Sons of the Silent Age – (2)

Part two: We briefly take the wheel

Image: Driven to Write

As Steve fires up the NSU’s power unit, it quickly settles into its distinctive buzz-saw rotary whine. I ask him how often he uses it? “Not as often as I should – I have too many cars. I don’t use it in the winter, but this summer it’s done about 1500 miles.” Mileage incidentally, which includes a trip to the recent 50th anniversary commemorations in Suffolk, where over 30 Ro80s converged. Among the attendees was an owner from Stuttgart who Continue reading “Sons of the Silent Age – (2)”

Sons of the Silent Age

Part one: Driven to Write meets (and briefly drives) one of its heroes.

Image: Driven to Write

A commonly espoused orthodoxy warns us that close proximity to our idols can only lead to disappointment. Some go further, suggesting that the renunciation of hero worship is the mark of a mature mind. This being the case, I can categorically claim not to have attained it. But surely it is preferable to Continue reading “Sons of the Silent Age”

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”

1981 Ford Cortina 2.0 GL Roadtest

“The middle frontier ahead!” Archie Vicar, the well-known motoring scribe, has a closer look at the 1981 Ford Cortina 2.0 GL.

1981 Ford Cortina 2.0 GL: Autocar July, 1981.

This may be a verbatim transcript of an article which first appeared in Laker Airways in-flight magazine, July 1981. Original photos by Cosimo Villiers-Montreux. Due to the poor quality of the printed source, stock images have been used.

As sure as mustard, the market is happy to keep on buying front-engine, rear-drive cars in the middle range. With its assured sense of the market’s whims – and they are whimsical, ask Citroen! – Ford has made sure that the fifth in the Cortina series is a front-engine, rear-wheel drive car. It would seem that no matter how willing makers are to Continue reading “1981 Ford Cortina 2.0 GL Roadtest”

Credit Where It’s Due

This review concludes a slow tour through the middle-market. It’s the Astra’s turn.

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2015 Opel Astra sports tourer in rental car drab.

DTW has tested the Ford Focus, Megane, the Golf and the Auris. That means I can put some of those reviews in perspective as well as offer some insights on the corresponding offering from Opel, the Astra. It’s quite handy that all the cars tested came from the same source, which eliminates variables like colour and engine specification. So, it’s quite a level playing field the Astra and its peers are playing on.

Continue reading “Credit Where It’s Due”

Act of Contrition – Citroen C6 (part two)

We drive a C6 and discover there’s nothing penitential about Citroën’s swansong big saloon.

Image: Car
Image: Car

On my return to Randle Engineering in November 2016, I re-introduced the subject of the C6, but this time with a more contrite tone. I ask Steve to tell me more about his example. By UK standards at least, Randle’s C6 has a virtually unique specification. It’s a 2007 C6 2.2 litre model with a six-speed manual transmission, one of 38 in the country. Continue reading “Act of Contrition – Citroen C6 (part two)”

Three Volumes in Three Parts: 2

In the first part I discussed the static qualities of the Lancia Trevi. In this part I will present my driving impressions.

1981 Lancia Trevi
1981 Lancia Trevi

Finally, it’s time to drive in the car. First off, we set off along some minor country roads, ones I have just driven in a modern car. Initially I am the passenger and from that position I realise that I can see nothing of the instruments from the passenger side. They are set in Bellini’s cylindrical recesses which are angled to the driver. This makes me look elsewhere – out, for example. Continue reading “Three Volumes in Three Parts: 2”

Three Volumes in Three Parts: 1

Don’t meet your heroes, they say. It’s bound to lead to disappointment. After stalking the Lancia Trevi for 26 years I finally got to drive one. So, you ask, how did that work out?

1981 Lancia Trevi 2000
1981 Lancia Trevi 2000

Very well indeed, thanks: I got to satisfy my curiosity and did so without my hopes being dashed. Much like my short trip to Italy in June, this experience has got me thinking. And re-thinking.

Before getting to the drive, let us Continue reading “Three Volumes in Three Parts: 1”

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”

Today’s Random Nugget

Idly I wanted to know what John Simister is up to…

2014 MG3: source
2014 MG3: source

He wrote for the Independent and is a freelancer now. I remember him from his days writing for Car magazine (1995-1998). This review turned up, of the MG3. Since I don’t live in the UK, I never see these cars and had forgotten about them. This part of the review is a surprise: “Despite this, there is a precision, a deftness, a transparency to the MG3’s responses that are rare in a new, mass-market model. It steers beautifully, it rides smoothly over bumps, it flows in a way which just makes you feel good. You do have to work the engine hard, but it’s not too noisy and a tidy gear-change action helps get the best from it.”  Simister is known for his fondness for French cars so I read this as meaning the car drives like a Peugeot 205.

Corsa Revisited

As promised during the weekend here is a small reconsideration of the Opel Corsa, this time the 1.4 litre, 75 PS petrol five-door.

2015 Opel Corsa 1.4 Cosmo
2015 Opel Corsa 1.4 Cosmo

We had a short review of the 1.0 litre version in the summer of 2015 and decided it was okay. This time I have the 1.4 litre mid-spec version to try.

I can immediately say that the uprated interior decorations make for a much more festive feeling. The steering wheel looks like it’s the nice one from the Adam and so the upshot of this is that without wood and leather and shades of beige, it still makes for a comfortable and quite convivial driving environment. My notes, written up after a hard charging day at the wheel, list the nice steering, smooth uptake and HVAC controls that won’t cause you to Continue reading “Corsa Revisited”

Micropost: 2016 Opel Corsa

In the rental car lottery I drew the Corsa straw. There will be a short report on it before very long.

2015 Opel Corsa
2015 Opel Corsa (not the car tested).

The first thing I noticed related to the spec. They have Adamed this version so it has more of a feel-good factor than the one I rented in 2015. I drove off in the dark which somehow made me more aware of the delightfully light steering and also the fun way the dials do a test sweep of the car’s instrument faces. It’s a pleasant vehicle to drive around town and the city-steering makes it a breeze. The day’s mission is a four hour drive over motorways and country roads. We’ll see the car bears up in the course of the day…

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”

I’ll Second That

Automotive News has a timely editorial concerning the EV-1 which I once drove. Here are some of the photos.

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GM EV-1 (right) in 1997.

Prompted by AN, I took out my photos from 1997 and found the shots from the day I drove the EV-1 (top, right) in California. The salesman at the car dealership presented the EV-1 as a something for enthusiasts (which contrasted with the sludge I expect he was selling). The idea was that the EV-1 would appeal to people still interested in the technology and car-ness of cars. At the time I was a bit cynical about the GM car. 90 miles didn’t really seem that impressive although even today a 90 mile range would be very useful for most people’s daily needs. I got that wrong then. The Bolt has a 238 mile range.

Continue reading “I’ll Second That”

2014 Toyota Avensis (Part 2)

We looked at the extensive failings of the Avensis’ auxiliary controls this week. This article deals with the rest of the car.

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Toyota have been making this class of car for 50 years. The Avensis name has been attached to offerings in the middle market for 19 years. This version is third one to carry the name. They ought to be pretty good at this by now. So, we ask, what is it like to drive a vehicle aimed at a competitive and hard-fought and declining segment? Continue reading “2014 Toyota Avensis (Part 2)”

How Many Ergonomic Flaws Can One Car Have?

The Avensis tested here is now out of production. This appears to be a 2014-2015 model. The user-interface proved so troubling I had to make that aspect into a separate article. 

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2014 Toyota Avensis 1.8

The rest of the review comes later. The controls are divided into two sets, the driving controls and the auxiliaries. I will deal with the auxiliaries in this article. Overall, the Avensis is riddled with odd choices and evidence of poor decision-making. It exemplifies a number of user-interface principles, but negatively.

The problems started when I tried to Continue reading “How Many Ergonomic Flaws Can One Car Have?”

1975 Peugeot 604 Road Test

The only way to really know a car is take a test drive. Having long admired the 1975 Peugeot 604, I finally tracked one down and fired it up. What did I find?

1975 Peugeot 604: on sale here.
1975 Peugeot 604: on sale here.

[Republished with kind permission of Curbside Classic]

Before I get to my discoveries, let’s take a quick look at the background to the 604’s development. [A longer discussion can be found here]. The French know the period from 1945 to 1975 as “les trentes glorieuses” or “the glorious thirty”. The rising economic tide seemed to lift all boats: the average French worker’s salary rose 170% during that time. Customers could afford more. At precisely the end of this period, the beginning of a protracted malaise, Peugeot launched their interpretation of the large, luxury car: the V6-powered, rear-drive 604. Many know the car as “the French Mercedes”, being as it is a clear response to Benz’s W-114 of 1968. Peugeot wanted to offer increasingly affluent customers a domestic product other than the beautiful but unorthodox Citroen DS which, in 1975, had reached two decades in production. Things didn’t work out for Peugeot and today most know the 604 only for being a bit of a glorious failure, despite the car receiving glowing reviews for its ability to Continue reading “1975 Peugeot 604 Road Test”

Objects In The Rear View Mirror

The first car I bought with my own money was a Mark One Ford Focus.

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There are many Foci in the world, but this one was mine.

Having decided that a Focus was going to be the car for me, I spent months scouring local dealerships, newspaper classifieds and Autotrader for the right car. Eventually a dealer called me with a candidate. And there it was: a sky blue three door in 2.0 Zetec trim. Despite spending five years gracing the surface of this planet whilst being blasted with wind, rain, road salt and solar radiation, the Focus looked as if it had rolled out of the Saarlouis factory just last week. An inspection and test drive confirmed my impressions: it was a peach. Continue reading “Objects In The Rear View Mirror”

DTW Summer Reissue: 2014 Ford Focus 1.6 CDTi Econetic Review

After discussing the dead centre of the car market, we take a visit there: the Ford Focus 1.6 CDTi Econetic. [First published May 11, 2014]

2012 Ford Focus rear 1This is the third generation Focus that I have tried. The Mk1 is a landmark and indeed a benchmark for many. It casts a long shadow over its successors. The Mk2 added refinement at the expense of driver enjoyment. Compared to the Mk1, the successor felt like being in a fat suit. So, what is the Mk 3 like now I have finally gotten behind the wheel? The main impressions are described below. Continue reading “DTW Summer Reissue: 2014 Ford Focus 1.6 CDTi Econetic Review”

Fiat Panda, As Seen in 1989

The Fiat Panda as described by one Russell Bulgin.

1983-2003 Fiat Panda 4x4
1983-2003 Fiat Panda 4×4. I can´t be more precise about the date. Anyone?

Not so very, very long ago I presented an excellent gallery of Fiat Pandas as seen on location somewhere in sunny Italy – (thanks to Sean for helping out with the technicalities on that). Since then, I found the article Russell Bulgin wrote about the Panda in 1989. I had been thinking of this article in June. For Autocar, Russell Bulgin wrote a series called the Bulgin Files (why the Bulgin Files?). The sub-header explained “Our angry young man is into his fourth week of driving bargain-basement superminis and now he auditions a Starlet and two Italian sisters, Fiat´s Uno and Panda.” Continue reading “Fiat Panda, As Seen in 1989”

2016 Citroen C1: Not Really a Road Test, Not Really a Drive

People judge the Sorrento-Amalfi coast road to be among the most beautiful in Europe and I drove it.  But…

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…night had fallen even before I got there. The last shred of daylight flickered out as I turned off the motorway for Sorrento. How did I leave it so late? The car rental process wasted a precious 40 minutes of my time and it took an hour to escape Naples. The walk from the terminal to the car rental bus-stop took a while. So two or more hours slipped through my fingers after touchdown. Continue reading “2016 Citroen C1: Not Really a Road Test, Not Really a Drive”

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”

2016 Toyota Auris 1.6 Valvematic 5-door Road Test

Recently DTW tested the arch-mainstream car, the VW Golf. This week we sample the joys of Toyota’s Auris and find out a little about how the two cars compare.

2016 Toyota Auris 1.6
2016 Toyota Auris 1.6

I don’t imagine that many people accept the keys of an Auris with much sense of excitement. However, I experienced a small burst of what many would call satisfaction when I found myself cupping the Auris’ keys in my hot little hand. A few weeks back I tested what many consider the benchmark C-class car, the VW Golf. Driving the Auris so soon after experiencing the Golf meant I had a good frame of reference for the Auris. I’ve also driven most of the other C-class cars, apart from the current Astra. That means I think I can offer this review with some sense of perspective. Continue reading “2016 Toyota Auris 1.6 Valvematic 5-door Road Test”

Out of the Comfort Zone – 2012 Citroën DS5 Hybrid4 Road Test

Seeking a scintilla of substance beneath the style, Driven to Write’s Swiss correspondent is not impressed.

The shape is OK – but too many details distract from it
The shape is OK – but too many details distract from it

As every year in springtime, my C6 recently got serviced and had its tyres changed for summer conditions. My dealer, while not exactly around the corner, is capable and friendly, and has grown up in a family of Citroën lovers, so shares my preferences in cars. As a bonus, I often get interesting courtesy cars while my car is being looked after. This time, I was surprised with a DS5. It has long been on my list of cars I wanted to drive, so I happily accepted and looked forward to a new experience. Continue reading “Out of the Comfort Zone – 2012 Citroën DS5 Hybrid4 Road Test”

When Words Collide

Recently we discussed the idea of a repository for automotive cliché. But in some cases, remove the offending phrases and the entire edifice collapses.

The result, right there in full colour. Image: Autocar
The result, right there in full colour. Image: Autocar

During the early years of the 20th Century, US politician, William McAdoo once waspishly said of President Warren Harding; “His speeches left the impression of an army of pompous phrases moving over the landscape in search of an idea.” As putdowns go, it’s rather a good one, but frankly as an opening line for an article (such as this one for example), it does leave an author open to the whiff of pretension. Continue reading “When Words Collide”

2016 VW Golf 1.4 TSI BlueMotion – Impressions

Between the choice of a Toyota Auris and a VW Golf, I went for the Wolfsburg car.

2016 VW Golf front interior door-handle.
2016 VW Golf front interior door-handle.

The Toyota would be too uninteresting, I thought.

It would be simpler if I didn’t write a review at all. Nobody needs to know I drove this and no-one need ever discover what a hard time I’ve had writing something intelligent about Europe’s favourite car.

What will I remember about the Golf? Two or three things. One, the interior door grip is squeeky. It’s made of two shells that don’t fit precisely. In counterpoint, there are two interior rear roof lights that don’t budge when you turn them on. They were well-secured to the roof, not the headliner. And you’re never sure you’ve turned them off. Two, the CD player is in the glovebox. Three, the boot is smaller than I liked. Lots of litres are wasted under the boot floor panel.  Continue reading “2016 VW Golf 1.4 TSI BlueMotion – Impressions”

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.

SM Top View

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 know a bit more. Continue reading “Theme : Values – 1973 Citroën SM (Very) Long Term Test”

An Uncomfortable Truth: Jaguar XF 2.2d Premium Luxury

Your correspondent gets into a bit of a flap over ‘our’ Jag’s ride quality. Or lack thereof.

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Is it possible for one’s palate to remain untainted by daily servings of braised swan? It’s bound to have an effect over the long term – after all, too much of a good thing will skew anyone’s critical faculties. For instance it’s unlikely any mainstream motor journalist working today would place a premium on ride comfort above outright handling and roadholding, if only because there probably aren’t any old enough to remember when such qualities were not only valued, but were what set luxury cars apart from the mass-market hordes. Continue reading “An Uncomfortable Truth: Jaguar XF 2.2d Premium Luxury”

Our Cars: 2009 RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup

A free-wheeling act of random charity leaves our correspondent flummoxed.

2015-10-07 10.19.13

A strange thing happened last Saturday. Gawping out of the lounge window in the semi-comatose state common to the domesticated house male, I clocked a silver Golf GTI driving slowly down the road. As it passed, I noticed that the driver was peering intently at my house. Odd, especially as I was not even performing naked star jumps in the bay window, which is usually what attracts the eye (and the ire) of passer’s by.

The GTI performed a three-point turn and pulled up in front of my house. The driver, a man whom I did not recognise, got out and walked up the drive. He then set about examining my Clio, which was parked in front of the garage. Continue reading “Our Cars: 2009 RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup”

Our Cars: 2009 RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup

David and Goliath? This question springs to mind in this report of life with a RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup.

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The modern SUV. Image: thisiswhyimbroke.com

I once shared a university house with a man who studied Physics. He was tremendously good at it. As a lazy English student, I envied the clarity of his thought processes, of his ability to harness complex mathematics to make sense of the forces that shape our world. Meanwhile, I struggled to marshal the energy to make a toasted cheese sandwich. (And this despite me keeping a Breville sandwich toaster on my bedside table. And my bedside table being a mini fridge liberated from a caravan, filled with cheese and booze.) Continue reading “Our Cars: 2009 RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup”

1972 Toyota Crown: What Did The Reviewers Think?

As promised, here is a small fillet of Motor (July 1972) who took the time and trouble almost 44 years ago to prepare a review of the Toyota Crown estate.

1972 Toyota Crown Estate: flickriver
1972 Toyota Crown Estate: flickriver

Images of this car are rather hard to come by and few of the cars remain. If you are aesthetically sensitive be careful searching for photos because for some reason a worrying number of them feature inappropriate wheels and a lowered ride-height.

What did Motor have to say in 1972? Continue reading “1972 Toyota Crown: What Did The Reviewers Think?”

Theme : Disappointment : BMW 335d X-Drive Touring

DTW is underwhelmed by the overwhelming.

335d TouringI was recently treated to a lift in my boss’s 15-plate (actually, he has a personal plate on it), 335d X-Drive Touring (car model names are so stressful and exhausting these days), which he has had “chipped” by DMS to deliver an unfathomable amount of BHP and torque. Continue reading “Theme : Disappointment : BMW 335d X-Drive Touring”

Theme : Disappointment – The Remembrance Of Cars Passed

As is traditional after Christmas Day, we get reflective. So much time. So few cars.
Cars DrivenAbout five years ago, before my memory began to fail me too much, I started a list of vehicles I had driven. By vehicles I meant cars, vans and motorcycles. I didn’t count more than one of any identifiable model (for instance I have driven dozens of Cortinas alone), though I used some discretion with vehicles that were substantially different by having, say, a smooth V6 instead of a wheezy inline 4. Since then, with various acquisitions and hire cars, I have now totalled 106 vehicles.

Continue reading “Theme : Disappointment – The Remembrance Of Cars Passed”

Dark Satanic Mill: Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury

Jaguar’s power units have entered legend. This month we ask whether the XF’s engine and powertrain are cut from similar cloth?

Image via jomomag
Image: jomomag

Try as I might, I’ve yet to satisfactorally reconcile the concept of a compression ignition Jaguar. But commercial realities make for expedient bedfellows and the Ford/PSA-developed 2179 cc 16 valve diesel unit powering our XF has been responsible for the marque’s growing acceptance in the vital company user-chooser market in the UK. Commercial success notwithstanding, there’ll be few obituaries now it’s been consigned to Continue reading “Dark Satanic Mill: Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury”

Final Report : Nissan Cube

He’ll never lose it in a car park but, after 4 months, how is Sean’s relationship with his Cube going?

Street Cube

So, how does the Nissan Cube measure up to the classic Cubes of history. Rubik’s Cube, The OXO Cube, the Sugar Cube, the 1997 science-fiction film Cube and O’Shea Jackson, AKA Mr Ice Cube. Well, it has one thing in common with the last named in that it is not truly a 3D object bounded by six identical square faces. But is it in any way exceptional?
Continue reading “Final Report : Nissan Cube”

The Jaguar XJ-S as Dinner Time Conversation

In September I mentioned an article about a road trip from Coventry to Munich in the Jaguar XJ-S and I said I would write a bit more about it. Finally.

1976 Jaguar XJ-S: uncredited photographer, Motor Sport , April 1976
1976 Jaguar XJ-S: uncredited photographer, Motor Sport , April 1976

Motor Sport were curious as to whether Jaguar’s claims to have made a car that would frighten Mercedes and Ferrari were valid. They initially tested the car (Oct ’75) in the Cotswolds which is not really a place to stretch the legs of a sporting grand tourer. A better test was to take it 2,435 miles on a trip that led to Munich. The Motor Sport people addressed two points in their article. One, quantitative. With three people (did they really put someone in the back?), luggage and 20 gallons of Super they achieved 150.1 miles per hour. “We know of no other car in the world which would Continue reading “The Jaguar XJ-S as Dinner Time Conversation”

Our Cars: 2009 RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup

Part One: Received Wisdom

Renault Logo
If you want to know how low perceptions of the French car industry have sunk, try telling people that you have bought a Renault Clio. Reactions vary between pity and incredulousness. “ARE YOU MAD?” people shout, grabbing you by the lapels. “WHY DID YOU DO IT?” they scream into your upturned, spittle-flecked face, shaking you roughly in the hope of reawakening some neglected sense of self preservation. Suddenly you are not the well adjusted and vaguely handsome man they thought you were. Clearly for all this time you have been a self-hater or a masochist. Or worse, a socialist. Continue reading “Our Cars: 2009 RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup”

Cutting Corners: Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury

Over the past couple of months I’ve skirted the peripheries of the XF, but now it’s time to address the core of the XF – its road behaviour.

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Lets begin with a positive. For what can be described as a fairly mundane executive saloon, the Jaguar’s steering response is from the top drawer. In my experience I’ve only driven one other car fitted with a power-assisted rack (which wasn’t a Citroen) that had nicer steering than the XF. That was a Lotus Evora.  Continue reading “Cutting Corners: Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury”

2015 Citroen C4 1.6 BlueHDi Roadtest

The Citroen C4 has been on sale for half a decade. The time is right to put one to the test.

2015 Citroen C4 BlueHDi: it has nice interior lamps.
2015 Citroen C4 BlueHDi: it has nice interior lamps.

During the course of this weekend test I really did struggle to think of something to say that did not over-emphasise my feelings about the car. The thing is that the C4 is a collection of details that don’t hang together. The character of the car is not in the measurable dimensions. It doesn’t actually have any character at all.

Looking at the outside of the vehicle there can be found a collection of modish features that are there to conceal quite flat sides and a less than thrilling profile. You would imagine this is to Continue reading “2015 Citroen C4 1.6 BlueHDi Roadtest”

Aston Martin DB9 / Ford Fiesta Review: Family Ties

There I was, a lowly commoner, behind the wheel of an Aston Martin DB9, one of the finest cars in the world by anyone’s measure. Before me, beyond the long, long bonnet, was a circuit laid out on an abandoned airfield. And no speed restrictions.

Shagged
Aston Martin DB9. That is some other pillock behind the wheel but I suspect it is the same car I drove. I hope they have retired it by now, it must be shagged. Source: t’internet.

The occasion was a “supercar experience”. Held both for and by people too impoverished for supercar ownership, a variety of “exotics” were available, ranging from a mark 1 Lotus Elise, through a slightly ratty 997 Porsche 911, to a visibly distressed Ferrari 355. The Aston Martin, immaculate and barely a couple of years old, was an easy choice.

A hundred grand’s worth of England’s finest conveyance was a nice place to sit. The seats and steering wheel where covered in soft leather. Only the analogue clock in the centre of the dashboard jarred, perhaps purely through association with the mark 2 Mondeo.

Time for my four laps. Anticipation building, I pressed the starter button to Continue reading “Aston Martin DB9 / Ford Fiesta Review: Family Ties”

1975 Hillman Hunter Super Roadtest

In July 1975 Archie Vicar contributed a review of the Hillman Hunter to the “Brecon Beacons Herald Advertiser”. Here is what he wrote.

1975 Hillman Hunter advert

Impossibly good value sums up the Hillman Hunter series of saloons and estates. The general car body has been around since 1966 and Rootes are still managing new ways to improve on its formula. Here are some of my impressions about this old stager. Technically, the Hunter is nothing to write home about. There are two engines, a 1500 and a five-bearing 1725 unit which is familiar to anyone who has ever driven a Sunbeam Rapier, for example. As a result of this policy of using established components and putting them in a simple-to-make body, the prices are very attractive. How does £1,750 strike you?  Continue reading “1975 Hillman Hunter Super Roadtest”

2015 Citroen C4 Picasso Review

Driven to Write took a Citroen C4 Picasso on a 186 mile trip. It does one thing better than an Opel Zafira. We’ll come to that later….

2015 Citroen C4 Picasso in diesel guise
2015 Citroen C4 Picasso in diesel guise

Introduction

There’s so much wrong with this car. Ahead of you are 1740 words, almost none of them are complimentary.

More introduction

The C4 Picasso is a car that I am sure that you have all seen on the school run, launched in 2013. It has seven seats and an electrically powered tailgate. DTW took charge of a C4 Picasso with the express intention of seeing how it coped with three adults and two children. Normally I would structure a review like this along the lines of: general description, design, engineering, driving, comfort and conclusion. That general ordering assumes that all of those things are of equal value and you’d want to read them in that sequence. I will dispense with that and focus on the aspect that occupied most of my attention: the driver interfaces. Continue reading “2015 Citroen C4 Picasso Review”

DTW Adds a Chinese Electric Car to the Fleet

The car in question is a Dodge Challenger. Remotely controlled, it runs on four AA batteries. It’s made under licence by Maisto.

2015 Dodge Challenger remote control car by Maisto.
2015 Dodge Challenger remote control car by Maisto.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had an electric car. In 2005 I took ownership of a second-hand remote control car (make unknown) which I used for ten minutes until the vehicle slammed into something hard and never worked again. Continue reading “DTW Adds a Chinese Electric Car to the Fleet”

Long Term Test: Mazda3 Fastback 2.2d Sport Nav – The View from the Back Seat

In this third instalment, I thought I’d provide my views on some of the more practical aspects of the Mazda3.

View from the rear-seat of the Mazda3 - dark and de-contented.
View from the rear-seat of the Mazda3 – dark and de-contented.

I’ve previously alluded to the fact that the 3 is not as popular with my family members as it is with me.  In fact, the mood during the test drive we all went on together chilled the atmosphere in the car more than the air-con will ever manage. This resulted in pressure to consider various larger (new Mondeo), more expensive (A3 Saloon) and mainstream (Passat) alternatives from those in the rear in particular. My 15 year old son was particularly vociferous, although I suspected that the fact that he really wanted me to Continue reading “Long Term Test: Mazda3 Fastback 2.2d Sport Nav – The View from the Back Seat”

White Goods : Nissan Cube, Six Weeks On

I’ve now had my Nissan Cube for a month and a half. Any Regrets?

Cube & Van

In the spirit of our strapline, I’m presenting Part Two of The World’s Least Relevant Long Term Test, referring to a car that, although still apparently on sale in Japan, flopped in Europe and is no longer available in the USA. My Nissan Cube is a third series (Z11) example, a 2010 1.6 litre manual, petrol-engined Kaizen model in Pearl White. I bought it in June 2015 at just under 30,000 miles.

Why Did I Buy A Cube? Continue reading “White Goods : Nissan Cube, Six Weeks On”

Nice Kitty? Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury

You only get one chance to make a first impression, so how does ‘our’ XF fare?

IMG_2327
All images: Driven to Write

Among the tenets of luxury car motoring is the notion that everything you touch and feel should feel expensive and well engineered; that the manufacturer has gone that extra bit further to make you feel more deserving, more special. Approaching the XF for the first time however, the first thing you grasp is the door handle, only to be greeted by a flimsy-feeling plastic arm that wouldn’t be out of place on a car many times cheaper. Continue reading “Nice Kitty? Jaguar XF 2.2 Premium Luxury”

Looking Back: 2001 Renault Laguna

In November 2000 the first print articles on the Renault Laguna Mk2 started to appear. What did they say? 

2001 Renault Laguna: bestsellingcarsblog.com
2001 Renault Laguna: bestsellingcarsblog.com

Renault’s approach was to “take the car upmarket” by improving the fit and finish of the interior (everyone was thinking ‘Passat B5’ at this time). Patrick Le Quement said of the car that combined Germanic rigour in its treatment and Latin flavour. Looking back, it’s hard to see how the Laguna Mk 1 lacked any rigour as the design still holds up for the quality of its detailing inside and out. With the Mk2 they flattened the surfaces and reduced the curvature of the main forms, lending the car a more chiselled, planar look. Where did the flair reside? Continue reading “Looking Back: 2001 Renault Laguna”