Monday, 28 November 2016

COLUMN – November 2016

Here is another chance to catch my column from the November editions of The Local Herald and The Clitheroe Local. Yet more reviews feature this month. First up is our rally service vehicle in the Mitsubishi ASX 5. Next was the Audi A3 Saloon, a car which I have been eagerly waiting to get behind the wheel of. Finally there was a surprise appearance from the Volvo V60, but with a T4 petrol engine. As always you can read the full write-ups over on the Reviews page. Enjoy!


First up this month we have a practical family car in the Mitsubishi ASX. I had the top spec ASX 5, and it looks rather good. On the outside the ASX is a well-rounded vehicle; with 18-inch alloys, LED daytime running lights, privacy glass and a bold grille. Down the side there’s a striking line from the front wing to the rear quarter. On the inside my car featured red leather, which complimented the pearl white paint.

The engine in my ASX 5 was a 2.2-litre diesel unit which produces 147PS and 360Nm of torque. That’s not a great deal, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 10.8 seconds and a top speed of 118mph. With a 6-speed automatic gearbox and 4WD it’s both easy to drive and capable. The higher driving position is nice, and with technology such as satellite navigation, keyless entry and reversing camera all standard, it’s a great car to live with too.

My next test was the Audi A3. There are many body styles available, but I opted for the Saloon in S-Line specification. For me this is the best looking of the A3 family; with the shape and feel of an executive saloon but the size of a family hatchback. The A3 is a handsome machine; with angular lines, stylish wheels, a subtle lip spoiler and twin exhaust pipes. The interior is a wonderful place to be, especially with the optional premium leather sports seats (an absolute must-have in my book).

The engine in my test car was the 2.0-litre diesel engine with 150PS and 340Nm of torque, and it was sent to the front wheels via a 6-speed S-Tronic gearbox. It’s not the most powerful engine, but the gearbox utilises the torque to give you the best shove in the back available at a given time. 0-62mph takes 8.3 seconds and the top speed is 139mph. My test car came with the optional magnetic ride, which allowed for noticeably different drive modes. Comfort was best suited to the motorway, and made the A3 an excellent cruiser. Sport mode stiffens up the damping, and was noticeably firmer than comfort mode. Not great on the motorway, but excellent for a B-road blast where it adds composure and feels planted.

The extras list on the A3 can be a dangerous thing, because you could top £40k for a 150PS A3. That being said with extras such as the Bang & Olufsen stereo it’s hard to resist. From behind the wheel the experience is superb, and with the instrument cluster being entirely digital you can have anything from large dials and media information to a full-size satellite navigation screen which is easier to glance at. I really liked the A3 Saloon, and with an S3 version available it’s a car I could definitely see myself driving.

Last up this month is a Volvo. It’s a V60 SE Lux Nav, and it came with an engine I have not yet experienced; a T4. It’s a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine producing 190PS and 300Nm of torque. You can opt for a 6-speed manual or auto gearbox. In either case 0-62mph takes 7.3 seconds and the top speed is 140mph. That’s roughly the same as the D4 diesel engine, but that has the option of the wonderful 8-speed automatic gearbox. The petrol engine is less efficient too; with combined fuel consumption of 48.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 135g/km. Road tax is £130 in the first and subsequent years.

Whilst the petrol engine seemed a little bit livelier than the diesel around town, on the motorway the D4 comes into its own. This, and the better economy, is why I’d still go for the diesel.

And as we approach the festive season, I’ll see you next month…

Dan

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