Monday, 5 October 2015

COLUMN - October 2015

Here is another chance to see my column from the October edition of The Local Herald and The Clitheroe Local. Up for review this month was the Kia Sportage, Ford Mondeo and Mitsubishi L200. The latter was particularly exciting because I'd heard great things about the new pickup. Having finished our first rally I will be posting the in-car footage on the site in the coming week, but the Sportage served us well as a service vehicle. As always you can read the full reviews for each of these cars on the Reviews page.

It’s certainly been a busy month. We competed in our first rally- the Accident Advice Solicitors Promenade Stages- and it was a brilliant day out. We were seeded car 94 (of 95 entries) but drove neat, tidy and consistently throughout. The car never missed a beat, and we finished a respectable 47th overall, and 5th in class (of 13). Not too bad for the first time out in the car, and something to build on with future rallies. I’ve uploaded the in-car footage to YouTube, and details can be found on my site if you wish to take a look.

I will now talk about our service vehicle. Kia were kind enough to loan us a Sportage for the event. Once we loaded up the equipment and hitched up the trailer, we were certainly grateful for the AWD capabilities and the more powerful 181PS engine in the range-topping KX4. It’s available with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic, and our test car was fitted with the latter. It’s a smooth gearbox and was a delight when towing due to its tendency to hold gears and utilise the torque of the engine.

Inside the KX4 is very generously equipped, with everything from satellite navigation to heated rear seats. The ride is comfortable and with the adjustable steering modes the handling characteristics can be adjusted to suit driving conditions. There is a new Sportage due for release at the end of the year, and from the first official pictures it looks to be a good one. That also means it could be a good time to think about getting a good deal on the outgoing model.

Next up for review this month was the all-new Ford Mondeo. I grabbed a Titanium Estate with the optional ‘X’ pack and a 2.0-litre, 150PS diesel engine. The new car is incredibly sleek and stylish. The bold LED daytime running lights and optional 19-inch alloys are lovely touches on the exterior, whilst the sports leather seats and new SYNC2 media system showcase the quality on the inside.

The engine is smooth and refined, sending plenty of torque to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox. With the new model there are more drivetrain options available, and you can even opt for an AWD system for a little extra grip. If it were my decision, I’d go for the more powerful 180PS diesel with AWD as I think this would be a great all-rounder. You can get a well-equipped Mondeo for less than £30k which still represents good value too.

Last up on test this month is the all-new Mitsubishi L200. This takes me back 4 years, with my first ever review being of a black Barbarian. So no prizes for guessing which model Mitsubishi sent me this time… yep. A black Barbarian. It does look quite a bit different now though. The exterior is somewhat less curvy than its predecessor, and this is highlighted by the bold line down the side and more angular front and rear ends.

The biggest improvement however comes with the interior. Finally Mitsubishi has listened and made the interior feel less industrial. There are more creature comforts, such as keyless entry with start button, a new electronic 4WD selection system, some gloss black trim, nicer interior lighting and an integrated media unit. It’s a very nice place to be. The engine is now a 2.4-litre unit and produces 178PS. I’m yet to try the manual model but I found the auto a little thirsty. The drivability has also been improved through reduced gearing on the steering rack, and with a less bouncy ride than some pickups the L200 is a great car for a long drive.

Dan

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