Tuesday – Sour Milk

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Just how do you clean quilted, white leather seats? Not surprisingly, Malin the hound hasn’t had a spell riding shotgun in the Vanquish this week – not when the upgraded trim costs an extra £10,000.

One of the worst car trim disaster stories happened to a friend of mine many years ago. On the way back from the supermarket, he spilt a pint of milk on the seat of his prized Ford Escort.

In case you didn’t know, milk dries sour and the smell after a few days is just appalling. It’s impossible to get rid of but after lots of scrubbing, my friend thought he had just about managed it.

Right up to the point when he left the side window down, just wide enough for a neighbour’s cat to creep in and pee on the same spot as the milk. Imagine that in an Aston Martin…

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Thursday – Oversize And Over Here

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Jessica… The Camaro is the epitome of all the stereotypes we relate to America and Americans.

Its big, its shameless and it hasn’t even tried to pretend that burning fossil fuels has an environmental impact.  Who cares how much fuel you burns on the open road when everyone has the right to live the American dream?

All that is missing is a hand gun in the glove box…

We are, however, fascinated by the uncompromising and openly brash nature of the American psyche. Secretly, we would like to be part of that dream.

The Chevrolet is very hard to dislike. The seats are big and comfy and the interior is retro, without any soft lines or compromise to a softer, contemporary look.

The four-dial, clock style information unit (featuring information that you really don’t need!) is cool and takes you right back to the seventies.

The drive is as brash as the look, fast, with a firm foot required to slow down the vast engine, it’s miles away from the soft touch driving we have come to expect from modern high performance cars.

But left-hand driving aside, plus the fact that you have to be aware of being very wide on our bijoux country roads, the Camara is fun, ridiculous and very hard not to enjoy.

I did once own a giant Chevy Blazer. Again the idea was fun, the smell of old leather, the shift stick on the steering wheel, the throaty engine of huge gas guzzling proportions.

But the reality of driving it on English roads meant it did not stay long.  But for a while being part on an American stereotype was highly amusing, though impossible to keep up.

Friday – Chevrolet Camaro

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Shy, retiring types need not apply… Not only is today’s new test car a rather bright colour, it also boasts two racing stripes over the bonnet and boot lid. Eek.

American muscle cars don’t come much more brawny than the Chevrolet Camaro. It sits squat, wide and very long on my driveway, screaming performance, in an outdated, very expensive to run type way.

How expensive? Well, apart from the £42,000 price tag on our test car, the best fuel consumption we can hope for is 21.5mpg in the combined cycle! Or 14.9mpg around town.

Not only that but CO2 emissions are a massive 304 g/km, which means an annual road tax bill of just over £1,000.

All that power and left hand-drive too – it’s going to be an interesting week. Right, I’m heading to the shops to see if I can find a parking space big enough…

Wednesday – Wood Powered Porsche?

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There just aren’t enough good reasons to drive the 911 at the moment. Work is piling up and the wet weather hanging over Britain rather dampens the spirits.

Today I used the Porsche for exactly what it wasn’t built for – collecting a couple of bags of wood from the Longleat Estate timber yard. Don’t worry, I lined the bonnet boot with paper and made sure I didn’t slam the lid on a rogue log. That would be an expensive mistake.

The woman at the counter couldn’t quite believe I was using a Porsche but at the end of the day, if the 911 is meant to be an everyday car, then it has to do everyday chores too.

Which would normally mean using the back seat for passengers, I suppose. I haven’t tried them myself but space is at a premium, especially for adult legs. And with a black canvases hood, it’s going to be pretty claustrophobic too.

Still, I’m at the wheel and back seat passengers are the last thing I want to worry about. Just give me the keys, I’ll drive.

 

 

Tuesday – Almost A Good Car

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I can’t help feeling that with a little more refinement the Veloster would be a very good car indeed. It’s one of those vehicles that does everything ‘almost’ extremely well.

Having clocked up 400 miles this week, my latest gripe is the driver’s seat. While the interior is deceptively roomy and looks refreshingly different, my back has been complaining since yesterday.

The seat feels hard and combined with the Turbo’s rather harsh suspension, it’s a relief to get out and staighten up.

The four-cycliner petrol engine also needs plenty of coaxing to get it off the mark. There is consequently a tendancy to over rev and cause embarrassing wheelspin.

The Hyundai does feel well balanced on a fast corner, even though the steering lacks some feel for the driver. And that rear, mid screen spoiler means visibility is a disaster when you are reversing, or changing lanes on the motorway.

Almost very good but not quite there yet…

Tuesday – Barking

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Did you know that sunroofs are a terribly British thing? You won’t find French, Italian or Spanish cars with glass roofs – it’s just us lot who need to make the most of what usually passes for summer in this country.

And every sunny days seems like the last at the moment. Today was something of a surprise, glorious weather that had me reaching to open the Forester’s quite enormous sunroof. It’s a whopper – a proper area of glass that even opens up.

While glass in the roof is good, I leave my dog Malin to decide how bright a car cabin is these days. He loathes a low roofline and whinges accordingly.

So, dog owners, I can report that if you want the ultimate ride for you mutt, the Forester has no equal. It’s the only estate car he is happy to jump into and the sunroof is just an added bonus.

 

Wednesday – A Pug That Bites

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Just occasionally a car comes along that truly surprises. The Peugeot 2008 is just that. Even though it can only pretend to be a 4×4 with raised ground clearance, scuff plates and beefy looks, it has turned out to be a capable machine.

Crossover vehicles try to be all things to all people – which is what makes them so popular with family buyers. However, sometimes the good things get diluted in an attempt to tick all the boxes.

The 2008 has some faults, like the pointless light display integrated into the roof lining, an annoying handbrake design and a rather lifeless drive but overall, the good points far outweigh the bad.

Here is a small family estate that will easily achieve 68mpg in everyday driving, is cheap to tax, can carry five adults AND their bags, and still manages to look pretty stylish on the outside. For £17,245, our 1.6 diesel looks like a great buy.