Like Sepp Blatter, the Volvo S60 is a tough one to catch…


Our S60 D4 has been loaded with so many extras it almost tops out at more than the S60 R-Design Polestar – the rather swift petrol version.

However, I would suggest the D4 will be more than enough for most people – especially as it’s not only rapid but frugal, returning 46mpg despite a heavy right foot.

I can’t say it out BMWs a 3 Series but this is a pretty decent effort from the Swedes. And it’s every inch as easy on the eye as the benchmark German saloon.

There’s not enough feel from the steering, or driver-focussed appeal but like Sepp Blatter, it’s a tough one to catch…

Volvo is safety first, second and third…


Which manufacturer makes the safest cars in the world? Well, we all know that Volvo is among the best.

When Car Couture was invited to the company’s crash test facility in Sweden recently, we were told that by 2020, Volvo cars wouldn’t be the cause of any accident fatalities.

That’s a tough one to follow through on but judging by the amount of standard safety equipment in the S60, it may well be the case.

It has a full package of airbags, side impact protection and anti-whiplash headrests. Oh and a low speed, anti-collision system for city driving.

The driver alert warning system can be annoying at time, as can lane departure warning system, but the blind spot warning lights by the door mirrors should be compulsory on all cars…

A Volvp to rival the BMW 3 Series? You better believe it…


Well, I never expected that. A Volvo to take on the over-inflated ego of the BMW 3 Series – you’d better believe it.

Within moments of climbing inside our 181bhp D4 test car, I knew this was a sleeping giant of a compact saloon that could rival the best of Germany.

Now, I wouldn’t say the S60 has the looks and chic of the BMW but it does boast an understated elegance – especially in white with some rather nifty, 18-inch alloys.

No, it’s not as cute but get behind the wheel and the D4 absolutely flies. It’s a revelation, a genuine contender is this sector and I’m looking forward to the next seven days a lot more than a few hours ago when I checked my diary to see what car was due this week…

Would you rather have pointless cruise or sat nav in your Honda Civic?


Well, there it is then – an object lesson in why you should always read the manual. Switching off the ECON button transformed the Civic Sport. Well, made it moderately better!

I still don’t understand why any car with cruise control (pointless in the UK), alloy foot pedals (really?) and privacy glass (bling) doesn’t have sat nav.

That is even more annoying with the Civic Sport because it has a large, 7-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard.

Overall then, the Civic Sport is a decent hatchback that is styled differently to most of the competition. It’s economical (with that button pushed in!), roomy and comfortable but NOT sporty. Nope, you’ll have to save up for the Type R to tick that box.

Finally, I discover the Honda Civic has an ECON button that cuts out any performance!


Lordy! After four days in the saddle with the Honda Civic Sport I’ve just realised the ECON button is on.

Obviously the delivery man was on an economy drive because I had no idea. It’s hidden behind the steering wheel and there’s no indication that it is active, once it’s been activated.

This might explain why the Sport is so flat-footed. The system reduces the throttle response and limits the time the air conditioning runs for.

So, without ECON on, the Civic does feel like a lukewarm hatch! No wonder I couldn’t get any satisfaction from the 1.8 petrol engine for the last few days…

Want a sporty Civic? Just wait for the new Type R…


The Honda Civic Type R is imminent – it’s due here any moment but don’t go thinking this Sport we have on test is anything but a lukewarm, if not cold, alternative.

If you you like your hatchback’s hot then stick your money in the bank and wait for the 2.0 turbo version. It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since the last generation model was in the UK.

It’s Bank Holiday Monday and I’ve just driven back from London across the Cotswolds on a surprisingly quiet road – just right for a ‘sports’ car. Just not the Civic Sport!

Aesthetically, this new model does look the part but that’s the end of it. This Civic simply doesn’t have the performance, handling or sharpness to be credited as a sporty car…

The Civic Sport is just a lamb dressed up in wolf’s clothing


I can understand why you might buy the Civic. It isn’t shaped like your average hatchback, this new Sport model we have on test looks moderately cool and, therefore, it marks you out as slightly different.

But I still have a problem with any car labelled ‘Sport’ having no sporting edge whatsoever. It’s as vague on the steering as the standard car and has absolutely no extra poke.

There is a hint of hothatch ‘Type-R’ about it – especially with the sleek body kit that looks great. Sadly, it’s a lamb dressed up as a wolf. Thus to me is as criminal as creating a chunky SUV with only two-wheel drive.

What’s the point?!

If your manly ego needs an extra shot of performance then you’re only kidding yourself buying a Civic Sport. Within a minute of sitting in the cabin, you’ll know you have been rumbled.

Much better buying a lesser model and speccing it up with the money you save. Makes a lot more sense…

The Honda Civic no longer looks like a dumpy vacuum cleaner

2014 Civic

2014 Civic

I suppose I should cough up from the start. I wasn’t a big fan of the latest generation Civic when it first appeared and I’m still not sure now.

The squat front end and bulky backside isn’t a good look for man or car. It looks more like a vacuum cleaner that a practical hatchback.

But in recent years the Civic has been revised. It’s a bit more conservative now and for once, I think that’s done the trick. A styling overhaul earlier this year has really given the car a sense of purpose.

TheSport model may not be the best driving car in its class but the Civic is still a decent all-rounder. Besides, if you want power, go for the Type-R version.

After a just a few miles on my favourite potholed road I can tell you the Civic rides well and in 1.8 guise has decent acceleration too. A lukewarm hot hatch that doesn’t break the bank…


The Kia Optima has a lot of space, warranty and equipment but not much else


The Kia Optima has a lot of space, equipment and warranty but somehow it doesn’t live up to the promise.

Ride and handling are only average and cabin quality is way off the mark – even the latest Ford Mondeo leaves it for dead.

There’s only a 1.7-litre diesel in the range and it lacks refinement. The unit is noisy on the motorway, not helped by a rumble from the tyres.

Optima is my least favourite car in an otherwise excellent Kia range. As my school report said: could do better….

England rugby stars laughs at my singing Kia Optima. Can’t say I blame him…


“What’s that noise, man? You’re car is playing naff music!” The embarrassment of it all. Yesterday I interviewed England rugby star Jonathan Joseph and I ended up parking the Kia next to his BMW X6.

As I’m 51 and he’s 23, the balance of automotive power was in his favour I’d say. I could have reminded him how ugly the X6 is and that my Optima comes with a seven year warranty.

However, before I had a chance to haggle on behalf on my wheels, the Optima started playing that ridiculous tune that sounds every time you put the key in the ignition!

All street cred gone – my sensible family saloon was a laughing stock. Just think yourself lucky it’s not Clarkson writing this review because he would have self-combusted by now…