Saturday, 9 November 2013

COLUMN - November 2013

Here is another chance to me my Motor Mouth column from the November edition of The Local Herald. Yet more reviews this month. First up is the Chevrolet Trax LT, a compact-SUV with 4WD and a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine. Next was the Honda Civic with its super-economical 1.6-litre diesel engine. Both had their own merits, so read on for the column. As usual full reviews can be found for these cars by visiting the Reviews page. Enjoy!

So the bonfires and fireworks are making an appearance, and shops are full of Christmas items. 2013 has flown by, and has been my busiest so far in terms of reviews and events. I aim to finish the year as strong as I started, and so this month I have another two vehicle reviews for you.

First up we have the Chevrolet Trax LT. This is a compact SUV which has optional 4WD and a whole range of engines. It shares a platform with the Vauxhall Mokka, but they’re rather different looking cars. The Trax manages to look bold and chunky despite its relatively compact size. Being an LT model it had privacy glass, 18-inch alloy wheels and bits of chrome dotted about. On the inside the stylish seats and part-digital dashboard are very visually pleasing, whereas the cheap door plastics are not. There’s even a touch screen media system.

Powering my Trax test car was a 1.4-litre, turbocharged petrol engine, producing 140PS and 200Nm of torque. This went through a 6-speed manual gearbox to all four wheels. This gives a great level of grip, and the Trax handles very well. The engine too is good. There’s plenty of power but it’s also quiet and refined when cruising.

Road tax is £140 thanks to emissions of 149g/km, and combined fuel consumption is a respectable 44.1mpg. The Trax is very spacious inside, and is vastly practical for a family. I particularly like the proper plug socket in the rear; ensuring the kids’ gadgets remained charged and the kids quiet. The Trax also deals with tricky conditions very well, making it a relaxing car whatever the weather. I enjoyed my time with this car, and it is very well rounded indeed.

Also featured this month is the Honda Civic. The latest engine technology on offer is in the form of a 1.6-litre diesel engine. It replaces the old 2.2-litre unit, and seeks to offer the same level of performance whilst becoming much more economical.

I can honestly say it has worked. The 1.6 offers 120PS (2.2 had 150PS) and 300Nm of torque. That’s plenty given that the 1.6 is a lighter engine, and so the performance figures are not too much different. The economy figures however, of 94g/km CO2 and combined 78.5mpg, make the Civic a fantastic car to run. You can go well over 700 miles on a full tank, and it isn’t that hard to drive economically.

The interior was not to my taste, but it is very practical. In particular the rear seats both fold flat for increased boot space, and also lift up vertical to allow transportation of taller items. The dashboard is still very space-age, as are the exterior lines. I like the front end of the car, but I am not so sure about the rear end. I should also mention that ‘Milano Red’ is a fantastic colour. What lets the Civic down however is the rear window. The lines may be bold and futuristic, but the rear visibility is severely hampered by the split aspect.

As for how it drives, the Civic is really top notch. The steering is direct and nicely weighted. Even with the diesel engine up front the car feels balanced, and the 6-speed manual makes best use of the power available. Once on the motorway the ride is comfortable, the seats are supportive and the engine is quiet.

As always be sure to check out my website for full reviews of the above cars, and more, including a couple of Fords, a Suzuki Swift 4x4 and a rugged Volvo V40 Cross Country. That’s all for now.

Dan

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