from offroading, this is particularly the case of the sills. Corrosion in the way of oxidisation can form around areas where the aluminium meets the steel framework, as well as hinges which wear due to wear and tear. The rear door is the worst culprit for this thanks to the heavy spare wheel which it supports. Thankfully most parts for the Defender are available thanks to the vehicles popularity. On any potential purchases it is wise to check over the mechanical components thoroughly as there a lot of Defenders which will have had engine conversions either to tdi or to V8. The latter is a rarer modification but it does happen. Proof of any major mechanical work is strongly recommended to prove it has been carried out to a professional standard. As you’d expect most of the engines are now getting on in age and many will have covered high mileages, as such its worth listening out for any whines from the differentials or turbo as well as making sure the gear changes are crunch free and that the gearbox changes from high range to low range without issue. Bearing in mind regular driving with the 4x4 engaged will cause premature wear to the gearbox and differentials. The Motorists Guide View: Despite its outdated appearance and driving characteristics the Defender has certainly gathered a loyal following of fans who love it for various reasons. Some for its “go anywhere ability”, others to use it for work or exploration and those who want one to have a slice of automotive Britshness. Overall, I loved the Defender and would certainly own one in a heartbeat. It certainly has character and feels somewhat alive and feels like it has its own personality. I do believe they are a guaranteed future classic and I’m sure prices will only increase as time goes on. So my advice would be, to get one whilst they’re still affordable! Dimensions – Defender 90 (as tested) Length: 3883mm Width: 1790mm Height: 2035mm Gross weight: 2400kg
  3. For sale 2006 Mazda 3 sport saloon with the 2.0 petrol engine and 6 speed manual gearbox which has covered 71,000. The car comes with one key, handbook, full service history and a MOT until 29th February 2020 (as it’s a leap year). Being a Sport model the car benefits from Bose sound system, air conditioning, electric windows, 17” alloy wheels. The Sport also gained an appearance pack which includes a rear spoiler, side skirts and front fog lights. The Mazda 3 also benefits from having the optional extra black leather seats and Mazda 3 embossed floor mats. As per the pictures the car comes with good tread on all four tyres. Sold as seen. No warranty or return. price: £950 please message me or comment on.here for viewings or for further information. Cash on collection only.
  4. An induction kit is one of the most common performance modifications that can be fitted to any vehicle and is designed to increase the amount of cold air entering the engine. This is achieved by replacing the standard restrictive airbox setup and replacing it with ducting direct from the throttle body and a cone style air filter which is left open to more air. So why do manufactures fit restrictive airboxes I hear you ask. Well the reason why manufactures fit restrictive airboxes is to reduce noise emitted from the engine bay, as well as slowing down the speed of the air as it hits the filter to help with fuel economy and emissions. The downside of this for modifiers is that there can be a loss of power for the engine as well as throttle response being less responsive. This is where the induction kit comes in as it allows modifiers to regain the extra power, throttle response and induction roar which tuners desire. Let’s be clear though, the benefits in extra bhp or throttle response are often minimal from an induction kit unless the vehicle has other modifications such as a straight through exhaust system, ECU remap or uprated camshafts and better pistons. This is why you’ll see race cars fitted with induction kits as the benefits are supported by these other modifications. Where there is an improved power delivery this can often be found higher in the rev range, but can reduce response in the lower rev range. Thankfully on the whole the fitment of an induction kit is the same on all vehicles as we will demonstrate. The car for our walk through guide is a Mk2 Suzuki Swift 1.5 petrol, but I will show you pictures of a similar set up on a Mk5b Zetec engine Ford Escort. Both cars have more than 10 years of design between them but the fitting instructions would be the same. Tools required: Screwdriver Spanner/socket WD40 Step 1 An obvious one, but the first thing to do is open the bonnet and establish where your airbox and MAF sensor (airflow sensor) are situated. Step 2 Depending on the vehicle it might be worth disconnecting the battery. I’ll be honest, I didn’t as the only electrical component is the MAF sensor but for added safety you can do this if you’re not confident when working with mechanical/electrical components. Step 3 Untighten the screws and jubilee clips holding the air ducting and airbox in place. More than likely there will be at least two jubilee clips and four screws to undo. Usually there is a jubilee clip holding the air ducting to the throttle body and one holding the ducting on near the end of the airbox or filter. Step 4 Now before you remove the loose airbox from the car, check your new induction kit to see where the MAF sensor will fit. There should be a hole in the induction kit ducting where the MAF sensor will fit into. With any professional kit the MAF sensor screw holes or brackets (if applicable) in the induction kit ducting should line up perfectly with the MAF sensor. If it does, then remove the MAF sensor from the airbox. You may also find your car will have an extra breather hose like the Ford Escort. The breather hose will only need removing from the airbox end as it will get reattached to the cone filter once the induction kit is installed. MAF sensor Step 5 Carefully remove the airbox from the engine bay, being mindful not to damage any other hoses, engine components or the MAF sensor! Step 6 Now with the airbox out of the way you can offer up the new induction kit air ducting to the car. Place one end of air hose unto the throttle body and lightly tighten it with the jubilee clip. Depending on your vehicle you may find the induction kit manufacture has provided extra brackets to hold the induction kit in place. There will often be fitted to brackets/screw holes from where the old airbox once sat. Step 7 Then fit the MAF sensor to the air ducting and screw it in place. As previously mentioned, be careful with the MAF sensor as they can be fragile! Step 8 Fit the new cone filter to the end of the air ducting and tighten to the ducting with a jubilee clip. The fit the breather hose to the back of the cone filter (if applicable). Step 9 Unfortunately most induction kits do not come with a heat shield. We would recommend you buy one, most of which are universal. The benefit of the heat shield is to stop the new cone filter absorbing hot air from the engine (also known as heat soak) and thus reducing you bhp. The polished curved metal, wrapped around the left side of the cone filter is the heat shield Step 10 With your induction kit you should have another piece of flexible plastic tubing. This is your cold air feed. Place one end of the cold air feed near to the cone filter and then bend the tubing down/away from the engine to where it is most likely to get cold air, and attach it to secure bodywork or brackets with cable ties. Don’t attach it to any moving components, those that can get hot and don’t put it in the way of the fan! Depending on your original airbox design, you may find you can use some of the original airbox ducting as an additional cold air feed as we did on the Suzuki Swift. Step 11 Once you’re happy that the air ducting, cone filter and cold air feed are all in the right place tighten up all the necessary screws and jubilee clips to make the induction kit secure. Step 12 Most important of all, start the car up and with the help of an assistant lightly rev the engine to listen out for any air leaks and to make sure you’re engine management light hasn’t come on. Step 13 If everything is good at this stage, take the car for a drive to appreciate the improved induction roar and hopefully improved throttle response. And that’s it! Ford Escort before and after Trouble shooting Engine Management Light on If the engine management light is on this can be a result of the engine receiving too much cold air or hot air if it’s via heat soak. In a worst case scenario the engine management light could be on if the MAF sensor has been damaged when being transferred to the induction kit, if the fitter has provided due care and attention. If no components are damaged, then a remap could help resolve issue as well has proving further performance gains. Flat spots If you experience flat spots in the cars acceleration my advice would be to wait a while as the cars ECU has to adjust to the new reading received from the MAF sensor. If the problem persists after you’ve used a tank of fuel then it could suggest the car is running lean and getting it checked at a garage is advisable. A remap again could resolve the issue. Recommendations It is recommend having the car checked on a rolling road to see if any improvements have been made, but more importantly no poor affects have occurred to the engines performance through heat soak. It may also be wise having the vehicle checked with an MOT tester to make sure the vehicles emissions have not been affected from the installation of the induction kit. The legal bit Please note the instructions provided in this article are designed to be a rough guide and it is strongly recommended you follow any instructions provided by the induction kit manufacture where possible. Furthermore AutoEvoke holds no responsibility in the event of damage or injury caused to property, vehicle or persons during or after the fitment of an induction kit following from this guide. Owners and fitters follow these instructions at their own risk.
  5. Steve takes a look at a little red International Harvester tractor which is helping improve the lives of individuals with learning disabilities Nestled within the idyllic East Midlands countryside sits a farm with a special purpose in the quaint village of Seagrave. Set up in 2011 the farm in question is called WHM Work Connections which provides person-centred support in the way of life skills and work skills for individuals with learning disabilities with activities such as car washing, animal Care, horticulture, catering skills as well as vehicle mechanics. These skills help the individuals gain Independence and confidence when managing areas for daily living that you or I might take for granted. These skills then help the individuals to pursue work opportunities. Enabling individuals to have choice and control over their own lives. So why are we discussing this on AutoEvoke I hear you ask. Well as you will have just read one key aspect of the business is providing vehicle mechanic skills to these individuals and we felt it was right to feature their recently completed project, an International Harvester B275 tractor. When the tractor arrived at the farm it required a serious mechanical overhaul which has meant a full rebuild of the engine and other key components including the tractors electrics. Thankfully the bodywork was in good condition and has not needed any welding or respraying, therefore allowing the International Harvester to perform mechanically well yet keeping its character through its patina. The restoration has taken just over a year to complete and just like most projects the individuals were working to a deadline and are very happy with the end result. The tractor had to be ready for an up and coming wedding in May where the tractor takes pride of place as the bride’s mode of transport! During the rebuild the tractor has gained some additional features which I’m sure will make it unique, the first of which is a traditional ahooga horn which certainly gets this tractor noticed. The second modification has increased the tractors usability by being fitted with wireless technology. This will sound like an unusual feature on a 1960s tractor but the answer is logical. Having the tractor being controlled remotely allows the individuals with learning disabilities to drive the tractor in a safe and controlled environment on the large pastures at the farm. The tractor can be stopped remotely at a touch of a button if the individual driving it were to get into difficulty. Let’s not forget that allowing the individuals to drive the tractor ties in nicely with the company’s ethos by allowing these individuals to increase independence and develop valuable life skills. To find out more about WHM Work Connections please click on the link below: https://www.workconnections.co.uk/ A history of the International Harvester McCormick B275 Launched in 1958 the B275 model was designed to be an uprated machine to the B250 which had preceded it. Built in the former Jowett car factory in Bradford which International had bought out some years previously, the B275 was fitted with a 35hp 2.3 litre four cylinder petrol engine or a 38hp 2.3 litre four cylinder indirect injected diesel engine. The B275 diesel engine gained five more horse power over the B250 along with a different gearbox which gave this tractor eight forward gears comprising of four in low range and four in high range plus two reverse gears. This gave the tractor a top speed of 14mph and 95lbs-ft of torque. As was common at the time the tractor was in 2WD configuration without power steering and had a 6 volt electrical system. Furthermore the B275 was one of the more advanced tractors of the era as it was fitted with a manual locking differential, live duel category hydraulics, live power take off, glow plug cold starting, engine mounted pump and discs brakes as found on the B250. The final British built B275 was built in 1968 but they were also built under licence by Mahindra in India. In total 52,432 B275 tractors were built over the ten year production run when it was finally replaced by the B276. The B275 was proven to be a very durable tractor thanks to good build quality, ease of maintenance as well as a very good parts supply chain. However it is not without its flaws, the two main ones being weak brakes and sloppy steering. The former can often be sorted with a brake rebuild whereas the later often requires the steering box to be replaced. Also, despite having glow plug cold starting the B275 is renowned for not being the best cold starting tractors and improper use of the glow plug system can cause additional wear to the engine.
  6. For those of you living in and around leicester or Loughborough in the East Midlands, there is a fantastic car wash called Shiners based at WHM Work connections at 60 Green Lane Seagrave LE12 7LU. WHM Work Connections provides life skills as well as work skills for individuals with learning disabilities with activities such as car washing, vehicle mechanics, animal Care and catering skills on offer. Furthermore, these skills help the individuals gain Independence and confidence when managing areas for daily living that you or I might take for granted. As per the poster, I'm sure you' ll agree that £8 is a bargain for the level of detail involved. Needless to say it's not just any car wash! To put it into perspective, comparible operators are charging upto four times more for the same service locally. I would strongly recommend you give them a call to get your car booked in to treat it to a well deserved wash and wax. But it is advised to call in advance as they do get busy. Despite only being open one and a half days a week, phone calls will be answered Monday-Friday 9-4. To find out more about WHM Work Connections please click on the link below: https://www.workconnections.co.uk/ (Please note we cannot share images of the car washing in action due to the individuals confidentiality)
  7. Steve tests the most recent Mercedes E Class coupe and to see whether it can live up to its predecessors reputations. The current Mercedes E Class was debuted at the North American auto Show in 2016 and came on sale shortly after. Designated by Mercedes as the W213 the current E class is available in saloon, estate and coupe body styles just like its predecessor. With regards to this fifth generation E Class Mercedes have unified the design to tie the E Class in with both the current S Class and smaller C Class. As such, this has meant the current E Class Coupe is curvier than its predecessor whilst giving it a sportier persona. However I feel in some ways the E Classes’ individuality has been lost with this new model. But I cannot deny that the E Class Coupes design is elegantly proportioned thanks to its smooth flowing roof line which allows the car to have real road presence and should please even the most picky image conscious buyer. The exterior design is also helped by LED rear lights, Xenon headlights and 19” alloy wheels which are fitted as standard. Mercedes have also paid close attention to detail for the interior to make it feel a premium product. This is helped by the materials used as well as the level of standard equipment on offer such as a digital radio, Bluetooth, cruise control, rain sensing wipers, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, lumbar support, multi-function steering wheel, automatic climate control, parking sensors, heated seats, keyless go. On top of this, the E Class Coupe is available with a number of options available which include features such as panoramic sunroofs, Burmester sound systems and wireless charging to name but a few. The current E Class also benefits from being fitted with the safety technology to that of its big brother the S Class and includes autonomous driving features which allows the car to drive itself up to speeds of 130mph. This is on top of the basic safety features offered as standard on the E Class which include; Antilock Braking System, brake pad wear sensor, all round airbags, Electronic Stability Program, Parktronic with reversing camera, child seat recognition sensor, fatigue alert for long journeys, collision prevention assist, blind spot assist, and brake assist for emergency braking combined with hold function as standard. As I’m sure you’ll agree the amount of safety features is second to none. Pedestrians aren’t neglected either, as the E Class is fitted with an active bonnet which raises the bonnet if it senses a person coming into contact with it. The E Class Coupe range is available with two common rail diesel engines and four direct injection petrol engines which are all mated to a 9 speed G-Tronic automatic gearbox. The engine options are as follows: Diesel E220d – a 2.0 litre 4 cylinder turbo unit producing 194hp/400Nm torque, available in 2wd or with Mercedes 4Matic all-wheel drive system. E400d – a 3.0 litre 6 cylinder turbo engine producing 340hp/700Nm torque and only available with the 4Matic system. Petrol E300 – a 2.0 litre 4 cylinder turbo engine producing 245hp/370Nm torque E350 – a 2.0 litre 4 cylinder turbo unit producing 299hp/400Nm torque E450 - a 3.0 litre 6 cylinder twin turbo engine producing 367hp/500Nm torque and only available with the 4Matic all-wheel drive system. E53 – is the AMG derived 3.0 litre 6 cylinder twin turbo engine producing 435hp/520Nm torque and only available with the 4Matic system. Plus it should average 30mpg as an added bonus. Driving the E Class Coupe The car is have on test is a 2018 E220d AMG Line which is fitted with the four cylinder 2.0 turbo diesel engine which produces 194bhp and linked to the 9 speed G-Tronic automatic gearbox. To top it off this engine boasts MPG figures of 56.5mph combined. Sliding into the combined alcantara and leather driving seat I found it to be very supportive, with very good side bolsters as well as being electrically controlled and fitted with lumbar support. Furthermore, I found there is plenty of space for front seat passengers but it might prove a struggle for rear passengers on longer journeys. But I must admit that the space for rear passengers is certainly improved over the previous E Class Coupe especially where height is concerned. As one would expect from a Mercedes the cabin has a quality feel with leather covering not only the seats but also the door cards and dash top. In addition, the infotainment screen is much larger at 12.3 inches than the previous E Class which further improves its usability. Pressing the engine start button the diesel engine bursts into life to a quiet idle. Selecting drive on the column shifter the E Class pulls away effortlessly thanks to the automatic gearbox which has both smooth and quick gear changes, combined with a good kick down. I found the 220d engine had more than enough power and torque for good acceleration and momentum in all driving environments, but was slightly unrefined compared to some of its competitors. However, I must admit that this is a small negative in an otherwise good drivetrain which can get to 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds. I was further impressed by the handling of the E Class which ironed out the bumps well despite being quite hard, and surprisingly this still allows the handling to be composed yet comfortable. To further improve the comfort from the E Class, air suspension is available at extra cost. I have to admit that the suspension on the current E Class coupe helps reduce roll better than its predecessor which is partly due to the wider track. Furthermore the steering is nicely weighted, allowing it to be light but precise, which is in part to Mercedes Direct steer system which is also speed sensitive. One key foible I found whilst driving the E Class was the road noise, which could not be muted by the cabins sound deadening. However, I’ll admit this could be down to the Michelin run flat tyres fitted to this vehicle and maybe improved with a different brand of tyre. The handling package is finished off with large drilled brake discs front and rear which stop the E class effortlessly. The Motorists Guide View Overall I found the current Mercedes E class Coupe a nice car to drive combined with an impressive level of standard equipment compared to some of the rivals. Furthermore the build quality is on par with other Mercedes products, with nice materials and a quality fit and finish that consumers have come to expect from Mercedes. However, despite being larger/roomier than its predecessor I felt that the previous model was slightly better all round. None the less the current E Class is certainly a comfortable and relaxing place to be for both sitting in and driving, which most owners will happily drive for long distances. Therefore, we’re confident that you’d be pleased with purchasing an E Class Coupe if you’re in the market for one andits not one you should not discount when considering a premium coupe. Dimensions Length: 4,923 mm Width: 1,852 mm Height: 1,468 Curb weight: 1,605–2,048 kg
  8. Steve takes a look at the first generation Mazda 3 to see if it makes a good used car purchase. Before we start I must apologise for the pictures on this article as they are not up to my usual standard. The first generation Mazda 3 was launched in 2003 as a brand new model for the marque and shared the front wheel drive underpinnings from the Mk1 Ford Focus. Designed by Hasip Girgin and known as the BK, the Mazda 3 looked crisp and modern from the outset thanks to sharp lines and was available in either five door hatchback or four door saloon. Buyers are also treated to various spec levels which should cater for most buyer’s budgets or preferences. The spec levels include: S is the entry level model and only available in hatchback form, but benefits from central locking, CD player, front electric windows, ABS, electric heated door mirrors, front and side airbags, 15” alloy wheels on petrol models and Emergency Brake Assist. TS spec added both luxuries such as manual air conditioning, lumbar support, 15” alloy wheels and added safety of curtain airbags. TS2 added further safety and driver conveniences over the TS spec by having a 6 CD player, multi-function leather steering wheel, climate air conditioning, 16” alloys, Traction Control, Dynamic Stability Control and all round electric windows. Sport is the top spec and owners are treated to further features over the TS2 model such as rain sensing wipers, Bose sound system, xenon headlights and 17” alloy wheels. The Sport also gained an appearance pack which included a rear spoiler, side skirts and front fog lights. There were also various optional extras available for the Mazda 3 range which included heated leather seats, reversing sensors, Sat Nav and electric sunroof to name but a few. In addition various special additions were available during the Mazda 3’s production run and include: Katano spec was available with a 1.6 petrol engine and benefited from having satnav as standard as well as 15” alloys, chrome exhaust tip, black with red interior but was only offered with either grey or silver metallic paint. Sakata spec was launched in 2005 and was in affect an S spec model, but only available with the 1.6 petrol engine, Strato blue metallic paint plus15” alloy wheels and rear spoiler. Tamura spec was released in 2007 and was effectively a Sport model with added seatbelt reminder function and different alloy wheels to that of the Sport spec. Besides the good choice of specifications for buyers, they were further spoilt with a reasonable selection of naturally aspirated four cylinder petrol and diesel engines as listed below: Petrol 1.4 with 84ps 1.6 with 105ps and combined MPG of 39.2. 2.0 with 150ps (147bhp). Diesel 1.6 turbo common Rail Diesel with 109ps. 2.0 with 141bhp. For all the 1.4 and 1.6 engine variants a 5 speed manual gearbox was offered but for the 2.0 litre engines gained 6 speed manuals as standard. Not surprisingly there was also a 5 speed automatic. (Please note: these details are relevant for UK vehicles. Oher countries benefitted from different engines such as 2.3 petrols and other gearboxes such as 4 speed automatics) It’s not all style over substance with the Mazda 3, as it received a good level of safety features such as front, side and curtain airbags as well as an anti-lock braking system, Electronic Stability Program and even child proof seatbelt clasps. All of which gave the Mazda 3, a 4* Euro NCAP safety rating. Driving the Mazda 3 The model I have on test is a 2006 sport saloon which is fitted with the 2.0 four cylinder petrol engine which produces 147bhp/187Nm torque and is mated to a 6 speed manual gearbox. This particular car has covered 71,000 miles and benefits from having the optional extra leather seats. Climbing into the cabin I found it very easy to get a good driving position, thanks to rake and reach function on the steering wheel as well as lumbar support on the comfortable driver’s seat. I also found the dials easy to read and felt the dash was well laid out, with all switches in easy reach. There was also ample space for both front and rear passengers for height and width, and would carry four adults in comfort. The boot was a reasonable size too. To top it all off the interior certainly wasn’t convenience over style, as I found the interior very smart and easily as impressive to some of the current Mazda products. In my opinion it was better than the current Mazda 2 interior, a car I test drove some months ago. Out on the open road the 2.0 litre petrol is punchy and has more than enough oomph for either town driving or B road blasts. This is combined with suspension which provides both stability through the bends and good ride comfort. Moreover the steering is precise and nicely weighted, allowing the driver to accurately feel where the wheels are in relation to the road. This is important as some cars within the sector can be void of decent feel through the steering wheel. As with a lot of Ford and Mazda products of this era, potential buyers need to keep an eye out for rust and common rust areas include the boot, primarily around the central brake light on saloon models as well as on the rear arches of both hatchback and saloon body styles. It’s also worth taking note of any warning lights on the dash, as an ABS warning light combined with a traction control warning light can often be traced back to a faulty ABS sensor which appears to be a common fault. However as a worst case scenario the ABS warning light combined with the traction control light can potentially linked to ABS pump failure. As you’d expect this is not necessarily a cheap fix as the pump alone can be around £600 from Mazda but there is a very good second hand market where a similar reconditioned part can be bought for around £140. Besides these faults, build quality is very good and the Mazda 3 feels very well put together. I honestly preferred it over the Ford Focus of which the Mazda 3 is based; now I know that’s a bold statement! The Motorists Guide View The youngest Mazda 3 models are now 11 years old but the styling has definitely kept them looking fresh and modern. Not only that, thanks to a great level of equipment fitted to the various models, this has allowed the BK Mazda 3 to remain relevant in the very competitive medium sized car sector. Overall I found the Mazda 3 a nice car to look at, but more importantly a nice car to drive and definitely worth considering if you are in the market for a sub £2,000 medium sized family car. Dimensions Length: 4,529mm Width: 1750mm Height: 1500mm Curb weight: 1340kg
  9. Steve tests Kia’s new baby SUV the Stonic, to find out if it can compete in a very competitive small SUV sector. Launched in 2017 in South Korea the Stonic is based on the fourth generation Kia Rio and is the smallest SUV in the Kia range. The name is allegedly derived from the words speedy and tonic, but whether the car lives up to this is up to you as the reader. The Stonic is available in four trim levels and the entry level starts at £16,500 for the entry level model and goes up to £21,000 if the highest spec car is chasen with an automatic gearbox. The four spec levels are: Stonic 2 – Despite being the entry level model it does come with a good selection of equipment such as apple car play/android auto, rear parking sensors, air conditioning, electric windows, 17” alloy wheels, DAD radio within a 7” display, roof rails and Bi-function Projection Headlights. Stonic 3 spec adds further goodies including reversing camera, sat nav, rain sensing wipers, perforated leather steering wheel, LED rear lights and seats in black cloth/grey faux leather accents. More importantly the Stonic 3 benefits from added safety features such as lane keeping assist, autonomous emergency brake assist and the advanced driver assistance pack. Stonic 4 adds heated seats, heated steering wheel, blind spot detection, keyless entry/ignition with start/stop button as well as the features from the Stonic 3 spec. Stonic Mixx adds a touch of colour with orange accents on the dash and seats plus two tone paint, reverse camera, Bi-function Projection Headlights, privacy glass and day time running lights. Besides the four trim levels, buyers also have the choice between two petrol engines and one diesel engine which are mated to either a 6 speed manual or automatic transmission. All three engines are fitted with start/stop technology. The engine choices are a 1.0 turbo charged direct injected petrol which produces 118bhp with 51.4–56.5 mpg 9, a 1.4 naturally aspirated multi point injected petrol engine producing 98bhp with 49.6 mpg or a 1.6 turbo diesel producing 108bhp with 67.3–70.6 combined 109 g/km of C02 emissions. Generally reliability should be good, as let’s not forget the Stonic will come with Kia’s 7 year warranty. (please note MPG figures are from the Manufactures specifications). Despite a good level of safety as standard the Stonic only managed to achieve a 3* safety rating with Euro NCAP, but with the additional safety features of the ADAP safety pack as fitted on Stonic 3 spec and above the Stonic was then awarded 5* by Euro NCAP. Driving the Kia Stonic The car I have on test is a 2018 first edition model which combines features of both the Stonic 3 and Stonic 4 specs with the 1.6CRD diesel engine which produces 108bhp and is joined to the 6 speed manual gearbox. The 1.6 diesel is only available with Stonic 3 spec as of 2019 but my test car then has all the luxuries available on 2019 Stonic 4 spec cars. Climbing into the cabin I found getting a comfortable seating position a doddle but felt the seat could have been more supportive for my back and would benefit of lumbar support. Other than this small niggle I found the Stonic had plenty of space for four passengers to fit comfortably for height and width as well as a decent level of luggage space, the latter accommodating 352 litres. I also found all the switches in easy reach and well posited on the dash or steering wheel. In addition, the instrument cluster and infotainment system were concise and simple to use. Pressing the engine start button the four cylinder diesel engine bursts into life. On the open road I found the engine had more than enough torque for pulling away at traffic lights or whilst driving around town. I also found the engine a pleasure on both motorways and country roads as very little engine noise seeps into the cabin. Thanks to my mixed driving I got an average of 46.2mpg and the lowest I achieved was 37mpg. I could only find one fault with the engine as it was a little unrefined, but feel this is a small price to pay for the torque and mpg most buyers will achieve. I also found the 6 speed manual smooth and well suited to the engine. Moreover, I have further praise for the Stonics suspension as it rode the bumps well and didn’t have as much body roll as I expected. In addition I found the steering both light and precise which gave confidence when pushing on into corners. However I did find that on the motorway the Stonic did get slightly twitchy but this could be partly due to the recently strong winds. I found visibility very good, partly helped by thin A pillars and despite thick C pillars reversing is easy with the reversing sensors and camera. I found the door mirrors provided a good view as well which is aided by blind spot assist on this car. The Motorists Guide View Just like the Kia Niro I drove a few months back I was very impressed with the Stonic, as I found it a nice car to drive as well as being well equipped. In my opinion the Stonic 3 or Stonic 4 make most sense for buyers if budgets allow, due to the extra safety equipment they offer. This is especially important as the Stonic is targeted in the small crossover category and aimed at families. If you were keen on having a diesel model, then I would advise you look at purchasing a used first edition model just like our test car. This will allow the buyer to benefit from diesel economy as well as Stonic 4 spec equipment. Whichever Stonic model you choose, I am sure you will not be disappointed with the build quality, equipment level or space it provides. Dimensions Length 4,140 mm Width 1,760 mm Height 1,520mm
  10. Steve sets to find out whether the current C Class Coupe can live up to its sporting credentials. The current C Class range was launched at the 2014 Detroit Motor Show and released onto UK roads in March of the same year. As per its predecessor the new C Class was available in saloon, estate, convertible and coupe form, the latter is the model I will focus on for this review and was designated by Mercedes as the C205. It cannot be denied that the looks of the C Class Coupe are elegantly proportioned thanks to a it’s smooth flowing roof line and curves in all the right places. This has allowed for a long sloping bonnet, which all in all gives the car real road presence and should please even the most picky image conscious buyer. The exterior design is also helped by the bodykit which is fitted as standard as well as LED rear lights and Xenon headlights. I particularly liked the design of the exterior door mirrors which feature built in indicators and have the power folding function. Just like the exterior the cabin is well appointed, with nice flowing lines along with an uncluttered dash gives the Coupe a smart appearance. The minimalist layout does not detract from the C Class Coupes features as most of the controls are managed through the infotainment system. As you’d expect from a car in this class a digital radio, Bluetooth, cruise control, rain sensing wipers, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, lumbar support, multi-function steering wheel, automatic climate control and parking sensors are standard. There’s certainly plenty of space for front seat passengers but it might prove a struggle for rear passengers on longer journeys. But I must admit that the space as improved over the previous C Class Coupe. The C Class Coupe is available with four petrol engines which include an entry level 1.6 litre C180 with 156bhp, 1.5 litre C200 and 2.0 litre C300 all of which are four cylinders. Furthermore there’s a C43 V6 and the stonking C63 twin turbo V8 available in either 469bhp for the standard version of 503bhp for the S version. As a sign of the times only two four cylinder diesel engines are offered which are the C220 which is a 2.0 turbo which produces 191bhp, or the C300 2.1 litre turbo which produces a very respectable 242bhp and a claimed 57mpg. Two gearboxes are offered, either a 6 speed manual or the more popular and thus more desirable 9 speed automatic. In addition the C Class coupe is set up as rear wheel drive as standard and is more than adequate for what day to day driving will throw at it, but Mercedes 4matic four wheel drive system is available on most models but I feel is only really only necessary in very rural locations. As you’d expect Mercedes haven’t compromised the C Class Coupe when it comes to safety and as such it is fitted with Antilock Braking System, all round airbags, Electronic Stability Program, Parktronic with reversing camera, child seat recognition sensor, fatigue alert for long journeys, collision prevention assist and brake assist for emergency braking combined with hold function as standard. As I’m sure you’ll agree the amount of safety features is second to none. Driving the C Class Coupe The car I have on test is a 2018 C200 AMG Line Premium which is fitted with the 1.5 litre twin-scroll turbo petrol engine, which produces 181bhp combined with 280Nm of torque and mated to the 9 speed G-Tronic automatic gearbox. This particular car is fitted with the premium package which includes heated front seats, ambient lighting, a 12.3” display, panoramic sunroof, wireless charging, command online and an uprated sound system. The Premium Plus package costs a whopping £4,995 (2019 figure) onto of the basic vehicle price of £37,025 which includes VAT, and has the multi spoke wheels which are also a £595 extra. Unlike other reviews on the C200 petrol engine within the motoring press, I found the 2.0 petrol punchy as well as having more than enough power/torque for good acceleration and momentum in all driving environments which is supported by a 0-62mph time of 7.7 seconds. This will be partly helped by the automatic gearbox which had both smooth and quick gear changes, combined with a good kick down. However I did find the engine less refined than some of the C Class Coupe’s revivals as well as being slightly noisy when revved hard. I will admit that this will be partly affected by the sound proofing and in normal conditions especially when cruising, the engine noise intrusion into the cabin is limited. I can’t see it being a big issue for buyers as overall the C200 is a very reasonable all round engine and can achieve MPG figures of 46.3. Out on the open road the ride is firm but the suspension still irons out the bumps well, thus enabling it to be both comfortable and composed. Furthermore the steering is nicely weighted, allowing it to be light but precise. This is thanks to Mercedes Direct steer system which is also speed sensitive. To round off the handling are perforated front brake discs which stop the CLK Coupe on a dime. Another nice touch is that the driver has the choice of selecting different driving modes which include; eco, comfort, sport, sport+ and individual which offers a driving mode for all driver preferences and road conditions. I also found the leather seats very supportive, with very good side bolsters as well as being electrically controlled and fitted with lumbar support. The Motorists Guide View When road testing any vehicle I try not to have any preconceptions about its build quality, how it will drive or even how it will make me feel. However as one would expect from a Mercedes the cabin has a quality feel and the handling is surefooted. Not only that, I feel the exterior design is a lot more refined to that of the previous C Class Coupe. My only real concern before I tested this car was the 1.5 litre engine, as I was concerned that it would underperform and ultimately mean the car could have under delivered. But I can safely say that my doubts were quashed instantly, as I found the C200 engine more than capable in all road conditions with plenty of power and torque. The only drawback I found with the engine was that it is a little unrefined, but I feel this is a small price to pay when you consider the all-round package the C Class Coupe has to offer. Dimensions Length: 4,696mm Width including mirrors: 2,016mm Height: 1,405mm
  11. 2019 sees the 50th anniversary of one of Britain’s most iconic films to have been produced and starred Michael Cain and a red, white and blue mini. If you haven’t guessed by now that famous film is the Italian Job. The film was released on the 5th June and was an instant success here in the UK. There was a lot for petrol heads to enjoy, from chases through Turin, Police car crashes, and a dash in a Bedford Val 6 wheeled coach through the Alps. Steve looks at a small selection of cars from the film, predominately the four survivors. Various exotic or unusual cars were used for filming of the Italian Job including a Lamborghini Miura, three mini Coopers, Aston Martin DB4, two Jaguar E Types, a Harrington Legionaire bodied Bedford Val, Land Rover Series 2a and a Ford Thames dormobile to name but a few. Despite an iconic line-up of vehicles only four remain in existence which is not only a crying shame, but these four survivors are the focus of this article. Readers will be disappointed to know that not one of the Minis used for filming survived but that may not come as a surprise as they had crucial roles throughout the film. Another scrapped vehicle is the Bedford Val coach used to transport the Minis and the gold. After filming of the Italian Job, the coach went back to coach duties and remained in service until 1994 when it was scrapped. For some of the vehicles their whereabouts are not known, and this is certainly the case for the Land Rover series 2a but this is believed to have been scrapped in 1992 but this cannot be substantiated. It is also the same story for the Ford Thames dormobile. Lamborghini Miura The Miura only had a short but important part of the Italian Job but despite is brief appearance it helped set the scene for what was to come. It may come as a surprise for readers that the Miura survived, as the wreckage of a Miura was pushed into the river by the Caterpillar bulldozer. The wrecked Miura that was pushed into the river was actually a car that had been crashed by its owner some months previously and had been sent back to Lamborghini. Lamborghini were very kind in letting the wreckage to be used in the film as well as Paramount Pictures hiring a new identical orange Miura. Jaguar E Type convertible The red E type convertible is fitted with the 3.8 engine and was bought by the film crew to use in the film. In the Italian Job the car was badly damaged by a digger by the Mafia. The car had other claim to fame as it had been used previously as a racing car by Robin Sturgess in the early 1960s. The car is now owned by the Jaguar historian and author Phillip Porter. Jaguar E Type coupe It was probably luck that saved the blue Jaguar E Type from being scrapped after filming, as the digger did a very good job of damaging the roof. However, after filming the car sat in storage until 1989 mostly forgotten. Thankfully the cars history was realised and was restored by Tester Engineering. Aston Martin DB4 Another surprising survivor is the Aston Martin DB4 which apparently was pushed off the side of a cliff by the digger. However, the observant amongst you that have seen the film have probably realised that it wasn’t a DB4 that went off the cliff but rather a Lancia Flaminia. I hope you have enjoyed looking back at the car survivors that starred in this cult film and despite none of the Minis or other unusual vehicles surviving, it’s nice to think their legacies will live on within the film. And lets not forget that despite the Italian Job being half a century old, the love for the film doesn't appear to be waning. May its popularity continue for another 50 years.
  12. Steve takes a look at the Volvo 940, one of the last rear wheel drive tanks to see whether it will become a future classic The Volvo 940 was launched in 1990 to replace the very successful 740 and looked more like a facelift of its predecessor. As such a lot of sheet metal was the same from the facelift 740 and the 940 but the 940 had different rear lights and boot. As such the 940 could be seen as a refined version of the infamous 740 series. The 940 shared most engine and gearbox options of its predecessor. As such the 940 was available with four different petrol engines and one diesel engine. All petrol engines were the well proven four cylinders which came in either turbo or N/A forms. As you'd expect the engines are not that economical by modern standards and mpg figures in the low/mid-twenties would be most likely. The diesel was the trusted 2.4 six-cylinder unit which originated from Volkswagen and was naturally more economical than the petrol engines. Engine specs are as follows: Petrol engines 2.0 N/A producing 111bhp with 158Nm torque. 2.0 turbo producing 155bhp with 234Nm torque. 2.3 N/A producing 130bhp with 185Nm torque. 2.3 turbo producing 190bhp with 280Nm torque. Diesel engine 2.4 turbo producing 122bhp with 235Nm torque. All engines could be mated to either a 5-speed manual, 4 speed manual with electronic overdrive or a 4 speed automatic. Furthermore, most of the suspension and braking systems were inherited from the outgoing 740. As such all 940 models came with power steering, anti-lock braking and self-leveling rear suspension on estates as standard (excluding S spec). The 940 also had the 740s trusted constant track rear suspension which incorporated a live rear axle and had a turning circle of 9.9 metres. Volvo has always prided itself on the safety of its vehicles and the 940 was no exception being fitted with a safety cage, collapsible steering column, front seatbelt pretensioners, seatbelt reminder warning, ABS and Volvos Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) as standard. An SRS driver’s airbag was available on all specifications as an optional extra and was one of the first Volvo models to be offered with this safety feature. Compared to the outgoing 740 model where spec levels were limited, buyers were given a variety of specifications to choose from with the new 940 which could suit all tastes and budgets which included: S was the entry-level model and was fitted with central locking, Lumbar support, bulb failure warning light, seatbelt reminder light, front fog lights, heated front seats, manual door mirrors, and windup windows. SE came with all the features of the S spec but benefitted from electric front windows, manual sunroof, electric aerial, electric heated door mirrors Wentworth was fitted with alloy wheels, electric rear windows, air conditioning as well as the features from the SE spec. GLE gained leather interior and electric sunroof as standard on top of Wentworth trim. Turbo spec was only available with cars fitted with either the 2.0 turbo or 2.3 turbo engines and was equipped similarly to Wentworth trim. Sport spec also gained a bodykit, boot spoiler and special alloy wheels. Various other options were offered regardless of specification which included electric memory front seats, climate control (available with air conditioning only), rear-facing seats in the boot of estate models, cruise control and an external temperature gauge. (Trim levels apply to UK models and information taken from a Volvo 940 brochure) Driving the 940 The car I have on test is a 1993 saloon in SE trim which is fitted with the 2.0 petrol engine and mated to the 5-speed manual gearbox. This particular car has covered a measly 246,000 miles and despite some blemishes, it feels rather solid for a 25-year-old car. Being in SE trim this Volvo has electric front windows, electric mirrors, sunroof, heated front seats and central locking all as standard. Turning the key the four-cylinder engine rumbles into life, and as you pull away the 2.0 engine feels strong despite the mileage and the 940 can keep up well with modern traffic. The 5-speed gearbox pulled through the gears well, without any crunching and you wouldn’t tell the gearbox has 246,000 miles behind it. I found the power steering to be light which was surprising when you consider the size of the 940 and it had some play. The brakes also stop this big barge well which is backed up by discs all round and ABS. It cannot be denied that the 940 is a built more for comfort rather than performance and this can be felt in the ride. The 940 takes speed humps with ease and irons out bumps far better than a lot of more modern cars in my opinion. On top of this, I found the 940 to have a very comfortable driving position which was I part due to the lumbar support. In addition, all the switches are in easy reach of the driver and all-round visibility is very good. You can tell Volvo thought long and hard about the ergonomics of this car as I found it a pleasure to drive and sit in. Rear passengers aren’t neglected either with good amounts of leg and headroom which is thanks to the all-so-Swedish 'boxy' design. The boot is a good size too with a volume of 16.6 cubic feet, whereas the estates have 35 cubic feet. Build quality is as you would expect from a Volvo as the interior feels solid and well put together with no wear on the seat bolsters or switchgear. The dials are reasonably clear but I found the trip and milometer hard to read, but this could just be due to my eyesight. The only issue with the instrument cluster was the fuel gauge being non-operational but it would appear that electrical issues with instrument clusters affect both the 940 and its predecessor and are commonplace. Another common issue is wear on the door cards from material cracking or coming away. Again the 940 I have on test as a damaged driver’s door pocket but I believe this is due to a previous owner’s clumsiness rather than an issue with the car. Moving to the outside of the 940, it is clear that the bodywork is holding up well and has very little rust other than on the rear arches where it meets the sills and on the roof where a previous owner carelessly attached something to cause damage. Obviously, the 940 has age related scratches and dents, but the paint still has a nice shine and hides its 25 years of existence well. The Motorists Guide View Overall I found the Volvo 940 a comfortable, sedate cruiser which did not feel like a 25-year-old car. I was most impressed with the handling characteristics as it ironed out bumps well and which was supported by a very comfortable seating position. Despite its age I felt it is a car you could use every day as it was more than capable to keep up with other traffic as well as having all the features you would need. I do admit if I were to use this modern classic daily, I would want one in Wentworth or GLE trim. Do I think the 940 will become a future classic? My answer is, most definitely as the 940 represents the pinnacle of Volvos four-cylinder turbocharged/ rear wheel drive designs. I do believe the 940 is at the bottom of the price curve, and it is clear that prices are starting to rise as enthusiasts are starting to appreciate the quality of these cars other than for being a workhorse. Ironically it’s the 940s reputation of being a workhorse that has both caused its demise with falling numbers on the roads but on the other hand has helped increase the value of surviving examples. Dimensions Length: 487cm saloon/484.5cm estates Width: 175cm saloon and estate Height: 141cm saloon/143.5cm estate Kurb weight: 1458kg salon/1536kg estate
  13. The W212 E class – the successor to the venerable W211 model, but is it better? Steve drives a 2016 facelift model to find out The Mercedes W212 E Class was originally launched in 2009 to replace the well-built W211 version, which itself had helped recover Mercedes reputation at building reliable, long lasting cars after the quality control issues of the late 1990s/early 2000s. There was no doubt that both the car and Mercedes engineers had big shoes to fill but thankfully the gamble paid off as the new model was able to build on the good reputation of its forbearer. The W212 was not only bigger than the previous model it was also more refined. The W212 is available in saloon, estate, coupe and convertible body styles which differed from the previous two E class models as they were only available in saloon or estate. With adding the coupe and convertible to the model lists it meant Mercedes could go back to its routes and provided a link to the original world famous W124 E class which paved the way for Mercedes in building tough, large luxury cars. Another hark back to the past can be seen in the W212 styling as the angular pre-facelift front end not only looked more aggressive, it also brought itself back to the boxy, straight-edged W124. The W212 also gained flared (ponton) rear arches which too were a hint of the past as Mercedes designers took styling cues from 1950s/1960s vehicles. With all the historic touches in the W212 you’d be forgiven to think that the car itself is stuck in the past but nothing could be further from the truth. The W212 was the first model of E class to be fitted with lane departure warning (option), drowsiness detection and road sign recognition. Other safety features include blind spot detection as an option as well as neck pro head restraints which are connected to sensors to the vehicle and can predict a rear end shunt. The head restraints adjust to reduce the risk of a whiplash injury. Furthermore, there are plenty of engine choices available to cater for all needs, whether you’re using the W212 E Class for taxi duty or a performance saloon ideally suited to the autobahn. There are four petrol engines on offer for the E Class comprising of the 4 cylinder E200 (184hp) and E250 (211hp), or the stonking powerhouses of the 5.5 litre AMG or E63 AMG V8 engines which the latter produces 557 hp along with 720Nm of torque. There are also three diesel engines available which include the E220 (170hp) or E250 (204hp) which are both 4 cylinder engines. The biggest diesel engine is the E350 V6 which produces 252hp/620Nm torque and is by far the smoothest diesel engine in the range. The V6 comes equipped with BlueTEC for further efficiency and reduced Co2 emissions. This is achieved by a combination of Adblue technology, and high injection pressure with piezo injectors. Mercedes claim the V6 was the cleanest diesel engine when the W212 facelift was launched and reduces Nitrogen emissions by 90%. Unusually there is also a E300 diesel hybrid which has 204hp combined with 500Nm of torque which is thanks to the electric motor. Like most other hybrid systems the vehicle will run on electric up to 30mph then convert to running on the combustion engine. I feel this variant would be ideally suited for taxi service due to the fuel economy, cheap tax, and manufacture MPG figures of 62 combined. The only drawback for this model is the towing rate as it can only tow 300kg. This brings me neatly onto the topic of the facelifted E Class which debuted in 2012 and benefitted with new LED adaptive headlights, updated front bumper, grill and bonnet along with other subtle cosmetic tweaks and alleged cost Mercedes 1 billion euros in design and development. The facelift brought the E Class into line with other newer models within the Mercedes range and brought to an end the dual headlight setups. The interior also received mini tweaks but otherwise remained unchanged from the preface lift. I personally prefer the facelift W212 but my only criticism is the lacking of the raised 3 pointed star on the bonnet, but I believe this can be easily fitted for those like me who would still want the raised star by replacing the flat Mercedes emblem on the bonnet. Driving the Mercedes W212 E Class The car I have on test a 2016 Night Edition saloon which is one of the last cars built and fitted with the 350 V6 diesel engine and nine-speed 9G-Tronic gearbox. Being a Night Edition this particular special edition is fitted with a black painted roof, door mirrors, and bumper inserts as well as having AMG styling including the front bumpers and wheels. This particular car also has the panoramic sunroof option, black leather interior, parking sensors with reversing camera, Bluetooth, satnav, dual zone climate control, xenon headlights, LED rear lights and a DAB radio. Climbing into the cabin the E Class is equipped with a generous helping of leather on the electric memory seats and door cards and joined by chrome handles, inserts, vents, switches, and a gorgeous chrome edges analogue clock set within the dash. As you’d expect the cabin is of very good quality with soft touch plastics and all switches set with the centre console. The cabin is also fitted with ambient lighting and aluminium dash inserts, but the crown jewel is a well-positioned multimedia screen which controls the DAB radio, Bluetooth, satnav and reverse camera which has all been previously mentioned. I found the seats very comfortable and easily adjusted with the electric functions which are found on the doors. Rear legroom and headroom are very generous too even for those who are 6ft. This excludes the coupe version where even at 5ft 8” my head touched the headlining. Legroom also is a problem on the coupe for those with long legs. The estate version can also have the added practicality of a rear-facing bench seat, which increases the seating capacity to seven. Turning the key the V6 settles to a smooth quiet idle and to set off the column shifter stalk is pressed down. This differs from the W211 as the automatic gearbox was controlled via a lever between the seats or with the paddle shifter behind the steering wheel on sport models. On the open road, the 350 V6 engine and auto gearbox are very refined, the engine being smooth under acceleration and changed effortlessly by the gearbox. It’s also worth noting that the 9-speed box differs very little from the 7 speed which is also offered on certain W212 models. The benefit of the 9 speed include, ever so slightly smoother gear changes and the extra gears help with economy but the only niggle we found was that it would have a tendency to change more often. But I must stress that we are nit-picking really and it is a superb gearbox. I drove the E Class in a mixture of town, country and motorway driving and the V6 diesel achieved between 25-32mpg but I feel this could be increased on very long journeys. Other areas of the driving experience were great too, the steering was light yet responsive and was supported by a sublime suspension set up which ironed out most bumps in the road. Air suspension is an optional extra on the W212 for the rear but I found the coils and dampers are this car gave a ride that felt no real difference compared to the air suspension. If anything its better as it’s less to go wrong, as the air suspension on any car can become notoriously tricky to repair if it breaks. However, in terms of reliability, I feel that the W212 E Class a further improvement on the previous model both in refinement and build quality and to prove Mercedes trust in this model the body shell has a 30-year perforation guarantee which is one of the longest warranties on the market today. Hopefully, Mercedes have finally managed to banish the rust demons of the 1990s, that dogged the company and affected its reputation. But thankfully they have managed to rebound from the dark days and offer products which exceed that of the infamous W124 series. The Motorists Guide View Overall I found the W212 E Class one of the best cars I have tested for AutoEvoke and couldn’t fault it in any area. I found the build quality superb with no rattles or squeaks and the driving characteristics wonderfully balanced, compliant and comfortable. Would I own one? I’d say yes, without a shadow of a doubt and I feel that Mercedes are finally back on form with dependable and robust large luxury cars. Dimensions Length: 4879mm (saloon) Width: 2071mm (including wing mirrors) Height: 1474mm (saloon)
  14. 322 miles in one day. Steve travelled to Las Vegas to take a 2018 Ford Mustang convertible on a short road trip through too glorious states. Las Vegas – a city synonymous for gambling, partying and generally a play ground for the rich and famous. However, what if you want a change from the hustle and bustle of the city and see more of what the silver state has to offer? The answer is to hire a car and I have devised a perfect road trip which allows you enjoy some of the amazing scenery, ghost towns, mining towns and route 66 which all helped make the states of Nevada and Arizona both famous and rich. Below is a picture of the planned route. Tips for driving in Nevada & Arizona · You can turn right onto a road even if your traffic light sequence is on red if it is safe to do so. · We would recommend obeying the speed limits as he had been warned we would see lots of Police cars. We only saw four marked Police vehicles but there were probably plenty of unmarked cars we didn’t see! · Plan your route as phone signal can be limited in certain remote locations. · Fuel stations can be limited when you’re out in the desert and as such we would recommend not letting the fuel tank fall below the ¼ tank mark. · Always where your seatbelt whilst driving · Never pass a school bus with the stop sign out. · Never use your mobile phone whilst driving except through a hands free device. · Children 6 years or younger are required to have a child restraint system. · Do not drink and drive. Speed limits 15mph - School Zones 25mph - residential areas 45mph - Areas going into towns 65mph - Urban freeways, rural highways 70mph - Rural interstate freeways Our recommendations · Don’t stop at fort Mohave unless you require a break · Do visit the Hoover Dam · Consider visiting Chloride ghost town (off route 93) · Take plenty of pictures Have fun! Starting location Most of the car rental companies are situated near to the McCarran Airport, which are a short taxi ride from most of the hotels situated near to the strip and cost approximately $20 for a ride there or back. To get the best deals on hire cars my advice is to book as early as possible and pay in full at the time of booking. Besides getting a cheaper price this also allows you to splash out on a nicer vehicle is desired. For example a similar Ford Mustang to the one I have on test would cost you £111 from Alamo if booked months in advance, whereas on the day it would have cost you more than double the price. The rental charge is for a full 24 hours from the time of booking and we’d recommend collecting your car at around 7am. This sounds early, but believe me the trip is worth it. Rental car location address: McCarran Airport Rental Car Return, 7231 Gilespie St, Las Vegas, NV 89119, USA Red Rock Canyon The first point of interest on our road trip is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area and features a 12 mile drive around beautiful scenery. Leaving the rental car lot its approximately a 30 minute drive to Red Rock Canyon along Route 215 & 159. Arriving at red Rock there is a toll booth where you pay the $15 vehicle fee to drive around the site. You will not be disappointed in spending the $15 as the views are breath taking and the following pictures do not do the area justice. Red Rock address: Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center, 1000 Scenic Loop Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89161, USA Nelson ghost town After leaving red rock Canyon you have to back track yourself along route 215 and subsequently join the freeway, which becomes route 95 that takes you directly out of Las Vegas and into the wonderful Nevada desert. You need to keep an eye out though for the left turn for route 165 which takes you directly to Nelson. However there are two parts of Nelson, the first part that will come into view is the more modern buildings. Don’t stop here, instead carry on around the corner and you’ll be met by the rustic mining town. Once you’ve parked the car, head over to the visitor centre to check in and be given relevant safety information but to be fair your main danger is rattle snakes. The owners of the ghost town are lovely and they kindly ask if you’re going to take lots of pictures to pay a measly $10. The visitor centre does have cold drinks for sale in the freezer, but be warned you might get a surprise, as the carcases of the rattle snake caught in that year are kept in there! Nelson is lovingly preserved and you cannot be impressed by the town’s charm. From Red Rock Canyon, Nelson is an hour’s drive and approximately 60miles . Nelson address: Nelson, NV 89046, USA Colorado River As you leave Nelson turn right out of the carpark to head through the Eldorado Canyon and drive the 5 miles approx to the majestic Colorado River. You’ll find the road is a dead end but offers great views of the surrounding area. Oatman Arizona Leaving the Colorado River you head back along the 165 and re-join the 95 to head towards Arizona. On our trip we stopped at the town Fort Mohave which was 1 hour 35 minutes from Nelson but other than getting a bite to eat we didn’t find anything else of note at the town. Therefore we’d recommend driving straight through the town to another famous ghost town – Oatman. To get to Oatman you have to come off route 95 and take route 163 through the Mesquite creek to reach the town. On the way you’ll go through, yet more stunning scenery in the Mojave Desert. As you get nearer to Oatman you’ll discover that you have come onto the world famous Route 66 which not only passes through Oatman but will take you to our next destination as well. Oatman is another well preserved ghost town with plenty of shops, bar and hotel. There’s also a small mine you can enter as well as a jail and museum which were both closed on our visit. It’s worth noting that if you intend to visit the town on a weekend, they often do wild west style shoot outs on the main road. Another curiosity for the town are the semi wild Burros that roam the streets. These donkey like creatures were once domesticated in the twos boom years but as they escaped from their owners throughout the decades the breed became more wild. But it has to be said they love to be fed and fussed over! Kingman Arizona Leaving Oatman, you continue along the historic Route 66 for just under an hour to arrive at the town of Kingman. However before I discuss Kingman I want to talk about the fantastic drive to the town via the world’s most famous highway. The drive between Oatman and Kingman is breath-taking but can alos be dangerous if you chose to drive irresponsibly. The stretch of 66 we were on had shear drops, uneven surfaces at the edge of the highway and tight turns. It is truly an amazing experience but as already mentioned it would not suffer fools. On arriving at Kingman there is a fantastic traditional diner where food and drink is served with enthusiasm. The staff were friendly and genuinely interested in talking to us both about our trip but also about the UK. Next to the diner was a second-hand car lot which sold muscle cars and hotrods which stood out. I definitely wanted one or two! Unfortunately because we had arrived at Kingman at 9pm not a lot of places were open and couldn’t get a full flavour of what the town had to offer. After we were finished at the diner we picked up route 93 and headed back towards Las Vegas with a plan to visit the Hoover Dam before it closed at 9pm. unfortunately we arrived 15 minutes late and thus couldn’t visit the Dam. After this setback we decided to return the car to the rental company and which concluded our road trip. The Motorists Guide View: Thanks for reading our Nevada & Arizona road trip, we hope we have inspired you to complete a US road trip of your own and we can assure you that you won't be disappointed! Have you done a road trip that you think we should consider doing? Then don’t hesitate to contact us! Read the Ford Mustang review here
  15. 322 miles in one day. Steve travelled to Las Vegas to take a 2018 Ford Mustang convertible on a short road trip through too glorious states. Las Vegas – a city synonymous for gambling, partying and generally a play ground for the rich and famous. However, what if you want a change from the hustle and bustle of the city and see more of what the silver state has to offer? The answer is to hire a car and I have devised a perfect road trip which allows you enjoy some of the amazing scenery, ghost towns, mining towns and route 66 which all helped make the states of Nevada and Arizona both famous and rich. Below is a picture of the planned route. Tips for driving in Nevada & Arizona · You can turn right onto a road even if your traffic light sequence is on red if it is safe to do so. · We would recommend obeying the speed limits as he had been warned we would see lots of Police cars. We only saw four marked Police vehicles but there were probably plenty of unmarked cars we didn’t see! · Plan your route as phone signal can be limited in certain remote locations. · Fuel stations can be limited when you’re out in the desert and as such we would recommend not letting the fuel tank fall below the ¼ tank mark. · Always where your seatbelt whilst driving · Never pass a school bus with the stop sign out. · Never use your mobile phone whilst driving except through a hands free device. · Children 6 years or younger are required to have a child restraint system. · Do not drink and drive. Speed limits 15mph - School Zones 25mph - residential areas 45mph - Areas going into towns 65mph - Urban freeways, rural highways 70mph - Rural interstate freeways Our recommendations · Don’t stop at fort Mohave unless you require a break · Do visit the Hoover Dam · Consider visiting Chloride ghost town (off route 93) · Take plenty of pictures Have fun! Starting location Most of the car rental companies are situated near to the McCarran Airport, which are a short taxi ride from most of the hotels situated near to the strip and cost approximately $20 for a ride there or back. To get the best deals on hire cars my advice is to book as early as possible and pay in full at the time of booking. Besides getting a cheaper price this also allows you to splash out on a nicer vehicle is desired. For example a similar Ford Mustang to the one I have on test would cost you £111 from Alamo if booked months in advance, whereas on the day it would have cost you more than double the price. The rental charge is for a full 24 hours from the time of booking and we’d recommend collecting your car at around 7am. This sounds early, but believe me the trip is worth it. Rental car location address: McCarran Airport Rental Car Return, 7231 Gilespie St, Las Vegas, NV 89119, USA Red Rock Canyon The first point of interest on our road trip is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area and features a 12 mile drive around beautiful scenery. Leaving the rental car lot its approximately a 30 minute drive to Red Rock Canyon along Route 215 & 159. Arriving at red Rock there is a toll booth where you pay the $15 vehicle fee to drive around the site. You will not be disappointed in spending the $15 as the views are breath taking and the following pictures do not do the area justice. Red Rock address: Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center, 1000 Scenic Loop Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89161, USA Nelson ghost town After leaving red rock Canyon you have to back track yourself along route 215 and subsequently join the freeway, which becomes route 95 that takes you directly out of Las Vegas and into the wonderful Nevada desert. You need to keep an eye out though for the left turn for route 165 which takes you directly to Nelson. However there are two parts of Nelson, the first part that will come into view is the more modern buildings. Don’t stop here, instead carry on around the corner and you’ll be met by the rustic mining town. Once you’ve parked the car, head over to the visitor centre to check in and be given relevant safety information but to be fair your main danger is rattle snakes. The owners of the ghost town are lovely and they kindly ask if you’re going to take lots of pictures to pay a measly $10. The visitor centre does have cold drinks for sale in the freezer, but be warned you might get a surprise, as the carcases of the rattle snake caught in that year are kept in there! Nelson is lovingly preserved and you cannot be impressed by the town’s charm. From Red Rock Canyon, Nelson is an hour’s drive and approximately 60miles . Nelson address: Nelson, NV 89046, USA Colorado River As you leave Nelson turn right out of the carpark to head through the Eldorado Canyon and drive the 5 miles approx to the majestic Colorado River. You’ll find the road is a dead end but offers great views of the surrounding area. Oatman Arizona Leaving the Colorado River you head back along the 165 and re-join the 95 to head towards Arizona. On our trip we stopped at the town Fort Mohave which was 1 hour 35 minutes from Nelson but other than getting a bite to eat we didn’t find anything else of note at the town. Therefore we’d recommend driving straight through the town to another famous ghost town – Oatman. To get to Oatman you have to come off route 95 and take route 163 through the Mesquite creek to reach the town. On the way you’ll go through, yet more stunning scenery in the Mojave Desert. As you get nearer to Oatman you’ll discover that you have come onto the world famous Route 66 which not only passes through Oatman but will take you to our next destination as well. Oatman is another well preserved ghost town with plenty of shops, bar and hotel. There’s also a small mine you can enter as well as a jail and museum which were both closed on our visit. It’s worth noting that if you intend to visit the town on a weekend, they often do wild west style shoot outs on the main road. Another curiosity for the town are the semi wild Burros that roam the streets. These donkey like creatures were once domesticated in the twos boom years but as they escaped from their owners throughout the decades the breed became more wild. But it has to be said they love to be fed and fussed over! Kingman Arizona Leaving Oatman, you continue along the historic Route 66 for just under an hour to arrive at the town of Kingman. However before I discuss Kingman I want to talk about the fantastic drive to the town via the world’s most famous highway. The drive between Oatman and Kingman is breath-taking but can alos be dangerous if you chose to drive irresponsibly. The stretch of 66 we were on had shear drops, uneven surfaces at the edge of the highway and tight turns. It is truly an amazing experience but as already mentioned it would not suffer fools. On arriving at Kingman there is a fantastic traditional diner where food and drink is served with enthusiasm. The staff were friendly and genuinely interested in talking to us both about our trip but also about the UK. Next to the diner was a second-hand car lot which sold muscle cars and hotrods which stood out. I definitely wanted one or two! Unfortunately because we had arrived at Kingman at 9pm not a lot of places were open and couldn’t get a full flavour of what the town had to offer. After we were finished at the diner we picked up route 93 and headed back towards Las Vegas with a plan to visit the Hoover Dam before it closed at 9pm. unfortunately we arrived 15 minutes late and thus couldn’t visit the Dam. After this setback we decided to return the car to the rental company and which concluded our road trip. The Motorists Guide View: Thanks for reading our Nevada & Arizona road trip, we hope we have inspired you to complete a US road trip of your own and we can assure you that you won't be disappointed! Have you done a road trip that you think we should consider doing? Then don’t hesitate to contact us!
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