Jeremy I now know every nook and cranny of a Land Rover Discovery 4. Why? Because today I managed to lose my iPhone at Borth in Wales today and spent a large chunk of the afternoon conducting a forensic search of the vehicle.
The Discovery was packed solid with camping equipment, clothing and the dog, of course. Over the course of an hour, I found every cubbyhole and hiding place, frantically looking for an expensive chunk of metal measuring 5ins by 3ins.
It was all to no avail and for the last seven hours I have felt strangely out of touch. The Discovery has a DAB radio, so despite the remoteness of it all, at least I was able to keep up with the Ashes cricket. Although Australia are playing so well, I wish I hadn’t.
I also took the opportunity to try out the Discovery’s television. I never quite understood why anybody would want a TV screen on the front dashboard because you can only watch it when the vehicle is stationary. For once, it was fun watching the news, as I sat phoneless, looking out to sea and pondering the whereabouts of my iPhone , out there somewhere lost in space…
Jeremy We arrived back from London in the early hours after a quick dash up to meet some friends in Shepherd Market. Relieved of £26 for parking the RXH for three hours, earlier it had taken me almost four hours to drive up from Bath because of a minor accident on the M4.
Sat in stationary traffic, it was a good moment to try and get to grips with the DAB radio again. Sadly, I had to give up and accept I was doomed to suffer FM for the final day in the Peugeot. It’s not just me, a couple of other people had a go too and failed in frustration.
Life with the RXH has had its ups and down. Which I can only applaud Peugeot for the diesel hybrid technology, in reality this version of the 508 is an acquired taste. The sluggish gear change, heavy steering and various rattles have been a constant source of annoyance.
Fuel economy has been a respectable 44.5mpg, although this is much less than the 68mpg claimed – and I haven’t been driving the car hard either. Jessica has also found the seats very hard, to the point that she has suffered pins and needles whilst nearing the end of a 90 minute journey!
So, if you are after a lesser-spotted hybrid estate car with genuine four-wheel drive ability, the RXH couple be for you. In the real world of depreciation and marque image, I imagine most people would opt for an Audi allroad instead.
Jeremy It’s a little known fact that Jessica has an issue with car manuals. Being a fashionista, it’s not the way they look, the fabric manufacturers use on the cover or the feel of the material, it’s more about why we have car manuals in the first place.
Flicking through the RXH manual together this morning, I could feel the argument about to surface again. She believes that all instructions should simply be available online – and that we should tap in via our smartphones or laptops.
This would not only save a small forest of trees (have you seen the size of car manuals these days?) but free up space in the glovebox. It would also provide dedicated manuals for each model. For example, the RXH manual is really just the same as a standard 508 estate handbook and therefore, extra complicated. It’s the same for most cars these days. You very rarely get a manual that is specific to your car.
So, while I think part of the joy of owning a new car is sitting in the driver’s seat and digesting endless pages of dashboard trivia, her argument does have some weight, provided you own a smartphone of course.
I have to agree with her that the RXH manual isn’t the easiest to navigate. I’ve certainly struggled with the DAB radio instructions, operating the tailgate and adjustment to the head up display screen. But imagine life without car manuals – what else would a man do on a Sunday morning…?
Jeremy Monday evening and it feels like the weather is about to break over the Cotswolds. In fact, I’m sure I could hear the distant rumble of thunder as I climbed out of the RXH earlier, or could it have been from the back seat…?
The 508 is proving a mixed back in terms of build quality. While the seats are wrapped in sumptuous leather, there is every type of electronic gadget – from auto-dip headlights to massaging driver’s seat – the squeaky leather rear seat has now been joined by a rattle, which seems to be originating from under the floor of the boot where the battery packs are located. This is starting to annoy me and it would definitely be back to the dealership if I had spent £35,000+ on a luxurious, 4×4 estate.
At least I have got the hang of the DAB radio now and the sat nav is behaving beautifully. The automatic rear boot door opens from the keyfob but I can’t get it to close using the same button!
So, I’m still not 100 per cent over whether I like the RXH or not. It’s all minor niggly stuff but to compete with the Audi allroad or a Volvo V70, I think it just needs to up its game a bit.
Jeremy A frustrating day aboard the RXH. Even with the air conditioning running, it wasn’t the best time to be sat in the driver’s seat for an hour trying to work out how to get the DAB radio working. I should have walked away after 30 minutes but it’s the only way I can hear England retained the Ashes on Radio Live Live Sport Extra!
Like other Peugeot‘s we have tested with a DAB radio, the 508 has a retro-fit key-fob thingy which operates the system. I guess it’s because the Pug is a French car where they don’t have digital broadcasting, so something had to be added for the British market. Despite an extra three pages of instructions on A4, I still only found the correct settings by accident.
On top of this, the sat nav had a meltdown in the heat. The map kept disappearing off the screen and I had to re-set the location several times. There’s also a constant squeak coming from somewhere near the back seats. It sounds like a pack of mice having a tea party.
On the plus side, I am still marvelling at the occasions when the electric motor kicks in to drive the car forward, making the diesel engine redundant. It’s usually only around town at low speed but it’s impossible not to feel slightly smug and virtuous. Shame the fuel consumption is nowhere like the 68mpg claimed. I’m getting 48mpg at best and that’s genuinely driving carefully….
Jeremy The CR-V has landed and I’ve just been giving it the once over. Push button start, huge glass roof and Bluetooth connected! The EX comes with all the extras you would expect in the most expensive version, including leather seats, navigation and DAB radio (a must for Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and the Ashes next week!).
What is remarkable about the interior is the amount of space – quite Tardis-like. Even with the rear seats in place, the boot measures almost 600-litres – more than enough for Malin the Hungarian Viszla and his best mate Humphrey. Those back seats also drop with the minimum of fuss using a single lever, freeing up 1600+ litres.
Some chunky rear pillars make over the shoulder vision is a bit tricky when reversing, although being an SUV, general visibility is excellent. The giant glass roof on the EX doesn’t open and to keep the sun out on hot days there is an automatic screen that closes smoothly from both the front and rear.
The dashboard is easy on the eye, fairly plain with quite a rash of buttons for the driver to understand. Electric seats on the EX are exceptionally comfortable, with masses of headroom both front and rear. The air conditioning really blasts it out too – good news as we are expecting a heatwave from this weekend…
Jeremy Regular readers will know that I have an issue with cars that overcomplicate functions on the dashboard. If I can sit in a Hyundai or Peugeot and operate the DAB radio and Bluetooth without opening a manual, then why can’t I do it in other vehicles?
Citroen have made a pre-emptive strike with the DS3 test car – they have added a comprehensive, three page A4 guide in the press pack that explains all. In a spirit of fair play to other the motors Car Couture has tested, I opted to ignore the sheets and try to work it out for myself.
Forty minutes later in Waitrose car park and I’m really struggling – not only with DAB but forcing the Bluetooth function to match up with my iPhone. Back home, I can see why. The DS3 comes with a seperate, remote control unit about the size of a keyfob that is the fast-track to everything DAB. Now I just have to work out the Bluetooth issue.
So, round one to the DS3. I admit defeat but I imagine a lot of other DS3 drivers might have similar frustrating issues. While the Citroen has a dashboard that looks dynamic and stylish, wonderful seats and ‘big car’ comforts, form over function rather blots the copybook in this instance.
Jeremy It’s not going to be easy picking holes in the Audi A3. This is probably the most competent car I’ve driven in ages – beautifully screwed together, classy and comfortable.
However, these days when I sit in a vehicle for the first time, I look for the features it doesn’t have. I thought with S Line spec and the £1,500 technology pack, all bases would be covered in terms of infotainment.
There’s a pop up, seven-inch screen on the dashboard for sat nav and you can operate the radio and music functions from a perfectly places, rotary dial on the centre console.
Surprisingly, however, the package does not include DAB radio! So, while I had been hoping to listen to the international cricket on Radio 5 Live Extra (only on DAB), I’ve had to settle for R4 instead.
This aside, the system is simple to operate, with a Bluetooth connection to my mobile phone that automatically downloads music tracks without a cable connection. The package also has a ‘Jukebox’ that allows you to download tracks onto the car’s hard drive, where they are saved for future use.
All very slick – but I’m going to miss the cricket…