Thursday, 17 August 2017
COLUMN – August 2017
One of the worst-looking cars I ever tested was the Peugeot 3008. It did no favours to the stereotype that a practical family car is big, ugly and boring. Understandably, I didn’t fall off my chair with excitement when Peugeot announced the new 3008... Nevertheless, I phoned the press office and booked in a GT Line to test. Sounds sporty, I thought, so we’ll give it a go.
And I’m immensely glad that I did. You can forget the last 3008: chalk and cheese doesn’t even come close. The exterior styling is great: it’s bold, angular and futuristic. But even the impressive exterior pales in comparison to the new iCockpit. Encapsulating the driver, it’s a wonderful harmony of toggle switches, virtual dials, fabric-trimmed dashboard and mood lighting.
There’s a host of engines, but I will say that the 1.2-litre turbocharged unit in my test car was surprisingly sprightly; heaving the family crossover around with the vigour you’d expect of a small hatchback. Prices for the 3008 start at £22,495 and a fully loaded one will be just over £30k. Without doubt the 3008 should be your first-choice family crossover. Don’t believe me? See one for yourself.
So what if you want something less good? Well I drove the Ford Edge recently, and it fell far short of my high hopes for it. The exterior looks superb: it’s big and American, but has a distinct presence about it. With some splendid colours available (Ruby Red – yes please!) it really stands out. Sadly the cabin was a bit cheap and plasticky, and the experience from behind the wheel was lacklustre.
My test car had a 2.0-litre, 180PS diesel that felt like it had about as much get-up-and-go as a barn. The Edge is also the size of a barn, so parking it in a village, or anywhere for that matter, is like trying to dock a cruise liner in a swimming pool. The final let down was the price. At the top end you’re talking £40,000 and, I’m sorry, that’s simply too much. Buy a Kuga – which is a great car – and keep the change.
To finish off this month we have the most bonkers practical family car on sale today: the Audi RS 6 Performance. This is a big, boxy estate car. But look closely and you will see broad arches. The lower front grille brandishes the word “Quattro” and at the back there are two dustbin-sized exhausts. These subtleties hint towards the beast that lies beneath…
A 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8. 605PS and 750Nm of torque. 0-62mph in a supercar-rivalling 3.7 seconds and a top speed of155mph (with optional limits of 174mph and 189mph, like either is necessary!). In ‘comfort’ mode the RS 6 is easy to drive, tame and relaxing. Then you put it in ‘dynamic’ mode. The dampers stiffen, the steering gets heavier and, best of all, the full force of that rip-snorting, fire-breathing V8 is unleashed. It’s absolutely brutal.
The world around you becomes a blur as you are propelled toward the horizon,on a wave of animalistic V8 bellowing, at what can only be described as warp speed. Cornering ability is no concern either, thanks to the brilliant Quattro AWD system and the adaptive dynamics. My test car had the optional carbon ceramic brakes at a whopping £9,500, making it stop as ferociously as it goes.
There is no doubt in my mind that the RS 6 Performance would be in my dream garage. It’s the ultimate ‘Dad’ car: dogs, pram, shopping, done. Then when it’s just you, you can have an absolute riot. And at £86,460 I’m going to put it out there: it’s a bargain.