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  1. 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 turbo 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
  2. 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)
  3. The Ford Mustang – an American icon but does the 2018 model make a viable purchase? Steve went to Las Vegas to find out. I start this car review in an unusual fashion, as I have a confession to make. When I landed at the Las Vegas McCarran airport I was expecting to be driving away in the 5.0 V8 version of the Mustang, however, due to a mix up I, in fact, ended up with a turbocharged four-cylinder 2.3 Ecoboost version with the automatic gearbox. However, I must stress that the Ecoboost engine isn’t lacking in performance as it produced 313bhp and 319 of torque. Unperturbed I felt this to be more fitting to our UK readers where the Ecoboost engine makes more financial sense, both in purchase cost and running cost. Walking up to the Mustang it cannot be denied that it has road presence, especially in the eye-popping race red which looked stunning and seemed fitting for this American legend. Since the turn of the millennium, various car manufacturers have tried to mimic their retro-inspired designs of yesteryear with varying success. The Volkswagen Beetle and the Chrysler PT Cruiser immediately spring to mind but even Ford followed suit with the previous Mustang version. However, with the current Mustang, I feel Ford got the look spot on. I liked the front end with its swooping vented bonnet which was nicely matched to the aggressive looking lights and large vents. The side profile was nice too with bulging arches and topped off with a classic Mustang-derived rear end with signature rear light clusters. My only criticism is if found was with the alloy wheels which didn’t fill the arches enough but do give the Mustang a nice ride. Opening the door you are welcomed to mustang horse puddle lights and illuminated Mustang sill plates which invite you to slide into the black leather bucket seat. I found the interior welcoming and well presented with the dials clear and nicely positioned in the instrument cluster. The seat was both comfortable and supportive which would become crucial on the long drive that lay ahead. I also found the seating and steering wheel controls easily adjusted as well as finding the other switches well positioned. However I felt the aircon switches could have been better presented, but this could be more due to my poor eyesight rather than a fault with the design! The interior felt well built with a mixture of plastics used and certainly felt no different to interiors of vehicles found in Europe. It cannot be denied that the Mustang is well equipped and even in this entry-level version you get keyless ignition, DAB radio, Bluetooth technology, and reverse camera as standard. After I located the engine start button I then found the second most important button (in my opinion) on the convertible, the roof switches. Ford has made this an effortless affair by having both a twist handle to unlock/lock the roof into place, and then a button to raise and lower the fabric roof which glides neatly behind the rear seats. Pressing the start button the engine bursts into life and settles to a nice burble but I do admit I missed the V8 soundtrack. Driving in traffic was a doddle, with a good amount of torque to help you pull away at traffic lights and visibility was good on the whole with the roof either up or down. The exception I found to be the door mirrors which I felt were designed more for form rather than function. Moving onto the freeway I found the Ecoboost engine very refined and gave a nice engine note when accelerating but settled down and quiet when cruising. I found the automatic gearbox adequate but some changes were jerky which hampered the experience slightly. As you’d expect there was a lot of wind noise when going over 70mph with the roof down but I didn’t find the wind to be an issue. I was very impressed with how the roof reduced wind noise when up, and found it wasn’t far off what you’d find with a solid roof. There were no squeaks or rattles to note either which certainly impressed me, especially as convertibles can suffer from scuttle shake caused by uneven road surfaces or under acceleration as the chassis flexes. One key concern for UK buyers will be fuel economy, but I found the Mustang on par with vehicles of a similar size and engine setup as I was averaging 22-24mpg but bare in mind this is American gallon, not European gallon. Turning off the Freeway and driving onto the historic Route 66 your thoughts of fuel economy quickly disappear as you’re presented with stunning scenery and various twists and turns. On the bends, the Mustang handles very well, with limited body roll and feels planted to the road, but you soon appreciate the width of the car which will make the car interesting on UK roads. The good handling is matched with sharp brakes which were certainly ideal when we were met with a burro in the middle of the road just outside the Arizona town of Oatman. Heading towards Kingman and with the night closing in the Mustangs automatic headlights kicked in and gave great illumination. Furthermore, the cold set in and as such the roof was put up and heater activated. I found the heater warmed the cabin very efficiently which is aided by having dual climate control. After stopping for a coffee break in Kingman we headed for our return journey back to Las Vegas which the Mustang completed effortlessly. The Motorists Guide view Overall I found the Mustang a joy to drive and despite covering 600 miles in it I didn’t feel tired or uncomfortable afterward. I found it to be well put together as well as being nicely appointed. However, no car is perfect and the Mustang isn’t without issues such as the occasionally jerky automatic gearbox and small wing mirrors to name a couple. If you are in the market for a convertible sports car then I would recommend you consider the Mustang due to its value for money in comparison to its competitors and you’ll certainly exclusivity on UK roads.
  4. Steve gets behind the wheel of a 3rd generation E class to see whether it is a used car gem. The Mercedes W211 E class was launched in 2002 to replace the notoriously rust prone W210 model. There was a lot riding on this new E class and most importantly Mercedes reputation, due to build quality issues affecting various models of Mercedes both in the late 1990s and into the start of the 21st century. This new model E Class was only available in two body styles, either saloon or estate and three spec levels were offered on release which were; Classic, Elegance and Advantgarde. Even the entry level Classic spec was well equipped and benefited from climate air conditioning, cruise control, alloy wheels, heated washer jets and rain sensing wipers. The Elegence trim added interior touches such as wood trim, leather trimmed steering wheel/gear knob and the top spec Advantgade benefited from part leather trim, Xenon headlights, LED rear lights and specific five spoke alloy wheels. Various engine options were available including a good array of diesel engines which reflected the market at the time, as diesels were in favour with buyers and the government. The options were; 220CDI, 270CDI (prefaclift only), 280CDI and 320CDI in diesel form. On the other hand petrol buyers weren’t forgotten about as the E Class was available as a 200, 320 (V6) or a 500 (V8) which was fitted to the AMG and later replaced by the E63 at the end of production. The key to a long engine life for any Mercedes is regular maintenance and this should help reduce some issues. One key issue on CDI engines are injector seal failure and this can be sotted by a rough running engine and a fuel smell in the cabin. As you would expect it is not cheap to repair and you’ll be looking roughly up to £500. Also bearings for the super chargers pulley can fail especially on cars that have covered more than 100,000 miles. Due to the age of most W211 cars, most will have covered more than 100k so it’s worth checking the service history for this work being carried out. Unfortunately the early cars weren’t without faults, but compared to the previous rusty W210 the W211 suffered from electrical and mechanical gremlins. The most important electrical issue to watch out for on early cars, those built up to 2005 are faults with the Sensotronic Brake Control (SBC) system. The SBC system was designed to be a form of anti-skid control and was able to make adjustments to brake pressure to help keep the car more stable under braking. However the system has been known to fail and even Mercedes replaced the SBC units when the cars were within warranty. Due to the amount of customer complaints/system issues Mercedes reverted to a hydraulic system for the facelift model. In addition, one key issue with early E class models is with the radiator which has been known to leak into the gearbox oil cooler. This ultimately jams the torque converter and can result in an expensive bill but only affects models built up to 2003 and fitted with a Valeo radiator. Mercedes facelifted the E class for the 2006 model year and thankfully this rectified a lot of the early faults and around 2000 improvements were made, including to the performance and handling. The facelift was graced with new headlights, grill and bumper which helped improve the styling. For the facelift a sport spec was also added which was fitted with 18” wheels, cornering lights, stiffer suspension, gear shift paddles and cost £1,470 as an optional extra on the estate and a whopping £3,570 on the saloon. As you would expect safety wasn’t neglected either and the facelifted E Class was fitted with a tyre pressure monitoring system as well as adaptive braking system which flash the brake lights to warn cars behind of sudden braking. If the car behind still fails to stop the E Class is fitted with PRE SAFE occupant protection and neck pro head restraints which both prepare the occupants and vehicle for an imminent impact. Driving the W211 Mercedes E Class The car I have on test is a facelift 2006 280CDI estate model with the optional extra sport trim which has covered 133,000 miles. Sliding into the comfy leather seat it is clear to see that this model of E Class differs greatly from its boxy predecessors. The cabin is light and airy as well as having a dash that curves and gives the E Class a modern, yet sophisticated look and is very well laid out. The front seats are easily adjusted thanks to the electric adjustment and memory feature as well as being heated which is ideal for the up and coming winter. This is also supported with the reach and rake adjusted from the leather steering wheel. Turning the key and the V6 diesel engine fires and quickly settles to a smooth idle. Engaging drive and pulling away it is clear that the V6 diesel has brisk acceleration which is further helped from the 7 speed GTRONIC gearbox, both of which present no drama. The W211 E Class was highly praised for its handling characteristics, with great body control/neutral handling and this particular car is no exception. The ride is very compliant and absorbs bumps well, which is impressive as the sport model has the stiffer suspension but is supported with self-levelling Airmatic air suspension on the rear. Furthermore the steering is precise and gives the driver confidence to push the car into the corners. As you’d expect the braking system is more than adequate to stop this autobahn stormer, and can bring the car to a stop in half the distance of the Highway Codes distances which is impressive for a car of this size and weight. On examining the cabin it is clear that the interior is built well and very electrical item was working and the interior was showing no real signs of wear, other than on the driver seat bolster. There is a generous amount of leg and head room for rear passengers as well as having a carnivorous boot which can also be fitted with optional extra rear facing seats. The Motorists Guide View The W211 E Class was a very expensive car when new but now they can be obtained for as little as £1500 and are exceptional value for money. But be warned there will be a lot of cheap E class cars out there which are suffering from mechanical or electrical issues, and as such a comprehensive service history is a must. Cars that are in good, cared for condition will provide fantastic family transport as well as providing good levels of comfort, equipment and safety and it is a car I would strongly recommend. Dimensions Saloon Length: 4,818mm (15ft 10in) Width: 1,822mm (6ft 0in) Height: 1,452mm (4ft 9in) Luggage capacity: 540 litres (rear seats up) Estate Length: 4,850mm (16’ 0”) Width: 1,822mm (6’ 0”) Height: 1,495mm (4’ 11”) Luggage capacity: (rear seats up): 690 litres. Luggage capacity: (rear seats down): 1,950 litres. Kerb weight: 1,785kg – 1,885kg
  5. Steve Q

    Age defying Volkswagens

    Steve looks through five Volkswagens that lasted longer in production than you might think! VW Beetle The last Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the assembly line in Wolfsburg-German in 1978 for the hard top and 1980 for the Karman cabriolet; however that wasn’t the end of the story. Production continued in South America where there was still high demand for cheap, simple transportation at assembly plants both in Mexico and Brazil. Despite the introduction of the Golf, Beetles were still being officially imported from Mexico by Volkswagen Germany well into the1980s. Personal imports continued in small numbers, until two professional car import companies started importing larger quantities of Mexican Beetles from 1996 right up to the end of production in 2003. The Mexican Beetles were based on the late 70s body and chassis, similar to that of the 1200 but fitted with a 1600cc fuel injected engine producing 90bhp and catalytic converter. The Mexican Beetles also benefited from an electric washer bottle as opposed the vacuum system as found on the 1970s versions, as well as front disc brakes as standard. Besides these alterations the Beetle remained relatively unchanged, keeping the same suspension setup and four speed manual gearbox as found on the older versions. UK importers were generous with options lists which included right hand drive conversions, folding sunroofs, CD players and even heated windscreens. Even with the novelty factor the Mexican Beetle remains a rare sight on UK roads. Ultima Edicion Beetle VW Transporter bay window Just like the Beetle, South America was in high demand of the bay window transporter due to its versatility where both van and minibus versions were produced in Volkswagens Brazilian plant. The name was changed to kombi but the same 1970s design soldiered on with an air-cooled engine, until 2006 when new emissions rules were brought into force in Brazil. To prolong the life of the Kombi Volkswagen Brazil fitted it with a 1200cc water cooled engine which could also be found in the Fox, this not only reduced emissions but it meant the old designed gained a front radiator grill. Professional importers started bringing the kombi into the UK at the start of the Millennium, where buyers could select from a variety of interior and colour options, but more importantly allowed them to have the retro looks but within a brand new vehicle. Unfortunately progress left the Kombi behind, thanks to safety legislation production ceased in 2013. Last Edition Kombi VW golf Mk1 The first generation Golf was launched in 1974 as a direct replacement to the much loved Volkswagen Beetle. For buyers the golf was a vast improvement over the beetle, as it was available as a five door hatchback or two door cabriolet as well as having more powerful water cooled engines. Just like the Beetle the Golf developed a loyal following, and the model built on Volkswagens reputation for providing reliable family transport. The sporty Golf GTI was launched in 1975 which marked the introduction of the “hot hatch” and became a benchmark for other manufactures to follow due to its practicality and fun driving characteristics. The Mk1 Golf ceased production in Europe in 1983 for the hard top, but the cabriolet remained in production for another decade and final bowed out in 1993. However that was not the end of the story, because as we’ve seen previously in this article certain countries still required cheap and economical transportation. The Golf Mk1 continued to be produced in Africa until 2009 but was renamed Citi Golf so as to differentiate itself from the later model Golfs. The Citi Golf was available with either a 1.4, or 1.6 fuel injected engine and was available in four trim levels; CitiRox, CitiSport, TenaCiti and CitiStorm. 2003 Citi Golf VW Jetta Mk2 The Mk2 Jetta was noticeably longer, wider and taller than the previous model and was available in three and five door saloon. The second generation Jetta was released in 1984 and immediately became a sales success in America, where it outsold the Golf and even achieved bestselling European car of the year in America in 1991. In the same year the Jetta was introduced into the Chinese market in complete knock down (CKD) form, but this later changed in 1995 when China started their own production using locally sourced components. The Jetta was the first Volkswagen to be released in China but due to Volkswagens strong reputation the Jetta has become a popular choice for taxi drivers in China even despite the Mk2 Jetta production ending in 2013. VW Golf Mk4 The fourth generation Golf was introduced to the UK in mid-1998 to replace the aging mk3 model and was available in 3 or 5 door hatchback, estate or cabriolet even though the latter was just a facelifted Mk3 Golf convertible which naturally confused buyers. The Mk4 Golf brought with it various improvements over the outgoing model as it was both longer and wider than the previous model as well as being taller which all improved the cabin space. In early 2004 the Golf Mk4 was replaced by the fifth generation in continental Europe, but it continued to be sold as the Golf City in Canada and in South America until 2010. The Golf City was facelifted in 2007 and was available with either a 2.0 115hp petrol engine or a TDI engine, and sold well due to being competitively priced at $15,300 Canadian dollars. In south America the Golf City was available in either a 1.6, 1.8 or 2.0 petrol engine and was available in two trim levels.
  6. The start of the millennium is shockingly 18 years ago now, and since those wild parties and concerns over computer meltdowns, various special run of the mill cars were born. Steve runs through 12 cars in no particular order introduced in the Noughties (2000-2009) which he feels could become classics. Renault Avantime The word Avantime translated from French means “ahead time” and which was a perfect name for this Renault which was crossed between an MPV and coupe. It certainly was ahead of its time, and one I feel if released tomorrow in the growing MPV market it would sell well. It was fitted with either a 2.0 or 3.0 petrol engine and featured a panoramic roof and futuristic rear lights all wrapped up in a luxurious cabin. Alas, it was not to be and the Avantime had a poor sales record in the UK. However, this means that it is guaranteed to become a future classic due to its rarity and exclusivity. Ford Focus RS The Mk1 Focus RS was the first Ford hot hatch from Ford since the immortal Escort Cosworth and as such had big shoes to fill. However, thanks to Colin Mcrae at the wheel the Focus RS proved itself to be a very capable rally car and as such developed a loyal following. The Focus RS had a low volume production run where 4,500 were made for the European market, of which just under half ended up on UK roads. The Focus RS was powered by a 4 cylinder turbocharged engine producing approximately 212bhp and as such could easily give its competitors a run for their money. Just like other cars on this list I feel the Focus RS is a guaranteed future classic due to its rarity but more importantly due to its motorsport pedigree. Volkswagen Golf Mk5 GTI The Golf Mk5 GTI aimed to build on the Golfs dependability as a family car but aimed to inject some excitement back into the GTI name which some buyers of the previous models had been missing in both the Mk3 and Mk4 GTI. To do this Volkswagen gave the Mk5 GTI a hot 2.0 petrol engine, combined with a touch of retro flair with a tartan interior and Golf ball gearknob. Overall the changes made the Mk5 GTI very appealing to buyers and I sure will help in making it a future classic. BMW Mini R50/R52/R53 The BMW New Mini was released in 2001 just as the classic Mini production ended. This was a sad and exciting time for Mini fans, but also a bold move by BMW which cannot be denied has been a complete success. The Mini owes this to its design cues taken from the classic mini such as the grill and headlights, as well as the large round speedometer and classic style switchgear. The new Mini wasn’t all show and no go either, as its sporty yet classic looks were backed up by great handling thanks to a wheel at each corner and a great selection of engines. Citroen C6 The C6 was Citroen's flagship model aimed at competing with the likes of the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series or Mercedes E class. However, the C6 wasn’t as conservative as its German rivals due to the body style such as the concave rear window, the roof angle, hydropneumatic suspension and unusual interior design. Unfortunately, the C6 wasn’t a big seller compared to its rivals and as such it makes it a rarity today. But I feel just like its predecessors of the BX and CX the C6 will become a future classic. Jaguar XK The second generation Jaguar XK appeared in 2006 and had a hard act to follow in light of the success of the first generation and just like its predecessor the XK was available in coupe and convertible form. Thankfully Jaguar managed to succeed in releasing another exquisite designed sports car, however, some of the general public felt the car had copied Aston Martin in some of the body lines. This isn’t as daft as it sounds, as the same designer had been used for the creation of the Aston Martin Vanquish and the XK. The stunning design was also mated to a supercharged V8 as well as having a lovely interior. Renault Clio 172/182 The Mk2 Clio range gained the first sporty model at the start of the 21st Century and kicked off with the 172. This later developed into a facelifted version which included Xenon headlights, rain sensing wipers, more airbags, 6 cd player and climate air-conditioning. The final phase of the 172 was the Cup version which was a lightweight version of the 172 and naturally wasn’t fitted with any of the extras of the facelift model except for subtle body modifications. In 2004 the 172 made way for the 182 which gained slight cosmetic tweaks and increased performance. Just like the 172, the 182 also had a lightweight Cup version but then gained the Trophy spec which was a limited production run of 550 cars and was fitted with upgraded Sach shocks. I feel this Renault pocket rocket is sure to be a classic, with the 172 Exclusive model (172 units made) and 182 Trophy commanding the most money if kept in original condition. Honda S2000 The S2000 was yet another car to be released at the turn of the century and released in the year of the Millennium. The S2000 became synonymous as a true drivers car thanks to a 1997cc four-cylinder VTEC engine which could reach a staggering 9000rpm as well as appearing in the second Fast and furious film, 2 Fast 2 Furious. It also benefitted from a 50:50 weight distribution and double wishbone suspension which meant that it had great handling to match the performance. The most sort after models ar the GT Edition (UK)/Ultimate Edition (Continental Europe) which symbolised the end of production in 2009 and were limited to 200 cars. 100 GT Edition/100 Ultimate Editions which were finished in white with red leather interior, grey wheels and came with the additional hard top. Mazda RX8 Launched in 2003 the RX8 was a clever design, not only did the coupe style body hide four doors the engine too was something special. All RX8 models were fitted with a 1.3 Wankel rotary engine which were available in power from 180bhp up to 231bhp. The RX8 benefitted from sports car-like handling and performance but had all the advantages of a normal family hatchback. However, reliability issues affected the model due to engine lobe wear and engines requiring a rebuild at no less than 80,000 miles. I feel the RX8 is a guaranteed future classic due to its rarity and unusual design. MG ZT The MG ZT and its sister the Rover 75 were the last big MG Rover cars to be built at Longbridge, but had been designed by BMW and were available in either saloon or estate. The MG ZT was powered by a 120bhp 1.8 K series engine, 160bhp/180bhp 2.5 V6 engine or a Ford Mustang 4.6 litre V8 and available with either a manual or automatic gearbox. The rarest versions were fitted with the options such as the X pack which increased power or pearlescent paint. But the V8 versions are coveted by enthusiasts as they are rear wheel drive as opposed to the other models which are front wheel drive and had a chassis setup developed by Prodrive. Vauxhall Monaro The Vauxhall Monaro will look very familiar to our Australian or American readers, as the Monaro was badged as a Holden Monaro in Australia and a Pontiac GTO in America respectively. Released in 2004 to the UK market the Monaro was relatively unchanged from its Holden sister, and fitted with the 5.7 small block gen 3 V8 for the first generation model or a 6.0 litre V8 as fitted to the second generation which also benefited from cosmetic changes. The Monaro was a rare car in the UK even when new which will only help with its future values and well worth considering if you want a proper V8 powered right-hand drive muscle car. Alfa Romeo Brera The final car on this list and by no means the least is the Alfa Romeo Brera which was launched in 2005 as a replacement for the aging GTV and based on the Alfa 159 platform. The Brera was available in four trim levels; Medium, Sky view, Turismo Internazionale and Brera S the latter was only available in the UK and featured improved handling which was helped by tuning company Prodrive. The Brera was available with a 2.2 four-cylinder petrol, 3.2 v6 petrol engine or a 2.4 diesel. Total production figures for the Brera exceeded 21,000 but despite this, the Brera was not a common sight on British roads even when new and as such will help make it a future classic.
  7. It’s now 20 years since the first Golf Mk4 was registered in the UK, and to mark the occasion Steve reviews whether or not the fourth generation Golf could be considered a future classic? The fourth generation Golf was introduced to the UK in mid-1998 to replace the aging mk3 model and was available in 3 or 5 door hatchback, estate or cabriolet even though the latter was just a facelifted Mk3 Golf convertible which naturally confused buyers. The Mk4 Golf brought with it various improvements over the outgoing model as it was both longer and wider than the previous model as well as being taller which all improved the cabin space. One key improvement over the mk3 variant was the fact the mk4 Golf body shell was galvanised to prevent against rust and backed up with a 12 year perforation warranty. This was a big thing as the mk3 became notorious for rust, so much so it equally matched with the Ford Escort and Ford Ka on the amount of rust issues that developed. Another major advantage of the Mk4 Golf was that it achieved 4* on the Euro NCAP crash tests which was due to the array of airbags installed which were fitted for the front driver, passenger and in the sides of the front seats. To further safety the golf was one of the first cars to be fitted with Isofix child seat restraint system which was developed in collaboration between Volkswagen and Britax. In addition, the Mk4 Golf was fitted with both anti-lock braking systems and Electronic Stability Program to further improve the safety of the vehicle. As previously mentioned the Golf was available in 3 door hatchback, 5 door hatchback, 5 door estate and cabriolet. The latter confused buyers, as unlike all the other models available in the golf range the cabriolet was just a facelifted mk3 Golf cabriolet. As such, it retained the Mk3 body shell and interior but gained the Mk4 front end and steering wheel. In the UK the Golf was available in various trim levels and catered for most budgets. These specifications include: E was the entry level Golf and was fitted with wind up windows, Beta tape cassette, split folding seats, wheel trims and height/reach adjustable steering wheel. Engine options included a 1.4 petrol producing 75bhp or a 1.9 diesel engine producing 68bhp. S had all the features of the E model but gained electric front windows, electric mirrors, sunroof and central locking. Engine options were the same as for the E model but buyers had the additional option of a 105bhp 1.6 petrol engine or 1.9TDI diesel which produced 90bhp and replaced the E models 68bhp unit. The S spec was also available with a 4 speed automatic gearbox as well as the manual. SE spec added quite a lot of features over the S spec, such as; electric windows front and rear, manual air conditioning, CD player with 8 speakers, multi-function computer, remote control alarm system and armrest built into the rear seat. The SE had the 1.6 petrol and 1.9tdi engines which were available on the S spec along with the option of manual or automatic gearbox. GTI is the spec level everyone remembers and one of the most common but is separated into two categories. The GTI spec got all the features of SE but added sports seats, leather trimmed steering wheel as well as having 15” alloy wheels and smoked rear lights. This version of GTI was offered with either a 2.0 115bhp petrol engine, 1.9tdi engine with 110bhp and fitted with a 5 speed manual gearbox or the 1.9tdi PD engine with 115bhp and fitted with a 6 speed manual gearbox. The latter was also known as the GT TDI. GTI 1.8T was a model in its own right as it boasted many extras above the standard GTI which included sports seats with built in lumbar support, leather trimmed steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake handle and 16” alloy wheels. It will come as no surprise that this model of GTI was offered only with a 1.8 turbo petrol engine which produced 150bhp and a 0-62mpg in 8.5 seconds. GTI Anniversary was launched to mark the 25th anniversary of the Golf GTI being on sale. It had all the features of the normal GTI 1.8T but gained a body kit, 18” alloy wheels, Recaro front seats, brushed aluminium golf ball gear knob, dash/door card inserts, sports pedals, red trimmed seatbelts plus special floor mats. Only 1800 Anniversary Golfs were produced, each having a numbered plate in the cabin. When new the price of a GTI Anniversary was £18,660 which was £2,075 more expensive over the normal GTI 1.8T. Picture below shows the GTI Anniversary model. V5 was the next level up in luxury and included great features such as climate air conditioning, 6 CD auto changer, rain sensing wipers, automatic dimming interior mirror and 16” alloy wheels. Predictably the V5 model was fitted with a V5 petrol engine which produced 170bhp. V6 4 motion was the top spec Golf (excluding the R32 which we won’t be covering in this article) and came with all the features of the V5 model but added Sat Nav, heated leather seats, chrome exhaust tips, wood dash and door card inserts and wood effect gear knob. This specification was equipped with a 204bhp v6 petrol engine and aided with 4 wheel drive. Below is a picture of the V6 4 motion. Please note we have not covered R32 models in this article as we feel it deserves an article in its own right. Driving the mk4 Golf The Golf I have on test is a 2001 five door GT TDI with the 1.9 115bhp PD diesel engine and fitted with the 6 speed manual gearbox which has covered 116,000 miles. Sliding into the black leather seats it’s clear that the interior is well laid out and the seat/steering wheel has good adjustment. Furthermore, despite the age of this Golf the interior has worn well the exception being the door pulls, ashtray cover and electric window plastic surrounds which have suffered from the common lacquer peel on the plastics. It is also apparent that all interior features work, such as the electric windows and air conditioning and shows the car has aged well. In addition, there is a good level of leg room for both front and rear passengers and the boot can hold 330 litres of luggage. Turning the key and the 1.9tdi engine bursts into life, with a gruff tone which is synonymous with these engines, but on pulling away it has more than enough grunt to cope with day to day activities. The 6 speed gearbox on this car is smooth and having the 6th gear does help quieten the engine on the motorway, as well as increasing the fuel economy but the clutch is slightly heavy compared to more modern vehicles. The ride on this particular Golf is good and it absorbs the bumps well, whilst precise steering makes the Golf a doddle to park and provides reassuring characteristics when on country roads. Road and wind noise is kept to a minimum, and the main noise noticeable is the engine. The brakes are also very good on this car, and brought the car to a stop in a safe and controlled manner. Moving onto a more awkward topic, the Golf Mk4 got a lot of complaints from owners with regard to electrical gremlins, turbo issues on diesel models and rust issues on the front wings. Speaking to the owners of this particular car it’s clear that the car hasn’t really suffered from any electrical problems other than with the remote central locking. Furthermore this Golf is now on its 3rd turbo, the first one giving up whilst the car was in warranty. With regard to the last issue, it’s obvious that this golf has been well cared for by its owner and has only started getting rust through on the passenger side front wing. The rust on the front wings was a common issue of VAG cars from this era, and was caused by the Volkswagen group installing foam inserts between the wing and wheel arch liner. Over time this foam absorbs water, and thus causes the wing to rust from the inside out. Its an issue that affects the Mk4 Golf, Bora, Passat, A4, A6 and certain Seat models. The Motorists Guide View: Despite the fourth generation Golf entering its 20th year on British Roads, I feel it’s a design that has aged well and well cared for examples will surely increase in value as time goes on. Furthermore the Mk4 Golf has had a lot of negative press but I feel it isn’t completely justified. Let’s face it, the more modern Golfs are suffering from the emissions scandal which this Golf can hold its head up high and claim to be one of the last trust worthy Volkswagen products. I feel the models which will be most desirable in the future include the V6 4 motion, V5 and GTI anniversary models. The latter, bringing exclusivity being a limited production run. If you are considering a Golf Mk4 my advice would be to try and find one with a full service history and try and buy unmodified examples as sporty Golfs in standard form will inevitably be worth more in the long term. Especially, when you compare it to the likes of the Mk1, Mk2 and even the Mk3 Golf GTi models. So will the Mk4 Golf become a future classic? Only time will tell, but just like the Mini, the VW Beetle, Citroen 2CV and Ford Escort the Golf is a clear favourite with the motoring public and is a cult car for sure. As sure I feel confident that the Mk4 Golf will become a classic, just not yet. Selection of VW Golf Mk4 For Sale on eBay - bag a bargain while you can! Dimensions Length: 4149mm Width: 1735mm Height: 1439mm Curb weight: 1238kg
  8. Steve Q

    Kia Niro

    Steve sets to find out whether Kia’s first attempt at a compact hybrid SUV is a good one, and whether you should consider purchasing one The word Niro is an interesting one because it is pronounced the same regardless if its spelt Niro or Nero. Why is this relevant to a car review I can hear you ask? Well the word Niro/Nero will mean different things to different people. For example coffee connoisseurs will think of the coffee shop, to Trekkies they’ll think of the baddy in the 2009 Star Trek franchise reboot film and for me I think of Kia’s new compact SUV. This also brings me nicely to my photo location which is the National Space Centre in Leicester, which I have chosen as a nod to the Trekkies but also as the Kia and the Space Centre have something in common – the focus on the future. The Kia Niro was shown as a concept car at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show and was subsequently released in 2017 and as previously mentioned is Kia’s first attempt at a hybrid SUV. The Niro is available with a 2wd 1.6 four cylinder petrol engine combined with a 1.56 kWh battery which together produce 139bhp and is mated to a 6 speed automatic gearbox. The MPG figures for the running gear is also impressive which is claimed up to 74.3mpg, and to reinforce the Niro’s fuel efficiency Kia currently holds the Guinness world records for the lowest fuel consumption of a hybrid vehicle, reaching 76.6mpg when a Niro travelled from Los Angeles to New York City. Like the rest of the Kia range the spec levels are measured on a numbered system which is as follows: 2 is the entry level trim but is still well spec’d and compromises of 16” wheels with plastic trims, chrome door handles, rear spoiler, privacy glass, automatic headlights, rain sensing wipers, cruise control, front fog lights, electric windows front and rear, steering wheel controls, automatic dimming rear view mirror, rear parking sensors with reversing camera, 7” touch screen which includes Sat Nav, Bluetooth, digital radio and Apple car play/android auto compatibility. OTR Price: £23,490 3 includes everything of spec 2 but adds 8” radio screen as opposed to 7”, front parking sensors, wireless phone charging, 8 speakers with subwoofer, heated steering wheel, 18” alloy wheels, black leather heated seats with lumbar support and electronically adjusted. OTR Price: £25,470 4 is the top spec model and includes everything from spec 2 and 3 but adds Bi-Xenon Headlights, sunroof, adaptive cruise control, aluminium pedals and engine start/stop button. OTR Price: 27,720 Regardless of spec level the Niro comes with an array of airbags for the front, side, knee and curtain airbags as well as being made of high strength steel and aluminium which all help give the Niro a 4* NCAP safety rating. As with the rest of the Kia range the Niro also comes with the 7 year 100,000 mile warranty, which will give piece of mind for those concerned about the hybid technology going wrong. Driving the Kia Niro The car I have on test is a Niro with the 2 spec level which I had for a duration of four days which really allowed me to get to understand this car and has an OTR price of £23,490. On entering the cabin I cannot fail to notice the vast amount of space there is for both front and rear passengers, I found it truly staggering and deceptive despite the Niro’s size. Don’t think that the boot has been compromised either because it too is a good size at 427 litres which is more than the current Ford Kuga which holds 406 litres! The main cabin isn’t short of storage space either, as there are door pockets front and rear as well as cup holders and storage under the armrest. Sitting in the cabin I found the seats comfortable but felt they could have benefited from lumbar support which I know is available on the next spec level up. Head room was also very good and the Niro could carry four adults with ease and the interior materials came over with a quality feel. Being the entry spec model this Niro was fitted with the 7” touch screen infotainment system with Sat nav and a digital radio which I felt was positioned well within the dash as well as being easy to read. In addition the Sat Nav was clear and precise, and gave instructions in plenty of time even if it was with a very authoritarian tone. The digital radio was easy to use with a reasonable sound through the 6 speakers but would probably be better on the higher spec models which have 8 speakers and a subwoofer. Starting the engine and pulling away I found the Niro responsive and quiet which is impart due to the battery which also aided with acceleration and economy where I averaged between 44 -54mpg. However not all is rosy with the Niro’s running gear as I found the automatic gearbox to be its Achilles heel. I felt the auto gearbox held onto gears for too long, and was I surprised that on the motorway it would not engage into 6th gear and in order to active 6th I had to put the car into manual mode. Obviously the drawback of the Niro staying in 5th gear on the motorway is twofold, as it makes the engine louder and less economical. On the other hand I did find the gearbox smooth and not jerky which definitely puts it ahead of some of its rivals. Furthermore at higher speeds I found there was low wind noise, however the road noise was loud but this could have been down to the tyres. Moving onto the steering I found this to be light but precise and instilled confidence when going through tight bends or roundabouts which was also helped by a good suspension set up and little body roll. As you would also expect the brakes too, are very good and stopped the Niro on a dime. The Motorists Guide View: In my opinion, the new Niro is an excellent first attempt at a hybrid SUV by Kia and one I was very impressed with. I found it was built well and had a fantastic amount of space within the cabin for both front and rear passengers, as well as finding the engine/battery more than adequate for any driving conditions and yet very economical. The only drawback I found with my test car was the automatic gearbox which despite being smooth and not jerky, I felt held onto gears for too long and wouldn’t change into 6th when on the motorway. Other than this I found the Kia Niro a pleasure to drive and a car worth considering if you are in the market for a compact SUV. Search for Kia Niro For Sale Dimensions Length: 4355mm Width: 1805mm Height: 1545mm Curb weight: 1587kg
  9. 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. https://fave.co/2wPiV6Z Dimensions Length: 4524mm Width with mirrors: 2077mm Height: 1689mm Curb Weight: 1580Kg
  10. Steve Q

    Mazda 2

    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 has 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 certain 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 describes 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 manufacturers, 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 restart the engine but I admit this may be 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 Opinion: 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 competition but also its an improvement on the previous model.
  11. Steve Q

    Suzuki Swift (Mk2)

    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 wind-up 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 modeling 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 it 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. Click here suzuki Swifts for sale Dimensions: Length; 3695mm Width: 1690mm Height: 1500mm Curb weight: 1050kg
  12. The Motorists Guide

    Ford Edge

    The new Edge is available in Zetec, Titanium and Sport variations, with all models offering Ford intelligent all-wheel drive, Active Noise Control, Pedestrian Detection, Ford DAB Audio with SYNC 2 connectivity system, privacy glass and 19in alloy wheels as standard. Optional extras available across the range include: Lux Pack, Sony DAB Navigation system with 12 Speakers, Perforated Dinamica Seats, Variable Climate Control Front Seats, Heated Rear Seats, 10-way Power Driver & Passenger Seats, Opening Panoramic Roof and Power Door Mirrors, 20inch Alloy Wheels (standard on Sport) ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN The performance from Ford’s 210PS bi-turbo 2.0-litre TDCi diesel engine is more than adequate to propel the Edge to the required speed in a very satisfactory time. Other engine options include the 180PS 2.0 litre TDCi diesel engine. Both engines are rated to deliver 48.7mpg fuel efficiency and 149g/km CO2 supported by Auto-Start-Stop technology. The Bi-Turbo engine features two turbochargers and offers enhanced performance and efficiency. The primary turbo works at lower speeds, giving you an extra boost when you need it – such as when turning from a junction into moving traffic. Meanwhile, the secondary turbo works at higher speeds, like when you need to overtake a slow-moving vehicle A choice of 6 speed manual gearbox and the 6 speed PowerShift automatic gearbox (with twin clutch) are offered to mate with either of the engines. The choice for a more sedate journey is made by selecting ‘D’ in the automatic transmission, as opposed to selecting ‘S’ for ‘Sport’ which results in a much livelier journey with increased response from the engine and transmission. The automatic transmission has the ‘Paddle Shift’ feature which gives some control of gear selection to the driver if desired. Overall, the 6 speed PowerShift automatic transmission is very responsive being quick to change, both up and down in either conventional Drive or the Sport mode. EXTERIOR The all-new Ford Edge exterior is carefully sculpted with a muscular and yet compact bonnet. To improve aerodynamic efficiency, unique air curtains are positioned on the lower part of the fascia to guide air from the front of the vehicle, out through the front wheel wells and down the vehicle side. The Headlamps feature Xenon lamps with automatic sensing for high/low beam (Anti-Glare), cornering and load variation. Mirrors feature auto-fold and also a Blind Spot indicator. The exterior is equipped with a rear spoiler, with optional roof rails and detailing in chrome to further enhance the styling. The Sport features front, rear and side Sports body styling with dark exterior detailing. Other options include front and rear Park Sensors along with front and rear Cameras to avoid colliding with any obstacles. A full length Panoramic Roof with sliding and tilt function allow more natural light and fresh air to enter the interior with very little wind noise. INTERIOR The interior has been designed with high-quality materials throughout, including soft-touch trims on the dashboard and centre console, high-gloss piano black surrounds on the switch bezels and a satin silver metal finish for the door handles, air vent bezels, glovebox trim and steering wheel detailing. The spacious Edge is also offered with heated and cooled front seats and heated rear seats from the Titanium series. The interior offers a vast array of controls and in particular, the steering wheel is embellished with a selection of switches and buttons allowing the driver to select and alter various functions. Voice control function is available for the comfort, entertainment, navigation and telephony systems. Interior refinement is enhanced with acoustic windscreen glass and laminated glass for both front door windows, minimising the intrusion of wind noise. Underbody panels and wheel-arch liners further minimise road and wind noise. All Edge models are also equipped with Ford’s Active Noise Control technology that detects unwanted engine noise in the cabin and cancels it out with opposing sound waves fed through the integrated sound system. There is an option for a Power Tailgate control with hands-free and key-free function to allow access to the capacious loading area. The seats fold to allow an increased load area with the flexibility of 60/40 split which does not impede on the passenger area too much. Seats are generally quite comfortable but rather firm which can lead to slight discomfort over long distances with limited rest breaks. TECHNOLOGY The Edge offers a variety of Ford technologies, including Adaptive Steering, which automatically optimises the steering response according to vehicle speed, making it easy to manoeuvre at low speeds, while remaining precise and intuitive at higher speeds; and Front Wide View Camera, which makes restricted visibility junctions or parking spaces easier to negotiate. Edge debuts segment-first Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection; a camera- and radar-based system that can operate at speeds from 5mph to 110mph to detect vehicles and people in the road ahead. The system can automatically apply the brakes if a potential collision is detected and the driver does not respond to warnings. The Edge features Ford’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive (AWD) technology as standard, delivering a seamless transition between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive performance to provide a more secure footing on the road especially in slippery conditions. Measuring how the car’s wheels are gripping the road surface every 16 milliseconds – 20 times quicker than it takes to blink – the system can send up to 100 per cent of engine torque to the front or rear wheels. ROAD TEST SUMMARY The Ford Edge is a superb car to drive either around town, motorways and also mild off-road conditions. The combination of safety and Driver assistance functionality result in a car that you can feel secure in the knowledge that you are driving something that get you to your destination safely and still feeling relaxed after a long distance. Ford’s Adaptive Cruise Control with Pre-Collision Assist is definitely a safety enhancement that is essential for safe driving at any speed. Ford has utilised the on-board technology to enhance the system to be an incredibly reliable and useful safety aid. Once used, it becomes difficult to switch off and solely rely on your own reactions. The system also features Traffic Sign recognition to allow the driver to set the speed limiting to stay legal at all times. Keyless entry is a feature of the Edge, and as with some other manufacturers, you have quite a ‘chunky’ key which you have to carry around to then leave somewhere within the car, but where? There doesn’t seem to be a specific area to place it so it could end up in a multitude of places and then it’s a case of finding it when you leave the car. Given that the Edge has Active Noise Cancellation, the noise levels within the car are incredibly low. However, the fuel tank leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to vehicle design. There doesn’t appear to be any baffles within the tank, as when you accelerate and decelerate, you can hear (and feel) the fuel ‘sloshing’ backwards and forwards which is quite off-putting, especially on a vehicle of otherwise good build quality. The full length opening panoramic glass roof is superb for allowing in natural light but stopping the harmful UV rays from swamping the interior. With the addition of the pop-up windbreak at the front reducing wind noise, it all seems to work very well. Overall, the Edge is a car loaded with useable technology and features usually reserved for much more expensive and up-market brands but delivers a similar ‘feel good factor’ from the driving experience with a smaller price tag. TECHNICAL INFORMATION Engine - Trans - Power PS (Kw) - Torque (Nm) - CO2 Emissions(g/km) - Mpg(Urban) - Mpg(Extra Urban) - Mpg(Combined) - Max Speed - 0-62 Mph (secs) 2.0 TDC - iM6 Manual - 180 (132) - 400 - 149 /Sport 152 - 44.1 - 52.3 - 48.7 - 124 - 9.9 2.0 TDC - iMPS6Auto - 210(154) - 450 - 149 /Sport 152 - 44.1 - 52.3 - 48.7 - 131 - 9.4 Above information based on Edge with 19inch Wheels COST (effective from January 2016) Zetec – from £29,995 Titanium – from £32,245 Sport – from £34,495 All prices are based on Dealer ‘On the Road’ price, including 20% VAT click here to see Ford Edges for sale ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Special thanks to Evans Halshaw, Bedford for the loan of the Ford Edge used for road test For more information about the Ford Edge visit: http://www.evanshalshaw.com/dealers/ford-bedford/ Follow Evans Halshaw on Twitter: @evanshalshawuk
  13. The Motorists Guide

    Ford Fiesta Mk8

    THE ‘ALL-NEW FIESTA HAS MATURED INTO A VERY PLEASANT SMALL CAR, WITH A BIG CAR FEEL ! OVERVIEW The all-new Fiesta is available in Style, Zetec (B + O Play and Navigation versions), Titanium (B + O Play and X versions), Vignale, ST-Line and ST-Line X. An all-new ‘Active’ Fiesta is due out in 2018, the first Fiesta ever to feature SUV styling. Engines available in both Petrol and Diesel – 1.0 EcoBoost, 1.1 Ti-VCT, 1.5 TDCi Duratorq and variety of power output applies across the engine range. Body styles are 3 doors and 5 doors with 6-speed Manual or Automatic Transmission options. ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN The 1.0 litre EcoBoost Petrol engine (as road tested) has an output of 100PS and with Auto-Start-Stop technology to comply with emissions standards for many years ahead. With power output from the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine being comparable to a 1.6-litre engine with performance enhanced by turbocharging, delivering both economy and driveability without compromise. The 1.5 litre TDCi Diesel engine output of 85 PS and economy figures quoted of 88.3 mpg (combined) with CO2 emissions of just 82-84 g/km. A 120 PS engine gives you 88.3 mpg (combined) and CO2emissions of 89 g/km. EXTERIOR The all-new Ford Fiesta exterior is still easily identifiable by its unique styling as Britain’s most popular but with a more up-to-date image. The Fiesta now comes with the option of a two-part, glass panoramic roof that either tilts or slides back over the rear roof section to create a light and airy interior. Whilst the roof allows natural light to flood in, solar reflective glass keeps you cool and protects you from UV rays. An electrically operated roof blind also enables you to cover or reveal the roof at the press of a button Halogen projector headlights with daytime running lights. A useful night-driving aid, Auto High Beam temporarily dips the headlights when it detects oncoming traffic or a vehicle ahead, stopping you dazzling other drivers. It then automatically reverts back to high beam, giving you maximum visibility. Body coloured electrically-operated and heated door mirrors with side indicators incorporate a Blind Spot Information System uses RADAR sensors to scan the blind spots on either side of the car. If they detect a vehicle you can’t see, an orange light that’s clearly displayed in the corresponding side door mirror illuminates to warn you. If you’re reversing out of a space, and have limited visibility of the traffic situation, Cross Traffic Alert can detect oncoming vehicles and sound a warning. The technology also illuminates a light in the wing mirror: left or right depending on the direction of oncoming traffic. Body coloured bumpers with mesh grille and body colour spoiler, door and liftgate handles further enhance the look of the All-New Fiesta. INTERIOR The Style version was used for the road test, however, there are many other features available for other variants within the range, either as standard or as an option, such as an Openable panorama roof and leather heated seats & steering wheel To further enhance the interior space, the Fiesta gives you more front and rear legroom than ever before by redesigning the rear seats to have sculpted, slim backs, therefore, the passengers can sit further back. Ford SYNC 3 is a state-of-the-art system that enables you to stay connected and control your phone, music and navigation system with intuitive voice commands, or an 8” colour touchscreen. It connects to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto too, and with Applink, you can access smartphone apps, including Spotify. Live Traffic can also help avoid the jams. The Fiesta now sports Emergency Lights so that if you have to brake hard for an emergency, the hazard warning lights come on automatically to alert other drivers. The brake lights flash too, providing following vehicles with some advance warning of a potentially dangerous situation. In addition to the driver and passenger front airbags, side airbags provide thorax protection and are designed to direct the occupant away from the impact area. They’re also able to raise the arm of the occupant providing better space between them and the intruding structure. Curtain airbags provide maximum coverage and headrests offer protection from whiplash. With front and rear seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters, plus seatbelt minders. TECHNOLOGY The Lane-Keeping System – including Lane-Keeping Alert and Lane-Keeping Aid works incredibly well but did have a tendency to seem violent in its approach to taking back control which can be a little disconcerting but overall, the accuracy of the system is not lacking in the slightest and is a very useful safety feature. Some of the following features are available as an option across the range: LED Night Signature to rear lights Traffic Sign Recognition and Driver Alert Auto High Beam Rain sensing wipers Traffic Sign Recognition and Driver Alert Power-foldable door mirrors with puddle lights Rear privacy glass Partial leather sports style front seats Electronic Automatic Temperature Control (EATC) Cruise Control Ford SYNC 3 Navigation with 8″ Touchscreen Centre console with armrest, openable stowage and 12 V power point Auto-dimming rear-view mirror ROAD TEST SUMMARY First thoughts when driving it were how the 1.0 EcoBoost engine responded much akin to the performance from a 1.6 litre and also how the interior cabin area gives the impression of a seemingly much larger car. Accessing the interior was generally quite uneventful, considering it was the three-door version and where it seems that most modern cars appear to work on the principle of design over function, no heads were bashed on door pillars on entry and the dashboard did not claim any knees either! Accessing the interior was generally quite uneventful, considering it was the three-door version and where it seems that most modern cars appear to work on the principle of design over function, no heads were bashed on door pillars on entry and the dashboard did not claim any knees either! The Fiesta is relatively easy to navigate through all the myriad of controls and electronic wizardry such as the Bluetooth connectivity, which was incredibly easy to sync and control through the cars’ audio system. Engine starting is via the push-button and incorporates ‘stop-start’ technology, although no keyless entry. Hill Start Assist was useful when manoeuvring on a slope on the odd occasion. Safety and driver assistance technology contribute to leaving you with the belief that you are driving something that will get you to your destination safely and allow to feel quite relaxed even after a long distance. The relief of the car being able to facilitate your driving, and in some cases making better judgements in situations such as distance control and lane guidance, all of which can result in draining the drivers’ energy after some time at the wheel. Ford’s Adaptive Cruise Control with Pre-Collision Assist is definitely a safety enhancement that is essential for safe driving at any speed. Ford has utilised the onboard technology to enhance the system to be an incredibly reliable and useful safety aid. Once used, it becomes difficult to switch off and solely rely on your own reactions. The system also features Traffic Sign recognition to allow the driver to set the speed limiting to stay legal at all times. Fuel economy was good but given the roads used, traffic conditions and speed travelled, we obtained between 49 – 53 mpg overall. For the size of the engine and the superb drivability experience, it is really quite hard to complain at those figures. The full-length opening panoramic glass roof is superb for allowing in natural light but stopping the harmful UV rays from swamping the interior. With the addition of the pop-up windbreak at the front reducing wind noise, it all seems to work very well. Overall, the all-new Fiesta is a car loaded with useable technology and features usually reserved for much more expensive and up-market brands but delivers a similar ‘feel good factor’ from the driving experience with a smaller price tag. Click here to see Ford Fiesta Mk8 models for sale TECHNICAL INFORMATION Engine 1.0 EcoBoost (998cc DOHC Turbocharged Direct Injection) Transmission 6 speed Manual (front wheel drive) Power (bhp / kW) 100 (74) Torque (Nm) 170 Mpg (Combined) 65.7 (extra-urban) 78.5 (urban) 52.3 Max Speed (mph) – 124 0-62 Mph (secs) 10.5 Insurance Group 10E Emissions Euro 6 CO2 (g/km) 97 Dimensions Length: 4040 mm, Width: 1735 mm, Width (with mirrors): 1941 mm, Height: 1476 mm Above information based on Fiesta Zetec 1.0 EcoBoost COST (effective from September 2017) Style – from £11,995 Zetec B+O Play – from £13,995 Zetec Navigation – from £14,515 1.0 EcoBoost Zetec – from £14.795 (model road tested) All prices are based on Dealer ‘On the Road’ price, including 20% VAT ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Original article written for the Ford Owners Club www.fordownersclub.com Special thanks to Evans Halshaw, Bedford for the loan of the Ford Fiesta used for road test For more information about the Ford Fiesta visit: www.evanshalshaw.com/dealers/ford-bedford/
  14. 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. Click here to see Mk3 Renault Clios for sale
  15. 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 turbocharged engines you find in modern day hatchbacks and it had no problem 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. Click here to see Ford Escorts for sale : 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.
  16. Steve Q


    I intended to find out by test driving the new MG3 which is a new small hatchback and designed to bring the MG back to the masses. The MG3 I had on the test drive was the top of the range Style model with a price tag of £11,695. With any new car in this highly competitive sector first impression count and the MG3 does not fail to disappoint. All MG3’s come with a meshed front bumper, low slung daytime running lights and a rear diffuser which give the MG3 a sporty appearance. This is further enhanced on the 3 Form Sport and Style models with 16 inch alloys, side skirts square exhaust trim and a rear spoiler. Just like similar cars in its class, such as the Mini or the Fiat 500 owners have a further option of adding sticker kits or changing the colours of the wing mirrors or wheels to add a personal touch to their MG3. The sticker kits start at £89 for the bonnet or £258 for the roof and bonnet whilst painting the wing mirrors an alternative colour will set you back another £70.40 Moving into the cabin and sinking into the supportive bucket seats and gripping the leather-wrapped steering wheel it is clear that the sporting touches have been carried on into the interior. The seats, for example, are covered in a silver coloured fabric, with a red pattern and black side bolsters. Leather seats are standard on the 3 style model but unfortunately, they are not heated. The door handles, vent surrounds, radio surround, climate control surround and steering wheel spokes are painted silver to contrast with the black dash and door cards. The interior is well thought out with plenty of cubby holes and is surprisingly spacious with plenty of leg room for rear passengers, along with ample headroom due to the high roofline. The high roofline helps to cabin to feel light and airy and provides good rear and side visibility. The boot is of a good size too, providing 285 Litres of space and there is room for a space saver spare wheel which is a £120 extra. The materials used in the interior are of reasonable quality but are built to a price which is to be expected of a car costing less than £12,000 new. However, the interior does not feel brittle and is well put together unlike some British cars built in the 1970s and 80s. The MG3 comes with a good amount of equipment as standard such as electric windows for all four doors, steering wheel controls, a CD player with MP3 compatibility, central locking, Hill hold control, Stability control, cruise control (excluding 3time) and 6 airbags. The top of the range Style model also has air conditioning, climate control, reversing sensors, automatic lights and wipers, DAB radio and smartphone integration. On pushing the engine start button, the four-cylinder 1.5 litre (1,498cc) petrol engine that produces 105bhp and 101lb ft of torque bursts straight into life. This engine is standard across the whole MG3 range and at this time of writing is the only option. The engine was designed and developed at the Longbridge plant in the new engine testing facility. Approximately £500 million pounds has been invested by MG’s owners SAIC into the Longbridge site. Despite the MG3 lacking in engine options, there is a turbocharged version of the 1.5 litre engine under development and a prototype MG3 currently being tested by MG at Longbridge. However, the engine could be the MG3’s Achilles heel as it is not as fuel efficient or as good for the environment as some of its competitors. The combined fuel economy is 48.7mpg and emits 136g/km of C02. Furthermore, the engine has to be worked hard so in order to progress which as a result makes for a noisy experience. In comparison to the engine, the handling of the MG3 is superb and was tuned by engineers in the UK. The engine's power is delivered through a 5-speed manual gearbox which in turn powers the front wheels. The wheels are kept firmly on the road by a suspension and chassis set up which keeps the MG3 feeling taut and composed through the corners and provides a great supply of grip. This permits the driver to have confidence in chucking the MG3 into corners and allows them to have good fun when the opportunity arises. The hydraulic power steering further aids the driver with confidence by being exact and giving the driver a good response and feel to the road ahead. Overall the MG3 is well equipped as well as being competitively priced and seems geared towards younger buyers who will appreciate the sticker kits, sporty looks and low insurance group (group 4). These younger buyers will be able to overlook the engines flaws and appreciate the MG3’s handling and rarity in comparison to the Ford Fiesta or Vauxhall Corsa which are commonplace. Click here to see MG3 models for sale
  17. The Motorists Guide

    Buying a Used Car

    What to look for when buying a used car - Used Car Buying Checklist So you're looking at a second-hand car but don't know what to look out for, read our guide and print a copy to take with you when viewing potential purchases....you could save a fortune! Web Links have been inserted into the text to help you find additional helpful information and websites Price How much is the car actually worth, and are you paying too much? It is always worth negotiating price but only after you have thoroughly checked the car and find there are minor repairs that need to be carried out, so worth asking for a discount to compensate for this Documents Carry out an online Vehicle History Check....the small cost could save you thousands of pounds and give you peace of mind. Vehicle checks are an easy way to see if there is any outstanding finance, has it been stolen, has it been written off and much more information to ensure that you are buying a genuine car Can the seller show you the V5C Registration Document? Is the seller the registered keeper shown on the V5C? If not, why are they selling it for someone else? Does the registration document have a watermark? Any spelling mistakes on the registration document? Do the VIN (vehicle identification number), engine number and colour match the V5C? Does the number plate match the V5C? Has the VIN plate been tampered with? Do VIN numbers etched on glass or lights match the VIN plate and V5C? Any sign of scratches on glass to remove etched-in marks? Check whether the vehicle has had any Safety Recall work carried out Does the car have a current MOT (if the car's more than three years old)? Check the MOT history and status of a vehicle Mileage Does the mileage, age and appearance of the car look consistent? Any sign like worn screws that the instruments might have been tampered with? (Digital odometers can be tampered with electronically so clues like this won't exist) Check recorded mileage on service records, MOT Certificates and other documents. Does it look consistent with current mileage/condition and increase steadily year on year? Check MOT status and history online (with vehicle registration and make). Accident damage Any signs of inconsistent gaps between panels or mismatched colours that could be a sign of extensive repairs? Is the paint finish even across the car? Any traces of paint spray on handles, window seals or plastic mouldings? Could the car's colour have been changed? (Look under carpets and in other hidden areas in particular.) Any unusual looking welding under the bonnet or in the boot? Safety Are the tyres in good condition and all of the specification, dimensions and correctly inflated? Tyre wear can indicate incorrect pressures or even chassis damage or wear. Tyres with less than 3mm of tread will have to be replaced soon Some vehicles may require tyres to be fitted in pairs so consider this when buying and compensate for the additional cost. Is the spare wheel or tyre inflator/sealant kit in serviceable condition? Are the jack and other tools present? Do all the seatbelts operate correctly? Check there are no cuts or fraying that could affect the way they work. If airbags are fitted, Check that warning lights operate as described in the handbook – normally they will come on with the ignition and then go out? Do all lights and windscreen wipers/washers work correctly? Test drive Do all warning lights operate normally? Lights will generally come on to test and then go out – unless there's a fault. Are the brakes effective or does it take a long time or a lot of effort to stop? Is braking even or does the car pull to one side? Any unusual noises when you brake? Is the handbrake effective? Any steering vibration or pull to one side? If ABS is fitted, does the warning light go out after the engine is started? Engine Any abnormal noises when the engine is started from cold? Does the oil warning light go out as soon as the engine starts? Any signs of excessive visible exhaust emissions? Does the clutch operate normally? A noise when you press the pedal or a high biting point could mean that repairs will be required soon. Is the catalytic converter in good condition? Look for a recent emissions test, either alone or as part of an MOT. This will confirm that emissions are within the stringent limits applied to modern cars. Is there sludge on the underside of the oil filler cap? This could indicate poor servicing or predominantly short journey use. Is the oil level right? Too low shows neglect; too high could be a clue that the engine is using oil but it could just have been over filled in error. Has the cambelt been replaced according to the service schedule? Locks, windows and general controls Do all the locks, including central locking and remote control, work properly? Do all windows, including any sunroof, open/close normally? Any signs of forced entry, damaged or different locks, suggesting they've been replaced? Have you got all the right keys? Check the handbook to see which keys were provided when the car was new. Modern keys are expensive to replace, particularly the coloured 'master' key provided by some manufacturers to programme new spare keys to the car. Are locking wheel nuts fitted? Check that the special adapter required is included with the tool kit. Make sure it fits too. Do all the minor controls operate correctly – heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, radio/CD, navigation etc? Original article source: courtesy of the AA http://www.theaa.com/car-buying/used-car-inspection-checklist
  18. The Motorists Guide

    Best Cars for Young Drivers

    If you’re the parent of a son or daughter who’s about to learn to drive, chances are you have one question on your mind: 'what's the best car for a new driver'? Your offspring will be focusing on looks, performance or the quality of the stereo. Parents, on the other hand, will probably value more practical considerations, such as how safe it is and how much it will cost buy, run and insure. Cue hours of family squabbles. To help you out, we've produced a list of the five best new cars and five of the best used cars for a young driver. We have prioritised the more practical purchase considerations, although there’s still a healthy crop of stylish metal on the list. For the new cars, we’ve opted for a maximum budget of £10,000. All the cars achieve a minimum of four stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, and are no higher than insurance group three (out of 50). 1. Ford Fiesta The entry-level Fiesta 1.25 60 Studio just sneaks within our £10k budget, at a cost of £9995. It scores a maximum of five stars for the Euro NCAP crash test and is in group three for insurance. It’s also one of our favorite small cars to drive, it’s cheap to run, and it looks stylish so it should appeal to style-conscious tastes. Ford often has a range of finance packages and special editions that could potentially boost the value aspect even further. Certain Fiesta models are also available with the MyKey system, which enables parents to limit certain functions for added safety (see below). 2. VW Up You can get the 1.0 60 Move Up and opt for VW’s portable sat-nav for under £10k. It’s in insurance group one and will average over 60mpg. This surprisingly roomy city car achieves the full five stars from Euro NCAP. We love its solid build, funky looks and excellent dynamics, although the 59bhp engine struggles on the motorway. VW doesn't offer big discounts, but the Up makes up for this with impressive resale values. 3. Hyundai i10 The i10 might not be as stylish as the Up or Fiesta, but its roomy interior, comfortable ride and high equipment levels helped it pick up our 2014 Best City Car award. Average economy of 60mpg plus a group one insurance rating make it cheap to run, and it achieved four stars from Euro NCAP. Neither the driving experience nor the quality of its interior match the Up's, and the 1.0-litre engine struggles at higher speeds, but otherwise it’s a great little car. 4. Vauxhall Corsa The new Corsa offers plenty of space and is comfortable and well finished inside. It’s not as good to drive as the Fiesta, but you can have it with the 1.4-litre engine for less than £10k, and it's a decent thing for motorway use. As well as having low running costs, Vauxhall dealers often run promotions that cater for younger drivers, such as free insurance and tend to offer healthy discounts off the list price. The Corsa was awarded a full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests. 5. Seat Mii The Mii is cheaper than the virtually identical VW Up, with the S version starting at just over £8000. Upping the budget to £9995 will get you the i-Tech model, which comes with alloy wheels, sat-nav, plus Bluetooth as standard. It's also safe, having achieved five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, and it’s in the lowest group one insurance category. This, combined with excellent fuel economy, means it won’t cost the earth to run. 6. Suzuki Swift 7. MG3 8. Renault Clio Original Article by John Howell - WhatCar
  19. The Motorists Guide

    Lexus LC500 Review

    The LC500 is available as a 5.0 litre V8 which is bred from the race-track or if you are after something a little less aggressive and eco-friendly then look no further than the LC500h which is powered by a 3.5 litre V6 and hybrid motors. Available in standard trim, Sport or Sport+ versions are offered with very little difference in price between them. The LC500 that we road tested was the 5.0 litre V8 with Sport+ Pack. ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN The 5.0-litre V8 engine that Lexus has chosen to power the LC500 is a great choice to provide the flexibility for a smooth GT cruiser and also to propel the car to immense speeds in very little time. Combined with an excellent transmission, there is very little to complain about on the performance front. Utilising a 10-speed transmission which is controlled by Magnesium Paddle Shift and incorporates a manual ‘M’ mode for driver control and selection of the gears. Additionally, there is also the Drive Mode Select function which switches between Eco, Comfort, Normal, Custom, Sports S and Sports S+ modes to further enhance the drivers’ experience. Moving onto the chassis, an adaptive variable suspension featuring multi-link design engineered from scratch to provide excellent vehicle response and super-sharp handling but maintaining a superior ride comfort and stability. Adaptive Variable Suspension is used to control the damping forces on all shock-absorbers with the ability to manage 650 different variations of suspension settings. EXTERIOR The most definitive aspect of the LC500 has to be the exterior styling with its distinctive coupe body and futuristic lighting. Combine this with the fact that the body is not just stylish but also lightweight and extremely strong. Ultra-high tensile strength steel, lightweight aluminium and Carbon-Fibre Reinforced Plastic are used throughout the car ensuring high-rigidity throughout. The roof is available as either a glass panoramic or Carbon-Fibre infill (depending on model specification). Both roof panels are made to complement the styling of the LC500 and even incorporate the lines of a traditional Japanese sword on the rear edges of the chrome plating. There is a retractable rear spoiler and this extends automatically at speeds above 50 mph to provide extra downforce and stability at high-speed. The Sport+ Pack version has side aero intakes to reduce turbulence around the rear wheels to further improve handling. LED Headlights are an ultra-compact style fitted with triple-projector LED units which allow for a short front overhang which is crucial for high-speed handling. The rear lamps are also LED which are inspired by the afterburners of a Jet Fighter aircraft and have a holographic effect which also incorporates a sculptured metal frame that follows the Lexus ‘L’ motif throughout. SAFETY FEATURES The Lexus LC500 is designed with high-speed performance in mind, but safety features, both passive and active, are also a major design element of the car. A pop-up bonnet, activated by sensors mounted in the front bumper ensure that in the event of a collision with a pedestrian, the impact raises the bonnet and by allowing more space between the hard components of the engine compartment and the pedestrian, the level of injury is reduced. To protect the vehicle occupants, eight airbags are fitted, driver, passenger, head, knee and curtain shields running the full length of both cabin sides. INTERIOR The interior of the LC500 is no less spectacular than the exterior styling. Lexus has directed their design on an interior specifically focused on the driver. The steering wheel is crafted by a Takumi master and when grasped seems to instantly instil a feeling of confidence within the driver. Already, the overall feeling of the cars’ demeanour is coming through when seated in the comfortable and supportive sports seats, and this is even when it is parked with the engine off. All of the controls and driver interfaces are positioned to hand and are designed to be easy to operate when driving. The instruments are positioned to allow the driver to view them at all times and are in line with the natural view of the road ahead with very little distraction. The interior temperature is carefully monitored and adjusted to provide the occupants with the optimum environment for comfort and wellbeing. The Climate Concierge system features pioneering Nanoe® technology to release negatively charged particles into the cabin area to purify the air and deodorise the seats. The overall effect is to moisturise the skin and hair whilst leaving the occupants relaxed and fresh throughout the journey. Entertainment is provided by the usually high standards from Mark Levinson® Premium Surround system with GreenEdge™ technology and incorporates 13 speakers throughout the car. Designed specifically for the LC range, the system delivers a digital home-theatre experience and is further enhanced as an optional extra by Clari-Fi™ which rebuilds sound lost in MP3 digital compression. Boot space is sufficient for two weekend bags and other small items but you would be restricted to carrying a great deal more. The vehicle Battery is beneath the cover within the boot floor. TECHNOLOGY A Lexus wouldn’t be a Lexus if it wasn’t for the quality of build and the technology that is utilised to enhance the driving experience. The LC500 is no exception and the list of standard equipment is quite extensive. The driving data is very clearly displayed through a multi-function display panel and also through an optional, extra-wide (174mm x 48mm) ‘Head-Up Display’ on the windscreen. Information such as safety warnings, navigational guidance and engine readings are clearly displayed for the driver to review without compromising the view of the road ahead. The Premium Navigation system is built-in to the dashboard and features a split-screen 10.3” display with the input being made through either voice command or through a TouchPad with Remote Touch Interface. Driver warning systems such as tyre pressures monitoring, parking proximity and traffic sign recognition are clearly displayed within the vehicle using visual and audio to highlight the alert. Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert feature within the LC500. Radar devices mounted in the rear bumper detect vehicles in adjacent lanes that are not visible in the door mirrors. If the driver is indicating to change lanes and should another vehicle enter into the blind spot, a warning signal appears in the mirror along with a buzzer to warn the driver. The Rear Cross Traffic Alert functions by alerting the driver to another vehicle manoeuvring behind. ROAD TEST SUMMARY The Lexus Owners Club have been very fortunate to be offered the opportunity to road test the LC500 and this is our unbiased opinion of what we consider to be one of the best performance cars to roll off the Lexus production line. The version used for road test was the Sport+ Pack with the V8 engine. First thoughts when entering the car is that it is an easy to get in and out of which sometimes is not the case with other GT coupes. Once settled in the comfortable and supportive sports seat, the engine is started via push start button and foot applied to the brake pedal. Engage ‘D - Drive’ or ‘M - Manual’ through the selector and whichever mode suits your style of driving. The default mode is ‘Comfort’ with Eco, Sport and Sport+ on offer in the model we had. Pulling away and driving in built-up traffic conditions presented no issues to the car which drove sedately as any other Lexus, but when approaching a Motorway and entering the slip-road, well that’s a completely different kettle of fish. The engine and transmission are swift to deliver the power with absolutely no delay encountered. However, in Sport or Sport+ mode, the response time is even less. Power delivery is incredibly smooth and with gear changes made automatically or through the paddles, there was no bucking experienced as is the case with some other performance cars. As the soundtrack from the LC500 V8 engine via the tuned exhausts, well there is not much that can overshadow it. Something that was noticeable during the drive was that the cabin was incredibly quiet, even with the windows down, there was not any noticeable wind noise or draught, apart from the noise of the V8 when unleashed. The economy is not one of the main reasons for the decision to buy the V8 LC500, but on road test with varying styles of driving and traffic conditions, the LC delivered between 21.6 and 27.6 mpg. Carefully driven with very little traffic to hinder your journey you could probably achieve around 24.6 on average. Handling comparisons have been made with a Porsche 911 and the LC500 was deemed to be ‘not as responsive’. This is probably the case but the wheel certainly felt positive and grounded during application into bends. The suspension delivered a very smooth ride over a variety of road conditions and never faltered with delivery into corners. The transition between driving modes was noticeable with the dampers tightening considerably more so when placed in Sport or Sport+. Interior space is designed as a 2+2 seater but as is the same with all performance GT Coupe’s the rear seating, although adequate for younger children would be less suited to adults unless the seats were positioned further forwards. Driver controls are perfectly positioned for operation in normal driving circumstances. The Lexus touch panel is conveniently placed to control various functions is intuitive and easy to use, and the car also features a voice control to facilitate the operation of some features. The steering wheel also housed quite a few function buttons for Cruise Control, Audio, Lane Control, Telephone and Voice Control as is standard layout on many Lexus models. Above the instrument panel and housed in the binnacle are two rotary controls which operate the Driving Modes on the left-hand side (Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport+) and on the right-hand side, there is Traction Control which has the option of ‘Off’ or ‘Snow’. But one of the best features available to the driver is the colour Head-Up Display displayed on the lower part of the windscreen. Providing useful information about speed and navigation along with other selectable data to the driver, this is definitely a very useful feature. Would we buy one? Most definitely, yes! However, which version would we choose? For the number of extras that you can acquire that would seriously enhance the drive and also the resale, the Sport+ Pack is the way forward. Considering the marginal cost between the options, the Sport+ pack is not much further to stretch and in our opinion would give so much more back in return. There is, however, a tough decision that has to be made and that is do you go for the V8 or the Hybrid? That would have to be a personal choice but with only 0.3 seconds on the 0-60 mph time between them, it’s definitely going to be a tough choice. TECHNICAL INFORMATION Engine 5.0 litre V8 petrol Transmission 10-speed Automatic (Rear Wheel Drive) Engine Power (bhp / kW) @rpm 477 / 351 @7100 Mpg (Combined) 24.6 0-62 Mph (secs) 4.4 CO2 Combined (g/km) 263 Above information based on LC500 with 21” wheels COST (effective as of September 2017) LC500h – from £76,595 LC500h Sport Pack – from £80,595 LC500h Sport+ Pack – from £85,895 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Special thanks to Snows Lexus, Hedge End for the loan of the Lexus LC500 used for road test For more information about the LC500 visit: http://www.snowsgroup.co.uk/lexus/ http://www.lexusownersclub.co.uk/forum/lexus-owners-club.html/lexus-reviews/lexus-lc500-review-r2/