Saturday – Sound Pipes


If you like the sound of silence in your motor, the Vanquish is not for you. And the convertible Volante is even more noisy, despite a hood that is so good it’s hard to tell from the inside that you are actually in a drop top.

It must be a boy thing because the sound of the Aston Martin’s exhaust pipes are sheer music to my ears. I’ve even forsaken Test Match Special on the DAB radio to marvel at every tweak of the accelerator.

On the other hand, Jessica thinks the car is too noisy. I think she’s in love with the white leather interior and uncluttered dashboard though – the centre of which isn’t to my taste and doesn’t look worthy of a car costing £222,000.

Today we drove down to the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, Hampshire. It was pretty empty with most people out Christmas shopping, so all the exhibitions were empty.

First stop? The James Bond exhibition. Lots of Aston Martins on display there, one with a Gatling gun on the boot lid. Could have done with that on the drive home to clear a way through the appalling Christmas traffic…


Tuesday – Can You Park Without A Reverse Camera?


You might buy a car for the way it looks but the equipment list is pretty important too. We wouldn’t entertain a vehicle that doesn’t have Bluetooth and a DAB radio – others want leather trim and sat nav.

So our mid-range KX-3 is something of a mixed bag and will appeal to some drivers and not others. For example, it does have heated leather seats as standard but there is no satellite navigation system.

You have to pay extra for a nav upgrade that includes a rear-view reversing camera. Personally, I think if you can’t reverse a car without a camera to help you, then you shouldn’t be driving a one ton missile in the first place.

And while standard kit includes Bluetooth, privacy glass, sunroof and reversing sensors (why can’t people park these days!) there is no DAB radio. That means no Radio 5, no Test Match Special and no Radio 6 Music either.

So, as Chris Evans seems to have lost the plot on Radio 2 these days, it’s the sound of silence for me…


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…

Sunday – No DABbling?

cropped-774052_261113-a-maz.jpgThere’s something missing from my Mazda6. It’s taken me a while to realise but as sport plays a large part in my life, I was rather disappointed the saloon isn’t kitted out with a DAB radio. That means terrible reception for Radio 5 on AM and no Radio 5 Live Extra at all!

I mention this because let’s face it, the 6 is going to be a weapon of choice for many a company car driver. Surely a DAB radio would be a ‘must have’ for that type of buyer?

The entertainment screen in the Mazda isn’t big but it’s adequate. What is less impressive are the size of the buttons on the steering column to operate it by remote control. Even the touchscreen buttons require some dexterity.

At least the sound quality is good and you can wire up your phone or iPod via an AUX input or a USB cable. Scrolling through the screen options to change artists is a slow process and distracting for the driver. Could do better Mazda…



Sunday – More Smiles Per Mile


Jeremy  Just back from a perfect Sunday afternoon drive to Skenfrith on the Welsh border, en route to Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival.

The MX-5 is perfect for the sweeping bends of the Herefordshire countryside – beautifully balanced and so forgiving on the corners.

On the return trip, I decided to make a mental note of the all the features our Tech version doesn’t have – considering it’s the top of the range model. Here it is:

Daytime driving lights – Bluetooth – telescopic steering wheel adjustment – self-cancelling indicators – DAB radio – stop-start engine – keyless entry.

And here’s one feature it does have that no other convertible offers for £23k – Enjoyment. The MX-5 may be less powerful, less frugal and less butch than many others but I guarantee it will put a smile on your face.


Friday – A Sound Machine


Jeremy  The Adam is aimed at a youth market – so in a bid to feel 21 again, I’ve been listening at Absolute 80s Radio on the baby Vauxhall’s thumping stereo. It sounds great – even Dire Straits!

It’s amazing how in-car entertainment systems have become so good. DAB helps of course but using Bluetooth to ‘suck’ music from my phone to the unit is another simple and safe benefit. No fiddling with CDs, USB cables or AUX-in wires.

For a little car, the Adam boxes above its weight in the infotainment department. A touchscreen display makes it even easier to use, although there was no sat nav in our test car.

I’ve just returned from a couple of days sea-kayaking in Scotland and at Bristol Airport, I had a real struggle finding the Adam. In fact, I thought it had been stolen when I couldn’t see it in the car park. The car is so small, it was completely hidden being a Range Rover Sport and Ford Focus.

The boot area is just big enough for two large rucksacks and not much else. Dropping the split-fold back seats helps but for a long weekend away, this is really a car that is only big enough for two adults and all their kit. At least it’s big on style.