Saturday – Fender Bender

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Jeremy Remember when you were lucky to find even a radio in your new car? Then came tape machines, CDs and now we frown if a car doesn’t have an aux jack for an iPod – or offer a wireless Bluetooth connection.

I’m happy to say our Beetle Sport test car is equipped Bluetooth – not just for calls but for music too. It means my mobile phone can stay in my pocket while it sucks all the Daft Punk tracks off and plays them through the music system. Cool. It’s also very easy to set up for Luddites like me.

And what a great music system! The £495 Fender speaker upgrade is well worth the cash. Much more enjoyable than the glass sunroof that only opens a couple of inches and deafens you with wind noise.

The package includes a thumping sub woofer that sits upright in the boot corner. It does eat into some of the luggage space but so what – the sound is phenomenal.

Our test car also has an ambient lighting back which can be adjusted to change colour between red, white and blue! So, at night, the door trim now lights up to match my mood – brilliant!

Sunday – Daft Pug

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Jeremy – It felt like the whole of England was out today – doing what English people do best. Queuing and shopping.

Fortunately, that meant the Wykeham Arms in Winchester was quieter than usual and a 50 minute dash down the A303 past Stonehenge was well worth the effort.

I downloaded the new Daft Punk album onto my iPod for the trip but it only took a few miles before I became frustrated with the RCZ‘s music system. I judge an entertainment system by how intuitive it is – this one isn’t.

Once the iPod is connected, all its functions are taken over by the Peugeot. I eventually had to stop the car and scroll through the ‘artists’ painfully slowly on the RCZ dashboard interface before I realised this could also be completed by the stalk control on the steering column.

Now, you really do have to know the workings of your stalk control and remember them because it’s totally hidden behind the steering wheel itself. Having the controls on the front of the steering wheel would be a much better and safer system.

There are lots of things to like about the RCZ but quite a few features, that would be annoyingly simple to rectify, that aren’t.

 

Thursday – More Reliable Than A Beautiful Woman?

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Jeremy The president of Ferrari, Luca Montezemolo, told me yesterday that his cars are like beautiful women. However, a Ferrari was more desirable ‘because you can have dinner with a beautiful woman and then feel disappointed’. There speaks a man who knows.

I was tempted to ask him his opinion of the Vauxhall Adam but then thought better of it. After all, in his opinion, the only other rival to Ferrari is Porsche, which he regards politely as ‘quite a good sports car too.’

Ferrari is investing big euros in developing the Maranello factory, making it more eco-friendly and modern. It’s a sprawling site and the 3,000 staff can use any of the 150 bicycles dotted around the place for transport. I think the Adam (if it had a Fiat Group badge) would be a great alternative for them.

Like Montezemolo‘s beautiful women, it’s fantastic to look at and turns heads. However, driving back from Heathrow last night, it was quite clear that the Vauxhall is definitely a car for city use only. Cute as it is, the supermini feels uncomfortable on the motorway, is dominated by tyre noise (could it have been the optional 17-inch alloys?) and gets the jitters in a crosswind.

Many Adam buyers will opt for the Vauxhall purely on looks alone. But this is one car you really do have to take for a test drive if you are planning long journeys at high speed. Oh, and the rattling dashboard mentioned yesterday? My iPod in the glovebox!

 

Tuesday – It’s no dummy

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Jeremy I have just driven our XC60 to London-based Rootstein, who are  the Rolls-Royce of mannequin makers in the fashion world that Jessica frequents. It’s a bright, sunny day and the doors of their Kensington fashion studios are highly polished and squeaky clean. Fortunately, the mirror image is sparkling enough to reflect the XC60, as it rolled driverless down the road behind me…

TheXC60’s  multi-function key has six options but not one of them can ‘apply handbrake’ remotely from where I watched gaping. The irony is that the XC60 is otherwise so incredibly safe it almost dispenses with the need for birth control. However, for some strange reason, is equipped with one of those push button handbrakes that screams ‘accident’ every time I don’t apply it.

W14 is fairly flat so I was able to out-sprint Usain Bolt before any damage was done. Then I used the front blind spot camera to squeeze into a parking space, with rear sensors on standby and the pedestrian airbag ready to bounce anybody who is unfortunate enough to get in my way.

For the drive home, I was able to relax in the knowledge that blind spot indicators would alert me if somebody overtook, lights at the foot of the windscreen would flash if the computer decided I was too close to the car in front. If XC60 doesn’t like my iPod playlist, I’m certain it would have probably switched to a more middle-of-the road David Grey too.