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Eighth-generation GTI is the perfect daily driver
There’s always a tiny bit of trepidation when an all-new version of a motoring icon is released.
Volkswagen’s indomitable Golf GTI is unquestionably royalty, formed over more than 40 years of providing pace, practicality and supreme quality.
Although there's been some low points during previous decades, the eighth-generation GTI looks, on paper at least, set to re-write past cars' wrongs.
To be fair, VW’s been on a role since the woeful mark...
MX-5 remains at its best
THROWBACKS to the motoring world of yesteryear are few and far between in strait-laced 2021 - with ever-tighter rules and restrictions, manufacturers are seemingly on a hiding to nothing when it comes to making simple cars.
That’s why Ferrari ditched its manual gearboxes and naturally aspirated engines - unthinkable a decade ago - and Lamborghini V10s and V12s will surely be a thing of the past in the coming years.
Every car -...
Pair top of their hybrid game...
LOVE it or loathe it, the government’s unquenchable thirst to reduce emissions is happening at a rapid pace and manufacturers are doing all they can to adhere to ever more stringent rules.
While bans on internal combustion engines are on the horizon, if you can’t be bothered with tedious plug-ins and want an economical, kind-to-the-environment car in the meantime, Lexus and its Toyota sister brand have the market pretty much covered.
Let’s start...
Fourth-generation Sorento the best yet
OVER the last few years I've driven pretty much everything in Kia’s range and I've been impressed by them all in their own way, but the Sorento four-by-four raises the bar to a whole new level.
Launched back in 2002 as the South Korean company's first SUV, the fourth-generation model is a marked move on design-wise from the pretty simply-styled third version.
Whereas the previous car would appear a little archaic - in...
All-electric Kia is a welcome surprise
YOU usually know what you’re going to get in the motoring world - surprises just don’t come along too often.
Volvos are supremely comfortable if a little beige-trousered, Audis have second-to-none interiors, Peugeots still have that irritating view ahead which blocks the speedo and Land Rovers will end up going wrong at some point.
However, on the rare occasion something does surprise, they instantly become memorable as they shatter any pre-conceived opinions which...
RS4 ticks every box
EVER find yourself prowling AutoTrader on the hunt for random cars? A strange thing to non-car-loving people but absolutely normal to us lot and an enjoyable way to pass time when your mind wanders from hot hatches to supercars, taking in everything else between as you piece together your dream multi-car garage.
I’ll go from searching for former cars - the much-missed 106 Rallye and 182 Trophy mainly - and rue the days I...
Type R Limited Edition builds on standard car's greatness
IF I picked the perfect ingredients for a countryside drive the car would - 100 times out of 100 - be a hot hatch. Their uncanny knack of fitting tight, twisty roads like a glove mean you’re not worrying about grazing an eye-wateringly expensive, low-slung carbon splitter and you can instead concentrate on why the car of choice was created: the thrill of driving something built for enthusiasts.
Of course the weather - particularly...
RX450h still impresses with clever tech
I’VE always struggled getting my head round people who opt for large SUVs instead of a better-driving estate but as my years advance, it really isn’t hard to see why they do.
I blame my little boy, Arthur. He’s almost three and extremely precious to me so I want him wrapped up in the tough, protective metal cocoon SUVs enable.
There are some good ones, and some not-so-good ones, but Lexus’ clever RX450h...
Little T-Cross hits high notes
REMEMBER a time when families only had the option of choosing between humble hatchbacks, a saloon or its estate version? The motoring world’s a very different place in 2020 and just about every manufacturer has branched out into the complex world of SUVs.
You’ve got large ones, middling ones and smaller ones - no matter what your budget is, there’s something for everyone. Take Volkswagen, for example. Whereas before you had the Golf and...
Range Rover Sport and Velar continue brand's purple patch
I BET I know what you’re thinking… something about footballers, right?
Range Rovers have always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with petrolheads as although there’s been supercharged original Sport models in the mid-noughties and current fire-breathing SVRs, they’ve always been a bit ‘footballer’. You’ll have seen countless Premier League stars being pictured in them, and no doubt their spouses turning up to a designer shop in one in some glossy magazine.
Time’s...
Grimethorpe tuning company's two creations to be raffled
As someone who’s always been an OEM-plus kind of bloke when it comes to cars, you’d perhaps think an assignment to drive two heavily modified superminis would fail to ignite my excitement.
My car modifying history is as follows: Supersprint, Milltek and KTEC exhausts on my S2 106 Rallye, Clio Trophy and Megane R26 respectively, and a nice remap on the latter to unlock a bit more power. That’s it.
When I look...
Saloon-shaped A3 is top notch
WHILE fast Audis have always divided opinion in recent years - chiefly because of their clinical Quattro four-wheel-drive systems - their ‘normal’ models have excelled in all departments.
That’s because the recipe for creating a good day-to-day vehicle is very different from doing one for a select group of enthusiasts. An emphasis on comfort appears, replacing hard-riding suspension set-ups, while outright performance is dismissed for fuel economy and government-friendly emissions.
As boring as...
C-HR steals Qashqai's class-leading crown
IF you’re not into cars, I can all but guarantee you’ll have seen a handsome-looking thing gliding around. Angled lines, extremely futuristic, albeit with a familiar Toyota badge on its front and rear.
It’s called the C-HR and it’s their crack at the competitive family SUV sector, which in recent years has been dominated by the good-but-dull Nissan Qashqai.
Based on the Prius platform and sharing its 1.8-litre hybrid engine in this test...
Top-drawer spec for enigmatic Cupra
IF I reel off some stand-out features on this car’s spec sheet, it’ll be sure to whet the appetite of every petrolhead. Here goes: Akrapovic exhaust made from titanium, Brembo brakes, carbon fibre wing mirrors, bucket seats, tuning from ABT, 345bhp, less than 100 models…
I could go on, but it all sounds incredibly appealing, doesn’t it? Add in a seven-speed DSG gearbox and four-wheel-drive and it translates into 60mph in under five seconds...
Class-leading Volvos shine in congested sectors
IT wasn’t too long ago I used to scoff at Volvos whilst going about my day-to-day business. I used to believe they were boring, bought by two types of people: sensible Simons in their big saloons on their way to their middle-management office jobs or middle-class, school-run mums who have a few quid but don’t want to appear too flashy amongst the Range Rover Sports and Audi Q7s outside the gates.
Don’t get me...
Quadrifoglio models turn Alfa's fortunes around
IF I think of guaranteed disappointments which have caused no end of misery in my life, I can recall three key players responsible for continuously plastering a forlorn-looking expression on my face.
Firstly, two football teams: Leeds United and England. My love of the former began when I was a seven-year-old but since the heady, albeit debt-ridden days of the Champions League, I’ve been knocked down more times than a journeyman boxer by a...
Type R remains an all-time great
STAND-OUT drives from years gone by can often be recalled as if they had happened yesterday. Each ingredient for that recipe has to be in place - the right road, car and weather conditions all play a huge role but if everything comes together, a perfect memory is formed and it’s something that will stay with you for a lifetime. You’ll remember it each and every time you return to that particular stretch of road.
...
Refreshed Captur appeals
IF I’d taken delivery of a Renault Captur three or four years ago, I’d have moaned about its family-friendly traits and probably come to the hasty conclusion - incorrect, I must now to add - that it was a boring creation that was about as appealing to me as watching daytime television.
Then fatherhood happened. The life-changing impact of having a child - a tiny bundle of joy who somehow requires more additional equipment on...
Seven-seat Tarraco impresses
IF I’d received a Seat Tarraco several years ago, I’d have scoffed at its family-friendly traits and probably come to the rapid conclusion - incorrect, I now hasten to add - that it was a boring creation that was about as appealing to me as watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
Then fatherhood happened. The life-changing impact of having a child - a tiny bundle of joy who somehow requires more additional equipment on mundane...
Rally-ready Raptor's character shines
IF I decided to write a list of my most-loathed features found in cars, it’d just save time to pick out Ford’s gigantic Ranger Raptor as a beacon of everything I hate. It weighs two-and-a-half tonnes, it’s got a ten-speed automatic gearbox which, if my memory serves me correctly, is more than my first bicycle, its interior is full of nasty plastics and it’s pretty abysmal to drive.
So why, then, do I absolutely adore...
CX-30 fits into small SUV segment
BADGE snobbery is rife within the car world and it often results in blinkered motorists staying true to typical premium brands. It’s why Audi’s hugely successful Q-badged cars, BMW’s uglier-but-popular X range and Mercedes-Benz’s extensive range of crossovers clog Britain’s roads.
But that small Q3-sized segment, so lucrative to manufacturers, hasn’t had much competition from Japan, a nation famed for producing cars that simply have more character than their European counterparts.
Mazda – renowned for...
New Golf better than ever
VOLKWAGEN’S Golf - thanks to its eight generations over almost 50 years - has always been the go-to choice for families from all backgrounds. Its can-do-all ethos, no matter what setting, has yielded a legion of fans who expect the best from VW’s most famous creation - space, comfort, a good drive and an everything-to-everyone character.
It’s an amazing feat when you think about its breadth of ability - the Golf is a car anyone...
RS5 is one of the great fast Audis
THE German-led battle in the world of family-friendly performance cars with supercar pace shows absolutely no signs of abating - and thank goodness it hasn’t.
For years we’ve been treated to many - BMW M3s, Audi RS4s and Mercedes C63 AMGs to name a few - but there’s always been a little gap in the market for those punters who just don’t really require as much space as an RS4-sized car affords them.
That’s where...
ES300h offers a different take on the German-dominated saloon sector
THINK of the highly competitive saloon sector and your mind automatically conjures up images of a BMW 5-Series, probably dawdling along, infuriatingly hogging a motorway’s middle lane.
The Germans have the market pretty much cornered in truth - Merc’s handsome new E-Class and Audi’s A6 are both worthy contenders to the BMW and, if anything, even eclipse that car.
However, Lexus isn’t a manufacturer known for treading the same path as its rivals and its...
New Focus ST comes of age
ONE of the motoring world’s simple pleasures is attacking a tricky stretch of countryside road in a car that’s brimming with steering feel and involvement.  If you enjoy driving and being an integral part of the process, little can beat the brilliance of doing such a thing in a hot hatch.
Key to the exercise, repeated countless times over the years, is the subject’s simplicity. Intrusive stability programmes are often dialled down or made redundant...
Ibiza FR remains the go-to choice
CAST your mind back to being a young motorist and, if you’re like me, you’ll remember two things: the sheer excitement at the prospect of owning your first performance car and then the crushing disappointment when the insurance quotes roll in.
The car of my youth was the Renaultsport Clio, available in various guises in mark two form, and I ended up spending the best part of £2,000 to insure a 182 Trophy aged 21....