Friday, 11 March 2016

COLUMN – March 2016

Here is my column from the March edition of The Local Herald and The Clitheroe Local. I can already tell that this is going to be my busiest year yet, so I have to cram another three cars into this month's column. I'll start with a brace of MG's, in the MG3 and the MG6, to see if the newer models are worth considering. Then to finish off this month is the Suzuki Vitara S. It's been re-styled, re-branded and is now being advertised by Ant and Dec. But what about how it drives? Read on to find out. As always check out the Reviews page for full write ups of all three cars.

I have a trio of reviews for you this month, and they are of three rather different cars. There’s a small family hatchback, a large family car, and a small SUV. So let’s get right to it.

The MG3 is one of the two models released by the manufacturer since being taken over by a Chinese company. It has 5-doors and a large boot, and aims to offer a practical family car on a budget; starting at £8,399. There is only one choice of engine in the form of a 1.5-litre VTi petrol engine, and it’s only available with a 5-speed manual gearbox. However, you may be glad of one less choice to make once you see the customisation on offer.

Once you start to look at the colours, wheels and sticker packs on offer, there are over a million combinations of the MG3. Which means you’ll probably end up with a unique one, and I like that. The standard equipment list is comprehensive, and the car has a nice chassis. Sadly though, this is all ruined by a dreadful engine. It feels gutless and is harsh in the higher rev bands. On the flipside of this it returns 51.5mpg on a combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 124g/km mean that road tax is £110 a year.

Sticking with the budget theme, why not consider the other MG you can buy now; the MG6. This is a decent sized family car with plenty of rear leg room and a large boot. The range-topping model I tested- the TL- is priced at £18,390 including metallic paint. That’s rather cheap considering it comes with satellite navigation, reversing camera, full-leather heated seats, auto start/stop and LED daytime running lights as standard. That undercuts rivals, yet surprisingly the MG6 feels solidly built. Now more than ever the MG6 could just be that sensible choice in the rep-mobile market.

It has a 1.9-litre DTi diesel engine which produces 150PS and 350Nm of torque. The 6-speed manual gearbox is good, using the torquey engine well. On the motorway the long 6th gear makes for a great cruiser. Better yet, the updated engine has reduced emissions to 119g/km CO2. This closes the gap on rivals, and means that at £30 road tax won’t be an issue. Combined fuel consumption is 61.4mpg and you really get the impression this is a motorway king. I actually liked it, and I can see the appeal for someone buying an MG6 to rack up the miles during the week, and having a toy in the garage for the weekend.

Last up this month is a Suzuki. You might well have noticed Ant and Dec advertising some of their cars recently, and the Vitara S is as cool as the Geordie duo. It features a new 1.4-litre turbo ‘BoosterJet’ engine, which combines power and efficiency. Couple this to the AllGrip 4WD system and you get a capable car. The interior is very sporty, with red stitching and trim accents. On the outside there’s black wheels, privacy glass, silver mirrors and red headlamp surrounds.

The new BoosterJet engine is rather good. Power is 140PS and 220Nm of torque, but you would swear it was more. It’s punchy, and feels much bigger than its 1400cc capacity. It’s quiet at motorway speeds, but revs nicely when you let it loose. There’s a decent standard spec on the ‘S’ model, including satellite navigation, keyless entry & go, radar cruise control, speed limiter and anti-collision warning system as standard. Priced at £21,329 including metallic paint, I think the Vitara S has a lot going for it.

See you next month!

Dan

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