Saturday – Living With Chevy

 

cropped-566164__camaro_conv_001.jpgThree times I have walked up to the Camaro – three times I have walked up to the wrong door. I’m used to driving left-hookers after living in France but something as wide as the Chevrolet is quite a handful through an English high street!

The 6.2-litre V8 is actually quite refined around town, well unless you factor in the 12mpg that is. Be warned though, the slightest press of the accelerator lifts the bonnet and sends the American surging forward.

Unlike a Ferrari or Aston Martin, the Camaro doesn’t let out a highly-tuned squeal when you do decide to make progress. It’s more of a gut grumble, or as a famous motoring writer once penned of TVR exhaust pipes, ‘like two lesbians moaning in a bucket’.

Despite the ridiculous stripes over the car, the retro looks and in-your-face image, the Chevrolet is quite civilised on a day to day basis. If only they made a right hand-drive it would be even more feasible. That and a following petrol tanker…

 

 

 

Tuesday – Sunny CR-V

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Jeremy Having spent most of the year frustrated by the bad weather, I’m not going to say this current heatwave isn’t welcome. And while in some respects, it would be lovely to own a convertible, I’m actually very happy to be sat in a Honda CR-V.

There have been many soft-tops in the Taylor garage but with temperatures touching 30 degrees today, I can’t understand why anybody would want to sit in an open car and sweat as they turn pink in all the wrong places.

Here’s a fact. The Brits buy more convertibles than Spain, France and Italy put together. Why? Because it is so hot in those countries that you would rather sit in air conditioned bliss than turn lobster in a convertible.

Besides, the glass roof on the CR-V lets in plenty of natural light and when it becomes too warm, two screen glide in from the front and rear to keep the sun out. The Honda is also blessed with one of the most powerful climate control systems I’ve encountered.

The only feature that’s lacking is an air conditioned glovebox to keep my dog’s bottle of water cold…

Wednesday – Summer Bug

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Jeremy  Owning a Beetle was a right of passage back in the 1970s. Jessica drove hers from the family home in Cornwall to the south of France to ‘study French‘ – my blue convertible was a complete disaster and ended up in a court case!

Even so, just like a classic film that should never be reworked by modern day Hollywood, there were plenty around who argued that VW should not have brought the Beetle back 13 years ago in a modernised form.

I owned one of those too, to go with my 1963 VW camper van. But while one of them had bags of charisma and oozed cool, the other didn’t. No prizes for guessing which.

So, the arrival of the new ‘new’ Beetle this morning was greeted with mixed emotions. More butch, better looking and equipped with a much stronger range of engines, how does the latest model fare?

Well, all I can tell you so far after a quick drive to the shops, is that the Beetle is considerably better than the last one. I’m loving the stylish interior, the attention to detail – and that fact the sun started shining the minute it pulled up on the driveway.

More tomorrow when I’ve soaked up the atmosphere a little more…

Thursday – It Really Does What It Says On The Tin…

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Jeremy I have a friend who lives in splendid isolation, near Cordes-sur-Ciel, in France. She is spending her retirement camped by the swimming pool but earned part of her estate from dreaming up the advertising slogan ‘it does what it says on the tin’.

If Maddy was road testing the Sorento, that would probably have been her headline. It’s not the most remarkable 4×4 SUV but if you want a no-nonsense seven-seater for a modest price, look no further.

With England bathed in sunshine today, it’s not been hard to find excuses to get out of the office. I’ve dropped the back five seats of the Kia and been to the dump, picked up a lawn mower from the service garage and swotted up on the form for Badminton Horse Trials this weekend. It’s bound to rain…

The Sorento is going to come in handy, no doubt battling for a space in a muddy press car park with assorted Land Rovers and Range Rovers. We will be six-up with three dogs, so it should be a true test of the Sorento’s resolve!

Today I’ve struggled a little finding a good driving position in the Kia. I either feel too close to the pedals, or too far back, which results in me constantly crashing the gearbox because I’m depressing the clutch far enough. It’s happening so much I’m wondering if it’s my bodily proportions.

Otherwise, the leather seats in the KX-2 model are big and comfortable, like your favourite armchair. There are three proper seats in the middle row while the rear, fold-up pair are for little people only.

This model also lacks a sat nav as standard but the radio console is touchscreen and setting up Bluetooth for a mobile phone is the easiest system I have used to date.

Fingers crossed for good weather this weekend…

 

Friday – Don’t Mess With My BMW

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Jeremy It’s a typically French thing to do. Having lived in the Midi Pyrenees for 18 months I feel justified in saying that many French people have no respect for cars.

So perhaps I shouldn’t have been that surprised when a woman on the Brittany Ferries ship lazily opened her car door against the bumper of the 640d and didn’t show a trace of remorse. Even though I was sat in the driver’s seat and at least four other motorists saw her do it, no apology was forthcoming.

The upshot? Well, if you are going to whack the door of a Citroen Picasso against a robust BMW, chances are you will come off worse. Her year-old MPV now has a lovely crease in the paintwork and the Beemer is unblemished.

It’s ironic that we took the 6 Series Convertible to France hoping for sunshine. It poured down for most of the trip! Today I’m hoping to finally drop the roof as England sees the first signs of spring. Will let you know how it goes tomorrow…

Thursday – Too Many Horses…

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Jeremy I’ve spent the day interviewing Pippa Funnell – the equestrian rider who is probably Britain’s most successful, three-day event sportswoman.

Driving the Mini GP 100 miles to her Surrey stud was hard work, especially on the motorway stretches where noise levels are high. Then snow started to fall and the hills around Forest Green are riddled in deep, back crunching potholes. Not pleasant in a car with such robust suspension.

Exchanging the GP’s 215bhp for one horsepower should have been a more relaxing ride, except a highly tuned dressage horse is even less forgiving than an F1 car. At least the horse and the GP have one feature in common – an excellent heated seat.

The GP is heading back to Mini UK tomorrow and CarCouture will be exchanging keys for a BMW 6 Series Convertible, with the sublime, high-powered diesel engine. As we’re fed up with British weather, the plan is to take it over to France and check out the delights of Le Mans

You can read about my riding exploits with Pippa in next weekend’s Financial Times Magazine.