Sunday, 5 June 2016

COLUMN – June 2016

Here is another chance to read my column from the June editions of The Local Herald and The Clitheroe Local. A brace of Honda's feature- the HR-V SE Navi and the bonkers Civic Type-R- along with the Peugeot 308GTi 270. It was certainly an intresting month, and it was nice to have some serious horsepower on the drive. This was at the same time as I went on the launch of the Ford Focus RS; a car which has left me with serious want. For the full write-ups of all featured vehicles head over to the Reviews page. Enjoy...

The Honda HR-V is back. It’s undergone a complete makeover, and has come out the other side looking incredible. It has arrived to spoil the party for the likes of the Nissan Juke and Mazda CX3, and after seeing one in the flesh I was excited to see how it would stack up. The chaps at Honda kindly obliged, and I soon had a HR-V SE Navi on the drive.

It had the 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel engine, which offers 120PS and 300Nm of torque. With a 6-speed manual gearbox it provides sufficient power to make the HR-V feel nippy around town and to cruise comfortably on the motorway. More importantly the engine is rather frugal. Combined fuel consumption is 68.9mpg and the CO2 emissions of 108g/km (road tax of £20, free first year) make the HR-V a cheap car to run.

It has a large boot, spacious cabin and plenty of kit. There are several USB ports for charging ‘devices’ and with things such as front and rear parking sensors, start/stop technology and hill start assist the HR-V is great round town. Prices for the SE Navi with 1.6-litre i-DTEC start at £23,050, with the range-topping EX model costing a further £3,000.

While we’re on the subject of Honda’s being back, I will talk about the Civic Type-R. This followed my HR-V loan and I was properly giddy about getting behind the wheel. For starters: look at it! This is the car of dreams for young adolescents; with oversized spoilers, red trim on the wheels and front wings that look like they’ve been in an axe fight… and lost. This carries on inside with huge red bucket seats, aluminium gear knob and G-force meter on the information screen.

The beating heart of this beast is a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing a whopping 310PS and 400Nm of torque. 0-62mph is dealt with in 5.7 seconds and the top speed is 167mph. Some hot hatch then. The Honda’s problem is that it is front-wheel drive only. In dry conditions, the differential keeps you pointing in the right direction, and the Civic absolutely flies. In damp conditions the wheelspin takes over, and it’s rather hard to get 310PS down on the road.

The Civic has four-wheel adjustable dampers, which switch from firm to back-breaking (save the latter for the track) and with the GT model gets a host of safety equipment; from blind-spot monitoring to active city braking. The Type R starts at £30,000, with the GT model costing £32,300. This is a race car for the road.

Last up this month is the Peugeot 308 GTi by Peugeot Sport. This is another brilliant hot hatch. It has 270PS, 330Nm of torque and a Torsen limited-slip differential. 0-62mph takes 6.0 seconds and the top speed is limited to 155mph. With 380mm 4-pot front brakes, and a sport mode including an electronic sound symposer, the GTi 270 has a completely immersive driving experience; when you’re behind the wheel nothing else matters. It’s you and the road.

And because of the smaller 1.6-litre engine, it’s one of the best hot hatches to live with day-to-day. CO2 emissions of 139g/km mean road tax of £130 in first and subsequent years. That’s remarkable for the level of performance on offer, and the combined fuel consumption figure of 47.1mpg saves you money at the pumps.

The styling is understated, leaving that 270PS kick up the rear as a welcome surprise. Body-hugging sports seats, 19-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights round off a wonderful package. Priced at £28,455 it also represents excellent value for money. It’s not an obvious choice in what is now a rather full hot hatch market, but it’s a bloody good one.

Dan

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