Wednesday, 11 May 2016

COLUMN – May 2016

Here is another chance to read my column from the May editions of The Local Herald and The Clitheroe Local. Another three reviews feature; Hyundai i30 Turbo, Subaru Outback SE Premium and Volvo V60 Cross Country SE Lux Nav. It was interesting to test the latter two cars back to back, so read on to see what I thought. As always you can read the full reviews for all these cars on the Reviews page. The videos from our latest rally will be going up on the site over the next few days, so keep an eye out for those!


By the time you read this we will be about to complete in our next rally; the Cetus Stages at Three Sisters circuit in Wigan. It’s on the 8th May and the in-car videos will be on the website shortly after. For now though I’ll get back to the reviews, as I’ve had yet another busy month.

The Hyundai i30 Turbo is a practical family hatchback with a little extra oomph. It is available as either a 3 or 5-door and packs a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine. Power is 186PS and 265Nm of torque, which is sent to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox. 0-62mph takes 8.0 seconds and the top speed is 136mph. This is best described as a warm hatch, because it will hardly pull your face off. But if you work the gearbox you can have a bit of fun with it.

I like the styling of the i30; both models look good. Inside I would have preferred some Recaro seats (which you get on the Kia pro_cee’d GT) but the Hyundai still has plenty of toys including heated steering wheel, satellite navigation and reversing camera. Priced at £22,605 for the 3-door it’s only £500 cheaper than the more powerful, more stylish Kia. And that puts it on the back foot.

You don’t tend to hear much about Subaru these days. But the reality is that the brand is in the best place it’s ever been with new styling, new models and new engines. I grabbed the Subaru Outback for a week. This is a car similar to the Audi A4 Allroad; the exterior styling is rugged, and the car has a “go-anywhere” feel to it. With Subaru’s off-road pedigree I would also bet that it would reach places some ‘proper’ 4x4’s would struggle to.

On the SE Premium model I tested the equipment list is endless, and the updated interior feels much more luxurious. What I didn’t like about it was the engine. It came with a 2.5-litre petrol engine attached to a lineartronic (CVT) gearbox. With power of 175PS and 235Nm of torque, it just lack any form of punch. Stamp on the throttle and you get a lot of noise… and not a lot else. The alternative is a 2.0-litre diesel and I would definitely pick this, with a manual gearbox. That aside the Outback is a capable, well equipped car and thanks to a restyle it looks great too.

Last up this month is the Volvo V60 Cross Country. The idea is the same as the Outback. There’s plastic around the bottom of the car to give a tough appearance. The model I tested was only front-wheel drive, but there is an AWD available. The Volvo is brilliant, with an 8-speed automatic gearbox being smooth and effortless to drive. Volvo’s D4 engine with 190PS and 400Nm is an absolute gem. It might lack the warble of the old 5-cylinder unit, but it still does the business on the road.

It was unusual to drive the Volvo on the back of the Subaru. It felt so much more refined because of the diesel engine and proper automatic gearbox. I wasn’t entirely keen on the FWD version of the Volvo; it should have the drivetrain to match the rugged looks. And the other thing is that the Volvo I tested had a price tag on the wrong side of £40,000. And that put it around £10,000 more expensive than the Subaru.

In other news I managed to get behind the wheel of the new Ford Mustang and the eagerly awaited Focus RS. The write ups are on my site. Spoiler alert; the RS is unparalleled perfection.

Dan

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