Thursday, 4 June 2015

COLUMN - June 2015

Here is my column from the June edition of The Local Herald. It was another busy column, featuring three reviews. The first is the Honda Civic Tourer, a more practical version of the 5-door hatchback. Next up we have the Kia Carens; the Korean outlet's versatile, 7-seater MPV. Finally we have a car I was very excited to test- the Kia Soul EV. All very different vehicles making for a rather interesting column, so enjoy it. Should you wish to view the full reviews for any of this month's vehicles then take a look at the Reviews page.

I have quite a varied bunch this month, and first up is the Honda Civic Tourer. I’m quite a fan of Honda; the current model line-up is rather stylish, and for me the Civic Tourer is the nicest of the lot. I even prefer it to the 5-door hatchback Civic as there’s no silly split rear tailgate on this one. The sleek lines continue from front to back, and with some rather nice 17-inch alloys the SR trim I had on test did look rather good. Inside the Civic is finished well with leather seats, some gloss black finishers and a rather curved and sculpted dashboard. The best feature for me are the dials, which illuminate a crisp, clear white and really look excellent.

To drive the Honda was good and bad at the same time. The suspension is an adaptive damper system, with Comfort, Normal and Dynamic modes. The latter firms everything up, reducing cornering lean and really making the Civic great through a twisty road. The bad comes in the form of the engine; I really don’t see the appeal of a 1.8-litre petrol in a car like this. It does 44mpg and will cost you £145 a year to tax. But when there’s a truly excellent 1.6-litre diesel on offer I would pick that every time.

That being said, if it’s running costs you want to think about, then take a look at my next car. The Kia Soul EV costs about the same as the Civic as I tested it, but for that you get a completely electric car. From my experience the range on a full charge is 96 miles, and for everyday commutes and trips to the shops that’s more than enough. Granted it won’t get you on your seaside holiday, but with the money you could save by commuting in a car like this you could have a nice toy in the garage for weekends.

Styling-wise I think the Soul splits people; some really like it and others not so much. I think it’s rather nice myself- although I’d opt for the grey as opposed to the light blue with white roof. Inside there’s not really much that gives away that this is an EV- the interior is as nice as the regular Soul’s- and the same goes for driving it. The strangest aspect is the lack of engine noise, but you soon get used to it. And there are a lot of benefits to the EV; with a single speed electric motor the Soul is very responsive indeed, and will happily sit on the motorway at 70mph. What’s more, the Soul EV is fully loaded, so don’t think you have to compromise to save the world…

Last up this month I want to mention another Kia I tested. It’s called the Carens, and is their 7-seater offering. My test car came fitted with a 1.7-litre diesel engine, and was rather well equipped. The Carens isn’t the biggest of 7-seaters; the rear-most seats are best for children. That aside, the middle row is spacious and the interior is versatile. The rear seats can be raised/lowered single-handedly which is a great feature.

And I found the Carens a lovely car to drive. Once you’re on the motorway the Carens is a really comfortable cruiser. I think the only thing that could spoil it would be 5 noisy kids in the back! Given the range available and standard equipment list, coupled to Kia’s 7-year warranty, the Carens is a very practical car indeed. So if you’re looking for a bigger car with extra seats, go check it out!

See you next month… after I get back from Florida!

Dan

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