Sunday – Model of Refinement

cropped-554000_p90093160_highres.jpg

The X1 sits just a couple of inches higher than a 1 Series hatchback and it drives more car-like than SUV too. The steering is well weighted and precise (although some might find it heavy) – the brakes offer lots of feel and are reassuringly firm on the pedal.

I’ve been trying to find the X1’s Achilles Heel but I’m struggling to be honest. I can’t remember the last time I was disappointed by a BMW and the X1 is cut from the same cloth.

Everything inside the cabin is tasteful and beautifully laid out. Refinements to the rotary-controlled iDrive system mean there is no longer much need to reach for the handbook when you want to adjust the entertainment or sat nav system either.

For a small car with raised suspension, it’s remarkably comfortable. The seats are manually adjusted but with a bit of playing round you will find the perfect driving position, which leaves plenty of room for two passengers in the back as well.

Of course, all those extras fitted to our test car are expensive in a BMW – so choose you model and spec it up carefully. I can recommend the panoramic sunroof though.

 

 

Friday – Fun In The Sun

cropped-mazda5.jpg

Jeremy Another scorcher – I’m writing this in the garden as the sun still burns down bright over the Cotswolds. I have the cricket on the radio and Malin the dog is waiting for me to chuck a tennis ball into the long grass.

The Mazda2 has had a long run today and I have to say it’s remarkably refined for a small car. Despite the short wheelbase, the modest price tag and slightly budget interior, it’s another of those vehicles that does exactly what you expect of it.

The 2 reminds me of the Suzuki Swift – another great little runabout that you can read about on Car Couture. As I’ve already said, it’s not a head-turner like the Alfa Mito or Citroen DS3 but it’s just as much fun to drive and immensely practical. Having five doors and a decent-sized boot is a great advantage.

The Mazda2 hasn’t changed much since it was launched about five years ago but it still has a freshness about it. The new Mazda3 is out later this year and the design cues of that car will do doubt extend to the next version of the 2 too.

Wednesday – Talking Italian

618958__U1R0143_DxO

Jeremy I’m in Italy for a Ferrari press conference and have noted that the country is full of small, madly driven cars. Yes, there are Fiat 500s by the legion but the Italians seem to have embraced the small car ethos in every shape and form. They still drive them with wild abandon though, that will never change.

Just what Italians would make of my purple Vauxhall Adam I wouldn’t like to guess. With black, 17-inch alloys, purple leather trim and a dash of chrome, I imagine it would have the same effect as a leggy blonde crossing the piazza at lunchtime.

It had the same impact on me when I first saw it. Distinctly different and a designer’s dream. The drive to Heathrow yesterday was therefore something of a disappointment. I could forgive the 1.4 for feeling a tad underpowered but the little Adam failed to sparkle on some fast, winding A-roads.

It felt sloppy when driven hard into corners and the steering was, at times, vague. There is also an incredibly annoying rattle coming from somewhere around the glovebox. I’m going to have to remove my belongings and see if it is the car, or if it is my fault. I suspect it is the former.

High-speed motorway driving isn’t the Adam’s strongest point but with some hefty right foot and a gear-change on steeper inclines, I was able keep up with the flow. It’s at its best around town though, posing in the High Street.

The Adam is such a pretty, distinctly different car I want it to be a winner for Vauxhall. Let’s see what tomorrow brings…