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.