Tuesday – Key To A Good Christmas


After embarrassing central locking moment, today we had embarrassing key moment. Last minute Christmas shopping isn’t for the feint hearted – and so it was that we found ourselves on the top floor of a multi-storey car park in central Bristol, in driving rain, loaded down with presents and minus the V40 key. All to the soundtrack of the Salvation Army brass band.

In the mayhem of Christmas, this is just about your worst car-related nightmare. With half the West Country under water, trying got get this one fixed was going to be interesting. I had given the key to Jessica on arrival and she promptly, erm,  misplaced it.

Volco Assistance must have been giggling in their mulled wine when I explained what had happened. The first idea was to recover the car to a dealership, who would wave the magic wand and open the doors. But then it was decided there wasn’t enough headroom to get a recovery lorry into the car park and perhaps a hire car would be a better option?

That would mean driving to Marlow to collect the spare key from the Volvo press office, returning to Bristol and unlocking the car. In this situation, being British it is always best to sit down and have a cup of tea.

As Jessica rummaged for her wallet, she spotted a small hole in the the lining of her handbag. Small but just big enough for a car key. And being British, we didn’t panic once, honest…


Sunday – No Ground Control


The Arnolfini Arts Centre in Bristol is surrounded by would-be space kids today. Nothing to do with the Clooney/Bullock movie Gravity – it’s the latest audition venue for the new Stars Wars films. Hundreds of bright you things, all looking for their 15 minutes of fame.

They could do far worse than start rehearsing for the role in the DS5. Seriously, it’s the most futuristic dashboard I’ve ever seen in a car. Part of the audition should be giving them the manual and seeing how long it takes to turn the head-up display screen off.

The button is hidden away in a centre console in the roof. It’s surrounded by switches for automatic sun blinds on the three sunroofs, plus a couple of drop-down sunglasses holders. How did we ever live without those?

I’d swap all those buttons for a better driver’s seat though. As funky as the leather interior is, the armchair-style driving position is quite awful, not helped by the upright angle of the foot pedals. Try it, you’ll see what I mean.

And this is made even worse by the lifeless power steering, which robs the Citroen of any driver enjoyment or feel. I don’t want to go to the Moon in comfort, just the local Waitrose please…

Tuesday – Comfort Rather Than Speed


Jeremy The first test car anybody tried to steal from outside my house in Bristol was a Mitsubishi Evo. It was the early 1990s and the Evo was the ultimate chav-mobile but it went rather fast.

Sadly, I don’t think Mitsubishi will be offering an engine quite as potent in the Outlander. The 2.2 diesel is perfectly adequate for the job and will shunt you and your family around in a respectable 0-60mph time of 11.2 seconds. We’re currently averaging 39.2mpg for everyday driving but the official mpg figure is more like 49mpg.

I can’t really say the Outlander will blow you away with its driving dynamics but you do get a comfortable seat and low noise levels in the cabin. The ride is softer than most other mid-size SUVs but you should expect some body roll going into a corner.

The six-speed automatic gearbox is smooth but still prefers high-speed work to stop-start city traffic, where it feels less refined. Our GX5 is also fitted with a sunroof which left open, is very noisy indeed above 40mph.

Oh and the only test car that was ever stolen from my driveway was a Ford Sierra Cosworth. The police knew where it was but simply couldn’t catch it…

Monday – My Daily Commute


Jeremy – The great part of being a freelance journalist is that you get to work from home. I left my last full-time post in 1997 and never miss the daily commute in and out of Bristol – no matter what test car I was driving back then.

The bad part of the job is that sometimes you do have to be somewhere early, joining the millions of other drivers making their daily drive to the office. This morning I had a two-hour drive to Gloucester, which was 76 miles of hell on A and B-roads.

You learn a lot about a car in that situation. Minor niggles become major gripes and you can fall out of love with even the most alluring supercar. Today’s 150 miles in the A3 were pretty sweet all things considered. I felt as fresh getting out of the car at my destination as I did when I first stepped in.

The Audi has excellent, supportive seats that seem to fit every type of driving. They grip you firmly in place on a tight bend and meet your back in all the right places on the motorway.

I found the driving position first class, with height adjustable steering column and telescopic adjustment too. No electric seats though, which seems like an oversight in a car cost this much. There is a neat fold down centre armrest that can be adjusted forwards and back as well.

It’s the same in the rear. I’m 5ft 10ins and had masses of knee room in all three seats. There are plenty of cubbyholes and spaces for driving paraphenalia, with a large boot included.

I’ve no desire to do a daily commute ever again but if I did, the Sportback would be on my list of options.