Thursday, 6 June 2013

COLUMN - June 2013

Here's a chance to see my June column from The Local Herald. This month I managed to cram in three reviews of cars with a sporty edge to them. From the large estate of the Volvo V70 with R-Design styling and a powerful diesel, to the bright yellow Ford Focus ST which stands out from a crowd. Finally the front-engined, rear-wheel-drive Subaru BRZ which was a car that uses the simple formula of a brilliant sports car. All were fantastic, so enjoy the column and be sure to check out the full reviews for all three of them on the Reviews page

This month I have some cracking content for you, because the cars I had on test were, to put it simply, awesome. There’s a bit of everything- from a practical estate car to a 2-door sports car. There’s even a yellow ASBO car thrown in for good measure. So, I hope you enjoy it!

I shall start with the estate car. Yes, you guessed it… a Volvo. This one is the V70, and it’s the most reminiscent of the stereotypical Volvo- a large, box-like estate car. However, before you dismiss it as a barge that should be driven by elders I will stop you. This one means business. Firstly, it is an R-Design. That means a sporty bodykit, large roof spoiler, designer wheels, a twin exhaust and a gorgeous interior. Finished in ‘Rebel Blue’ (no that’s not a joke!) paint, it looks absolutely sublime. Secondly, and more importantly, a 2.4-litre D5 engine lay under the bonnet. This packs some serious punch, and means that the V70 doesn’t hang about either. The police use V70 D5’s, and driving it I could see why. It’s fast, yet relaxing, and on a motorway it is the most ideal of cruisers. I was pleasantly surprised by the V70 R-Design, and I would happily own one. If you need convincing then see for yourself.

Next onto something else blue, but this one came sporting a Subaru badge. Called the BRZ it may look somewhat familiar. That’s because it is the same car as the Toyota GT86. There is no separating the two but for the front bumper, and the badges. The ‘B’ stands for boxer- the flat-four engine allowing a much lower centre of gravity. The ‘R’ is for rear-wheel-drive, which will make the petrolheads amongst us start to drool. And the ‘Z’? Well that just sounds good. There’s enough power, but not too much. With it being tail-happy thanks to skinny tyres, too much power could make this car a bit sketchy. Thankfully Subaru/Toyota got the balance perfect, and this is one of the best cars I have ever driven. It just takes you back to the reason you fell in love with cars. It’s a car for the enthusiast- and it’s brilliant. It will turn heads wherever you go, and thanks to the non-turbo engine, will offer a mpg figure in the high 30’s. So what are you waiting for?

Well, it could be this next car. You see the biggest downfall of the BRZ is the two rear seats which are good only for infants. A car like a Ford Focus is much more practical for a family, with its large boot, 5-doors and spacious cabin. But then you lose all the fun and performance? Well it would appear not. The Focus ST offers you more power and more speed than the BRZ, and is incredibly great fun too, at no cost of practicality. To drive this car is better than you would imagine. The weighty steering and responsive suspension allow you to feel your way round the bends. There is an acoustic system which feeds the engine induction noise into the cabin too, which makes for a great soundtrack. My test car was finished in the ASBO colour of ‘Tangerine Scream’ which looks jawdroppingly beautiful. People would walk into things trying to catch a second look of the Focus. This is a family car for the driver who still likes to have a bit of fun too. For me it is one of the best cars of 2013.

As always you will find full reviews and lots of pictures on my website.

Dan

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