Monday, 13 February 2017

COLUMN – February 2017

Here is another chance to see my column from the February edition of The Local Herald and The Clitheroe Local. I wanted to kick off 2017 with a couple of reviews. Because I am soon to be a dad, you will probably notice a lot more family-friendly cars gracing this site. That's no bad thing, because the family cars on sale these days are extremely impressive. That being said; if I start to go off on a rant about ISOFIX, then please stop me! For now though, enjoy my reviews of the DS 4 Crossback and Seat Ateca. Full write ups can be found on the Reviews page.

This month I have two family cars to feature, and I wish to start with a DS. Citroen and DS Automobiles are creating two distinct brands, with the latter being the upmarket, premium offerings. The DS 4 Crossback I have been testing is a family hatchback, but with a raised ride height (30mm to be precise) and more rugged body styling.

On the outside you get black wheel arch protection, gloss black front and rear bumper sections, gloss black spoiler, black wheels and black lettering on the back. Inside the driving position has also been raised, and there is a rather funky panoramic windscreen; simply slide the roof section above your head backwards to reveal the extra glass. The rest of the interior does look and feel premium, from the sculpted leather seats to the big, executive steering wheel.

The engine in my test car was the 1.2-litre, turbocharged PureTech unit, producing 130PS and 230Nm of torque. It’s a reasonably pokey motor, feeling faster than the 0-62mph time of 9.9 seconds would suggest. And with combined fuel consumption of 54.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 120g/km the DS 4 is a cheap car to run too.

I do have a couple of grumbles. The rear door opening is too small, but the door itself is big and awkwardly-shaped; I wouldn’t fancy it in a narrow car park. The rear windows don’t open at all. Some of the switchgear feels cheap, most notably the buttons for the multimedia system. My leg was practically in the boot before the clutch biting point was reached, reminiscent of the Peugeot RCZ.

All in all, the DS 4 is a good family car, and the Crossback is a good take on a crossover family hatchback. Priced at £24,565 for my test car, I think it offers good value for money.

If you want something a little bigger, then what about the new Seat Ateca? For the first time in the company’s history they are offering an SUV, and a rather handsome-looking one at that. The design is very angular, in particular the line from front to back on the side profile. Sitting high above stylish alloy wheels, with plastic cladding to protect the lower edges, the Ateca looks like it means business.

Inside it will feel familiar to anyone who has been in a Leon. There’s a chunky steering wheel, no-nonsense dials and a large touchscreen multimedia unit. The seats on my Xcellence test car were sculpted, ever-inviting black leather numbers. It’s a nice place to be, and thanks to the Ateca’s roominess it’s also a comfortable place to be. Tall adults can sit behind tall adults in comfort.

The powertrain in my test car was the one I’d pick myself; 2.0-litre diesel engine with 190PS and 400Nm of torque. This is sent to all four wheels via a 7-speed DSG automatic. It’s a perfect combination. The Ateca will cope when the going gets tough, it will tow with ease (up to 2,100kg braked), and it will eat up the motorway miles on a slog.

The Ateca is based on the same platform as its sister ship; the VW Tiguan. But it has to be said you get a lot more car for your money with the Seat. The top spec 190PS Xcellence starts at £30,525 and for that you’d get a 2WD 150PS SE Navigation Tiguan. I dare say I think the Ateca looks better than the Tiguan as well.

With a baby on the way, I’m contemplating a new, family-friendly car. I had a couple of choices in mind. Now though, the Seat Ateca has gone and thrown a spanner in the works... I want one.

Dan

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