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Ford B-Max Mini MPV Review: A Good Car for the Money

What do you get when you cross the Ford Fiesta platform with the size and the styling of the Ford Focus? The B-Max Mini MPV, Ford’s strongest entry in the European minivan market. The B-Max was originally introduced as a concept car at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show as a way to display the company’s revolutionary B3 platform. It has done very well since being introduced to the consumer market in 2012.

The 2015 B-Max is everything you would expect from this car, and then some. Its strongest selling point for families is a combination of its price point and practicality. You get a lot for your money with the B-Max, although you will probably not win any style points for driving a sleek and sexy sport sedan. That is why the B-Max is really designed for families with young kids.

A bonus for families is that used versions of the B-Max are available through manufacturer-approved schemes such as Ford Direct. Choosing one that is a model a year or two older is yet another way to get an excellent car for not a lot of money.

The Positives

We like the B-Max, first and foremost because it answers one of the most annoying features of most minivans: barely accessible rear seats. Ford designers got rid of the centre pillars to create an open system that makes it easy to get the kids in and out. Believe it or not, child seats have never been easier to use in a minivan. No other minivan offers 59 inches of open space between side doors.

The use of the hatch in the back is another significant positive. Owners have easy access to the rear of the vehicle for loading everything from luggage to groceries. That said, there is not a whole lot of room in the back when the passenger seats are in their normal position. Travelling a long distance with a lot of luggage probably means using a roof-mounted luggage rack or a trailer.

Lastly, the fuel economy of the 99bhp 1.0-litre petrol model is excellent. Ford says you can get 55 mpg if you are careful not to drive aggressively. That’s not hard to do with the 1.0. You may have more difficulty getting mileage that good with the 1.4-litre engine. You will, however, get more punchy performance.

The Negatives

Despite the amount of space afforded by the removal of the central pillars, we cannot help but think that the B3 design presents a safety issue in the event of a side impact crash. Nevertheless, crash tests have resulted in a five star rating for the B-Max in the States. The Euro NCAP also gave the B-Max a five-star safety rating for the 2012 model.

There is not a lot to be impressed about with the comfort level of the B-Max. It is adequate, in the sense that it is not an uncomfortable car, but it is not as smooth and gentle as we would expect a family car to be. Some have described the ride as ‘firm’. It needs to be that way in order to give owners the handling they expect in a car of that size and shape.

Lastly, the design for the interior can be a bit annoying until one gets used to it. The dash seems overly generous while all of the gauges and user controls are compressed into a tiny area. It seems as though Ford could have done a better job of spreading things out a bit. Nonetheless, perhaps the dash arrangement was designed around the overall theme of more room to work rather than valuable space being taken up by unnecessary features.

Where to Buy the Ford B-Max

The Ford B-Max has done very well in a UK market that is heavy on fuel economy and low price point. It is available from most Ford.co.uk dealers in the UK as a brand new model and there are no real stock restrictions, some sites have strong special offers such as JenningsMotorGroup.co.uk. There is no reason it should not continue to do well for the foreseeable future. It is a minivan worth looking at for young families that need space for the little ones. In short, it is a good car for the price.

For a quick part exchange valuation then webuyanycar.com is a good bet or alternatively direct from a dealer against a car you are interested in http://www.jenningsforddirect.co.uk/cars/ford/b-max/

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Goodbye Freelander, Hello Disco Sport

On the very day the Land Rover Freelander 2 featured here was delivered for review by Motor Blogger, the very first Discovery Sport – the replacement for the venerable compact all-rounder – rolled off the production line. This doesn’t mean that reviewing the out-going car is a waste of time though because it continues to have much to recommend it as a great used car buy.6 300x192 Goodbye Freelander, Hello Disco Sport

I wondered if the Evoque may have taken some of the sales share away from the older car – given that they share engines and some mechanicals – but this isn’t the case, according to Land Rover. Since the original Freelander first appeared in 1997, the company have sold almost a million worldwide as at the end of 2013.

Indeed, 13859 of them were purchased by UK customers during 2013 so clearly the demand for this practical and versatile car remains.

2 300x205 Goodbye Freelander, Hello Disco SportAs the Freelander exits through the gift shop over the next few months the range has been pared down accordingly. Our vehicle was in fully loaded Metropolis trim with Indus Silver paint, Windsor Leather Ebony Seats, Ebony interior with Grand Black Veneer all set off by some fetching 19” Alloy Diamond Turned wheels. Our car came with the optional full-sized spare wheel – a must have for peace of mind I think. At around £35,000, this is not a cheap car but it is a very complete and able one. Land Rover reckon 40mpg should be possible on the combined cycle and that seems reasonable after a week of mixed use.

The first thing you notice is how tall you sit in the saddle affording the driver with a clear all-round view. Certainly, there’s a degree of body roll and I felt the steering was over-light, but the car always feels safe and predictable, plus there’s plenty of grip from the permanent four-wheel drive. Power is derived from the torquey 188bhp 2.2L SD4 turbo diesel via an excellent auto gearbox that always seems to select the right gear. I didn’t feel the need to switch to the paddles.

The Freelander is about cruising comfort. It’s good to drive on road. The suspension easily smooths out our ruined roads, There’s a pared-down version of Land Rover’s Terrain Response system on board, which adjusts the traction control according to the conditions meaning that this car can handle all but the most difficult gnarly stuff with ease, which is why it scores well against the more road-oriented vehicles from other car makers.3 300x195 Goodbye Freelander, Hello Disco Sport

Inside, the Freelander has benefited from Land Rover’s overall upmarket trend. The dashboard is a high-quality affair, with soft-touch materials and metal trim. As mentioned there’s no Terrain Response dial like you’ll find in a Discovery; instead you get a pair of buttons which scroll through the various transmission settings, which is fine.

The interior benefits from deep door pockets, a decent-sized glove compartment and plenty of storage cubbies, so there’s no shortage of space. The boot is massive offering 755 litres of space, which expands to a cavernous 1,670 litres when the standard-fit split-fold seats are folded down flat. The lack of a seven-seat option does limit the Freelander 2′s flexibility and overall people-carrying ability compared to some but the brilliant existing Discovery fulfils that brief anyway.

Although in some ways it is starting to show its age I still think the Freelander laughs in the face of more trendy opposition secure in the knowledge that is part of a legendary heritage. Still a great choice.Land Rover Discovery Sport 2015 0051 300x184 Goodbye Freelander, Hello Disco Sport

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Suzuki SX4 S-Cross – Quality And Value.

Earlier this year Motor Blogger found himself in the Suzuki display at a major trade event. MB came away impressed and, as a consequence, managed to arrange to have the featured car for a whole week – a Suzuki SX4 S-Cross in top-of-the-range SZ5 trim.

Interested parties can get this car in one of four grades and trim levels with a choice of two engines: a Fiat derived 1.6L turbo-diesel or an in-house 1.6L petrol unit. Buyers can choose between two-wheel drive or – a must, I reckon – the AllGrip four-wheel option. Suzuki have this 4×4 business sorted I believe and it turns what could be seen as just another regular family crossover in the ever- growing pack of similar offerings into something much more versatile.

MB1 Suzuki SX4 S Cross   Quality And Value.It’s no mud-plugger obviously, but for sure-footed peace of mind in our sometimes challenging winter driving conditions on our ‘craters of the moon’ roads, it is worth stumping up for the extra costs involved. There are four driver selected options available. The car will run normally as a two-wheel front driver in Auto, but this can be shifted on the fly into Sport mode which engages the rear wheels and slightly boosts engine performance (you can feel the extra 500rpm kick in). The AllGrip system diverts 20% more of the 320Nm of torque to rear wheels and when driving around the more difficult stretches of my test route at pace, I appreciated the extra power and grip.

When the going gets tougher or when the dreaded white stuff makes an unwelcome appearance then the beleaguered driver can switch to the Mud/Snow option which enhances traction and stability. Finally, the Lock mode distributes high torque to the rear wheels continually, ideal for extricating the car from deeper snow and the like. It’s a good system, it is easy to use and it works.

Our featured car was fitted with the diesel engine. Setting off, acceleration is a bit pedestrian as you’d expect and, if I’m honest, a tad grumbly in operation but once you get it rolling it’s fine and indeed feels very willing to crack on. When the car was delivered it had achieved 61.9mpg thanks obviously to some smooth driving in 2WD mode. That’s good. In my hands however no car is allowed any slackness or back-sliding – they have to work. The SX4 spent most of its time in the Sport option yet still managed to achieve a splendid 50mpg on average whilst still only coughing up a modest 114g/km of emissions.

mb2 Suzuki SX4 S Cross   Quality And Value.It is really good to drive. Many people have to buy the cars they need rather than the cars they want so isn’t it great when a car that is functional and versatile can also be entertaining to drive. The ride quality impressed as did the lack of roll in corners.

All SX4 S-Cross SZ3 models are equipped as standard with seven airbags, ESP and Tyre Pressure Monitoring as well as Daytime Running Lights (DRL), 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control with speed limiter, air conditioning, heated door mirrors, black protective skid plates and black wheel arch extensions. SZ4 adds 17-inch alloy wheels finished in dark grey, Dual Zone automatic air conditioning, front fog lamps, Bluetooth connectivity, rear privacy glass, silver roof rails and silver skid plates.

SZ-T (the one for business and fleet users with BIK of 18%) adds satellite navigation (a bit below par, it has to be said) with DAB radio, polished 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking camera and rear parking proximity sensors and chrome styling package. Equipment for the top of the range SZ5 model we are featuring includes front parking sensors, leather seat upholstery, double sliding panoramic sunroof and HID projector headlamps with AUTO function. There’s a range of eight exterior colours. The aforementioned sunroof (it opens) is a highlight, making the interior bright and airy but if you want to shut out the weather there’s an electrically operated blind.

The boot is big and very adaptable. Inside, I found the seats comfortable, with tons of legroom front and back, and the driving position adaptable. Sure, on the cheaper models there are some plastics but that must be expected; in any case the Suzuki appeared well screwed together.

This car costs between around £14,000 and (for our car) £22,720 and there are deals. For what you get that’s great value. There is a car from another brand that is considered the benchmark in this sector – the small SUV by which all others are judged. In my opinion, the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross SZ5, as tested, is the equal of the other (better looking too) and, crucially, cheaper by almost £3k at the range-topper. Well worth considering.

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The Practical Volkswagen Touran

The Touran is a MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) and its purpose is not to excite but instead to do automotive lifestyle things in a practical manner. Our featured car was in seven-seat form but a five-seat version is available.

Driving, the 1.6L four cylinder turbo-diesel engine seemed very willing – quietly going about its business and demonstrating a willingness to crack on. In fact, the Touran surprised me by being an excellent driver. It’s never going to be a fast car but it maintained a lively pace and was light and easy to drive. There is even a ‘Sport’ version.

w1 The Practical Volkswagen TouranThe ride was a bit of a revelation. VW have done a great job with the suspension and seating and the Touran floated over our ruined roads with aplomb; the lumps and bumps scarcely registering on the Motor Blogger posterior. Lean into corners was similarly well controlled: it is there but not at all intrusive.

Inside, the car is well designed, very well made and roomy – with many practical attributes I’ll get on to but it is dull; surely there’s scope for a little colour? Perhaps some contrasting stitching or classy bright work? There are some ‘brushed aluminium’ effects but they just blend in. MB didn’t particularly care for the black plastic surround of the central fascia but most buyers probably wouldn’t be so picky. All the connectivity is there – Bluetooth and so on – it just isn’t a very interesting place to be.

w3 The Practical Volkswagen TouranThe list of features on this car is endless. Standout items on this SE model though include ‘Park Assist’ and ‘Park Pilot’ (the Touran can more or less park itself); storage drawers under the front seats, capacious ‘hidden’ under-floor storage on the second row and even cubbies and cupholders on the back row. There’s even storage in the roof! I also appreciated the privacy glass for all – sensibly – but the front seats. I do take issue with the satellite navigation. It works fine but I quickly became irritated by the rather strict ‘voice’.

Open the rear hatchback and you’ll find that the boot lip is commendably low. With the seven seat configuration the boot space in the back is limited – fine for shopping – but the third row of seats fold away flat quickly and easily to hugely increase luggage space. If you need all seven seats for the larger family then the fitted roof rails will support roof boxes and the like.

I am so impressed with how well thought out this car is. The second row of seats lift out and there is all manner of ways to configure the interior. The Volkswagen Touran is never going to inflame your automotive desires but it is going to satisfy your long term, all-purpose motoring needs.

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A Practical Choice

There are some very strong contenders in both the SUV and ‘crossover’ sectors and the Honda CR-V (pictured) needs to come up with the goods. Amazingly, it has been around since 1995 and has apparently has sold around five million units in that time. More of a soft-roader than a hardcore mud-plugger, it is absolutely biased toward on-road use so the much lighter two-wheel-drive models make more sense. The featured car is just that, equipped with a frugal 1.6 i-DTEC diesel engine.

1mb2 A Practical ChoiceAlthough it’s a handsome enough car Honda haven’t done much to break new ground in design, taking as they have the tried and tested route. No manufacturer really seems to want to take any risks with this sector and all their SUV’s are starting to look similar.

As time went on though Motor Blogger quite warmed to the CR-V. The 1.6 diesel lacks punch but is extremely frugal (officially 62.8mpg). That seems to be the point of this car. Efficiency and practicality are the watch-words here and in that Honda have succeeded. Despite reservations about the conservative styling, the company has done a lot of work on the CR-V’s aerodynamics to further boost efficiency.

There’s a stop/start system to help keep CO² emissions down. To make sure drivers don’t forget this car’s green credentials the dashboard features a large ‘ECON’ button. When pressed, it adjusts the engine mapping for a yet more efficient drive. It also changes the sensitivity of the air conditioning so it doesn’t have to work as hard. The CR-V even goes so far as to confirm economic driving via a logo on the dash, which becomes greener the greener you’re driving.

Performance would be enhanced by selecting either of the larger petrol or diesel engine options but this really is not why most folk would buy this car. This big five-seater is ideal as a family choice.  There’s tons of head and leg room all round with plenty of cubby space. The split rear-seat fold-down system is extremely easy to use. With one pull, the seat-back folds down with the headrest stored away very nicely to leave a flat load area making an already huge boot even more capacious. It’s like Kent’s Cavern in there and beats most of the opposition. A sign of good design. There’s a stout rubber boot liner over the carpet which is easily removed for cleaning. The interior light cluster above the front passengers has a handy drop-down box to stow your shades but push it back partially and a small convex mirror is revealed which gives a perfect view of the kids in the back seat. A thoughtful touch.4mb A Practical Choice

No driving horrors but not much driving fun either, but this is not the purpose of the car. The ride is built for comfort not speed and the leather/Alcantara seats have plenty of adjustment, including lumbar. There’s a five-star NCAP rating. Connectivity is as usual but the absence of sat-nav in this day and age on what is a £28k car in this spec is a surprise.

For people in the market for a reliable, all purpose, practical family car it is certainly worthy of consideration. Personally, we would look at the less expensive end of the range.

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Family Cruiser – The Peugeot 508.

To  give it its full name, this is the Peugeot 508 Allure Blue HDi 150 saloon. You don’t see many about and yet it is unquestionably a very good car. It drives well, looks good and has an absolutely humungous boot. The 508 is comfortable and the whole thing seems well screwed together. It’s hard to understand why this car doesn’t have more buyer appeal as if the public have taken against the brand.

1mb Family Cruiser   The Peugeot 508.The metallic ‘Alpine Blue’ paintwork helps the good looks. It’s as classy as the more business-like darker hues but without being quite so anonymous. Motor Blogger’s test car was fitted with an optional, clear and readable ‘heads-up’ display. This isn’t something that’s essential but if a driver think it helps then it will set you back an additional and rather hefty £310.

Peugeot have breathed efficiently on their engine range and their old 2.0L diesel is replaced with the new 2.0L Blue HDi 150PS unit, producing an extra ten horsepower while slashing particulate emissions and NOx. Our engine, with Stop/Start, was refined and returned well over 40mpg, and we were not striving in any way for hyper-mileage or eco-records.

It’s also very quiet once the initial growl of acceleration fades away and at motorway speeds you’d be hard put to notice that it was a diesel at all. VED is an abstemious twenty quid thanks to the low 109g/km.

Our test car was furnished with Allure trim, one step below the range topping GT. It loses that car’s full leather upholstery and 19” wheels, but otherwise there isn‘t much difference, although we’re not so keen on the part leather seat trim. There’s good space front and rear – easily enough for five grown-up people – and, as mentioned, a large and well-shaped boot. There’s very little wind noise and generally good visibility all around.2mb Family Cruiser   The Peugeot 508.

The dashboard layout is simple and quietly attractive with all the usual connectivity. The dials are clear and easy to read, and look smart. Sadly, especially in this day and age, the satellite navigation isn’t good enough. It’s not so much that it doesn’t work, it’s just that it seems dated and running behind the opposition.

Overall we were content. It would make a good business fleet car and for the private owner Peugeot offer their ‘Optiway’ service plan which looks like a very good deal. To summarise, the Peugeot 508 fits the bill in most areas as a long-legged cruiser and good all-round family motor.

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Mercedes-Benz C220 Sport Saloon – Driven

Taking a car out for a half-hour spin isn’t really enough time to form anything other than a first impression, but it’s nice when that first impression is a good one – as was the case with the C220 BlueTEC Sport Saloon featured in the images. This all-new and significantly lighter car is powered by the well-proven Mercedes-Benz 2.1L diesel motor that’s also used in the slightly more powerful C250 model. The Sport version is bracketed by the SE and AMG Line trim options and costs around £33,000. Our featured car additionally has full leather and the must-have ‘Premium Plus Package’ amongst other extras which brings the price up to a £37820.

2mb1 Mercedes Benz C220 Sport Saloon   DrivenMotor Blogger was impressed with how well the car sits on the road. The aero design is sleek and purposeful with ‘Agility Control’ suspension and a choice of driving modes – Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport+ – the latter two especially changing the steering weight, throttle response and gear shift timing on auto models. The option to shift with paddles is there for ultimate control but we felt the seven-speed G-Tronic gearbox had most situations covered.

The steering is light but there’s enough weighting there to be confident about exploiting the agile handling. The C220 Sport really has the ability to crack on when needed and this model gets to the benchmark 62mph in a brisk 7.4 seconds yet Mercedes state that emissions are just 110g/km and that a combined fuel consumption figure of 65.7 miles for your expensive gallon is possible.

All buyers will appreciate the Band B VED and executive fleet users with be glad of the 16% BIK percentage, especially when they see the inside which is one of the smartest and most elegant interiors we’ve experienced in this class of car. The modern, cascading dash has robust switchgear and there’s a large high-sitting infotainment screen controlled by an intuitive combination of touchpad and control wheel mounted on the central tunnel.

1mb1 Mercedes Benz C220 Sport Saloon   DrivenThe seats are splendid; really comfortable with bags of adjustment. The interior is roomy with ample space for three in the back. As you would expect, the car is fully featured with the latest technology and connectivity with a list of standard kit that is way too long to publish here. As mentioned above the ‘Premium Plus Package’, although costly, brings with it a host of upgrades like a Burmester Surround Sound system, memory seats, ‘Keyless-go’ and other desirable features.

After our brief encounter, it is clear that this car would be very easy to live with on a day to day basis. It’s spacious, has a big boot and a versatile engine. As a true contender in the executive saloon sector it’s pretty hard to fault and it comes with the quality buyers expect from this brand. Recommended.

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Convertible Cruising

In the UK, sadly, there’s not a lot of point in having a convertible when it rains. Yet when the sun does come out there are few things more fun that cruising in a convertible. Many soft-tops only have two seats – or at best are 2+2 – which isn‘t the most convenient thing in a daily driver, so how about a more family friendly option – the Vauxhall Cascada?

Forget what you knew about badge snobbery. The fact is that Vauxhall make very good cars these days and no longer should be out of the running simply because of some lacklustre cars from the past. The Cascada has a premium feel. Although there are some company styling similarities as is usual these days, this is a new car from the ground up.cas1 Convertible Cruising

The inside is spacious and refined. The leather sports seats are supremely adjustable and super-comfortable. I especially liked the pull-out seat squab for extra support beneath the thighs. The two passenger doors are wide and allow easy access to the back thanks to the auto-operation of the front seats. Tilt the back rest and the seat glides forward. Push it back and it reverses. Easy. The rest of the interior is well designed and made with little evidence of cheap materials and there is absolutely loads of kit – sat-nav, connectivity, climate, heated leather steering wheel and plenty more – as standard.

cas2 Convertible CruisingThe large, steeply raked windscreen and rising window line give the Cascada a purposeful stance. The fabric roof creates a low roofline, although the steeply raked back window means a somewhat narrow view in the rear view mirror. Lower the hood and you get frameless windows and a flat rear deck not unlike the stern of a pleasure cruiser.

The roof stows itself very neatly in about 12 seconds into a recessed area which inevitably compromises the boot space although there’s still room for an overnight bag and some shopping. With the roof in place the boot is deep and capacious although not the easiest to access. It’s a convertible – you can’t have it all ways.

Driving with the top down, the Cascada is pretty refined. As speeds increase so there is some wind buffeting, although front and rear wind deflectors are available. The model featured in our images is in Elite trim and drive comes from a 1.6L turbo-petrol engine with 170PS. Inevitably, the car is heavy but the engine still delivers lively performance but, alas, is not the most economical choice. Thinking about economy I rejected the ‘Sport’ mode button in favour of ‘Tour’ but still only achieved an average of 30mpg in mixed motoring. As a long distance tourer I would think that the 2.0L diesel engine would be a better choice.

Handling is good thanks Vauxhall’s ‘HiPerStrut’ suspension but it’s not a sports car so don’t expect sharp cornering attributes. For Motor Blogger, the very lightly weighted power steering lacked feel although the ‘Sport’ mode weights it up a bit. Overall though the Cascada has a composed and supple ride making long trips a pleasure.

So, the Vauxhall Cascada is a poised and comfortable four-seat drop-top. It is quiet and spacious enough for everyday use whilst remaining a great long distance tourer. None of the currently available versions cost over £30,000 which seems like value for money. An excellent convertible.

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The Porsche Paradigm

Can a red-hot sports car also go shopping? Let’s find out…

When those excellent folk at Porsche offered Motor Blogger this car to review, well, you wouldn’t expect us to say no, would you? The dream car in question is the 911 (991) Carrera 4S. On the first drive this gorgeous sports car felt totally planted and secure on the road and the optional adjustable sports seats ‘Plus’ were amazingly comfortable.

P3 The Porsche ParadigmThe combination of Porsche’s traction, active suspension and stability management trio keeps everything on the straight and narrow, even with the car set permanently in Sport mode. It is no doubt still possible to overcook it, especially on wet or greasy roads though. The stability control and four-wheel drive will pull some raggedness back to order and a driver would really have to be on the ragged edge – or taking idiotic liberties – to put self and car at risk. Save the clever stuff for track days. Thankfully, Porsche have ironed out all the more alarming tendencies of this iconic car.

Power is derived from the usual 3.8L six cylinder Porsche engine. Our car is fitted with the optional Carrera S Power Kit which raises the standard 400bhp to 430bhp. This kit comes in at an eye-watering £9388 but it certainly makes the machine more engaging and immediate. Stopping power is courtesy of the optional ceramic brakes.

There’s a choice of a manual seven speed gearbox or the ‘flappy-paddle’ PDK unit, and the 911 will hit 188mph and achieve the traffic light sprint to 62mph in just 4.4 seconds, yet fuel economy is good. The engine has bags of torque and pulls easily. On one ride the petrol consumption showed a remarkable 29.5mpg. No doubt this is thanks to the seventh gear on the manual and the addition of Stop/Start technology. A driver choosing to have a nice cruise on good roads could achieve well over 30 miles for each expensive gallon. In a Porsche.

Whilst in our tender loving care the 911 was required to go shopping. Obviously, it’s a well known fact that the ‘boot’ can’t really warrant the name ‘boot’. It is however a useful space with surprising depth that can swallow a week’s shopping or sundry other items. In addition, there’s the back seats, suitable for luggage and the like. Crucially, they are also suitable for children and this raises a good point – it’s child friendly.

Inside all is as you would expect for this money. Easy to use climate control, straightforward navigation that sits atop the cascading central console and that lovely, leathery, luxury level of finish. We have then, a car that retains all the magic of its fifty year sporting heritage matched with real utility.P2 The Porsche Paradigm

Some say that the overall character of Porsche’s legendary car has changed. True, the 911′s move to being more efficient with the electrically power-assisted steering and other suspension trickery for example has made the car more user-friendly. Purists can nit-pick about the steering all they like; the fact is that the majority of owners won’t even think about it.

From the minute you the key and hear the bellow of that flat-six motor grumbling into life, you are hooked. The pops and crackles of downshifts and the relentless pace of the acceleration; the sound and fury of the exhaust and the superb handling all add up to a total sports car experience. Yet it can be quiet, comfortable and transport a small family on a day’s outing and generally fit into every day living. A great all-rounder.

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Everybody Loves A Panda

Being able to offer something truly unique in the increasingly competitive SUV segment is no small achievement but in the FIAT Panda Cross that’s exactly what you get – a car like no other!

panda2 Everybody Loves A PandaIn 2006 SUVs accounted for around seven percent of the total car market in Europe whereas today they account for approximately twenty percent, and yet despite the proliferation of models in the past decade the Panda Cross remains a truly unique offering by combining the genuine capabilities of a proper off-road vehicle with the efficiency and practicality of a versatile city car.

The technological upgrades of the FIAT Panda Cross make it the most capable vehicle in its class by some margin yet it is a car that could still be chosen purely for its low running costs, day-to-day practicality and general ease and pleasure of use. The aesthetic enhancements not only provide some visual clues to the all-road potential, they also perform the functional role of protecting its bodywork, lights and mechanical components, both in extreme off road conditions and the rough and tumble of city traffic.

The Panda was the first to be offered with all-wheel drive in its segment, as well as the first to be powered by diesel, methane and LPG. More recently it pioneered City Brake Control in its segment, a safety feature that is ideally suited to city cars but until that time was reserved for larger luxury vehicles. It’s this reputation for practical innovation that has consistently kept the Panda amongst the best sellers in its class.

The front end of the new Panda Cross is dominated by a chunky new bumper which features scratch and bump resistant corner sections and a large, functional skidplate enhanced with cooling perforations. The skidplate is further embellished with a pair of easily-accessed tow hooks, finished in brilliant red, as well as new LED daytime running lights located in protective recesses. The new head-light clusters are framed with matte black surrounds and incorporate pronounced new fog lights, while the bonnet trim is also redesigned.panda3 Everybody Loves A Panda

The seats are trimmed in bespoke natural fabrics with brown eco-leather bolsters (which match the brown door panels) while the dashboard is finished in a new copper colour to set off the striking new silver “ultrashine” finish of the instrument surround and audio system facia. The same finish is also used for the centre console, where the new Terrain Control drive selector is conveniently located.

Terrain Control offers FIAT Panda Cross drivers the possibility of adjusting the vehicle’s driving characteristics according to how it is being used: There are three modes: Auto, Off-Road and Hill Descent Control all of which are self-explanatory.

The FIAT Panda Cross also benefits from versatile all-season 185/65R15 Mud & Snow tyres. Larger than those of the standard Panda 4×4, these tyres were specially developed to ensure optimum traction and responsiveness on wet and dry surfaces, as well as snow-covered roads, while also ensuring excellent off-road performance. With a selection of economical engines and many personalisation options it kind of gives you a reason to look forward to winter doesn’t it?

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