Monday – Am I About To Crash?

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Jeremy Collision Warning – a system that you would imagine should be fitted to every new car by law. Just like ABS brakes, which has been around for decades but was once a very novel idea, Volvo‘s Collision Warning may well be a standard fit in the future.

It’s quite simple. Sensors on the front of the V40 detect, alert and automatically brake the car if it risks colliding with a vehicle in front. However, before that happens, the driver gets an loud audible warning and a red light flashes at the bottom of the windscreen – so he can brake or avoid the problem first.

It all sounds brilliant and very sensible. Except it isn’t foolproof. The problem I discovered today while driving in to Gloucester was this. If you are approaching a bend with a car parked on the corner, the alert system detects that vehicle and triggers the audible alarm and flashing red light.

I can totally understand the benefits of the system but the fact it is triggered unnecessarily is very distracting for the driver. As safe as the Volvo is (and the list of safety features is way too long to print here!), this is one that could do with a little tweaking.

Monday – My Daily Commute

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Jeremy – The great part of being a freelance journalist is that you get to work from home. I left my last full-time post in 1997 and never miss the daily commute in and out of Bristol – no matter what test car I was driving back then.

The bad part of the job is that sometimes you do have to be somewhere early, joining the millions of other drivers making their daily drive to the office. This morning I had a two-hour drive to Gloucester, which was 76 miles of hell on A and B-roads.

You learn a lot about a car in that situation. Minor niggles become major gripes and you can fall out of love with even the most alluring supercar. Today’s 150 miles in the A3 were pretty sweet all things considered. I felt as fresh getting out of the car at my destination as I did when I first stepped in.

The Audi has excellent, supportive seats that seem to fit every type of driving. They grip you firmly in place on a tight bend and meet your back in all the right places on the motorway.

I found the driving position first class, with height adjustable steering column and telescopic adjustment too. No electric seats though, which seems like an oversight in a car cost this much. There is a neat fold down centre armrest that can be adjusted forwards and back as well.

It’s the same in the rear. I’m 5ft 10ins and had masses of knee room in all three seats. There are plenty of cubbyholes and spaces for driving paraphenalia, with a large boot included.

I’ve no desire to do a daily commute ever again but if I did, the Sportback would be on my list of options.

 

Friday – Edging Towards 60

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Jeremy The one and only time I ever got involved in a car economy drive was with a crazy driving instructor from Gloucester who took it far too seriously. It was 1992 and he insisted we use his new Nissan Micra for a 100-mile journey across Herefordshire.

To make the car lighter, he stripped out as much of the seating as possible, the rear parcel shelf and even the cigarette lighter went. Aerodynamics were a high on his agenda too – so off came a windscreen wiper, the aerial was pushed down and we drove at around 55mph in complete silence.

Last night I drove a winding route across the Cotswolds at around the same speed in our refined and beautifully built Golf TDI – not because I wanted to but because there was a rash of tractors on the road for some reason. VW say the 150bhp diesel can return 68.9mpg – I knew it would never achieve that in everyday driving conditions but I suddenly found myself back on an economy drive!

Calling petrolhead friends for advice and company along the way, I slipped the engine out of ‘sport’ and into ‘eco’ mode. The dashboard display on the TDI serves up economy driving tips – mostly saying change up a gear but the mpg read-out next to it was the real focus of my attention.

I was determined to hit 60mpg but only tickled 58.9 on one flat stretch. When I finally reached my destination, I was back down to 57.1. I don’t think I could have done much better on the roads I used but for a 150bhp engine, it’s still impressive.

I’m not going to bleat on about the consumption too much but this Sunday we are off to the launch of the new Kia Carens in Hampshire. If I don’t hit 60mpg on the way there on faster A-roads I’m going to remove a windscreen wiper and take out the back seat too…