I met Biz Stone today – the co-founder of Twitter. He was in London to give a talk and after interviewing him on the telephone last month, I couldn’t resist saying ‘hi’.
Biz is worth quite a lot of money but he’s a pretty down to earth guy. He drives to work across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in a VW Golf when, in fact, his shares in Twitter could buy the bridge. And every car on it several times over.
Flash cars aren’t his thing. I can understand that but after a lifetime testing cars, I think that if I was Biz, a Boxster S would be a ‘modest’ drive for billionaire me.
it would be the benchmark sports car. Not too ‘in-her-face’ and, in London, they’re two-a-penny anyway. Forget comments about this being a hairdresser’s car – the Porsche is an exceptional driver’s car and not to be sniffed at.
Last week I asked the question, is the Boxster S worth the price of four Mazda MX-5s…. The answer, quite simply, is yes.
I’m not a huge fan of electronic power steering because it just doesn’t have the same ‘feel’ as a conventional set up. You lose some of the feedback between the road and the steering wheel, which is so important in a lively little car like the 208 GTi.
What it does ensure in the 208 is that the car is refined and comfortable at low speed – before you blip the accelerator and unleash 200bhp of road-going entertainment.
Then the electric power steering does kill some of the enjoyment but not so much as to prove a major disappointment. It’s that fine balance between refinement and thrills that every designer of a hot hatchback must struggle with.
Make no mistake, Peugeot’s latest GTi is an absolute joy to drive on a winding A-road. It’s agile, nimble and very quick. However, lose the electronic power steering and it could be a legendary performer, just like the original 205 it reminds me so much of.
Jeremy A 150-mile round trip to London and back today should have been enough time to get to know somebody. Sat at my desk again this evening, I still don’t feel I truly know the Cascada.
On the one hand, it looks like a pretty car, with an interior that’s roomy enough for four and very well equipped for the money. On the other, it’s heavy, soulless and with the 1.4 petrol engine under the bonnet, rather slow to get up and running.
If you are considering a Cascada – or an Audi A4 Cabriolet, BMW 3 Series etc – then for heaven’s sake, make sure you test drive the forthcoming 195bhp 2.0 biturbo diesel version because I imagine it will provide the extra grunt this Vauxhall needs.
Overtaking in the 1.4 requires a lot of ‘winding up’ first. Drop down to third, find a long, straight stretch of road and cross your fingers. It’s just not an engine suited to this car.
Jeremy I’ve always towed boats but this is the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire and that means horseboxes. The ‘Glossy Possy’ who live here aren’t short of a bob or two and you are judged by the size of your horsebox – just like actors always want the biggest Winnebago mobile home on location.
There are no ponies grazing on our lawn but Jessica has owned a few in her time. Her grandfather, Jack, was the youngest member of the British equestrian team at the Berlin Olympics in 1936!
Mitsubishi UK are based just up the road in Cirencester, so hard-working Shoguns and L200’s are as common as muck with the equine set. But they shouldn’t rule out the Outlander, mainly because it has an impressive tow weight of two tons – more than many key rivals.
And with just the front two rows of seats in place, the boot space is massive. Plenty big enough for two or three large dogs, although if you pull out the two third row seats at the rear, luggage capacity is severely limited.
Jessica The XKR-S is a masterclass in driving experience, comfort, speed function and form. I thoroughly enjoyed this car, why not you might say with a price tag like that.
I feel privileged to have had the chance to drive this car freely from the rough and tumble of London to the open roads of the Cotswolds, even a good old trip to the supermarket! There are not many of us who will ever get the chance to experience the finesse of a car like this Jaguar.
I feel as if I have seen the realities of what technology and engineering can do, when driving at speed and you are abreast of a more everyday car it makes you wonder how safe they are.
The Jaguar has a braking system to match the awesome acceleration and is responsive to the slightest adjustment of foot or hand that leaves other cars I have driven far behind. The paddle gears are simple, correctly placed so there is no accidental gear changes or confusion about which does what.
The car although large does not feel overwhelming to drive, so ladies, no worries about this being a purely male domain. It suits my long legs, although getting into the back was a challenge, I would say its small dogs and babies only back there!
The front seats adjusts in so many ways that there is a perfect combination to find. The vision all round is good and even in traffic it is such a joy to be driving that you never get tired or bored.
I would take the time to improve my driving skills and do track days if I owned this car so that I really could make use of it’s full potential. It does have a serious side and is far from being just for the ‘flashbling’ crew. It is a drivers car and for one who will value the the nature of couture.
Jeremy I never thought hitting 50 could be so much fun. A day out in London, with visits to the V&A, Tate Modern and assorted restaurants inbetween was topped off with a drive back to Wiltshire in the sublime XKR-S.
The strange thing is the Jaguar doesn’t look at all out of place in London, where the streets are littered with exotica to rival the Big Cat. That said, I don’t think I heard anything from Porsche, Aston Martin or Mercedes to rival the scream from the XKR-S tailpipes.
For the last 30 miles home, I switched the car to dynamic mode, stiffening the suspension, then turned the gear select dial to ‘sport’. Suddenly the ‘sedate’ Jaguar takes on a whole new personae. The revs pick up, the exhausts cackle and it takes a lot of restraint to hang on to your licence.
What I like most about the XKR-S is that it is just that little bit different. I haven’t seen any on the road yet and, apart from the mad colour, it really does tick all the boxes.
What red-blooded petrolhead wouldn’t want one of these parked on the driveway. More subtle than a Ferrari, more refined than 911 and less corporate than a Mercedes, it’s definitely shot to the top of my most desirable lust of supercars.
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 I’m not sure what all the buttons do yet but I’ve had a bonding moment with the RXH today. It wasn’t the lion’s claw daytime running lights that sex up the front end, nor the massaging driver’s seat, or even the bling chrome rear scuff plate. No, it was the fact I could drive home from Waitrose without using a sip of diesel.
Among the myriad of buttons and dials splashed around the cockpit is one that allows you to switch to battery power only – which means I drove the four-mile trip using only the 37bhp electric motor that powers the back wheels. How good did that feel!
Now I first drove a pure electric car back in 2006. It was a hellish trip across London with a grumpy motoring editor from the Sunday Times. The sweltering heat of the day and lack of power and air con didn’t do much to improve his temper, or his bouffant hair style.
So what is remarkable about the latest hybrid technology is just how far we have come in seven years. It’s just very frustrating that we have to pay a premium for it, even now. The RXH is almost double the price of a standard 508 SW estate.
Of course, it will save company car drivers thousands of pounds every year in company car tax compared to other 4×4 estates but realistically, the RXH will be priced out of the market for many people…
Jeremy We’ve just enjoyed a game of tennis in sweltering heat and then slumped into the Mazda2 for a comfortable drive home. How the rubbery ginger did we ever survive ten or 20 years ago without air conditioning?
We just expect city runabouts to come equipped with cold air these days and the 2 is no exception – let’s face it, driving around London without it would almost be unbearable.
The Mazda has an especially good air con unit that is so powerful it even reaches those in the back seats. And because the cabin is pretty compact, it doesn’t take long for the whole car to cool down in an English summer heatwave.
The present weather reminded me of a story about a guy who got frostbite in his toes after driving up the M1 with the air con blasting at his feet! Remarkable? Well, maybe after 40 days of this sort of weather it might be more commonplace…
Jeremy It’s our last day with the V40 – 24 hours after Volvo picked up a major safety award for the five-door hatchback. The V40 was praised for its exceptional NCAP rating and won the Auto Express Safety Award for 2013 at a ceremony in London last night.
As Car Couture has said all week, it’s hard to write about the V40 without majoring on safety. That has been confirmed with NCAP giving the car the highest ever safety rating.
Among the V40 safety features highlighted at the ceremony were Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, Distance Alert Control, Lane Keeping Aid, Blind Spot Information System and Cross Traffic Alert.
All of these compliment the standard features fitted such as front and side airbags, side impact protection and whiplash protection system.
If you want safe, this is definitely the hatchback to buy. For the best drive however, look at a Golf, A3 or BMW 1 Series. It’s as simple as that.