Sunday – It’s A Lockout


Possibly my most embarrassing car moment of 2013… I noticed yesterday that the V40 wouldn’t lock when I pressed the key fob. `New car, broken key fob seemed unlikely but with Christmas shopping looming, it seemed wise to get it fixed.

After an hour of pointless fiddling under the bonnet and battling with a encyclopaedic manual, I called Volvo service. There was a nice man standing on my doorstep within 90 minutes.

His remedy, according to the Volvo Bible was to disconnect the car battery for 30 seconds, which should reboot the system. Failing that, it was off to nearest dealership for a diagnostic check-up. Painful.

The disconnect did nothing and I waved goodbye to my cheery chap envisaging a trip to the dealer. That was right up until the moment I set off for the garage and notice a rather discreet warning diagram on the dashboard that showed the boot was ajar.

The V40 is SUCH a super safe car, with every type of flashing warning light to tell me of impending doom. So, although it was my own fault for leaving the hatchback slightly open, why didn’t it give me a more audible, visual alert?

Thursday – One of the Pack


Crazy wind out there today but the Mazda sat perfectly on the motorway in a rather wicked cross wind. If you doubt the build quality of this car, that just reinforces how good it has been screwed together.

We also just about about managed to empty the tank, after 600 miles and some pretty harsh driving. The 6 is a big motor, so that represents impressive fuel consumption figures.

Will we miss the 6? Well, as already explained, it has done everything we have asked of it, minus a DAB radio. It looks every inch a slicker vehicle than the Ford Mondeo, Skoda Octavia and VW Passat, all backed up by the the reliability of a Mazda.

If you are content to drive a car that blends in with the pack and does nothing out of the ordinary, then it certainly offers an alternative to the rest of the big family saloons out there.

For us, we like something that makes a bit more of a statement and makes us smile when we see our car on the driveway in the morning…

Thursday – DS5 Verdict


So, as the Citroen DS5 of life disappears down the road of fashionable items that passed up by, it’s time to give an honest verdict.

Firstly, this is a car that you want to like. From the moment it turned up with us, the Citroen looked massively appealing from both the inside and the out. Definitely different and daringly designed, you have to take your chapeau off to the French for creating a cracking looking car.

The radically styled interior, brilliant dashboard and cool seats suggest it will be a great car to own too. However, all is not what it seems with the DS5 and sadly, the whole driving experience is a frustrating letdown. The car has lifeless steering, feels twitchy on rough roads and is devoid on driver involvement.

So, despite all the kit on our test car – the sat nav that has stars in the night sky, the massaging driver’s seat and a thumpingly good stereo – it’s never going to match up to the competition from Ford and Vauxhall in the family transport department.

And that is, unfortunately, rather a shame…



Tuesday – Slippery Customer


The very thought of using a two-wheel drive car effectively in mud, sand and snow is a tough one to get your head around. That’s especially true if it’s a modest family estate from Peugeot with model names live Active, Allure and Feline!

This week I’ve been trying to find some suitable ‘dirt’ to put the 2008 to the test. There’s a long, rutted track that I use to run down near Warminster and so I’ve used it to try out the car’s Grip Control dial.

The system is designed to maximise traction in low grip conditions. It adapts the 2008 to the terrain – just like a traction control system on a ‘proper’ 4×4.

My off-road route isn’t blessed with sand and snow (yet) but in mud mode, the 2008 scrambled along with remarkable agility, even if the rear end wandered a little in the process.

If you want a full-on four-wheel drive car, there are plenty to choose from. But let’s face it, how often do you actually use 4×4? It’s such a long time since I slipped my Land Rover into four-wheel drive that when I do, I have to read the instructions first!

So, for occasional, light off-road use, the Peugeot 2008 shouldn’t be written off as just a tame estate car pretending to look macho. It also has the benefits of remarkable fuel economy – something you won’t find in a full-time 4WD.

Wednesday – Talking Two Tone


Jessica ‘GTI‘ reminds me of the late eighties when it was de rigour for young sporty lads to have one. It was a label for the fast, cut above the rest model but was always attached to a sensible car.

This Peugeot is all that a GTI should be, it drives in a sophisticated way with responsive steering, well calibrated gears, good brakes and speed.  The combination of all those have come together to make this an enjoyable car to drive.

That combined with an straightforward console and intuitive touch screen display. It’s a system that didn’t require me to sit in a layby trying every option and button possible to use the satnav or change stations on the radio.

I was very intrigued to see that it is possible to create two tone dash and door handles, from a (slightly grating) red fading to black. This opens up a world of possibilities for car interiors.

I am surprised it has not been exploited in a bigger way. Of course, there is a danger that it could all get very messy and the inside of your car could end up looking like a childrens play area. However, in the right hands it could all be very exiting.

So I will be a little sad to say good bye to the lads’ (and lasses, it seems) GTI…

Friday – Laughing Stock


I think it was Richard Hammond who said the Mini was the saddest looking car on the road – thanks to the downbeat front grille. It’s a beautiful, sunny day here in Wiltshire and, as you can see from the photo, the 208 GTi seems to have plenty to smile about.

Peugeot hasn’t really modified the GTi grille much from the standard car but I wonder if a psychologist would say that driving a car with a cheery front end makes you feel better when you see it parked on your driveway in the morning?

It must do because yesterday I had a potential sense of humour failure when the passenger seat in the 208 decided to go on strike. The adjustment mechanism just packed up, so the neither the seat back or base could be locked in place!

It’s an odd feeling driving round with a ‘dead’ seat next to you. It rolls backwards and forwards at will whenever I brake or accelerate.

Who’s to blame? Well, it was that nice driver from Fiat who came to pick up last week’s 500, of course. I collected him at the station and, when he went to adjust the seat, well, we had a comical moment.

Obviously industrial espionage. Fiat 1 – Peugeot 0.

Thursday – Brand Power


Jessica  The Mitsubishi GX5 is a curious car. On guessing the price I was wildly inaccurate as the drive quality and slightly bizarre choice of trimmings didn’t lead me to believe I was driving a car that sells in the £34,000 price bracket.

Talking about trimmings, there is retro and there is ‘why use old design…’ This car has an old style automatic gear stick which reminds me (vaguely) of the old red Jaguar my Father drove in the 1980s with it’s super 8 casettes. This, however, is a strangely cheap copy and looks out of place among the modern gadgetry.

Looking at cars and prices below is a random selection of seven-seaters which made me wonder where and how this Mitsubshi model competes…

Jeep Grand Cherokee £36,995.00

Volvo XC90 £36,865

Land Rover Discovery GS SDV6 3.0 AUTOMATIC £38,850

My biggest difficulty was the slow responds under acceleration and spongy steering. I would have happily swapped fewer gadgets and alarms for a better driving experience.

That said, the Outlander doesn’t look bad from the outside with its sleek lines. It’s also well considered from all angles.

I must say that after many years of visiting Badminton Horse Trials and seeing the sponsorship logos, I always imagined Mitsubishi was at the utilitarian end of the 4×4 market. It obviously has a healthy approach to country living and moving various types of livestock around the country. Such is the power of marketing!

Friday – Masterclass


Jessica  The XKR-S is a masterclass in driving experience, comfort, speed function and form.  I thoroughly enjoyed this car, why not you might say with a price tag like that.

I feel privileged to have had the chance to drive this car freely from the rough and tumble of London to the open roads of the Cotswolds, even a good old trip to the supermarket!  There are not many of us who will ever get the chance to experience the finesse of a car like this Jaguar.

I feel as if I have seen the realities of what technology and engineering can do, when driving at speed and you are abreast of a more everyday car it makes you wonder how safe they are.

The Jaguar has a braking system to match the awesome acceleration and is responsive to the slightest adjustment of foot or hand that leaves other cars I have driven far behind.  The paddle gears are simple, correctly placed so there is no accidental gear changes or confusion about which does what.

The car although large does not feel overwhelming to drive, so ladies, no worries about this being a purely male domain.  It suits my long legs, although getting into the back was a challenge, I would say its small dogs and babies only back there!

The front seats adjusts in so many ways that there is a perfect combination to find.  The vision all round is good and even in traffic it is such a joy to be driving that you never get tired or bored.

I would take the time to improve my driving skills and do track days if I owned this car so that I really could make use of it’s full potential. It does have a serious side and is far from being just for the ‘flashbling’ crew. It is a drivers car and for one who will value the the nature of couture.

Thursday – A Big Discovery


Jessica This car is a big step up from the Discovery of old. It feels solid, sorted and safe. The box shape does not work for me, utilitarian yes, aesthetic  no. Even though the bonnet is chunky and reflects the same look as a Range Rover, it definitely lacks a sense of style at the rear.

It’s easy to fall down when designing a dashboard. However, the retro wood finish ties neatly in with current online graphic trends (examples can be seen on and will appeal to 70’s furniture enthusiasts. Combine this with lozenges of brushed chrome and you have a potential design classic interior.

Internally, the Discovery is very comfortable. The stitching is not overdone and it’s a pleasure to drive on either long or short journeys. Responsive, powerful with the all-important, armchair-style comfortable seats. It feels a little like sitting in a large comfortable office ( which rarely exist now, perhaps we do more work on the move these days, so it is appropriate!)

I know it has already been mentioned in terms of the current Jaguar range but the automatic  transmission dial is tactile, smoothly glides up when the car starts and feels thoroughly modern. It works just as well  in the Land Rover.

The Discovery is still ideal for pony clubbers and sport lovers alike, even campers – just make sure you do not have long nails as there is no chance of using the touch screen sat nav if you are fond of a well turned out hand!

Tuesday – Knuckles


Jessica Well done Peugeot for creating a hybrid diesel, it must be the way forward. The problems of battery weight and power storage are still areas where everyone is looking for answers but without getting these cars into the mainstream it will be slow progress.

The RXH is a lot of car. It even feels weighty and the steering adds to the mood as it requires more than the usual amount of effort to turn the wheel.  Furthermore, the gears seem to be very ponderous, which again is something drivers don’t expect with modern cars.

The beautiful dashboard is laid out with many buttons and safety gadgets, all offering a range of noises and alarms. There’s certainly enough here to give Volvo a run for its money!

The 508 has a sporty and well designed speedo, while a range of clearly laid out options for the transmission allowing a sense of choice  and ultimately, control.

For a family estate though which is clearly aiming to compete with the Audi estates and possibly Mercedes it is a handsome car with well designed seats, a considered external and internal aesthetic, plus a sense of presence.

And I’m not sure if it’s mothers who will potentially be driving this car but they will need to have sensible short nails! I had some awkward moments trying to open the central arm rest via a side-mounted button. In the end it became a fumbld knuckle job!