Tuesday, 5 March 2013

COLUMN - March 2013

Having found myself struggling to understand where time has gone, we arrive in March. Not long to go now until the daylight returns and temperatures hit bearable levels once more. Not one to disappoint I have opted for yet more vehicle reviews this month, although they appeal to somewhat different customers. First up we have the Volvo V40, a new family car from my favourite manufacturer. The we have the big, orange Ford Ranger Wildtrak which appealed to the inner adventurer in me. Enjoy...

I sense a bit of scepticism this month. The previous two editions were jam-packed with reviews, but surely this has to come to an end? Well as a matter of fact, it doesn’t. This month I have another two reviews for you, and of rather different cars. I also went to watch the North West Stages rally up at Blackpool/Fleetwood. The weather was better than last year’s icy blizzard (typical Blackpool!), and this made the day much more enjoyable. The best bit about it was the car I drove up there, which would have been a worthy entrant… but there will be more on that next month.

So what about the cars then? First up we have another Volvo, and it’s the latest addition to the model line-up; the V40. This was even more interesting because it was the first petrol-powered Volvo I’ve tested. I’m a sucker for their diesels, but would the petrol be on the same level?

In short, the answer was a resounding yes. The styling is a credit to the designer, right down to the smallest of details. This applies outside and in; with clever cup-holders and the classic Volvo ‘floating’ centre console. The dashboard is fully digital and extremely nice, with options available on the displays. You can even choose the colour of the mood lighting inside the cabin. A small and almost insignificant detail, but they’re often what count for the most.

How does it drive? Well if anything better than the diesels. The 1.6-litre turbocharged engine produces 180PS and 240Nm meaning a sprint from 0-62mph in just 7.7 seconds and a top speed of 140mph. Certainly no slouch then. It also corners like it’s superglued to the road and would please even the most extreme of the petrol-heads in terms of getting you between them. You get a lot of space and a big boot, and thanks to clever fuel-saving technology, the V40 is kind to your wallet too.

The second review of the month is something bigger…… The £30,000 Ford Ranger Wildtrak looks like it’s come direct from the USA, and makes our roads feel tiny. What you get here is a commercial vehicle but with the mod-cons of a luxurious car. Finished in ‘Wildtrak Orange’ with 18” alloys and a gorgeous leather interior (with matching orange stripes of course!) it looked amazing.

Under the bonnet you have a 3.2-litre diesel engine producing 200PS and a colossal 470Nm of torque. My test car was fitted with a 6-speed automatic gearbox which was a gem. The extra gear makes the world of difference when cruising and also allows best use of the engines torque. From behind the wheel you would think you were driving a luxury car, because Bluetooth, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control and switchable 4WD system all come as standard. The best thing is the reversing camera, which is displayed on one side of the rear view mirror. Very cool feature that shows the Ranger’s class.

As far as practicality goes, you can fit at least two football teams in the rear bed, and even the tallest adults will find the rear seats perfectly comfortable. You have rear parking sensors on top of the camera which should help you guide this town-sized vehicle into a parking bay (or two!). I really enjoyed my time with the Ranger and was sad to see it go. After the snow fell it had no issues getting about, and it felt great to be king of the road for a week.

As always these reviews can be found in full on the car reviews page

Dan

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