Monday, 4 February 2013

COLUMN - February 2013

Here is my column from the February edition of The Local Herald. It's been a good start to the year, with the publication now going out to over 47,500 homes on a monthly basis. This month I have two more reviews for you. There is the Mitusbishi Outlander and Volvo XC60, both of which can be found in full on the car reviews page. Enjoy them, and next month will be a cracker too!

In keeping with my promise to make 2013 a good year, I have another packed column for you this month. If you enjoyed the Suzuki Special last month, then you are bound to find this another treat. Because I like to think of myself as a creative sort, I shall dub this edition the February Four-by-four special. This month I have another two reviews for you, and this time we’re going to be sitting high on the road in two 4x4’s which turned out to be surprisingly different. At one end we have the Volvo XC60, a super-luxurious yet sleek-looking SUV. At the other end we have the gargantuan, 7-seater Mitsubishi Outlander with endless cabin space. This one was certainly interesting

I shall start with the Volvo. The model that arrived for me to test was an R-Design. This meant it had all the bodykit, the big wheels, and the plush interior. But what really mattered was the 2.4-litre lump that lies underneath the bonnet. The D5 is a 5-pot diesel engine developing 215PS and a whopping 440Nm of torque. That’s planet-moving levels of torque, and the one thing you cannot fault is how the XC60 gets going. Coupled to the 6-speed ‘geartronic’ transmission and AWD system, the Volvo doesn’t feel like an SUV at all.

On the road it drives better than a lot of cars I have experienced. In a straight line it feels fast; 0-62mph takes 7.8 seconds and top speed is 127mph. Around the bends the AWD system and fantastic suspension makes sure that you get around it quickly with superbly-low levels of body roll. There are certain corners I frequently traverse and know they are extremely slippery when wet. The XC60 had no problems whatsoever and didn’t slip a wheel once.

Put simply the Volvo was amazing. It ticked all the boxes and I wouldn’t hesitate getting one. Yes, the model I tested was expensive at £46,000, but it also did everything you could possibly want it to and then some. 45/50.

Next up, the Mitsubishi Outlander. This car shared a platform with the Peugeot 4007 and the Citroen C-Crosser, both of which ceased production last year. That just leaves us with the Outlander, and the one that arrived for me to test boasted a rather slick twin-clutch SST (Sport-Shift Transmission) automated-manual gearbox. Under the bonnet is a 2.2-litre diesel unit which produces 156PS and 380Nm of torque, which is plenty.

That means the Outlander hauls itself from 0-62mph in 11.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 123mph. Yes it may not be a hypercar, but it is no slouch either. Most importantly, the Outlander feels fast. I must at this point say that the gearbox is sublime. As an auto, the changes are barely noticeable. In manual mode using the paddle-shifts, the changes are almost instantaneous, and you really do forget you are driving a big SUV at times. You get the choice of front-wheel-drive, 4WD and 4WD diff-lock; easily selectable via a dial below the gear lever.

Around the bends there is a bit of body roll, but for such a tall car there is less than you’d expect. On the inside you get a vast cabin with two seats hidden in the boot; really only suitable for children. The boot itself is enough for a small army, and even tall adults will find the rear more than roomy enough. I enjoyed the Outlander as it brings a lot to the table. 40/50.

As always both of these reviews can be found in full on my website. See you next month with more reivews!

Dan

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