Daydreaming as I listen to England play New Zealand at cricket today, I couldn’t help noticing the 308 GT has a profile that bears close resemblance to the Audi A3.
No bad thing. This GT version is growing on me all the time too. The 308 is the 2014 European Car of the Year and building on such a sound model has its benefits.
While a hot hatch model is in the pipeline, the GT will have more than enough grunt for most people. The steering lacks precision and the suspension is softer than an ‘enthusiastic’ driver might like but you can still enjoy a winding country road.
And the GT has the Driver Sport Pack as standard – which means a generally more responsive feel to the controls all round. It’s no Audi A3 to drive, but for £24,000 it’s great value for money…
First impressions of the GT suggest it’s a lot more ‘sporty’ on the inside than out. The interior is top quality but the exterior styling is rather less inspiring.
Slip behind the wheel though and this 308 has a few surprises. It moves along at a fair old pace, although not in the same league as the Focus ST or Renault Megane RS.
This is a warm hatchback rather than a hot one but for many people, it will be the perfect compromise between daily commute and weekend sporty fun.
This is best ‘amplified’ by the Sport button on the dashboard. The GT sounds like any other 308 on start-up. But depress the Sport button and a more growly exhaust note is pumped through the car’s speaker system.
It’s an odd world we live in when you have to fake the exhaust note isn’t it but as everybody else wants to offer acoustic exhausts in their cars these days, why shouldn’t Peugeot?
Let’s see if this 308 GT has more to offer than a sound bite…
Most of my niggles with the Santa Fe have revolved around the warning systems that trigger bells and chimes with annoying frequency. It is, without doubt, one of the ‘nanny state’ cars.
But I suppose even I would get used to its funny little ways with time – maybe there’s even a way to disengage that ‘boot closing’ double chime.
Regardless, there is a lot to like about the Santa Fe. It looks well enough, comes loaded with standard equipment and is reasonably economical too (just a shame there is only one engine choice).
There’s also a lot of space and you can spec it up with an extra two seats in the boot too. And while the steering can be vague, the big Hyundai is sprightly enough and returns decent mpg.
This is all backed up by Hyundai’s excellent, five-year, unlimited mileage warranty – definitely not to be sniffed at. It’s a little on the pricey side but overall, this has to be one of the best large SUVs out there.
Just back from a Maserati event in Italy – and just about the only SUV I saw in two days was the company’s forthcoming Levante, due out at the end of this year.
Admittedly, that was on a top secret test track near Turin. Photography was banned and I was too slow to snap anything on my iPhone anyway. Profile looks like a BMX X6 though!
And I certainly didn’t see one Santa Fe. The Italians only seem to own Italian cars – they would buy a broomstick if it had FIAT written on the side.
So, it’s home from Heathrow in the Hyundai. I’ve been averaging 41mpg in the big SUV. It’s not as pretty as a Maserati but the Santa Fe is great value for money…
So I spent some of this afternoon looking at a Porsche 993 Targa. The last of the air cooled 911s have shot up in value and I like the idea of driving one again – 19 years after the launch in Austria.
What amazed me was how basic the 911 was back then. And equally, how delightful. No alarms, no warning lights, no stress – just get in, shut the door with a hefty clunk and off you go.
Of course, you can’t say that about the Santa Fe – or many other modern cars. You only have to fart and the dashboard lights up with warning signs. Depressing.
I know safety is our prime concern these days but I think I actually drive better without all the modern gizmos and driving aids we have come to rely on. And the Santa Fe has more than its fair share…
When was the last time you opened the boot, forgot to move out of the way and got whacked in the face? Erm, probably never, right?
So why do I need a two beep warning that the boot is opening on my Hyundai Santa Fe? I mean, is it just me or do other people out there despair that we’ve got to a point in this over protective society where we need to be reminded that two seconds ago, we opened a slow moving boot lid?
And it’s the same when I stop the car – why do I need to be warned that the sunroof is still open – what’s the worst that could happen?
We had none of this type of nonsense in 1990s cars, who decided we need I now. Perhaps it’s time we all drove a stripped out Caterham 7 again and reminded ourselves what we actually need in a car – and what we don’t…
I can’t find much wrong with the Santa Fe – it does everything pretty well and only the power tailgate is proving a pain. There are two annoying beeps before it slowly starts to open or close on its own.
The beep is, of course, for people who can’t see and may not realise the boot is about to randomly swallow them whole, or push them over backwards! It moves so slowly you long for a manual over-ride. And what are blind people doing driving cars anyway?
Otherwise, the Hyundai does everything it says on the tin. Three rows of seats, acres of space and a lot of luxury kit – except the leather feels more Aldi than Waitrose.
I’m loving the panoramic roof and the fact the front section opens makes it even better for some early summer sunshine. Just be warned, the summer could be over by June 6…