Thursday, 4 September 2014

COLUMN - September 2014

Here is my column from the September edition of The Local Herald. This was a rather special issue for me, because it revolved around the cars I had for my wedding day. With a Kia pro_cee'd GT Tech for me, a Volvo XC60 R-Design for the bridesmaids and a stunning Range Rover Evoque for my stunning bride, it was certainly a handsome fleet. But as well as putting the bows and ribbons on them, I also needed to see how good they were as cars, so full reviews will follow shortly.

So that’s it then; I’m now a married man. It all happened in a flash, but thankfully the endless flow of pictures stand as a reminder of just how special the day was. The weather held off for the photographs, my bride looked stunningly beautiful, and the atmosphere was superb. Oh, and me being me, there was a rather jazzy fleet of cars on the scene as well.

The first was a Kia pro_cee’d GT Tech. Quite a mouthful of punctuation, but don’t let that bother you; this is a remarkable car. The equipment list is comprehensive, with everything from satellite navigation to a reversing camera, keyless entry and even a heated steering wheel. What’s more the GT is a sporty model, so there’s even some proper Recaro seats, a sporty steering wheel and aluminium pedals. A button changes the display to show a digital torque meter and boost gauge.

The daytime running lights are the nicest I’ve ever seen, and the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine provides sufficient forward momentum when you need it. The pro_cee’d isn’t the fastest of the hot hatches- or the most efficient- by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn’t matter. It’s very rare to come across a package as good as this, and it’s why I might even buy one for myself! Watch this space…

In order to ferry guests to and from the church, and to provide a nice car for the bridesmaids, I opted for a Volvo XC60. I recently reviewed this and was extremely impressed, so I just knew that a white one would look superb on the day. It was an R-Design, which meant some nice two-tone alloy wheels, silver mirrors, and some lovely body-hugging seats inside. The engine in this model was the new D4 with an 8-speed automatic gearbox, and that’s a brilliant combination.

My car came with front-wheel-drive only, which also means it’s rather efficient as well; CO2 emissions of just 124g/km is impressive for a car of this size, and will help save on running costs. There are a host of options available to make the XC60 one of the easiest cars to live with I’ve ever come across. The new 8-speed box makes a long drive effortless and means that at 70mph you’re well under 2,000rpm.

I thought I should pull out all the stops for a good bridal car. And when the Fuji White Range Rover Evoque rolled onto the driveway, I just knew the new Mrs Woods would love it. This was a 3-door Dynamic Lux model, which looks absolutely superb, and featured the range-topping Si4 petrol engine as well. I definitely felt spoilt with this one. The 20-inch alloy wheels and black mirrors completed the exterior styling, whilst the panoramic roof and tan interior oozed quality.

There’s a 9-speed gearbox which sends power to all four wheels, and again this means that the engine is barely ticking over at motorway speeds. 80mph is around 2,000rpm which- for a petrol engine- is effortless cruising. Power delivery is smooth through the ratios, and for a large car the Evoque can shift when you need it to.

And then you come to the technical whizz-kiddery and gadgets. The Evoque is full of them. Take the media screen for example, on which the passenger and driver can see completely different things. Throw in some headphones and Mrs Woods can catch up on some soaps whilst I play my iPod and have the satellite navigation on. Brilliant.

I will put some pictures of these cars all trimmed up with bows and ribbons, and expect to see the full reviews coming up in the near future. However at the time of writing this, the honeymoon looms. So it’s off for some sun before heading back into the real world in a couple of weeks’ time!

Dan

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