Friday, 15 May 2015

COLUMN - May 2015

Here is another chance to read my column from the May edition of The Local Herald. The year has been a busy one again, and so you can expect even more reviews this time. I have a variety of cars on test this month; from the family hatchback in the Volvo V40, to the large 7-seater 4x4 that is the Mitsubishi Shogun. Finally there is an estate version of the Peugeot 308; a car I rather like. So take a look a the column and if you want to see the full write up for any of the cars be sure to check out the Reviews page! Enjoy...

First up in the spotlight this month is the Volvo V40. This is a car that has previously been awarded a 50/50 on my blog, and so with the new engine I was keen to see if it could uphold this high accolade. I’ll start with the gem that is the new engine; this D4 is simply remarkable. It’s a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder diesel producing 190PS and 400Nm of torque. Through the delightful 6-speed manual box 0-62mph takes 7.4 seconds and top speed is 143mph. It’s powerful, yet quiet and refined at the same time. As a motorway cruiser it’s staggeringly good.

And better yet, the D4 engine emits 99g/km CO2 which means free road tax and 15% BIK for company car drivers, so it just makes sense. Being the R-Design model there’s a sporty appeal too; with two-tone alloys and striking paint jobs. I do however have a few issues with the V40. Volvo has updated the interior of R-Designs in recent years, giving the seats more bolstering and embossed logos. Yet in the V40 they lack both of these, and I can’t for the life of me work out why. Although with the V40 D4 R-Design starting at £24,770 you can’t complain too much!

Next up is the Mitsubishi Shogun. Again this is a car I have previously reviewed, and has undergone some changes for 2015. Although it costs £37,049, the SG4 is a lot of car for the money. You get 7 seats, satellite navigation, rear-seat entertainment, heated seats, full-leather, privacy glass, 20-inch alloys, daytime running lights, selectable 4WD system… The list goes on and on and on. And all this is standard kit as well; just choose a colour and you’re away.

To drive the Shogun feels big, although the 5-speed automatic gearbox manages the 3.2-litre diesel engine’s 200PS and 441Nm or torque rather well. The steering is slightly vague, but then again this isn’t the car to throw around corners. And overall I have to say I like it. It may feel like a bit of a dinosaur in some respects, but it’s also good value for money, reliable and extremely capable. Best of all, the wood-effect trim is no more! Instead the interior is finished with aluminium-effect, which is just so much better.

Finally this month we come to the Peugeot 308 SW. This estate version of European Car of the Year offers a family car with a little bit more space. I opted to test a mid-range ‘Active’ trim with a BlueHDi diesel engine boasting great economy figures too. The 1.6-litre diesel engine in my test car had 120PS and 300Nm which was plenty. And the gearbox is worth a mention, because Peugeot have got the ratios spot on. On the motorway 70mph is about 1,600rpm in 6th gear which makes the 308 a delight on a long drive. And coupled to the start stop technology the tall gearing help achieve combined consumption of 88.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 85 g/km.

The styling is good, and in particular the interior feels especially premium. The Active gets a 9.7-inch touchscreen and this operates everything from the radio to the air conditioning. As a result there are very few buttons on the centre console. This minimalist approach works, and combined with the high-quality materials makes it a nice place to be. The optional panoramic roof is a must in my eyes, as it just finishes the interior off. The familiar small steering wheel and set-back dials are featured too. There’s certainly a lot to like with the 308 SW, and it’s no wonder it’s received so many awards.

Dan

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