Citroen C5 Tourer – Driving With Frank Sinatra


Citroen calls it Hydractive 3+ suspension. It’s not standard in every C5 Tourer but on our Exclusive estate it makes for the most comfortable ride of any car I’ve driven this year.

That’s on a smooth, fast duel carriageway. On winding A-roads, the suspension doesn’t quite live up to expectation. It feels fidgety and doesn’t cope with a rough surface in the same impeccable manner.

The Exclusive is exceptionally well equipped inside the cabin though, with part-leather trim and electric front seats. I still can’t get on with electronic park brakes and I’m not entirely sure interior mood lighting is required. Does it flash red for road rage?

And further extending the unnecessary names for features, the sat nav system is called eMyWay. Or Mancunian for a northern pub singer doing Frank Sinatra…

Citroen C5 Tourer – An Estate By Any Other Name


I can’t help it – I like estate cars. They carry stuff around and I like practical, sometimes. Except these days they call them Tourers and Avants, which seems to make no sense at all.

The latest C5 is no exception but at least it now looks the part, with sleek lines and a huge interior that swallows up people and luggage.

It’s true that Citroen secondhand values may not be as good as German marques but you are getting a whole lot of car for your money in the first place.

The C5 is fully equipped, with air suspension, excellent seats and every gizmo going on the Exclusive model.

Are you going to choose a £30,000 French estate over a BMW or an Audi? Let’s see how we get on in the week ahead…

Lotus Elise S Club Racer – No Helmet Required


Last day with the Elise and I’m almost ashamed to say the roof hasn’t been off once. Blame the Bank Holiday weather and the fact I don’t have an instruction manual.

That apart I’ve thrashed the Club Racer to the best of my abilities. It’s difficult not too with a car this responsive. It handles like a go-kart and is equally exhilarating. You don’t need to wear a helmet either.

I’m not entirely sure how Lotus gets away with not fitting airbags – I thought all cars had to have them? I imagine many owners would want to spec the Elise with safety harnesses too.

The Club Racer isn’t an everyday car, although there will be a few die-hards who insist it is. I’m certain that on a racetrack it would be a delight, with razor sharp steering, reassuring brakes and that responsive accelerator pedal.

Ultimately, the S Club Racer is a weekend car only. As brilliant as any Lotus has ever been, you just can’t help but love it.



Lotus Elise S Club Racer – Not For Softies


At a time when less is more, it’s still pretty strange to sit inside the cockpit of the Club Racer. ‘Softies’ can opt for the standard Elise S but purists will coo over the race prepared car.

In reality, the two models aren’t that different, a fact reflected in the Club Racer weighing just 20kg less. But when was the time you sat in a car with no radio, no central locking, no anything?

This Lotus is about as close as you can get to pure – pure, unadulterated driving. There are no soft touches, no compromises. OK, our test car does have air conditioning but that’s it. You can remove the fabric roof but even that seems pointless. You just want to drive the Elise hard and anything else, like sunshine and wind noise is distraction.

So, as you flick through the six-speed gearbox, enjoy the feel of a car without power steering on a fast corner, and dab a toe on the brilliant brakes, you might remember that this is how sports cars used to be before a myriad of gadgetry arrived to take a lot of the skill out of driving.

Lotus Elise S Club Racer – Key Point


Bank Holidays and rain – the two of them go together like car and key. And so it was that I found myself battling for a parking space in Bourton-on-the-Water today, trying to get to my local deli, when the world and his dog have decided to descend on the Cotswold town at the same time.

Bourton is beautiful but I’ve never quite understood the attraction, unless you want to walk along the muddy bank of a river, pay too much for an ice-cream, or fight for pavement space as another coach unloads a party of Americans.

Fortunately, my ‘secret’ deli, Toast, has space for two cars outside and nobody seems to realise. So, as I pulled in with a satisfied look on my face and took the key from the steering column, it felt like something wasn’t quite right. Surely there wasn’t enough ‘key’ in my pocket?

Sure enough, the key had come apart and I”d left most of it in the slot. If I hadn’t realised then and there, somebody could have quite easily got in the car and driven away. Perhaps a better key design is required, Lotus?…

Lotus Elise S Club Racer – Girls, Don’t Go Commando In This Car


Squeezing in the back of a Audi TT or any Mini is difficult – but just slipping onto the front seat of the Elise requires yoga-like flexibility. I can only think of the Caterham 7 as being any tougher.

In the past, debutants were taught how to enter and exit a car with decorum. It was a case of keeping the knees together and swinging both legs onto the pavement at the same time. However, as a friend said today, the Lotus is not a car to ‘go commando’ in.

No, it’s a ‘knickers on’ type of car and would even have proved a challenge for the queens of debs, Joanna Lumley. The Elise is low to the ground and has a rigid safety beam that runs at elbow height along the bottom on the door. Grabbing onto the steering wheel helps the driver gain some support but the passenger has no chance!

Oh, and apologies to Lotus for an error in yesterday’s piece. The Elise does have a boot! It’s tiny and hidden behind the engine in the rear. Our press car doesn’t have a manual, so I have an excuse…


Louts Elise S Club Racer – Cup Holder? You’re Joking Aren’t You…


A friend of mine is just about to turn up in his new, Jaguar F-Type S. Great car but there couldn’t be two more radically different convertibles.

It starts with the keys. The Jag has a solid, chunky unit, while the Lotus starts with something that looks like it it was originally used in an Austin Allegro. It’s basically, just a key – and there’s no remote blipper or central locking, both doors have to be opened manually!

As the F-Type is a luxury two-seater, it has plenty of luggage space and cubbyholes in the cabin. The Lotus doesn’t even have a boot. There’s room behind the seats for an umbrella and a slot on the dashboard for a phone, although I guarantee it will fly out when you hit a corner hard. Cup holder? You’re joking aren’t you?

In fact, things the Elise Club Racer doesn’t have also include a radio or sat nav, remote door mirrors, heated seats, airbags… the list goes on. The seats are made of carbon fibre and covered with the automotive equivalent of a tea cloth.

Find a race track though, and, well, it’s a car almost as exciting as a Caterham Seven. Which is, of course, based on a Lotus too…


Lotus Elise S Club Racer – Like Kate Moss On A Diet

Lotus Elise S CR5

“In short, it’s a little animal…’ says the press release. I already have two, little animals at home but after 30 minutes in the Elise, I think I might find space for another one.

The S Club Racer was only launched at Goodwood Festival of Speed last year. It’s primarily aimed at enthusiasts who want an ‘off the shelf’ track car.

If you think Caterham 7 then you won’t go far wrong. You could use the Club Racer as an everyday drive but you would need an osteopath by the end of it.

However, you would die of pain with a smile on your face because despite the rock hard seats, the minimalist interior and impracticalities, it’s bloody great fun!

MG3 3Style – Old Millennium

cropped-mg39.jpgGreat styling, lots of interior space and an impressive list of standard equipment that includes DAB radio, cruise control and rear parking sensors. What’s not to like about the MG3?

Today is our last with the MG. It’s not going to be a wrench to hand back the keys because the car is deeply flawed. Most of the problems stem from a 1.5 petrol engine that is gutless, noisy and lacking in refinement.

The handling and ride are poor too. While it’s fun to push the MG3 around a corner, it struggles on uneven surfaces and the steering is heavy.

And while there’s good space in the cabin, build quality is poor. There are vibrations through the steering column at high speed and trim materials are, at best, average.

Like the bigger MG6 we tested earlier this year, you wonder who on Earth is going to buy an MG3. So many other cars offer a more cost effective package. The 3 is better than the 6 but to us, it feels like you are driving a car designed in the last century. It’s been left behind by the competition and is never going to be a serious contender.

MG3 3Style – Stuffed Cat on Roof


I don’t know if its the pink door mirrors but my cat has taken to lying on top of the MG3. It’s the only car we’ve tested in the last 12 months that Hubble has taken a shine to – does this mean I’m missing something?

I spent 20 minutes looking at the MG3 as I ate my breakfast this morning. Yes, the cat was on the roof but I was more concerned with the styling than the possible affect on the  aerodynamics.

MG offer all manner of ‘personalisation options’ for the MG3, most of which are pretty dreadful. I think it will take a  lot more than that to make the MG3 appeal to young buyers who are more fashion conscious than most grown ups.

Maybe if they offered a ‘stuffed cat lying on the roof’ accessory that would win a few people over? A small puppy might make it the dog’s bollocks too..