Monday, 16 February 2015

COLUMN - February 2015

Here is another chance to see my column from the February edition of The Local Herald. Continuing the success of last year, this one is packed with reviews. It includes the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Peugeot 108 Top! and Peugeot 508. It's certainly a mixed bag, each with their own merits. And as always you can find full write-ups for each of them by heading over to the Reviews section of the site. Next month will see another three cars, so keep an eye out for that one.

I’ve got plenty of cars lined up this year, and I want to start with the new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. It’s took the business world by storm; the potential savings on a P11d are not to be sniffed at. It has a 2.0-litre petrol engine at the front, and two electric motors; one in each axle. The electric range is around 30 miles, which is good enough for short journeys. There are optional battery save and battery charge modes which can be used on longer drives to help maximise the usefulness of the lithium ion batteries underneath the cabin.

The PHEV doesn’t get many visual changes, but the Outlander is rather stylish anyway. The interior may have lots of leather and nice plastics, but there is still a lack of flair which gives off the impression of functionality over style. The PHEV came generously equipped too, with satellite navigation, heated seats, Bluetooth hands-free, privacy glass, electric tailgate, keyless entry and a reversing camera. The price for the PHEV GX4h is £32,899 once you take into account the government’s £5,000 electric vehicle grant, and that’s very competitive. It probably explains why it’s currently Britain’s best-selling hybrid.

My next car was something a bit different, in the Peugeot 108 Top! What we have here is a completely revamped city car, but this time with a large fabric roof that completely retracts to act as a giant sunroof. The price of this range-topping model is £12,245 which may seem like a lot for a small car. But after living with it for a week I actually think it’s a very fair price indeed. And I shall explain why.

For starters, the quality of the 108 is vastly greater than the outgoing 107. The whole car feels more solidly built, and there is much less noise intruding into the cabin. The materials and finish in the cabin are superior too. The convertible gets a 1.2-litre petrol engine, but retains the £0 road tax and as such has a better balance of economy and driveability. Finally we get to the equipment level. Standard kit on this model includes a touch screen multimedia system, Bluetooth hands-free, air conditioning, a reversing camera, keyless entry, alloy wheels and privacy glass. That makes it a dream to live with, and I must say the fabric roof is very wind proof and in no way compromises the drive on motorway. In short, I loved it.

Finally I wish to mention another Peugeot; the 508. It’s a little bigger, and will appeal for those looking for an executive saloon or family car. The biggest change for this year sees a new face, and I have to say it’s a lot sleeker and bold at the front. This was a much needed change when you line it up against the re-styled Volvo S60 and Ford Mondeo.

The engine in my test car is certainly the one to have as well. It’s a 2.0-litre diesel with 150PS and 370Nm of torque. That’s plenty of power, but being the Blue HDi model this doesn’t come at the expense of economy; combined fuel consumption of 67.3mpg and CO2 emissions 109g/km mean that running costs will be reasonable too; road tax of £20 for a year (free first year). As you would expect from an executive saloon the 508 is vastly spacious inside and it comes generously equipped. Set off on a long motorway drive and you’ll sink into the large seats and relax all the way to your destination.

As always visit my website for full reviews of all the vehicles above. Let’s hope the weather starts to warm sometime soon, and I’ll see you again next month.

Dan

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