Sunday, 6 October 2013

COLUMN - October 2013

Here is my column from the October edition of The Local Herald. It's been a busy year in terms of reviews, and this month was no different. I have the Fiat Panda TwinAir in review, which aims to offer excellent economy without compromising drivability. Also mentioned are the Ford Kuga and Volvo V40 R-Design, the latter of which became only the second car to score maximum marks in review. So I hope you enjoy this column, and be sure to check out the full reviews for all the vehicles on the Reviews page.

So as this column lands on your doorstep we find ourselves in October, and with Halloween at the end of the month, there’s something to look forward to at least. The Christmas items have started sneaking their way into the shops, and I still cannot believe how fast this year has gone. So let’s get on to cars…

Firstly I was fortunate enough to be invited to a Jaguar Land Rover test day, where I got to see the entire model line-up, from the all-new Range Rover Sport, to the most exciting British car of the year- the Jaguar F-type. It was a fantastic day, and I got to meet some of my dream cars, which is always good. There are heaps of pictures of all the cars from the day on my website, and they’ll be well worth checking out.

I also want to mention the Volvo V40 R-Design. I had this car on test recently and was utterly blown away by it. So much so, in fact, that it made itself only the second car EVER to score a perfect 50 in review. It really had the whole package, from style, to performance, and I really didn’t want to give it back at the end of the week. If you are after a family hatchback then get out there and look at one, because you will struggle to find fault with it.

I also reviewed the Ford Kuga Titanium, which was a vastly practical car, and a pleasure to drive. We have two dogs in our household- albeit small ones- but they simply loved the boot in the Kuga. It was big enough for them to run around in, and the car was comfortable enough that they went to sleep. Kudos points to the Kuga for keeping them quiet, and with 4WD and a torquey diesel motor, you can head out anywhere, anytime, any conditions.

The other car I had on test was the Fiat Panda TwinAir. Basically this is a 0.9-litre, turbocharged motor aimed to drive like a bigger engine, but with superb economy. It seems to work though, because with power of 85PS and CO2 emissions of 99g/km- that’s free road tax- the Panda seems to have the best of both worlds. To drive the TwinAir engine is unusual. It’s a two-cylinder motor which makes for an unusual noise, and also means the engine doesn’t like to be below 2,000rpm. However, with the turbocharger there is some decent acceleration to be had- 0-62mph takes 11.2 seconds which I imagine is faster than you would have guessed.

Sadly the Panda handles like I imagine a real-life panda would- it is rather tall- and the seats are woefully unsupportive. But somehow this makes it a laugh, and you feel like you’re doing 120 when you’re actually doing 20, and you can be on the limit in this car whenever you want, without breaking the speed limits.

There is a sort of ‘cute’ styling theme to the Fiat Panda, and with the ‘squircle’ (square-circle) theme present throughout, it makes a decent effort. However, it seems to fall short of the 500- which can also feature a TwinAir engine- in the style department, and personally I’d go for that. There isn’t excessive room in the Panda, but it has enough boot space for your shopping, and does have 5 doors which offers more in terms of practicality.

As always, full reviews for all of these cars can be found on my website. There’s plenty of pictures too, and you’re more than welcome to leave a comment. See you next month.

Dan

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