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The rise and rise of the sensible car By Debbie Mountford @MotorMistress, #Blog #SpeakingSense

Motor Mistress Simon Car Spots Blog

 

 

 

 

Sensible Cars

So, it seems that we are becoming a nation of sensible car owners. Well, sensible-ish, anyway.

When I say sensible cars, I’m not talking about the sort of cars that get you from a-b; the sort that are boring to look at and boring to drive.

* SimonsCarSpots.com’s @Sf4d74 Sensible Car*

The “new” sensible car

I’m talking sensible as in practical. Economical. Good all-rounders.

Judging from sales figures, going down in favour at quite a rate are the traditional D-Sector family saloon cars – they are being replaced with compact MPVs, Superminis that can accommodate a football team, interesting family “Crossovers” and compact SUVs (the latter are often without a 4WD in sight). These sectors are now hotly contested by manufacturers and competition is fierce.

*Nearly all things to all Men (and Women)*

If a car doesn’t boast super-storage options, low emissions, a “useful shaped” (as well as decent sized) boot, a high drive height, good visibility and folding – and sometimes even sliding – seats, it just doesn’t cut the mustard.

In addition, the CO2 contest is well underway with many new cars aiming for around the 100g/km CO2 mark which helps when it comes to making savings on road tax, benefit in kind tax (if you are a company car driver) and London Congestion Charge exemption.

*Better than a 500 in a lot of ways. (and the 500’s a good car)*

Fuel economies have never been so frugal – some regular engines are doing more miles to the gallon than certain hybrids.

And in general, the trend for “budget brands” is growing. Even though depreciation may well hit them a little harder, it is a fact that the cheaper the car is, the less you often stand to lose.

*Buy a Perodua you know you wanna, another of @Sf4d74 Awesome Buys*

Consequences of the rise of the sensible car…

So, I ask you, is this good thing? Is this trend set to continue and if it does, how will it leave the fuel-thirsty sports car enthusiast? Will it become as politically incorrect to drive a totally impractical sports car? Will sports car enthusiasts be looked at in the same way as large SUV drivers and not let out of the traffic? How far can this movement go?

Yes, sometimes it can be seen that driving a hugely ostentatious car is an unnecessary display of wealth but to the person who is driving it, they do not see it in the same way. They work hard to afford it more often than not, so why not? Petrol-heads will always exist and that is that – if you feel the need for speed, then that is how it is.

On the other hand, snobbery from the large engine side of the fence is also rife. I have heard it said a few times that MPV drivers are people who have lost their motoring will to live; why not, if you need a practical family car, buy an estate car, for example?

I’ll tell you why. It is all getting back to my initial piece for http://simonscarspots.com (Vive La Difference) – everyone’s needs are different. If someone has a large people carrier then it is probably because they need one; if someone has a sports car then it is probably because they can.

Let’s not forget those amongst us who appreciate the rarer vehicles out there that are not as new –more “vintage” cars certainly aren’t likely to be very kind to the environment. Their sheer personalities make them still worthy of a place on our roads and I take my hat off to anyone who has the time, patience and indeed, money to keep one going.

Keeping motoring fun

So, getting back to the point in question: is the rise of the sensible car going to cause problems? Will people become so obsessed with practicality and economy that they could forget that cars can actually be fun?

Of course not. The more manufacturers raise the bar and give the buying public what they want, the better, in my opinion. The more money we can save on our everyday driving, the better. It will hopefully leave more money in the coffers to spend on our hobbies.

Families work so hard nowadays and let’s face it, if you are reading this, you are likely to be a car enthusiast (like me). So cars are our hobby. It sounds legitimate enough to me, anyway.

And anyway, there’s no reason that you can’t have a ridiculously fuel-thirsty and totally unpractical car for weekends – or for driving on the days when you fancy a blast.

So if – like many of us – you join the sensible car army, don’t stress about it. You haven’t become a traitor to your cause. You’re just helping out the wider cause which is to save money and get the best value possible from your everyday motoring.

*probably The best example of the sensible car on sale today*

Continue to do up and build cars in your garage; continue to snap some great car spots. Have fun with it all in your own time because sensible cars are here to stay.

*Offers Nearly Everything for Everyone*

And that’s definitely not a bad thing.

Debbie Mountford - Motor Mistress

 

 

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Dacia Logan MCV, Jaguar XFR-S & BMW 435i M Sport Driven at SMMT North 2013

Oliver Hammond motoring writer editor Keith Jones Petroleum Vitae blog & SimonsCarSpots contributor - SMMT Test Day North 2013 photo - entrance

Okay, there’s no Alpine Hill Route or High Speed Circuit to take the cars for a spin on, but SMMT’s smaller, regional Test Days are still amazingly good fun and a great chance to network with car manufacturers and fellow motoring scribes. I had four cars in mind to drive this year at Wetherby and managed to get behind the wheel of three of them. I’ll start with the tamest…

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Logan MCV Lauréate Tce 90

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  • Cheap, from only £6,995 in Access trim
  • The Lauréate model I drove today is priced at £11,150 inc. options
  • It came with metallic paint, alloy wheels and a 7” touchscreen multimedia system with Bluetooth and European maps
  • An estate car and a boxy one, at that – but don’t forget, boxy means practical!
  • I think it looks cute and kind of cool in a utilitarian way
  • Inside, durability is the ethos, with rather basic surfaces and controls
  • The large boot had a proper spare tyre underneath.
  • I didn’t find it particularly easy to find a comfortable driving
  • The electric window switches are located under the central stack
  • The touchscreen sat nav and multimedia system with Bluetooth are nice touches
  • Visibility was a strong point
  • The gear lever had a nice action to it and the gears ratios seemed well –judged
  • This 90bhp TCe 90 model has a 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol 898cc engine
  • The clutch required a lot of travel to find the bite
  • Its little petrol engine picked up pace relatively keenly when pushed hard through the five gears
  • Ride quality and handling were pretty good considering it’s basically an ‘A to B’ car
  • Wind noise on the motorway annoyed me
  • Dacia claim 56.5mpg for combined fuel economy
  • Boot capacity with the seats down is said to be 1,518 litres
  • Overall, I thought the Logan MCV acquitted itself quite well in all departments

Jaguar XFR-S

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  • In one word, amazing!
  • Has the same abundant power as the XKR-S i.e. a 5-litre V8 supercharged engine, 550PS, a 0-60mph time of 4.4 seconds and a limited top speed of 186mph
  • The XFR-S has 40PS more than the XFR saloon, without compromising on the green credentials
  • The cabin with blue piping and ‘R-S’ logos embossed on the seats felt special
  • Rear legroom and headroom were fine but the transmission tunnel means it’s better suited to two occupants than three.
  • It’s slightly quieter than the XKR-S coupe and felt wilder and less manageable, somehow more powerful and brutal than the coupe, with wheel spin and tail sliding more likely.
  • To drive it fast required sharp wits all the time, which can sometimes be a little tiring.
  • I’m not complaining, I’m just observing, and I still love this car to bits. The XFR-S is a wonderful, wonderful car – don’t get me wrong. I would just need to drive it several times, like I have the XKR-S, to form a rapport with it.

BMW 435i M Sport

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  • Technically replaces the 3 Series coupe but is pitched as a standalone, new model
  • The 4 Series is longer, wider and lower than the 3 Series and is styled conservatively in my view
  • I was instantly struck by the contemporary interior, perfectly engineered and tight in a precise way, with the dashboard angled towards the driver
  • Sitting in the back briefly, headroom was very good although legroom might be a slight issue for tall people sat behind a tall driver
  • The 435i’s 306bhp and a 400Nm of torque felt more than adequate for having a hoot, and the whole package continued to impress in every department.
  • The 2,979cc engine provided plenty of punch in a smooth, linear fashion and had a throaty exhaust note to match
  • It handled excellently, cornering at speed with ease and providing heaps of fun down twisty country lanes.
  • The Twin Scroll turbocharger and other technical wizardry incorporated by BMW certainly did provide torque on demand right the way through the rev’ range and made it a joy to drive.
  • The ratios of the 6-speed manual gearbox felt nicely calibrated and the brilliantly-tuned chassis is complemented by the ability to select a driving mode to suit, from ECO PRO to Sport+.
  • The throttle response was obviously reined in by ECO PRO mode, whereas Sport+ sharpened everything up quite noticeably.
  • 29.9mpg after pushing it hard, versus BMW’s official 35.8mpg figure, is pretty good in reality
  • The price tag of under £50,000 surprised me
  • Despite being more clinical than, say, a Jaguar, the BMW 435i M Sport did bring a smile to my face and I’d drive one again in a heartbeat

© Author: Oliver Hammond

 

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All-New Suzuki SX4 S-Cross SUV Crossover Launch

Location: Fawsley Hall, Northamptonshire
Date: September 4th 2013

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The Lowdown:

  • An all-new and very important model for Suzuki, who are trying to break into the lucrative crossover market
  • Primarily targeted at the Nissan Qashqai
  • Suzuki have traditionally sold to private, cash-paying buyers, but now want to focus on the leasing and Motability ‘fleet’ market, which nowadays accounts for around 40% of UK sales across the board
  • The SX4 S-Cross is claimed to tick all the boxes associated with successful SUVs, unlike any other comparative model (according to Suzuki)
  • It’s also pitched as being cheaper, roomier, just as well-equipped, more economical and greener.

The Models:

  • Petrol 1.6 or diesel 1.6, both with 120PS
  • All models fitted with a 6-speed manual gearbox but a CVT automatic transmission can be specified on the range-topping petrol model
  • Trims range from SZ3 and SZ4 through to SZ-T (with DAB radio, parking sensors and colour sat nav, aimed at the fleet market) and the top-of-the-range SZ5 with leather seats and a double sliding panoramic sunroof
  • The SZ-T and SZ5 models are available in either 2WD or 4WD with Suzuki’s new ALLGRIP system which comes with Auto, Lock, Snow and Sport modes
  • The fastest is the 1.6 petrol 2WD variant which hits 62mph in 11 seconds
  • The most economical on paper is the 1.6 DDiS diesel 2WD at 67.2mpg
  • Pricing starts at £14,999 for the petrol SZ3 in 2WD, upto £23,540 for the diesel SZ5 4WD ALLGRIP

[thethe-image-slider name=”Suzuki S-Cross 2″]

First Impressions:

  • Tame but nevertheless attractive design
  • No badge snobbery, so I like it even more
  • Roomy, comfortable, high quality interior, only let down by poor headroom in models with the panoramic sunroof
  • Practical boot with 12V socket and proper spare tyre
  • Loads of equipment in SZ5 models. My favourite is DAB radio. DRLs and HID headlamps also included
  • Petrol engine fine but I preferred the nippier diesel unit which proved quite good fun
  • The 6-speed gearbox can’t really be faulted and the ride and handling felt strong, too
  • Sport mode on 4WD models did sharpen things up
  • Should be reasonably good on poor surfaces owing to Suzuki’s track record in off-road vehicles

All in all, a very good car, based on my brief drives during today’s launch. My pick? The 1.6 diesel manual in 4WD ALLGRIP SZ5 trim.

Thanks once again to the Suzuki UK team for their hospitality.

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Ferrari RacingDays at Silverstone from Simon Ford

What does £20 get you now days, well you could buy a cheap watch from that well known catalogue store, A reasonable bottle of Whisky, or a meal for 3 at a fast food restaurant.

But what happens if you want something more exciting to do!, well this is where the Ferrari Racing days at Silverstone comes in, because if you booked early you could get a whole 2 days of watching Ferraris racing, and a Guiness world record attempt for the most Ferraris in a single gathering all for £20.

So Luckily Simonscarspots.com got invited to attend to give you the lowdown on what was happening over the weekend,

We arrived early on the friday to collect our media passes next to the welcome centre, to be greeted by the new Ferrari FF.

After Parking up and getting a free bus to where all the fun was happening, we walked into the Paddock to be greated with…well not much really! we were so early that there were only a few Lorrys and a couple of the latest Ferrari models up against the far fence.

After getting a Coffee, and looking around for a little while, we decided to try and look around, then thats when we spotted the sign that said PIT ACCESS, so we asked the security guard if we could go through, and luckily he replied “Media yes” and opened the door and let us through, which was a Bonus because we really didn’t know  if We could get pitside or not, (and neither did the guard turns out we wasn’t ) and this turned out to be our highlight for friday as nothing much was happening any where else.

So as we went through those doors thats when we heard the roars of the Ferrari ‘s warming up and driving past us, here’s a selection of pictures from our pitside adventure.

458 on track

458 Pitlane

Teams working Trackside

458 Pitlane

Team Pits

Working Pitlane

458 Pitlane

458 Pitlane

 

After our little pit adventure, We headed back to the paddock to see if any more cars had turned up or if anything else was happening.

we saw a couple of 599GTO’s and a 575M but our best highlight apart from the pits on the Friday was this F40.

F40

F40

F40

We also saw someone being interviewed by Someone, but seeing as we didn’t know who they were!.. we took a photo any way!

Before we left for the day we had a photo opp with the awesome Ferrari 599 XX which in the flesh looks so much better than any pic you’ve probably seen on the net.

Ferrari 599XX

Ferrari 599XX

Ferrari 599XX

Moving away from the 599XX we heard the noise that will stay with you forever, yep it was the noise of the Ferrari XX  racing around the track getting some practice in, so we headed over to see if we could get pitside to take pics, only to be refused because Media passes didn’t cover pitside, (very good security) so we rushed to where we realised we’d be on saturday..

Team Ukraine

 

 

Ferrari XX

Ferrari XX

My overall view of friday was…It was ok!, not much happening but some fantastic noises, and if it wasn’t for getting pit access we would have left earlier, but it’s not all bad news as it wasn’t an official public day.

NOW Saturday was a completley different day totally, as soon as we got off the bus, you could feel the excitement and the atmosphere straight away.

The crowds were alive and buzzing and very plentiful..But instead of joining in straight away I went to the media centre for a cup of coffee, which turned out to be a great move as the wonderful Vicki Butler-Henderson was there, I hardly recognised her at first as she was in a DRESS, and not her normal jeans,

Vicki Butler-Henderson

My next port of call was to ring the mighty ‘Perfection Valet’s’ Richard Tipper, who’s team were in charge of  looking after the latest Ferrari’s in the showroom in hall 2.

Richard and his Team were doing a fantastic job getting fingerprints off the Gleaming Ferrari’s left by the stray kids, Richard (probably the nicest person you’ll ever meet).

Richard Tipper and Simon Ford

 

After leaving Hall 2 We went outside to go and explore further on what the Ferrari RacingDays had to offer, we also felt a little hungry but luckily we had some Ukrainian Crumpet nearby

Ukrainian Crumpet

After the Crumpets, thats when we saw it!..a sea of Ferrari’s in the paddock opposite the main entrance ….Ferrari’s as far as the eye could see, so we went to investigate.

In this paddock was where the Guinness world record cars were waiting for their attempt later on in the day, in the meantime you  were free to go and have a look around and mingle with them, so thats what we did.

A sea of Ferrari's

Ferrari 599TC

Ferrari F430

512 BB

 

Dino Gt4

 

612 Scaglietti

575m Roadster

Although these cars are great in their own right these were just a taster of the main acts, despite all the modern and classic Ferrari’s on display this 1953 Type 166 Mille Miglia with an alloy Barchetta Body designed by Vignale stole the show for me, it’s been in the same continious ownership since 1960.

Right lets get onto the cars you’ve been waiting for ,,,yep the F40’s and Enzos

Enzo's and F40's

 

Enzo

 

Enzo

 

Rare Black Enzo

Enzo

and a Ferrari 458 Evo

458 Evo

As time was gettin on it was nearly time for the Ferrari Guinness world record attempt, so We headed back to the paddock.

There was a very special guest who was going to lead the Parade, and that man was Ferrari’s current Formula One driver Felippe Massa,

The crowds were going crazy when Felippe arrived, security was quite tight as he signed a few programmes, whilst being interviewed by film and camera crews, squabbling to get his interview and pictures  from the paddock to the pits.

Luckily Simonscarspots  managed to get into the pits to watch Felippe congratulate each of the Ferrari teams taking part in todays Ferrari Event.

Media Frenzy

Felippe Massa

We had about 20 minutes before Ferrari’s Guinness world record attempt begun, so as we were in the pits again, we thought it would be rude not to go round and take a few more pics that we wouldn’t normally get access to,

Ferrari XX HAVING A REST

599 XX

F1 having a rest

 

F40 being worked on

Pitlane Views

Pitlane people

 

458 having a rest

599 XX on stilts

XX

It was time for Ferrari’s Guinness world record attempt to begin, so I took my position in one of the far away grandstands where I lined up with Giedre Sarkunaite female photographer massive petrolhead and regular contributer to www.Simonscarspots.com to see as many Ferrari’s lined up as possible, with each individual person and car waiting to be part of this monumentous event a part of history to get into the world record books, telling their grandkids for years to come,,saying “I was involved in that record”.

Ready for the off

a little glimpse of the enormity of the event

The event started everyone sounded their horns with the excitement of taken part, others revved their engines giving off the glorious sounds of those Ferrari engines, with hundreds taking place it was immense! with the noise reverberating throughout Silverstone, moving away slowly at first, some competitors leaning out of their cars filming every metre, every car capturing their moment of taking part,

Getting a story for the Grandkids

Five minutes into the Ferrai Racingdays occasion we had our first casuality, a Mondial who took a bend quite fast then just decided to break down,

Broken down Mondial

with the Yellow flag out to let the other drivers know about the breakdown, it spoilt no ones fun, they just stared as they went by, a bit like Ambulance watching,

The event was fun to watch, loud and every participant enjoyed every single moment of driving their Ferrari’s around Silverstones track, albeit quite slowly.

The event ended and Ferrari had set a new Guinness world record for the most Ferrari’s at a single event, with 964, a bit less than the 1000 anticipated, + the Mondial that broke that would have been 965… but a record none the less, so a big Congratulations to Ferrari for their record from www.simoncarspots.com

Overall it was a fantastic day out for everyone who went or was involved!, you won’t get a better event for £20 anywhere, so if you can go! please go you won’t regret it!, even if you don’t like motor racing, the atmosphere was Lively, buzzing and friendly… the food and drinks from the vans are quite expensive but thats events for you, and it really is a great day out for everyone.

 

www.simonscarspots.com would like to thank Jason Harris and Ferrari North Europe for a great weekend out

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