Big Cat Hunting (Part 2)

Chris Ward continues his report on life with a 2009 Jaguar XF-S.

All images – (c) the author

Two months in and the Jaguar XF-S has settled into the daily grind. As cruel as it may be to hobble a continent crushing beast with stop-start traffic, the Jag proves adept at leaping over life’s bumps and ruts.

Upon those rare occasions when the traffic thins and the roads open out, the big cat is happy to Continue reading “Big Cat Hunting (Part 2)”

Big Cat Hunting

We welcome a fellow sufferer to the DTW branch of Kitty-Fanciers Anonymous. 

Image: The author.

My parents have always been baffled by my fascination with cars. The curse is not familial; neither parent has a fluid ounce of petrol in their veins. Dad preferred football to fast metal and never learned to drive. Mam passed her driving test in her thirties out of gritty necessity, her car ownership journey characterised by a series of grudgingly bought and traded-in Fiestas. 

I on the other hand absorbed everything automotive like an oversized Halfords sponge. A yearly highlight was a trip to the Daily Mail British Motorshow. The week long event coincided with my birthday, making a trip to the NEC a great present for a car mad youth. One of my most vivid memories is from the 1988 show; I was ten when Jaguar launched the XJ220 to a seemingly hysterical response. Continue reading “Big Cat Hunting”

More Than Just a Tribute Act

The Mazda Tribute was launched twenty years ago. If you don’t remember it, you’re in the majority who overlooked the car when it was on sale, then quickly forgot about it. Time to remember.

All images courtesy of the author.

The Tribute was significant in that it was Mazda’s first tentative step into both SUVs and four-wheel drive*. It was co-developed with Ford, which held a 33.4% stake in Mazda at that time. The Ford version was called Escape in the US and Maverick in Europe. It was a mid-sized five-door transverse-engined front or four-wheel-drive SUV. The model was based on the Ford CD2 platform, which was itself a development of the Mazda GF platform that underpinned the 626/Capella saloon.

The Tribute was designed to Continue reading “More Than Just a Tribute Act”

As Good as it Gets

The author reviews his four years with a 2015 Porsche Boxster.

All images (c) by the author

In an ideal world, I would report that my current 981-generation Porsche Boxster, purchased in 2016, directly replaced a previous generation (987…don’t ask) model that I owned for six years and enjoyed tremendously. Unfortunately, I strayed and had a two-month torrid but unfulfilling affair with a Jaguar F-Type convertible before coming to my senses and returning to Zuffenhausen.

The Jaguar was too large, in particular too wide, to Continue reading “As Good as it Gets”

Take Five

Remembering a memorable Renault.

(c) stubs-auto-fr

In 1976, Renault introduced the 5 GTL, a version of France’s best seller which was intended to appeal to more economy-conscious customers. Powered by a detuned version of the 5 TS’ 1289 cc engine, it was a low-revving, relatively unstressed power unit, aimed at reducing fuel consumption – in a rudimentary manner perhaps, predating BMW’s more elaborate attempts at achieving a similar goal with their ETA engine programme the following decade.

At the time at least, it went against the orthodoxy of using a smaller capacity engine to Continue reading “Take Five”

Such A Small Love

A Minor Matter. First-hand experience of Issi’s magnum opus. 

(c) The author

For reasons which were for the most part, monetary in nature, I have found myself being the final owner of a number of cars which have entered my care. This is not a particularly comfortable realisation, and might lead the casual observer to a misapprehension that I have not been the most careful of keepers, a matter I would take issue with. In truth a good many of these vehicles were far from their first flush of youth by the time they entered my sphere of influence and try as I might, I fought an often losing battle to Continue reading “Such A Small Love”

Our MINI Adventure (Part Two)

Daniel O’Callaghan concludes his running report on his partner’s 2014 MINI with an assessment of its dynamics, its ergonomics and his conclusions.

Image : The Author

The driving experience and refinement is where the third-generation new MINI really distinguishes itself positively from its fun but flawed predecessors. It has a nice turn of speed, 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds, which is 0.1 seconds quicker than the manual, and a claimed (but untested!) top speed of 130mph.

The torque-converter automatic gearbox is very smooth, kicks down readily and has a manual override if wanted, which we’ve never used. This gearbox has now been superseded by a dual-clutch unit. The three-cylinder 1.5 litre turbocharged engine pulls strongly and has a nice, gruff engine note. Continue reading “Our MINI Adventure (Part Two)”

Our MINI Adventure (Part One)

Daniel O’Callaghan reports on life with a MINI.

All images : The author

In my recent review of MINI over twenty years of BMW ownership, I declared an interest in the shape of a MINI Cooper three-door Hatch, jointly owned with my partner, Murray, who is its main driver. I promised a long-term report on the car, and here it is.

We had owned a 2005 Skoda Fabia for nine years and 55k miles from new, which had served us very well as a runabout and carry-all. We wanted to replace it with something more fun and engaging to drive. It had to be an automatic, as Murray learned to drive in the USA and his UK licence still carries that restriction.

By coincidence, I was aware that MINI was soon to Continue reading “Our MINI Adventure (Part One)”

Long Term Test: No Longer Surprising Skoda (Part 3)

In the final part of our ownership experience review of the Skoda Octavia Estate, we discuss service intervals, sloths and dodgy DRLs.

Skoda Estelle (5) honest john
They don’t make them like this any more. The glorious Estelle (did the lady with the bag forget the handbrake?). (Source: Honest John)

Living with the Skoda Octavia is a pretty pain-free affair.  As mentioned previously, it’s very parsimonious with respect to fuel consumption, it’s comfortable and spacious to sit in and drive, it rides well enough (with a decent level of pliancy), and it’s reasonably quiet.

The Skoda has also been pretty reliable – but not flawless.

I’ll start with the niggles. The Tyre Pressure Monitor Sensors (TPMS) are irritatingly sensitive, and I feel like I have had an ongoing battle with them.  The near-side rear, in particular, goes off every other journey, and yet every time I check it, it’s only within 1 or maximum 2 PSI of where it should be. I have had the Skoda service centre have a look at it on many occasions and they can never Continue reading “Long Term Test: No Longer Surprising Skoda (Part 3)”

Long Term Test: No Longer Surprising Skoda (Part 2)

In this middle section of our long term look at the Octavia Estate, we review how the mid-range Skoda drives.

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Front three quarter view – still not quite the right colour. Can you see Concorde in it yet? (Source: CarWow)

Driving the Octavia is a bit of an unexpected bonus – it’s a much sweeter drive than I expected. The steering is direct, well-weighted and helped by a well sized, shaped (it’s actually round!) and covered steering-wheel. When I say ‘well weighted’, actually, that depends on which driver setting you choose – in this case it’s ‘normal’ as ‘sport’ is just heavy and gloopy.

One can also Continue reading “Long Term Test: No Longer Surprising Skoda (Part 2)”

Long Term Test: No Longer Suprising Skoda (Part 1)

Continuing a habit of testing cars which other motoring journals have already tested ad-nauseum, here’s a LTT of my Skoda Octavia Estate 2.0L Diesel SE-L

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Brochure-photo of the Octavia Estate – wrong colour, but it does have the chrome window-surround and roof bars (Source: Gateway2Lease)

We have had our Octavia since the middle of July 2017.  In that time, it has travelled over 37,000 miles and proved to be a very capable and worthy steed.  it’s painted in vibrant metallic Rio Red (in the sunshine it looks a bit like Heinz Tomato Soup – other tomato soups are available), with a very fine, tough, finish.

The Octavia arrived as part of my rejig of our car portfolio (pretentious, moi?) where a Mazda3 Fastback (also subjected to numerous LTT articles here) and Xsara Picasso (ditto) were replaced by the Skoda and a FIAT 500 (which I have, again, written about here). A C6 still lurks on the driveway.  By and large, the Skoda is driven by me to get me to Continue reading “Long Term Test: No Longer Suprising Skoda (Part 1)”

Ford Fiesta Red and Black Edition – Long Term Test

A welcome return to DTW from Chris Ward, with a final update on his Festie.

(c) The author

So, the Fiesta has gone. Long gone, in fact: over half a year has passed since the scarlet terror was taken away by a man bearing a clipboard and a polyester coat. Yet despite the intervening months (for which I can only apologise), my thoughts remain much the same as when the car was in my possession. 

In short, the Fiesta was a joyous device. Continue reading “Ford Fiesta Red and Black Edition – Long Term Test”

Driven, Written: VW T-Cross (2019)

The times are clearly a-changing at Wolfsburg, if Volkswagen’s smallest ‘SUV’ offering is anything to go by. 

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One of the nicknames given to Herbert Diess during his tenure at BMW was ‘Scrooge’. Even though he’s in charge of the VAG empire in general and the VW brand in particular these days, it would appear his business instincts haven’t changed one bit. Certainly not if the VW T-Cross, one of the first products into which he had any significant input, serves as an indication. For this Polo with rugged pretensions barely feels like the kind of car one expects a Volkswagen to be.

Obviously, it wasn’t just Herr Diess’ parsimonious tendencies that cast such an unflattering light onto the T-Cross during the week I and my partner got to sample it. The sometimes merciless nature of the rental car lottery was equally to be blamed. After all, just a few weeks prior, we’d truly been spoiled with the excellent VW Golf GTI Performance – a car that highlighted what Wolfsburg can be capable of, in truly impressive fashion. The contrast with the T-Cross therefore could scarcely have been any harsher.

Obviously, the T-Cross is supposedly one category below a Golf-size car (which is what we’d booked and I insisted upon, to no avail), and a 1.0 litre three-cylinder engine, producing the grand total of 115 metric horsepower cannot hope to Continue reading “Driven, Written: VW T-Cross (2019)”

Summer Resissue : Art for Art’s Sake

If cars really can be viewed as Art, where does this leave the 1999 Citroën Xsara Picasso? 

(c) auto-abc.eu

Here at Driven to Write, we are fond of celebrating the worthy, the left of field and the more outlying inhabitants of our vehicular rich pageant. However, nobody in possession of the requisite technical or visual discernment would willingly choose to scribe a hymn of praise for the Citroën Xsara Picasso (to lend it its full name) – a motor vehicle which could perhaps only lay claim to the quality of mercy.

There have been many phases to the double chevron’s creative trajectory over the 100 years of its existence, and it would not be especially uncharitable to Continue reading “Summer Resissue : Art for Art’s Sake”

Perfect Compromise

Dublin resident Mick reports on life with a Volvo C30. 

It really doesn’t look its age.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of love in these parts for the mark V Golf. Not so here. I had 4 of them. My favourite was the ’08 black 3 door. So much so I kept it for almost a decade. The TSI engine that was reputedly brittle brought me and my learner clients almost to the moon (well over 300,000 kms).

About 18 months ago it started to Continue reading “Perfect Compromise”

Dramatic Licence

As Transport for London enacts its Ultra-Low Emission Zone, the case for DTW’s 1996 Saab 900S (and others like it) becomes scalpel-thin.

(c) Driven to Write

When it comes to motor cars there is absolutely nothing dull about metronomic reliability. I therefore hesitate to employ the adjective ‘boring’ when it comes to the dependability of my Saab, despite the undeniable fact that, in the almost six years I have been its steward, it has been an almost entirely trouble-free experience.

From a purely narrative perspective of course, a writer such as myself, for the sake of dramatic exposition might feel the necessity to Continue reading “Dramatic Licence”

Fiesta de Navidad

Spending the Christmas season with the Ford Fiesta Vignale.

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At the risk of repeating myself, I feel compelled to explain the set of circumstances that resulted in myself and my partner crossing Germany (twice) in the finest of small Fords towards the end of the year 2018.

Having sold my better half’s car early in the autumn (and with my own steed in storage), we found ourselves at the mercy of our friendly neighbourhood’s rent-a-car station on more than one occasion. For the holiday season – which entailed a 900-kilometre-trip from Hamburg to the Swiss border and back – we were destined to Continue reading “Fiesta de Navidad”

History in Cars – Ciao Baby

Driven to Write recalls his early forays into motoring.

Owing to the poor quality of the originals, stock photos have been used. (c) autoevolution

Starting procedure: Insert key into ignition. Turn key clockwise. Lift floor mounted enrichment (choke) lever fully. Engage clutch. Lift spring-loaded, floor mounted starter (mounted behind gear lever next to choke). Hold until engine fires. Ignore the shaking of the engine on its mountings as it settles into life. On no account Continue reading “History in Cars – Ciao Baby”

Ford Fiesta Red and Black 1.0 long term report

As Chris puts more miles on the Festie, both life and frost damage intervene.

IMG_3712

The wheel dropped into the pothole and my stomach followed. CLONNNNNNG, the Fiesta’s front driver’s side alloy rang out in the cold winter air like a dropped bell. The low profile tyre was no protection against Nottinghamshire’s homage to the Rift Valley, a hole both deep and wide running transversely across a join in the tarmac.

SHIT, SHIT, SHIT, I thought. Straight away I pulled into a garage forecourt to Continue reading “Ford Fiesta Red and Black 1.0 long term report”

Small Is Beautiful… and Why Modern Cars Are (usually) Better

Sometimes driving the dream isn’t quite what it is cracked up to be. New contributor Chris Elvin outlines why he’s done a’ Rovering…

Image: Chris Elvin

Despite passing my driving test shortly after my seventeenth birthday and having been enthusiastic about cars from toddling age, I managed to retain the position of being the only person in my immediate family never to have owned a car until quite recently, in my late 30s.

A combination of city-centre living and having spent most of my adult life in another country to that in which I learned to Continue reading “Small Is Beautiful… and Why Modern Cars Are (usually) Better”

Our Cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

After a bit of a hiatus, DTW’s non-executive classics sub-editor at-large, Myles Gorfe, reports on a busy month for his 1975 Ford Granada 2.0L. Costs: £310.00 for towing. £190.34 for sundries. Miles travelled: 0

1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

Myles Gorfe writes:   It’s been a busy month for the Grannie. After a bit of a hiatus, work on getting the car back on the road began to continue, albeit in a stop-go kind of way. To recap, the engine stalled during the last test. This has to be handled by my new mechanic, Ken Cutler of Ken Cutler & Co. Carriages.

I suppose I should back-track a bit and explain that my last mechanic, Frankie J, took early retirement in December – he had the car after it stalled and was booked to Continue reading “Our Cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L”

[Badge] Engineering Failure: VW

I realise it’s an old and oft-discussed issue, but I have experienced VW shooting itself in the badge.

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I was recently loaned a brand new VW Golf Estate for the day whilst my Octavia of similar form was in for its 10k oil-change. I have frequently read over the past few years how the differential between VW Group’s brands has blurred, but this is the first time I was presented with an opportunity to witness the phenomenon so directly. And, although I should not have been, I was a bit taken aback at the experience.

I’ve always kept the view that the Golf is a bit special. A cut above. Very cleverly set aside from Continue reading “[Badge] Engineering Failure: VW”

Rearview: 1987 Honda Integra EX16

Forgive me for insisting on writing about cars I have either driven or owned – I think it’s some kind of automotive catharsis. You may have noticed a taste for what could be described as the slightly offbeat, leftfield, or maybe just unloved. So, humour me as I bore you with the Honda Integra.

Integra Image
Sorry, it’s the best image I could find …. Source: Performance Car

Being precise for a moment, Wiki informs that the version to which I am referring is the AV Series which was built between 1985 and 1989. It was known in other territories as the Quint Integra and also, in Australia, was sold as a Rover 416 (all these years I have thought myself to be a bit of a BL/ ARG/ Rover Group/ MGR officianado and I never knew that until now).

As mentioned by others in previous pieces, Continue reading “Rearview: 1987 Honda Integra EX16”

LTT Reflections: Mazda3 2.2d SportNav Fastback

A few months after having left my now ex-go-to-work wheels in a Skoda dealer’s customer parking bay, I thought I should put a full-stop on the sporadic LTT that I sometimes provided on these pages.  

Mazda3 Fastback
Ex-machina – I liked the looks, even if the colour was less interesting than I had hoped.

Time and the opportunity to compare it with the Octavia which replaced it provide context and perspective on my views. I spent just over two years and 33,000 miles with my Titanium Flash Mica hued Mazda saloon. To recap, I bought the car with the original intent of swapping my C6 in for it, but instead, through the benevolence of my family, I was able to keep the slightly exotic and eccentric Citroen ‘for pleasure’ and have the Mazda to take the burden of my extended daily commute.

I bought the car pre-registered and was fortunate to find one in the spec and colour I wanted. My ultimate preference would have been to Continue reading “LTT Reflections: Mazda3 2.2d SportNav Fastback”

Pointless Road Test – FIAT 500 1.2l Lounge

There probably isn’t anything left on the keyboard that has not already been written about the FIAT 500, but that’s not going to stop DTW as recent ownership has permitted some real-world insights.

FIAT 500 1.2L Lounge in Pasodoble Red
So familiar, it’s invisible

The new-age FIAT 500 is a car I don’t want to like. It’s a cynical fraud for starters, sharing underpinnings with the previous generation FIAT Panda and Ford Ka. I like the Panda, having an especially fond soft spot for the 100HP which was the meaner spiritual successor to the Cinquecento Sporting that I so cherished in my early twenties.

I think I am also biased by ownership of that car, which I thought at the time to be a logical progression of the Nuova 500’s gene-pool; the Cinquecento of the late 80’s and 90’s seemed to be just that – small, practical, basic and cheap. The pastiche Nuova 500 alike styling of the new 500 – inside and out – is a commercially cynical attempt to Continue reading “Pointless Road Test – FIAT 500 1.2l Lounge”

Our Cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

Driven To Write’s Classic Vehicles Editorial Assistant is Myles Gorfe. Here he reports on life with his trusty Granada 2.0 L . Miles driven: 2.3. Costs to date: bill pending.

1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

It has been very busy on the Granada front this last month. After a bit of a spell where suppliers played merry hell with deliveries (bootlid badges, gear lever, steering column shroud, headliner, sill kick plates and a grommet for the fuel system) and the mechanic had to recover from a slipped disc, things have finally moved on.

Frankie J., who has done most of the work on the car since March, put his back out big style trying to lift the engine out for a spot of routine maintenance. He started late on a Friday evening after everyone had gone home. The engine suffered no damage but Frankie spent the weekend in the workshop unable to Continue reading “Our Cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L”

Driving Range – 2009 Range Rover Vogue TDV8 : 2

In this concluding part, we delve further into the Range Rover’s dynamics.

All images: Driven to Write

One could be excused for expecting the Range Rover’s road behaviour to be ponderous and unresponsive, and while one never loses the sensation of driving something quite vast, the RR can cover ground with an alacrity and poise that is both satisfying and deeply impressive. Even on the narrow, meandering and frost-scarred roads of West Cork’s ‘Wild Atlantic Way’, the air suspension’s ability to Continue reading “Driving Range – 2009 Range Rover Vogue TDV8 : 2”

Driving Range – 2009 Range Rover Vogue TDV8

Part one: Driven to Write gets ideas above its station.

All images: Driven to Write

‘Above and Beyond’: As advertising taglines go, this one speaks to an essential truth. Because driving a Range Rover genuinely does suggest an altogether loftier plane, and it is this sense of elevation, otherwise the sole preserve of Rolls Royce owners, that is perhaps the car’s defining characteristic. Continue reading “Driving Range – 2009 Range Rover Vogue TDV8”

The Citroën Dyane is Fifty This Year

Was it the 2CV’s slightly duller brother, or the car the 2CV should have become?

Image : favcars.com

In all practical respects the Citroën Dyane was an improvement on the 2CV. The sliding front windows were more convenient, the two position fabric sunroof easier to use, the hatchback more versatile, the bodywork a little more slippery. Yet, despite comprising nearly 17% of total 2CV platform  production in its 15 years, against the 2CV saloon’s 45% over 42 years, it is a bywater in Citroën history because, of course, it isn’t a Deuche and, in terms of original intent, it isn’t even strictly a Citroën, since it was intended to Continue reading “The Citroën Dyane is Fifty This Year”

Vanity Of Vanities : Work In Progress

Following the post from a couple of weeks ago, expressing my desire for an enjoyable, yet slow, car I’ve been trying to flesh out what was, when I first suggested it, a rather nebulous idea.

slow-sports-top

At the same time, I’ve been getting my own low-level insight into the mindset of Ferdinand Piëch.  From what I know of him we have little in common, save a desire – realised in his case, unrealisable in mine – to see a rather silly car produced; one that no-one else in the world needs.  I started my doodlings thinking of simple things that could, perhaps, be built on top of a scrap 2CV platform. But Dr Piëch has inspired me that, like the Bugatti Veyron, second-best just won’t do. Continue reading “Vanity Of Vanities : Work In Progress”

Slow? Slow? Quick? Quick? Slow!

Where is the real car for today’s roads?

Too much entirely? Image : evo.co.uk

My recent speeding endorsement re-awoke my idea that what the world (meaning Sean Patrick) needs is a slow sports car. The problem is that modern cars’ abilities have become so high that driving them at legal limits is pretty stultifying.

Basically engines are too powerful and tyres are too wide. Their competence is such that any sensation is insulated until you get up to speeds that risk doing your licence, not to mention yourself and others, irreparable harm. The above photo shows EVO’s Jethro Bovingdon, demonstrating an admirable determination to Continue reading “Slow? Slow? Quick? Quick? Slow!”

Theme: Compromise – One Born Every Minute

Necessity might be the mother of Invention, but her second child is named Compromise. 

nissan-qashqai-being-built-on-nmuk-line-1-with-an-operator
The maker of your own demise. (Image: Auto Express)

For anyone with an ounce of petrol in their veins, few experiences necessitate compromise more than parenthood. Children may be small, but their interminable things are not. The gravitational pull of a gurgling baby Katamari attracts hitherto unimaginable mountains of clutter.

Continue reading “Theme: Compromise – One Born Every Minute”

Our Cars – Nissan Cube : End Of Year Update

Following his Final Report from 2015 and his subsequent Update from last April, here’s another one from Sean. Until the penultimate, absolute final update report he plans for late 2017 or thereabouts.

sm-cube
There was always the worry that, with time, the scales would fall from my eyes and I would see the Cube as the embarrassing and rather fatuous novelty that others see it as. Certain respected visitors to this site have made their abhorrence of the car apparent, and others have possibly implied it politely, by evading the subject entirely. However, for me, the satisfaction of ownership hasn’t worn off. Of course, city dwelling, and my rag-bag of alternative vehicles, means that I’ve only done about 7,000 miles in it over 18 months but, for me, it’s an excellent thing to have. Spacious inside, compact outside, good all round view. It’s perfect in town, and perfectly tolerable on long journeys. A hypothetical electric Cube might be preferable but, when I consider the alternatives actually available, I have no regrets. Continue reading “Our Cars – Nissan Cube : End Of Year Update”

Our Cars – Ford Fiesta Zetec S Red 1.0

One of the few positive things I could say about owning a RenaultSport Clio was it never left me short of things to write about.

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Keep a tight hold of that lever. (Image: DreamWorks)

From the way it demolished a corner to the way it demolished a gearbox, every journey was an anecdote. Owning the Clio was exciting in the same way that owning a live hand grenade would be exciting. By this yardstick, the Fiesta simply cannot compare. It is simply too smoothly competent to inspire easy prose. Go for a drive however and the Ford proves to be a capable story teller in its own right. Continue reading “Our Cars – Ford Fiesta Zetec S Red 1.0”

Our Cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

Myles Gorfe, our acting resident assistant classics sub-editor-at-large, gives a run down on the latest news from his 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L.

1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L
1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L

It’s been a busy few months for the Granada, as usual. The rust in the floor pan has been dealt with but this has resulted in a lot of searching for replacement trim – must have used 40-odd hours on eBay in the last two weeks alone – and mechanical components … (not to mention a lot of driving about) … as the new parts and old ones aren’t fitting like they should. Seems like two different cars now it’s been welded up. The doors are a particular problem. Getting them to

Continue reading “Our Cars: 1975 Ford Granada 2.0 L”

The Late Film: Mistaken Identity

Another thinly disguised excuse to write about a car that I like and used to own (yes, another one). This is my singular experience of going Italian, and very gratifying it was too. And, reliable.

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The mighty FIAT Cinquecento Sporting (source Retro 02)

I remember falling in love with the FIAT Cinquecento Sporting at first sight (and read, it was an article in Car – by Andrew Frankel, I think – entitled “Eeenie Weenie, Teenie Weenie, Yellow Hotted Up Machinie”, or something very similar). The little FIAT had everything I liked at the time. Continue reading “The Late Film: Mistaken Identity”

Long Term Test – Mazda 3 Fastback 2.2 diesel SportNav

Pre-facelift Mazda 3 and Post-facelift Mazda 3: spot the difference!

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The Mazda 3 has been featuring in UK-based car magazines recently, partly as one of the weeklies has been running one as a LTT car (a Fastback 1.5L Diesel SportNav) and also because the 3 has just been given an very mild facelift and tech update. I thought I’d use this as an excuse to impart the news on the facelifted car and also throw in an update on how my own car has been running. Continue reading “Long Term Test – Mazda 3 Fastback 2.2 diesel SportNav”

DTW Summer Reissue: Midlife Krisis KA

If you’re going to have a mid-life crisis, at least get a decent set of wheels. 

Image: autobild-de
Image: autobild-de

[We round out Driven to Write’s Kanniversary with this piece first published in November 2014]

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in his forties has a higher than average propensity to some form of mid-life introspection. As we know, the clichéd route to self-actualisation ranges from an inadvisable tattoo, to an inappropriate affair with a younger member of whichever gender he’s attracted to. Some choose to experiment with various derivations of the above. The more conventional opt for a sportscar or convertible. After all, just because you’re in the throes of a life event doesn’t mean you have to be original about it. Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue: Midlife Krisis KA”

Fifth Nicest*

My predilection for two and three door cars is already a matter of public record

The scalloped headlamps and reduced indicators were very small facelift tweaks. To my eyes though they made a big difference.
The scalloped headlamps and reduced indicators were very small facelift tweaks. To my eyes though they made a big difference.

Four years ago however a growing family (and the ridiculous amount of paraphernalia that accompanies two kids) meant short of a roof box or a trailer a new car was needed. The thought of either an MPV or SUV was never entertained. That pretty much meant I was looking for a saloon. Not just any saloon though, but the 5th best looking* 4 door of all time. When this car was launched in 1994 (and especially in base spec) it had a discreet and maybe even slightly underwhelming presence. By the time it came to it’s run out in 2001, dollied up with MSport skirts and almost totally dechromed (the only silver to be found is on the twin kidney grilles) it truly was a sleek slice of motoring heaven.
Continue reading “Fifth Nicest*”

White Goods : My Other Car’s A Fridge

In the spirit of fearlessly reporting anything on four wheels, or even more, DTW questions why anyone would want a motorhome?

Sean salutes fellow motorhome owner, Will Smith - image : travelchannel-com
Sean salutes fellow motorhome owner, Will Smith – image : travelchannel.com

Whatever the weather might suggest, In Europe we are now in the holiday season. Some of you might be ‘travel as quickly as you can to a destination, then stay put for the duration’ sort of people. And, if you use a holiday as a reason to relax and recuperate, I can’t deny that this is wisest.

For myself, I seem to lack the ability to Continue reading “White Goods : My Other Car’s A Fridge”

Head to Head: Ford Fiesta ST versus Ford Fiesta Zetec S Red

In a choice between equals, there’s only one decision – or is there?

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Ever since the giant landcrabs died out at the end of the Hydrolastic Age, Ford has been the UK’s top selling marque. Brits have clutched successive generations of Fiestas and Escorts to their heaving collective bosoms, sometimes despite myriad qualitative horrors perpetuated by the company, especially during the 1990s.

Fast forward two decades and Ford’s continued popularity is perhaps more deserved, Alan Mulally’s global One Ford strategy culminating in what is (arguably) their best range in years. (Their European operation even managed to turn a profit last year for the first time since I was a schoolboy, if you believe their accountants.) Continue reading “Head to Head: Ford Fiesta ST versus Ford Fiesta Zetec S Red”

Not Your Regular Renault

DTW discovers how to jump the queue at your friendly Renault dealer.

Renault Badge

“Can you hear a whining noise”?

“Yes, I think so”

“I heard it a little while back, but it seems to be getting louder”

Hmm, the noise seems to rise and fall with engine revs more than speed, and it’s following us, so that means it is us. I pull off the road as soon as we see a parking area, and lift the rear hatch, casting my eyes and ears around the engine bay, trying to determine the source of the whine. It seems to be from the right hand side.

“Can you see a fine mist?” I ask. “Yes, down in the right corner” replies my wife. Not really what I wanted to hear, but it confirmed what I thought I could see – fine metal flakes emanating from the engine bay.

Bugger! Continue reading “Not Your Regular Renault”

Theme of Last Month: Values – Head over heart?

A quick game of word association around the kitchen table with select members of my tribe provided a 100% consistent response: I say, ‘values’ – tribe members respond, ‘family’. Looks like I’ll be writing about our family car, then. 

(c) auto-abc.eu

Ladies (out of interest, does DTW have any female readers?) and gentlemen, I give you the Citroën Xsara Picasso. By the end of this September, we will have owned our Xsara Picasso for 10 years. This is a record for me. It’s almost certainly down to the fact that my wife uses it more than I and she’s perfectly happy with it. My wife appreciates my passion for automobiles, but does not really share in it, so the Picasso is a utility which causes little or no grief and performs its function without fuss – ergo, why Continue reading “Theme of Last Month: Values – Head over heart?”

Theme: Values – More Than the Sum of its Parts?

Values: How can this term can be ascribed to the subject of the motor car, and how much do I place upon my own vehicle?

Image: The author
Image: Driven to Write

Most of the time our cars are simply a tool, taken for granted and unconsidered unless we deign to clean them or the blasted thing refuses to start. There are currently two cars in my life. A 2013 Jaguar XF, (which isn’t in fact mine) and a 1996 Saab 900S, which is. The Jag was purchased about six months into its life, and is a low mileage, fairly cosseted luxury consumer durable.

The Saab was purchased in 2014 with about 110,000 miles on its odometer, but with every stamp present in its service book. It’s still in remarkable condition despite not being cosseted at all. The XF cost its owner something in the region of quite a lot of money, while the Saab – well, lets just say my road bike was more expensive. Continue reading “Theme: Values – More Than the Sum of its Parts?”

Our cars: 2009 Renaultsport Clio 200 Cup

A little bit of what you like won’t hurt you. Except when it really, really does. Recently I have had a couple of reasons to consider the meaning of the idiom you can have too much of a good thing.

2015-10-07 10.21.27The first came, perhaps inevitably, with a trip to the hospital. A few weeks prior, my knees had swollen and become painful to the point I could hardly walk. A week at home sat on my backside bombed out on powerful prescription painkillers (the only circumstance by which daytime television becomes tolerable) saw off the worst, but nearly a month later I was still knock-kneed like an old beggar under a sack.

X-rays and blood tests confirmed the initial diagnosis: the inflammation was caused by uric acid crystallising in my joints. Yes, I have Gout. Continue reading “Our cars: 2009 Renaultsport Clio 200 Cup”

Theme : Values – 1973 Citroën SM (Very) Long Term Test

As the ever quotable Oscar Wilde wrote, a cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

As prices have escalated over the past three decades, that aphorism certainly applies to many contemporary classic car collectors. If you have an interesting looking car, people come up and talk to you about it. My Citroën SM is now entering my 21st year or ownership so, over the years, I’ve got reasonably used to this, though my social grace occasionally lets me down. Sometimes the speaker is highly informed and might tell you something you don’t know. Sometimes they are like-minded enthusiasts who just want to make a pleasant comment or Continue reading “Theme : Values – 1973 Citroën SM (Very) Long Term Test”

Theme: Japan – Subaru Legacy Saloon (BL), 3.0R Spec B

I’ve been fighting this for a while, but have given in to myself and written up some fond memories I have of the fourth generation (BL), 2004 to 2009, Subaru Legacy 3.0R Spec B.

Subaru Legacy Spec.B - Image:betterparts
Subaru Legacy Spec.B – Image: betterparts

Feel free not to read this piece, it’s pure self-indulgence. This is the car that, in many respects, I wish I had never sold, but I did for the love of the idea of owning a big, oleopneumatically suspended Citroen. In fact, I bought two – one after the other – which was stupid in itself, but I was overcome with a childish desire to Continue reading “Theme: Japan – Subaru Legacy Saloon (BL), 3.0R Spec B”

Theme : Japan – Nissan Cube Update

Although I had put the running report on my Cube on hold, based on the fact that there wasn’t much else to write about it except that I like it, I’m writing something in line with this month’s theme.

Cube Engine Bay

Actually, I had intended an April 1st piece detailing the work I’d had done by a sympathetic body shop, cutting mine and a LHD Cube down the middle and mating the two sections in order to impose symmetry. But I missed the deadline. Continue reading “Theme : Japan – Nissan Cube Update”

Theme: Japan – 2015 Mazda3 Fastback, 2.2L Diesel SportNav

In recognition of this month’s theme, I thought I would provide a short update on progress with my current car: it’s Japanese.

Mazda3 Fastback - brochure pic

I have now completed over 12,500 miles in the 3. It had its first service just over a week ago, which set me back just a little under £200, most of which went on labour (the going hourly rate is high around here), oil and filters. The car had an engine software upgrade, which apparently was part of a recall that never found its way to my post-box. This was described as a “rough idle recall”, which was not a problem that I ever noticed. It does seem to have improved the fuel economy of the car (the last two tanks-full have averaged just over 60 MPG – up from about 57). Continue reading “Theme: Japan – 2015 Mazda3 Fastback, 2.2L Diesel SportNav”

Theme: Japan – The Best Ever Toyota Design?

Toyota made their reputation (and the bulk of their profits) on serious (if occasionally dull) cars. The Yaris however was different. 

(c) blog.toyota

This month’s theme has brought to mind, for the first time, that I don’t really think about the nationality of the cars that I buy – with the possible exception of German ones (I seem to pathologically avoid them for being too obvious a choice). I arrived at this via the realisation that, in the S.V. Robinson car buying nationality stakes, Japan stands second only to France. And I found myself rather discombobulated at this.

For the record, I have owned five Japanese cars: a Honda Integra, a Yaris, two Subaru Legacys, and now a Mazda 3, and I’m blown if I can Continue reading “Theme: Japan – The Best Ever Toyota Design?”