Tag Archive | "new cars"

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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Five Secrets You Didn’t Know about the Audi A6 Saloon

For a car to reveal all it has to offer requires some long-term testing. But sometimes drivers never find out a car’s “little secrets” simply because the opportunity never comes up. Discovering a car’s hidden gems earlier on can lead to better vehicle performance and smarter ownership. So today, We’re going to dig deeper into the little tricks that the Audi A6 3-litre TDI S-Line S-tronic with Quattro four-wheel drive has to offer.

Some tricks make full use of the car’s in-built technology and others simply make your life easier.

Secret 1:  The Virtual Dipstick

Today’s modern engines have done away with some of the mundane weekly checks that our parents used to carry out. Checking the oil being one of them – essential to ensure the engine isn’t going to seize due to a lack of lubrication.

The A6 is quite capable of advising you that it needs a top-up and that you should get it sorted pronto. No sudden stops at the roadside in a panic, just a detour to the garage to get some of that black gold.

Once topped-up the central display will tell you all is well, so you can lose the oily rag and avoid dirty fingers that every dipstick check delivers.

More secrets are revealed when you gain access to the car’s computer such as service intervals information and what pressure the tyres are at and, if you really need to know, the car’s Vehicle Identification Number.virtual dipstick Five Secrets You Didn’t Know about the Audi A6 Saloon

Secret 2: The Self-Suspending Boot Floor

Everyone dreads a flat. Especially when it’s raining and especially when the entire family (including restless kids) are in the car. On this Quattro car, during the test, it was necessary to put the Audi toolkit into use and as usual it was under the boot floor.

Normally, holding the floor up while accessing the kit requires three hands, or at least a shoulder to prop it open. In this case however, the flush fitting handle that lifts the floor up has a little hook on the end of it, which once engaged secures the floor panel to the top boot seal. Simple yet ingenious.

More obvious but worth mentioning are the two gas-struts that keep the bonnet open – no other strut required. It’s the little things that please most owners, right?self suspending boot floor Five Secrets You Didn’t Know about the Audi A6 Saloon

Secret 3: Locking Rear Seats Deter Felons

One advantage of the saloon over the estate version is better security. Any miscreant breaking into your estate car can easily access the storage area simply by clambering over the back seat.

In some saloons, the thief can still get in the boot by dropping the seatbacks. Not so in the A6! That’s because the backrests are lockable so you can prevent access to the boot. That’s clever thinking to protect your valuables. If you want to find out more about this car’s performance check out this Audi A6 Saloon review.

locking rear seats deter felons Five Secrets You Didn’t Know about the Audi A6 Saloon

Secret 4: The Car That Parks Itself.

Self-parking cars are not uncommon. For an experienced driver though, the challenge is trusting the tech to achieve the delicate art of parallel parking. The idea of technology is to make life easier for the user. But to achieve car parking nirvana, you have to learn to trust the tech.

The thing is, this A6 can effectively park itself. It takes an act of will to relinquish the steering wheel but you still need to control the brake and throttle. On the road test, the A6 demonstrated that it was entirely capable of assessing the space available and manoeuvring itself into the gap accordingly.

Subsequent tests revealed so long as the space was of adequate size, the Audi parked itself successfully – no drama or fuss. Although, on one occasion, it wasn’t perfectly straight. Then again, how often do we get it exactly right?car parks itself Five Secrets You Didn’t Know about the Audi A6 Saloon

Secret 5: The Digital Handbook

In the glove box of any new car you’ll find the handbook, which these days are about the size of a hardback version of War and Peace. To get the best out of your car this needs to be read from cover to cover but, in all honesty, how many owners actually do that?

The A6 almost dispenses with this antiquated method of information and instead allows the driver to access a digital handbook on screen. To do this it is first necessary to get to grips with the Audi’s systems before you can get to the guide that takes you through the car’s main controls and systems.

It isn’t meant to replace the handbook (the A6 comes with a printed version), but when those occasions arise the handbook isn’t where it should be, i.e. in the car as opposed to a mouldering drawer in the garage, you can still find out what you need to know, especially in an emergency.

These days we are becoming much more accustomed to in-car technology and 21st Century automotive marvels. It has become much easier to connect your mobile device to stream music and access contacts, it’s just the Audi A6 still has some tricks up its very smart sleeve and it is willing to let you in on the secret.digital handbook Five Secrets You Didn’t Know about the Audi A6 Saloon

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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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Driverless On The Hockenheim Racetrack

At Germany’s Touring Car race finale at Hockenheim Audi will stage one of the most extreme piloted driving demonstrations to date. They will underscore piloted driving potential as part of the programme for the final German Touring Car Championship race at Hockenheim.

There will be a live broadcast on Audi Media TV from 12:45pm on October 19, 2014 when an autonomous car will undertake a two-minute lap time and try and achieve a speed of 149mph.

driverless Driverless On The Hockenheim RacetrackA driverless Audi RS7 Sportback will tackle Germany’s famous circuit at race speed next week to underscore the potential of their piloted driving technology. With the latest Audi developments on board, the concept car will drive autonomously to its physical limits with millimetre precision as an exciting sideshow for the Touring Car Championship (DTM) finale on the 19th.

As its sophisticated sensors guide it around the challenging circuit, the RS7 Sportback piloted driving concept car will be approximately as fast as with a professional racing driver at the wheel. Tests conducted so far indicate that on the grand prix track a lap time of just over two minutes can be expected, and that the technology demonstrator should reach speeds, as mentioned, of up to 149mph.

The performance will be broadcast live and exclusively on the Internet starting at 12:45 pm on Audi Media TV.

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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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Panasonic Provide Spark For Tesla

As the relentless march towards alternative automotive fuels continues, it has been announced that Panasonic and Tesla Motors, have signed an agreement that lays out their cooperation on the construction of a large-scale battery manufacturing plant in the USA, to be known, rather unimaginatively, as the Gigafactory.

Inside The Gigafactory

According to the agreement, Tesla will prepare, provide and manage the land, buildings and utilities. Panasonic will manufacture and supply cylindrical lithium-ion cells and invest in the associated equipment, machinery, and other manufacturing tools based on their mutual approval. A network of supplier partners is planned to produce the required precursor materials.

t1 Panasonic Provide Spark For TeslaTesla will take the cells and other components to assemble battery modules and packs. To meet the projected demand for cells, Tesla will continue to purchase battery cells produced in Panasonic’s factories in Japan.

The Gigafactory is being created to enable a continuous reduction in the cost of long-range battery packs in parallel with manufacturing at the volumes required to enable Tesla to meet its goal of advancing mass market electric vehicles. The Gigafactory will be managed by Tesla with Panasonic joining as the principal partner responsible for lithium-ion battery cells and occupying approximately half of the planned manufacturing space; key suppliers combined with Tesla’s module and pack assembly will comprise the other half of this fully integrated industrial complex.

The Electric Future

The Gigafactory is meant to represent a fundamental change in the way large scale battery production can be realized. Not only does the Gigafactory enable capacity needed for the Model 3 Tesla but it sets the path for a dramatic reduction in the cost of energy storage across a broad range of applications. Economies of scale, in other words.

Cost reductions will be achieved through optimized manufacturing processes previously unobtainable in battery cell and pack production. Further price reductions are achieved by manufacturing cells that have been optimized for electric vehicle design, both in size and function and also by co-locating suppliers on-site to eliminate packaging, transportation and duty costs along with other ancillary expenses. Anything that brings down the cost of EV’s in the medium to long term has got to be a good thing.

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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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