Tag Archive | "buy new cars"

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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As Long As It’s Black – New Skoda Editions

The debut of eight new models in one day usually only happens at a motor show, but ŠKODA has done it anyway with the launch of their ‘Black Edition’ cars.

A striking and ‘high-on-style’ limited edition model is now available on every one of Skoda’s award-winning cars – that’s everything from the Citigo supermini to the Superb executive Hatch and Estate.

Based on the already well-specified mid-level SE trim, the Black Edition range is available in either black or white exterior paint. Each gets at least £1,200 worth of desirable optional extras, with Superb buyers benefiting from more than £3,200 of additional specification. The customer benefit is up to £1,720 depending on the model.

The exact detail of the enhancements varies by model, but examples of equipment that features in the Black Edition range includes black alloy wheels, additional black exterior styling details, sunset privacy glass, ‘Amundsen’ satellite navigation, DAB digital radio, full leather upholstery, cruise control, floor mats and metallic/pearl effect paint.

S2 As Long As Its Black   New Skoda EditionsLikely to prove extremely popular is the ŠKODA Octavia Black Edition (pictured), available in both Hatch and Estate body styles and with a choice of 2.0-litre TDI CR 140PS with a manual or DSG gearbox, or 2.0-litre TDI CR 170PS with similar manual/DSG powertrains.

The Rapid sits between the Fabia and the Octavia in the Skoda family. It too is available in this edition. Recently, Motor Blogger had the chance to drive this car and found it to be excellent.

From the back, the Rapid looks oddly narrow but this is deceptive. Despite the saloon-like appearance it is in fact a five-door with a large easy-close hatch, a low-loading lip and an absolutely massive boot – best in class (550L with the back seats up) as it happens. Inside, there’s ample legroom and storage.

The designers have made a great use of the space available and not only was I able to load four adults (incl. self) and a child but also the boot swallowed everything we needed for a long weekend with space to spare. Incidentally, the rear seats split and there’s the option of a ski hatch/armrest. A nice touch is the reversible floor mat with one side carpeted and the other a mud-shrugging rubber surface. Our Rapid had a space-saver spare and useful extra space under the boot floor.

Overall, Skoda now have a great range of cars. Something for everyone in fact. And now you can get them in black.

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Driving The Volvo V40

Whilst Volvo continue to put safety first, their cars these days are much more entertaining and modern to drive. The model featured in our pics is the V40 1.6L D2 SE Lux Nav with the Powershift auto gearbox.  For a small family hatchback it is not the cheapest on the market and with the plentiful optional extras packed into it our car costs a slightly eye-watering £31,730.

MB1 Driving The Volvo V40Crucially though, and as always, you get what you pay for. The subtle grey colour is augmented by the blond leather interior. The soft-touch plastic across the dash is textured which helps to soften the effect. There is very little hard plastic but where it exists it seems to of the solid and robust variety. The seats are very comfortable and the perfect driving position is easy to achieve. The interior is good quality and includes all the expected connectivity and dashboard features.

The safety highlights include BLIS, a blind spot warning system that, instead of having the illuminated warning in the door mirror, has it on the quarter light. I found this worked well because it was well within my peripheral vision. A plus point. Volvo’s SOS/On Call feature is on this car. I didn’t have occasion to use it thankfully but it seems to me to be an absolute must-have for emergency and breakdown situations. Help is just a call away.

We experienced the Level 1 collision warning alarm, inadvertently. This was during the first exploratory outing and we were unaware that it was featured at all. Red LED’s started flashing on the dash and klaxons blasted. It is certainly dramatic. The upshot of this is that whilst the system really has merit, especially in traffic, it seems to be ultra-sensitive and can be triggered by parked cars as on this occasion. Certainly keeps you on your toes though.

Elsewhere, the boot is roomy and has a false floor and, joy of joys, a proper temporary spare wheel. There’s plenty of hooks to secure luggage and the rear-seats split for bigger loads. It’s comfortable in the back with ample leg and head-room for a full sized adult.MB3 Driving The Volvo V40

The 1.6L diesel engine fitted to this model is robust (there are petrol and diesel alternatives) and has some pulling power. The car’s not quick (11.5 seconds for the auto) but it is clean and once up to speed proved to be a classy ride. Our car emitted just 102g/km of the nasty stuff and with the manual transmission is apparently cleaner still at a tax-busting 88g/km. Out on the road the engine is willing provided you keep the revs up. There is a ‘sport’ option on the gearbox which is handy for overtaking performance but it is not why anyone would buy this car. With its attractive, streamlined shape the Volvo V40 looks to be a genuine contender. Well worth considering.

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Super Suzuki Swift Sport

Every so often a car comes along that, apart from meeting expectations, has a certain something extra. At first sight of the Suzuki Swift Sport it looks like fun. From the chunky rear end with its big spoiler and twin exhausts right through to the sleek front end, it ticks all the boxes for a small hot hatch. If indeed it was a small hot hatch but it isn’t. No matter, it remains a highly entertaining motor. 136bhp from the willing 1.6L engine isn’t really at the cutting edge of blistering performance but, curiously, it doesn’t matter.

This is one of the best-handling superminis you can buy. Despite only having 136bhp from the willing 1.6L engine, out on the road it is great to drive, sounds throaty and delivers plenty of smiles per hour. Twisting turning B roads are it’s stamping ground. The naturally aspirated engine is only a modest performer when you compare it to the opposition but that is part of the enjoyment as the driver needs to work at the six-speed gearbox and keep those revs spinning. The steering is accurate and direct, the brakes are more than capable and sporty dampers keep the handling flat and supple.sw2 Super Suzuki Swift Sport

Safe too, and possibly the ideal starting point for the keen new driver with deeper pockets. As you’d expect the car features ABS, EBD and ESP and there’s plenty of airbags. The back seats are, as you’d expect, a bit tight for adults but better than you might think just by looking. Plenty of room for the kids though.

In fact, everything comes as standard. This five-door version has a list price of £14,499 ( there are deals around though) and includes, well, everything really. In other words, all the options you want are standard fit. Cruise, Bluetooth, Sat-Nav, connectivity, 17” alloys, keyless entry, a cracking steering wheel with controls to name a few. Some of the plastics are bit on the cheap side but, crucially, there is no scrimping on the very well bolstered seats. Basically, everything is stylish and well bolted together. The Suzuki Swift Sport is a bit of a bargain, I reckon, and with up to 44mpg on the combined figure it should be pretty economical too.

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Why Review Cars At All?

There is a problem with reviews, no matter what for. There is a movie coming out called ‘The Third Person’ which is already being roundly criticised for being dreadful but, if you haven’t seen it, how would you know for sure? Arguments rage throughout the pubs and clubs of Britain about this team or that or which Godfather or Star Trek film was the best. In short, everybody has an opinion and it is their own, alone.

Recently, Motor Blogger drove the Audi Q7 and it was great. What was not so great was the interior, which, although luxurious, is starting to look dated. Although I loved the car overall this was a bit disappointing. The majority of the people who are actually buying this car would probably have a different opinion and, like a dead owl – as far as my views were concerned – couldn’t give a hoot.

So why do we need reviews at all? After all, as the old saying goes, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. What I, or anyone else, thinks is of no relevance when it comes down to it. However, when it comes to cars it is certainly handy to have someone else summarise the facts and figures, but you can get that from car manufacturers websites. You can select colour and options from brochures in the showroom. It is all a matter of personal preference. Who cares what anyone else thinks and, indeed, why is this bloke trying to talk himself out of a job?

I’ll tell you. Over time, some of you will read these pages and generally agree with much of what is written; others will be quietly planning to firebomb my garage. What car reviewers give you, if they are hopefully good at their job, is a reasoned assessment based on experience and knowledge.

If a particular car is under consideration the potential buyer will possibly be ruled by the heart rather than by the head. It is the objective viewpoint that counts. It’s rather like taking along that otherwise irritating uncle who knows about cars to a used car viewing. It’s another pair of eyes.

Modern cars are very good. It is hard to find to a bad one. The budget end of the market will have cars that are lacking in the luxuries but that’s what a buyer will expect. Equally, the buyer of expensive cars will expect much more for the money. Where unbiased reviews come in is that they can tell you how a car performs, what is not so good and so on. The reviewer can say how a vehicle handles under different conditions and how easy it is to drive.

The reviewer should have an understanding of auto mechanics and, basically, know a lemon when he or she sees it. We drive the vehicle in a variety of conditions such as on the A Roads, the back roads, and in stop and go conditions. We take note of the acceleration, braking, handling, road noise, and blind spots. We try as many features as possible.
That’s why we’re here. We are your unbiased uncle – although hopefully not too irritating. We are your eyes and ears. We hear and understand those tell-tale noises you don’t. We can help you decide between make or model. Sure, we get to drive some cool cars but sadly that’s a necessary part of the job. Someone’s got to do it.


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Golf Class

At Motor Blogger we like a car test. This time it’s the turn of the legend itself, Volkswagen’s highly regarded Golf Hatchback. In this case the model tested is the base, but not basic, S model fitted with the 1.2L TSI BlueMotion 105PS petrol engine driving through a six-speed manual gearbox. This model is a five-door.

The TSI engine combines direct injection with turbo charging that promises to maximize power from a smaller displacement while limiting fuel consumption. Meanwhile torque is available from much lower revs and maintained at most engine revolutions. This makes cars equipped with these engines more lively at lower revs, which in turn makes them more economical and cleaner.

Owners who regularly drive longer distances would probably be better served by the diesel options available for this car, but for lower mileages this modest version is hard to beat. VW reckon that in the combined cycle the Golf S can achieve as much as 57 miles to the gallon. We didn’t see that (40mpg to be precise) but then we didn’t perform any longer trips and the car was put through its paces on our evaluation cycle. We think that an overall average circa 50mpg is possible in the real world of motoring.1MB Golf Class

The traffic light charge to 62mph is achieved in a fairly brisk 10.2 seconds and, if you were allowed to do so, the 1.2L Golf can keep going to 119mph. The basic price is around £18500 although this particular car had some optional extras like alloy wheels – mobile casino the car comes with steel hoops as standard but you don’t want those – meaning the bottom line is about £20k. For what you get this is good value.

On this version all the expected safety features known only by their initials – ABS and the like – are all there in force and the price includes an excellent infotainment centre with Bluetooth, DAB, MP3, an SD card reader and much more. No satnav or reversing sensors at this price though. This doesn’t matter because the shape of the car makes it easy to park and you can always buy a navigation device or use a smartphone app.

Out on the road this classy car shows its value. Performance is perfectly adequate – this car is designed for economy after all – and good progress can be made. There’s a long third gear for ease of overtaking. The ride is, frankly, superb. Too soft for performance driving obviously, but very comfortable, as are the supportive seats. Steering is light at low speeds but weights up as speed increases; plus there is genuine feel to the steering sensation – the car feels safe and planted. It’s a Golf so build quality is as good as you would expect.  If family motoring matters more to you than performance or striking looks then there are few cars to rival it. When you shut the doors it sounds just like a Golf; it looks like a Golf so it must be a Golf.

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Desirable DS4

Your editor is a great fan of Citroen. Don‘t ask me why, I can‘t tell you. That‘s just how it is. Prior to the arrival of the DS3 the company languished in the doldrums of the Xantia and  Xsara but now, with the imminent arrival of the on-trend Cactus, Citroen may very well be on a roll. For the most part Citroen’s designers can usually be relied upon to come up with stylish goods and such is the case with the DS4, a great car that seems to be virtually ignored in the UK.

The car in the pictures is the DS4 DSport HDI 160 with a six-speed auto ‘box. Essentially it is a high-riding five door hatchback based on the regular C4 but with the DS family facial features. As it is not an SUV it must be what they call a ‘crossover’. It‘s certainly very handsome wherever you stand to admire it. I like the way the roof-line sweeps down to the deep spoiler and the rounded haunches. The rear doors have ‘hidden’ handles for that sleek coupe look.

Specifications vary as ever but there are three trim options – DSign, DStyle and DSport – but additionally on this car there are some nice touches. The 19” Cairns alloys are gorgeous (more on those later though) and the panoramic windscreen is a delight, giving the interior a light and airy aspect. In the unlikely event of being subjected to the glare of the sun however the visors not only hinge in the usual manner but also slide down to narrow the screen. Genius. The lid of the central cubby slides forward to make a handy armrest for both front seats. It’s possible to fiddle about with the dashboard mood lighting too.MB2 Desirable DS4

The rest of the interior is tidy and uncluttered.  The comfortable seat are heated, have electric lumbar adjustment but, rather oddly, only manual adjustment for height, reach and rake. At this money I would like to see all-electric adjustment. Things are a bit tighter in the back but normal sized people can cope and kids will do fine.

Driving, then The first thing to mention is the gearbox. It’s a six speed automatic that’s smooth in operation, has a manual sequential shift option – though not paddles – but is otherwise as you‘d expect. The four cylinder 2.0L turbo-diesel on this option offers 163bhp, which is fine, and 251lb/ft of torque so progress can be brisk, reaching 62mph is just under ten seconds. Thanks to up-rated suspension, the Citroen DS4 offers a sharper feel and is more agile from behind the wheel.

Steering is nicely weighted and gives plenty of feel from the road with a precision that makes driving the DS4 a pleasure. However, on rough B roads and the like the ride was a bit unsettled. This might be due to the big 19” wheels. There’s an option to select smaller wheels which will help the ride although the 19’s are so good-looking you probably won’t.

MB really liked this car although the version you see costs £27,920, which included special paint and some other extras. Go for the standard model though and you will have a very good car that won’t be seen on every street corner.

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MB Drives The Morgan 3 Wheeler

In a crowded and busy motoring world where the emphasis is on lifestyle and connectivity it’s nice to get the opportunity to do a bit of old school motoring for once. This is why, during a visit to the Morgan Motor Company I had the chance to leap into the latest Morgan 3 Wheeler.

This is driving as it was seventy or eighty years ago. It transcends modern motoring. The 3 Wheeler is hand-built by craftsmen; it is small, impractical and draughty and the most fun you can have with your clothes on. It’s not even as if the 3 Wheeler is something new. When Karl Benz rolled out his first effort in 1885, it had three wheels. Since then of course there have been very many more across the years.

The latest 3 Wheeler however has received some revisions for the 21st Century. The chassis has been further developed to increase stiffness – this improves the handling. The steering has been modified to eliminate previously reported ‘bump steer’ – a tugging at the steering wheel when the front wheels travel up and down – all of which has improved the on-road stability.3w MB Drives The Morgan 3 Wheeler

At the top I mentioned that I ‘leapt’ into the cockpit. This is not technically true. It is a bit of a squeeze. The driver has to step into the car (there are no doors) and shuffle down behind the steering wheel. No doubt there is a knack to this, but for a new boy who could stand to lose a couple of  kilos it wasn’t easy.

Once installed though the seats are really very comfortable. The dashboard is simple and uncluttered and its centrepiece is a starter button with a flip-up cover. There’s something very special about that. The view out shows the wide track of the front wheels.

I manoeuvred easily out of the car park and took off up the road, elbow hanging nonchalantly over the side of the car on the leather panel as if I did this sort of thing every day. Now, anyone who has motored in an open-topped car knows all about the highs and lows of convertible driving. There’s all that fresh air and sky and then there’s the cold (this is winter after all) and the wind trying to pull off all your hair.

Yet none of Winter’s woes can get the big smile off your face. The engine – a 1,982cc V-twin petrol unit with a reliable Mazda five-speed manual gearbox and driving the rear-wheel by way of a toothed belt – has a purposeful growl but isn’t intrusive. Out on the road it was time to concentrate. The car handles well and steers accurately with no hint of instability. 80bhp will whisk the car up to 62mph is just 6.5 seconds and on up to 125 if you feel up to it. Enjoying the sensations of driving what is this car is all about.

If you ever find yourself in a position to drive one of these cars then grab it with both hands, whatever the weather. If you are fortunate enough to have a spare £31,000 or so (there is a wide range of options for customising to taste) and you could do with a second (or third) car that will bring you infinite driving pleasure, then invest in a Morgan 3 Wheeler now.

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What’s In A Name? The John Cooper Works Mini

Recently Motor Blogger had the chance to drive a fine selection of motors and they all pretty much had one thing in common – quality. Sometimes though, a car will come along which sparks the inner boy. In this case it was the car in the picture – the Mini John Cooper Works Paceman.

As a fan of the Mini from way back my opinion may be rose-tinted,  but I enjoyed my jaunt in this car hugely, grinning like an automotive Cheshire cat. Yes, there are faster and cheaper cars in this sector and in the Mini JCW range but on this occasion we’ll just let the heart rule the head.

The JCW Paceman is a big three door four-seater. We can’t really describe it as being in the hot hatch department because it kind of transcends that common tag. It is absolutely loaded to the roof with standard kit including all the infotainment and safety gear you’d expect.

The version pictured has many choice options fitted as well, including some glorious 19” ‘Cross Spoke Crusher’ alloys but at an additional £1130 you may prefer the standard eighteen inch hoops. In fact, it’s the price that is the only issue for me. The standard JCW Paceman costs nearly £30k OTR. With the twenty-two options on the featured car the cost is an eye-watering £37,580 but that’s still only equivalent to an Evoque.

Power comes from a 215bhp 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbocharger petrol engine. It’s not slow. It can accelerate to 62mph in 6.9 seconds and has a top speed of 140mph. Ride height on this version is 10mm lower than the standard Paceman, making it more fun when negotiating the sort of roads upon which  the Mini excels. The conditions were damp yet we found that the JCW has huge levels of traction thanks to the standard ALL4 all-wheel-drive system. This works brilliantly well and grip was never an issue. ‘Corners on rails’ is how it is usually described.

Mini reckon that this motor will achieve 38.2mpg on the combined figure. Not sure about that but thirty plus should be on the cards though.  Emissions aren’t overly bad at 172g/km; in fact for a performance car I think they’ve done pretty well on this green issue.

Now look, inside every man is a boy burning with testosterone. So just try and stop your inner boy reaching for the sport button once it has been established that by flicking it the engine is tweaked for responsiveness and crucially the soundtrack burbles and crackles, especially on lifting off from the accelerator. The Cheshire Cat is back.

If you select the optional automatic gearbox and you press the magical Sport Button not only will you get the sublime noise but it also quickens up the shift times. The optional six-speed automatic gearbox comes with a Steptronic function and steering wheel shift paddles are available. Thanks to some quality insulation tyre and wind noises are well suppressed allowing the driver to savour the vocal engine. The ride is firm but the seats are comfortable and well bolstered.

Leaving aside the fun aspects of this car, it is also a practical choice. Three passengers can be accommodated although the rear accommodations are a bit tight for full-sized occupants – in which case the JCW Countryman may be the better alternative. The boot can handle 330 litres but with the seats folded this increases to a capacious 1080 litres.

You either like the Mini or you don’t. This Paceman is costly but it’s huge fun and you won’t see that many about. Pretty soon this model will be superseded by the forthcoming 2014 Mini but, if we’re honest, we can’t see how the existing JCW Paceman can be bettered.

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MB Drives A Mazda

Pictured is the Mazda 6 Tourer 165PS Sports Nav; a rather clumsy name for a very versatile and sporting family car. The standard version costs £24,995 and the one in our image costs £530 more, thanks to the pearlescent paint, which is very striking despite not being enhanced by the dull weather.

Long gone are the days when Mazda could be considered the second-class choice. The fit and finish on this 6 is first class. Inside it is nice and leathery with a very comfortable driver’s seat offering loads of adjustment and posterior heating. Keyless entry obviously; a reversing camera, a quality Bose surround system with no less than eleven speakers and TomTom technology all add up to a very well featured car. Even the passenger seat has four-way adjustability. Outside there’s 19” alloys, LED running lights and Bi-Xenon lamps with an adaptive lighting system.

Under the bonnet lives a straightforward two litre, four cylinder DOC petrol engine pushing out, as the name suggests, 165PS along with 210Nm of torque and a modest 136g/km of the nasty stuff. In the very capacious boot (extendable by lowering the rear seats as usual) Mazda have supplied a ‘space-saver’ spare wheel. Personally I like a full size spare but it’s still way better than those wretched kits.

So what’s it like to drive? Surprisingly good. As a perfectly happy Mazda owner in the past I was looking forward to this car and it is great to report that I really enjoyed the drive. The Mazda 6 Tourer is not hugely fast obviously, but it can certainly crack on when required. It doesn’t feel fast either but 62mph comes up in a brisk 9.1 seconds. That’s plenty for safe and secure motoring and, in any event, that figure belies the snappy in-gear overtaking performance. On the road the car feels planted and settled with a good combination of ride and handling so any long trips will be dealt with without arriving feeling like a wet rag.

The Mazda6 Tourer is what most families need. Roomy, yet easy to park; quick yet dependable. As mentioned I have previously owned a Mazda 3 that went everywhere reliably and without complaint. This new car is a real step up from that.

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