Monday – Lots of Horse Power

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I found myself in the middle of a Cotswold hunt this morning. Usual sort of thing – 70 odd horses careering down a lane towards a £222,000 Aston Marin supercar…

It’s a moment that demands a steady nerve, not for the riders but for me. The Vanquish may sound remarkable when you are driving it across country but those twin pipes are guaranteed to put the fear of God into a galloping mare.

It was the first time I considered the Aston’s rasping exhaust a hindrance rather than a joy. Perhaps a system like the Porsche 911, which allows the driver to turn the sound on or off, might be worth considering?

Incredibly wet roads aren’t conducive to thrashing a 500bhp+ rear-wheel drive car like the Vanquish. So, today’s hot gossip is that we have achieved 18.1mpg in everyday use. Not bad, if you ask me…

 

 

Sunday – A Clear Round

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The car park at Gatcombe Horse Trials today was a mass of four-wheel drives and Volvo estates. So turning up in a Peugeot 208 with a large dog in the back raised a few eyebrows. I like to think it was because the GTi is so new on the market that it still has the novelty factor.

Fortunately, it was ‘hard going’ in the car park field, as I’m not sure the 208 has enough ground clearance to get over the rough stuff. Next week Car Couture is testing the new 2008 crossover, which would really be more at home among the mass of Land Rovers and 4x4s on display.

Driving to Gatcombe at least made my mind up on one point – the 208 GTi really is perfect for the sweeping corners of the Cotswolds. It sits squat and firm on the road, with minimal body roll and excellent brakes. Only the extra firm sports seats seem a little too harsh for comfort at times.

And while the GTi really isn’t about practicalities, I should add that the 208 has a decent sized boot, plus lots of cubbyholes and storage spaces. A nice touch is a pair of USB ports in the centre console – much more sensible than a single slot in this multimedia age.

Wednesday – Pulling It’s Weight

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Jeremy I’ve always towed boats but this is the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire and that means horseboxes. The ‘Glossy Possy’ who live here aren’t short of a bob or two and you are judged by the size of your horsebox – just like actors always want the biggest Winnebago mobile home on location.

There are no ponies grazing on our lawn but Jessica has owned a few in her time. Her grandfather, Jack, was the youngest member of the British equestrian team at the Berlin Olympics in 1936!

Mitsubishi UK are based just up the road in Cirencester, so hard-working Shoguns and L200’s are as common as muck with the equine set. But they shouldn’t rule out the Outlander, mainly because it has an impressive tow weight of two tons – more than many key rivals.

And with just the front two rows of seats in place, the boot space is massive. Plenty big enough for two or three large dogs, although if you pull out the two third row seats at the rear, luggage capacity is severely  limited.

 

 

Friday – Masterclass

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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.

Tuesday – Driving With Plato

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Jeremy – My last job before heading off on holiday to Wales was a quick dash to Silverstone. I’m writing a driving masterclass piece for the Financial Times with Jason Plato, the former British Touring Car Champion.

Plato isn’t the sort of guy who likes to come second and still competes with the young bucks in BTCC. Despite the appalling weather this morning, I had a great drive across the Cotswold in the Discovery to meet him.

Our silver Disco is just the way I like it – without bling chrome wheels, blacked out windows and any other nonsense.  When was the last time you saw one like that I wonder?!

We took an Aston Martin out on the track, fantastic fun and Plato is a true gent. Which would I prefer to drive home? Well, I don’t think my dog would like anything more than the Land Rover.