It obviously goes fast, very fast, and it definitely costs a small fortune – but what should you actually expect on Christmas Day when you open the front door and discover Santa has left an Aston Martin on the driveway?
Well, don’t imagine it includes a glovebox because the dashboard is so uncluttered, a storage space has been dispensed with. There’s no legroom in the rear – unless you are one of Santa’s very little helpers – and there’s nothing as vulgar as a head-up display either.
What the Volante does boast is a rather splendid brolly that matches the colour of the paintwork. If has its own secure fixing in the boot. The seats are definitely on the firm side of comfortable, despite multi-electrical adjustment. So you might need a fluffy cushion to stop numb bum on longer trips.
And if you don’t have a public profile, you certainly will have after driving a Vanquish for a few days. I parked slightly over the white line in Waitrose car park and you should have heard the fuss from miffed locals! That wouldn’t have happened in a Ford Fiesta I can tell you.
To a certain generation of bloke, the name Subaru will always be associated with the WRX rally car. The Impreza is no longer imported in to Britain, although you will still see plenty of die-hard ‘Scooby‘ fans frittering away their pay cheques to keep one on the road. No, these days, Subaru is targeting the SUV market and this fourth generation Forester is a key weapon.
Today I did my weekly shop down at Waitrose and the Subaru looked oddly out of place, parked next to row after row of ‘bling’ four-wheel drives. Personally, I love the fact I’m driving something different, which I know can tackle proper off-road work and won’t be offended if I chuck half a ton of wood in the back.
Sadly, I’m not sure the majority of British car-buyers will see it the same way. The Forester isn’t offensive to the eye but it just doesn’t have the cosmetic appeal of a Kia Sportage or a Ford Kuga. Beauty may be skin deep but that’s as far as most people look these days when they are buying a car.
The boxy design will be seen as a disadvantage, even though it allows for a huge load capacity, exceptional headroom and a bright cabin. The interior is basic but you know a Forester will still be lugging sheep up a field in 15 years time when a Kuga has been turned back into sheet metal.
Right now I’m feeling totally inconspicuous in the Forester – a rare feat in any modern SUV. And I’m loving it.
Jeremy My biggest fear about having kids and growing up? Obviously, the thought of driving a people-carrier. Who wants to open the door in the morning and be confronted by a Ford Galaxy or something with seven seats, shaped like a wet sponge and built by Nissan? Me neither.
So the rise of the SUV has been a blessing for us forty somethings. Sorry, fifty somethings, I keep forgetting my recent significant birthday. And judging by the huge number of SUVs on driveways up and down the country, the rest of the car-buying British public feel the same too.
One of the more popular models around these parts is the Mitsubishi Outlander, probably because the company has its UK operations based in Cirencester. Quite frankly, there are loads of them. Waitrose is like a forecourt for the company, so expect a Waitrose special edition Outlander any day soon…
I’m just back from the shops and I can see why. Our GX5 test car is at the top of the range. It’s loaded with equipment, including sat nav, leather seats, adaptive cruise control and the rather neat ECO driving mode. Now I thought this was a bit of a gimmick but it actually works!
Today I have managed 46.1mpg in everyday driving. That’s in a four-wheel drive with the air conditioning on and three people on board. Considerably better than expected – and obviously rather more than the sadly departed Jaguar XKR-S. More tomorrow….
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 I found a little bit of the ocean in Wiltshire yesterday that almost outshone the Pacific blue paint job on our Golf. The sleepy village of Ashmore, near Salisbury, has been cleaning up it duckpond and as a result, the water has turned a lovely shade of Mediterranean blue. It was such a bright blue that I completely forgot to take a photo with the car beside it.
I spent the morning walking with Anna Chancellor – Duckface from Four Weddings and a Funeral – for a feature for the Financial Times. We had a two-car convoy through sunny countryside, which ground to halt as we came face-to-face with another Golf travelling towards us.
What happened next was fairly comical. The woman driver politely started reversing down the lane and kept going, and going and going! But her trajectory wasn’t in a straight line – it was up one bank, back onto the road and then up the other bank. Not surprisingly, her Golf had the scars of previous reversing operations, probably down the same lane…
What she needed, of course, was our new, Mk VII Golf because it’s equipped with VW‘s optional touchscreen sat ‘nag’ system (£1,135) and rear view camera (£165). The 8-inch screen projects what is behind the car when you engage reverse gear, with track lines showing where the car is heading. I have to say, it does take some getting used to but for narrow Wiltshire lanes and Waitrose car park, it’s invaluable.
I’m still loving the Golf. The TDI is still returning 51.3mpg for everyday driving, which includes being pushed quite hard on A-roads and ‘sport’ mode being set on the gearbox. I can’t remember the last time I drove a car and achieved over 50mpg!