Sunday, 7 April 2013

COLUMN - April 2013

Here is my Column from the April edition of the Local Herald. This month I had three reviews to cram in, of some very different cars. As always these can be found in full in the reviews section of the website, and I hope you enjoyed the column.

I hinted last month there would be more to come on the car I took up to Fleetwood for the North West Stages rally, and this month I will make good on that promise. The vehicle I was behind the wheel of was rather special, and has left a lasting impression on me. I also have more cars to tell you about; it’s been a busy month!

So what was this supposedly amazing car? Well it was in fact a Subaru WRX STi 320R. That means 320PS under the enormous bonnet scoop and that means supercar performance. 0-62mph takes 4.9 seconds and the top speed is 158mph. Whilst the top speed falls short of a Porsche or Aston Martin, the acceleration is not far off the mark and you could give one a run for its money away from the lights. You may even keep up on a twisty road, because the WRX handles like a dream. The AWD system coupled to some trick-differentials and pin-sharp steering make this car a joy to throw around. You can adjust the whole car to make it more or less tail happy and have all the relevant systems to keep you on the road. Just make sure to keep an eye on the speedo because you can easily find yourself going faster than you probably should do, and be sure to plan a route which passes several fuel stations, because you will need them!

Sadly the WRX is being withdrawn from sale in the UK; when the current stock goes that’s it. Undoubtedly a tremendous shame, but this means that these last models are well equipped, cost less than £30,000- even for the 340PS upgrade- and hold more second-hand value. An iconic Subaru then.

A less iconic Subaru is the Legacy… despite its name. While there can be no faulting it as a large and practical estate car, it certainly doesn’t boast the same performance credentials as the WRX. Going from one to the other was definitely chalk and cheese, and probably contributed somewhat to my disappointment.

The Legacy I had was a mid-range model with a 2.0-litre petrol engine and a CVT automatic gearbox. There was no real acceleration and the 6th gear is incredibly long meaning that it changes down on even the slightest incline. Fuel economy isn’t great either which in a WRX is the norm, but I expected more from the Legacy.

The exterior styling does little to take away from this being a large spacious car; it is far from handsome. On the inside things get better bar the seats which are a bit old fashioned. Given how good a handling car the Legacy is, I feel Subaru could have done more to make it desirable.

Finally we have the Peugeot 208, a car I have reviewed before. This one, however, came with a clean, green diesel engine that is free to tax but offers you 92PS should you need to move. I really like the styling of the 208; it combines modern and retro features in a brilliant package. Some larger optional wheels would really complete the styling package. Inside the equipment level is superb and there are lovely materials and finshes.

To drive the 208 eHDi was fantastic; plenty of go and great fun. It handles well too for a diesel- the small steering wheel allows you to chuck it round corners with pleasure. With a GTi model coming this year, the 208 really is an exciting Peugeot; harping back to the days of the iconic 205.

Dan

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