Reviews page for the full write ups...
Another busy month begins with the DS5. Although this is strictly a Citroën, there has been a greater segregation of the brands recently. This is now the French version of Infiniti or Lexus, and in terms of the French marque, the DS5 is king. It looks very striking, with its sleek lines and angular front end. When you get up close and personal with one you’ll notice just how big it is.
And that translates to a spacious cabin. There is plenty of room in the front and even more in the back, and you get the underlying feeling this is a car to be chauffeured around in. The cabin is full of aircraft-style touches, from the overhead switchgear to the heads-up display and centre consoled angled towards the driver.
My car had the base 1.6-litre diesel engine. This was very economical, with CO2 emissions of 104g/km and combined fuel consumption of 70.6mpg, however this came at the expense of that big, powerful feeling. There are larger engines on offer with marginal economy differences, and I think if you’re buying a big luxury car you should equip it accordingly. Prices start at £25,980 but can rise by a few thousand once you tick a few option boxes.
Next up I had one of the most opinion-splitting cars I’ve ever experienced; the C4 Cactus. You’ll have seen it in the TV adverts, with its Airbump impact protection system, and then who knows what you’ll have thought. To some (me included) this is a rather funky, futuristic design. To others it is an eyesore. Granted, the bold Blue Lagoon (a sort-of turquoise) paint is hardly a subtle introduction.
Inside the Cactus remains funky, except for the seats. They’ve been designed to remind you of a comfy house chair, but I don’t want to drive sat in a wingback; they offer no lateral support. I wanted some sculpted seats made out of something from a sci-fi movie.
The engine I tested- the 1.6-litre 100PS diesel engine- is rather good. It has enough power (although more would be better) and with combined fuel consumption being a staggering 80.7mpg and CO2 of 95g/km the Cactus will save you money in running costs. And with prices starting at £12,990 it’s not too dear to buy either. It might well be the Marmite of the current car market, but I for one love Twiglets…
Last up was the 208GTi by Peugeot Sport (PS). And I was excited about this. The normal car is good but with more power, a limited-slip differential (LSD) and bigger brakes the PS edition promised to be even better… and it did not disappoint. My test car was finished in the textured Ice Grey paint, which has a matte finish. With the contrast of black trim, wheels and mirrors, it looks properly evil.
The evilness is complimented by a rumble from the exhaust, which turns into a bark as you mash your foot into the carpet. And then the LSD shows its worth, because the absence of wheel spin most of the time means that you always have more power down, and that makes the 208 feel even quicker than its on-paper 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds. This thing is properly quick.
Inside the red mads give a nod back to the 106 Rallye, and the bucket seats are as inviting as they are supportive. The flashes of red throughout the cabin are nice, although the lack of some standard equipment- such as a push-start button and satellite navigation- is frustrating given the £21,995 price tag. Make no mistake though, this is a proper hot hatch. I love it.