Tuesday, 18 April 2017

COLUMN – April 2017

Here is another chance to see my column from the April editions of The Local Herald and The Clitheroe Local. This month I had some tasty motors. First up is a Skoda Superb with the 2.0-litre engine from the Golf R, 280PS and 4WD. Forget your badge snobbery, this Skoda is a serious hunk of metal, and commands respect from fellow motorists. Then we move on to the Jaguar F-Pace which, in my opinion, is one of the best looking SUVs on sale today. It's fair to say I had a good month, and as always you can read full write ups on the Reviews page. Enjoy!

Sticking to my recipe for 2017, this column brings another two reviews. Both are sports cars, but not as you would imagine. In fact, looking at them, you would probably not expect the performance that they offer. So let’s get on with it…

Skoda is not a name traditionally associated with sports cars. But, consider this: Skoda is part of the Volkswagen-Audi Group. That brings with it a lot of pedigree; I’m talking GTi and Quattro. So what’s the car then? Well it’s the new Superb Sportline. And it’s rather good. For starters, the Superb is rather Germanic with its styling. The lines are crisp, angular and a tad clinical. The Sportline builds on this with subtle detail: gloss black mirrors, lip spoiler and grille surround. There are two unusually-shaped exhausts at the back, and some large 19-inch silver/grey alloy wheels.

Inside you get lots of leather and alcantara, gloss black finisher and some rather swish mood lighting. And once you look inside the Superb you realise just how enormous it is. The rear legroom is staggering: this is like that emergency exit seat on the plane, but without the accompanying sense of responsibility for everyone on board. Then we get to the boot, which on the hatchback I tested was cavernous. There is an estate version too, and I imagine this could be used as accommodation for visiting relatives.

I must talk about the engine, because my test car was a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, producing 280PS and 350Nm of torque. It has 4WD, a 6-speed DSG box, does 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds and reaches a top speed of 155mph. And best of all, this hot-hatch version looks identical to the 2.0-litre diesel version. That makes it the ultimate sleeper. It may cost £34,020 but you get a lot of car for your money. I’d have one.

How about the F-Pace; Jaguar’s first ever SUV? I was surprised that the styling seemed to split opinion; I personally think it’s a handsome beast. Finished in ‘Italian Racing Red’ my test car stood out in a crowd. The optional 22-inch alloys may be £1,600 but the kerb appeal they bring is worth every penny.

Inside the F-Pace is designed to feel more like a car than a big SUV. Sure, you feel high up, but the cabin cocoons you. The S model features some body-hugging bucket seats, from which all the controls are perfectly within reach. The plastics are top quality, the leather is soft, and the hexagonal aluminium and gloss black finishers give a premium feel.

You are probably wondering why I said that the F-Pace was a sports car but, being the S model, my test car was blisteringly fast. Its 3.0-litre V6 diesel produces 300PS and an earth-moving 700Nm of torque. Sent to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic gearbox, it will get from 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds and keep going all the way to 150mph. That’s a mighty thump in the back for a car that weighs just shy of 1,900kg. But the V6 diesel is also remarkably smooth and quiet; making motorway cruising effortless and relaxing.

The F-Pace is also reasonably economical. Combined fuel consumption is 47.1mpg. CO2 emissions of 159g/km put it in VED band G. That’s £185 in the first and subsequent year. Well, that is until 1 April. Cars registered after this point will be £140 flat rate, but with £500 first year rate. And because the price of my test car (£59,665) is above £40,000. It has a £310 annual supplement for 5 years. But after spending a week with one, I wouldn’t care: it’s worth it.

Dan 

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