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First Class 2020 Barnsley Schools

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...
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...
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...
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...
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.


 ...
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...
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 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...
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...
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....
Hot Megane is worthy of its Trophy moniker
RENAULTSPORT, to me at least, represents just about the final word when it comes to hot hatch magnificence - no other performance arm has created cars like the ones they’ve done, time and time again.

Think back to the two versions of the crazy Clio V6, for example. They plucked a humble supermini from obscurity, pulled out its rear seats and shoehorned a 3.0-litre V6 where children once sat. If that doesn’t get you hooked...
503bhp Giulia bloodies German noses
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 host...
Entry-level F-Type impresses
THERE’S long been misconceptions attached to cars in the motoring world which, more often than not, have been formed by silly people who don’t really know what they’re talking about.

The Porsche Boxster, for example, is instantly dismissed and regarded as a ‘poor man’s 911’ which is utterly ludicrous when you hang on to that well-used riposte and analyse it. While normal people who have an ounce of sense know the Boxster is one of...
Fiesta ST is a modern-day hero
ONE of life’s simple pleasures is barrelling down a tricky stretch of road in a car that’s fizzing with feel, feedback and involvement. If you enjoy driving, little can beat the brilliance of doing such a thing in a well-sorted hot hatchback.

Key to the exercise is the car’s simplicity. Intrusive stability nannies are often dialled down or made redundant at the press of a button, there’s just about always a six-speed manual gearbox and...
Top marks for new A1
SEVERAL years ago I was given the keys to a 2015 Audi A1 for a week while my personal car was having a bit of work done. I must admit it: I went into it with pre-conceived ideas about what it was going to be like, given a family member has one and often waxed lyrical about just how great it was to drive.

Upon opening its door, I was greeted by plastics which wouldn’t...
i30 N stakes its claim for the hot hatch crown
I’VE regularly voiced my opinions on manufacturers’ seemingly unquenchable thirst for honing their latest, greatest performance car on 12-and-a-bit miles of German track nestled in the Eifel mountains.

There’s a similar routine: an email will ping into a journalist’s inbox from a hyper-active PR officer containing a car’s lap time around the fabled Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit, like that somehow means it’s better than everything else… even though the majority of us will never drive on...
Volvo continues its purple patch
IT’S been almost two years since I became a father for the first time and although it is an absolute joy, the life-changing moment has radically altered what I look for in a car.

If I cast my mind back to February 21 of last year - the day before my son arrived - my ideal car would have been manual, small, quick, communicative, have no electronic nannies and be petrol-powered. A simple hot hatch...
Throwback GT86 is something to be remembered
ASK a keen driver to tell you their ideal on-paper spec for a performance car and you can all but guarantee three things will appear before anything else: a naturally aspirated engine, a manual gearbox and rear-wheel-drive.

It’s a tried-and-tested recipe, one which has appeared on countless greats throughout the years, and unfortunately it’s something that’s all but extinct in today’s market as manufacturers ditch high-revving screamers in favour of smaller capacity engines with a...
New Evoque steals class-leading crown
IN my car-reviewing infancy I was somewhat narrow-minded in my approach to delivering a verdict - if the subject wasn’t something that intrigued me I often struggled to get excited about it.

While I still love driving cars which have a sorted chassis and a manual gearbox, in that time I’ve become a father and as every parent will know, your outlook on life changes dramatically at the flick of a switch. That also includes...
Middle-level F-Type is the sweet spot
PRETTY, isn’t it? Jaguar’s F-Type might have been around a few years now but it’s one of those cars you never fail to have a second look at when one elegantly prowls by. Whether you opt for the coupe or convertible, they just have a knack of looking right.

You absorb all of its intricacies: its wide front grille, the thin rear lights and the downright gorgeous side profile. It may have made its debut...
New Megane RS has predecessors' magic
I MUST let you in on a little secret: I’m a former owner of two of Renaultsport’s cars so I took delivery of the new Megane RS 280 with a significant amount of bias towards the brilliant French brand.

I was 21 when I bought a several-year-old Clio 182 Trophy, build number 490 of 500, and covered more than 40,000 miles over the following three years on its trick Sachs dampers. I replaced it with...