Tuesday – Keep It Simple

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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.

 

Thursday – Seeing Is Believing

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Jeremy Remember when car headlights had two settings? Dipped, full beam and, erm, that was it. Driving back to the pub campsite near Borth, in Wales tonight, the Discovery proved there are more these days.
First, our HSE has what is commonly known as ‘bendy’ headlights, ones that turn with the steering wheel to point in the proposed direction of travel. Excellent, especially on twisty Welsh lanes with wandering sheep to negotiate.
Then there are those extra side lights that illuminate the area to the front side of the Discovery. Great for turning at low speed through narrow driveway entrances.
Finally, my favourite, auto-dip/full beam, which means the driver doesn’t even have to take his hands off the steering wheel as another car approaches. Sensors detect the oncoming vehicle and dip the headlights for you, popping them back on full beam afterwards.
My first car was a Morris Minor with a dip adjustment button on the floor. The headlights were so bad you could barely see a sheep lorry, let alone a sheep. Some things have changed for the better.

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.

 

Sunday – More Smiles Per Mile

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Jeremy  Just back from a perfect Sunday afternoon drive to Skenfrith on the Welsh border, en route to Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival.

The MX-5 is perfect for the sweeping bends of the Herefordshire countryside – beautifully balanced and so forgiving on the corners.

On the return trip, I decided to make a mental note of the all the features our Tech version doesn’t have – considering it’s the top of the range model. Here it is:

Daytime driving lights – Bluetooth – telescopic steering wheel adjustment – self-cancelling indicators – DAB radio – stop-start engine – keyless entry.

And here’s one feature it does have that no other convertible offers for £23k – Enjoyment. The MX-5 may be less powerful, less frugal and less butch than many others but I guarantee it will put a smile on your face.

 

Wednesday – Tech Savvy

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Jessica I have taken the Adam to a Polo match in the rain where it got fantastically muddy and was mistaken for a Fiat!  It seems 21 year old polo players think it is cute, even with the ‘Autumn leaves’ dash trim… It was raining and they can be excused for poor taste as they were being very polite, they though it was a new purchase of mine.

I actually like the little car inside, well laid out, chunky steering wheel, easy to operate touch screen sound system, but that is where it all ends.  What is it with the youthful dashboard trim and the option to have dead fly print on the wing mirrors?

When I started to drive the Adam I was disappointed at the lack of power ( and yes, I know it is better not to let our young folk loose with a powerful car) to the point where I was reluctant to overtake a 1950’s vintage car going up a hill as I did not have the zip. I dont know if any one has ever ridden a tricycle but it does corner in a similar fashion.

All of that aside, this car is sold as one that is fun and can be bought in a range of personalised options.

I must say I was very exited at the thought and rushed to the website once I knew an Adam was on the way – only to be utterly disappointed and fustrated by the set up, the lack of actual choice and the snail pace of the site. What are Vauxhall thinking?

Why sell a car on the basis of choice ( which can only mean a sophisticated interactive website) and not get even close to delivering that claim?

In my fustration I did visit the Fiat 500 website and easily put myself together a little blue car with smart wheels and a choice of trims and additions.  I also (to prove a point that it must be possible to have the software to manage car customisation) went to H Modder and had a fantastic time making myself a hot car with spoilers, trims, lights, and more.

Move over “pimp my ride” and catch up Vauxhall!