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GOODWOOD Festival Of Speed 2015 (over 200 pics) #GoodwoodFOS

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Welcome to our new Guest Blogger Debbie Mountford @MotorMistress

Say hello to new blogging blood here at SimonsCarspots!

We thought it’s about time that we started doing a blog here at, alongside our regular car spot photos and the car reviews and events coverage we also publish.

But not any old blog. We wanted to do something a little bit different from the norm. The only thing is, Oliver and I have hectic lives and we’re busy enough as it is. So what could we do?

We came up with an easier solution and roped in the help of an additional professional petrol-head writer, someone who encapsulates everything we do at SimonsCarSpots – which is generally not too much of the norm’.

As you may or may not know I (Simon) like the weird and wonderful underdogs of the motoring world and Olly likes big French cruisers, SUVs, V8s and luxury barges. This particular quandary led me to one person in particular that likes all things cars, isn’t a badge snob, and can write really well.

I’d like to introduce & welcome to Debbie Mountford AKA Miss MotorMistress. With over 20 years writing and car lease experience and more Twitter handles than you can shake a stick at, Debbie is a rising force in the motor industry blogging world. If you follow Autobuddy, AllVehicleContracts, VehicleLeasingAdvice, MyCarGossip, CompassLeasing and just about anyone from CAP (to name but a few), you will already be familiar with Debbie’s work.

So, in conclusion, here’s a very warm welcome from us all at and I now hand you over to Debbie. Enjoy her first post for us here!


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.


MG6 GT DTi-TECH SE diesel road test review by Oliver Hammond

Take one diesel engine developed by Chinese company SAIC, combine with a healthy dose of Brummy design, mix with a completely new chassis and garnish with an iconic badge. The result? A new MG6 diesel. Yes, at last, the new MG6 can attempt to target the fleet market now that the range includes a diesel powerplant. It’s fair to say you’ve probably not seen many new MG6s on the roads yet, but it’s a landmark model for MG, having risen from the ashes. What did I make of it, after its curtain-twitching arrival on the back of a truck?

MG6 GT DTi-TECH SE road test review by Oliver Hammond - photo - front 2


Manufacturers’ press packs and websites often spout off reams of fancy design terminology to describe every inch of their new models, some firms even delving into philosophy, harmony with nature and a synergy with animals and the human body. The MG6 diesel press pack does no such thing. What we do know is that the MG6’s design seeks to continue the brand’s sporty focus – and that the MG6 was designed by a bloke called Tony, at the MG European Design Centre in Birmingham.

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I can’t deny it – the MG6 does look sporty, especially in Regal Red and with its turbine-esque alloy wheels. Although some may say it looks a bit cheerful, I quite like the design of the MG6’s face, with its purposeful stance, athletic lines and large lower grille. The side profile is decent enough, too, looking nicely proportioned, squat and purposeful. I’m not completely struck on the rear, but it does blend in well with the rest of the car. Perhaps the frosted light clusters make it look a little cheap and the rear window looks too small from dead-on. I wouldn’t advise you to poke around the car’s exterior too closely, as I was slightly taken aback by the poor panel gaps and fit and finish in places. But generally speaking, the new MG6 ‘fastback’ GT model is an attractive-enough family car, definitely not classy enough to punch outside its weight category, but offering an interesting alternative to MG’s main rivals the Skoda Rapid and Octavia, and also the Ford Focus segment the MG6 also straddles. Considering this is the first new MG for aeons, they could have Continue Reading →


2013 Mazda6 2.2d diesel manual 175PS Sport Nav Saloon road test review by Oliver Hammond

An all-new Mazda6 saloon isn’t the kind of news that gets everyone excited, but being a saloon lover I for one was really eager to spend a week with one after the very positive reaction it received around its very recent launch. The ‘large family’ and ‘compact executive’ car sectors are rammed full of quite viable choices, so it would be very interesting to see what impression the new ‘6’ made on me. Soon after it arrived, it was clear Sade would approve. Read on to find out what I’m out about and learn how Mazda really is boxing clever at the cutting edge these days.

2013 Mazda6 2-2 diesel Sport Nav 175PS manual saloon road test review by Oliver Hammond Simons Car Spots - photo side Princes


I’ve always believed that the best-looking cars are the ones which look like they’re moving, even when they’re stationary. Mazda think the same thing and this is partly what their ‘KODO’ design philosophy is all about. I guess the guy from Mazda is right when he passionately talks about animals (and in particular, racehorses), athletes, body lines which depict ‘leaping’, and strong hip muscles. The new Mazda6 does indeed look dynamic, athletic and sculpted – and I absolutely love it. It looks splendid from all angles but my personal favourites are the coupe-esque side profile with its sloping roofline down to the boot, and the front-three-quarters, with its bulging, purposeful wheel arches and chrome-accented grille, flanked with attractive LED daytime running lights.

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The Mazda6 is classed as a large family car and in my view it therefore has the best styling in its class. Rivals such as the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia, Skoda Superb and Volkswagen Passat look far less exciting. With striking looks like these, the Mazda6 is capable of poaching a few sales from the executive saloon market and one of the biggest compliments I can pay it is that it Continue Reading →


Some Cars, Some Rudeness, and Sunshine, it’s the 2013 #SMMT day

Date May 2nd 2013, Time 07.50.  I arrive at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire for perhaps the Biggest party ever for the Motor Industry Professionals, Bloggers, and Car People lucky enough to have received an invite from the SMMT or Society of Motor Manufactures & Traders if you don’t like acronyms.

After a Safety Briefing and Industry talk from Mike Baunton (everything’s rosy by the way and getting better) it was time to head out and drive all the Cars on your to do list.

Everyone went straight to Mclaren who were making there first appearance at the SMMT day, the queue was as big as lidl at chucking out time, and my plan of action was something completely different, I would go to my pre booked appointment with Volvo then play it by ear and choose wisely and the most appealing to 60,000 a month audience members,and give you an honest opinion of their best and worst features.

My 1st stop was Volvo to my pre-booked appointment on the new V60 Hybrid

Now this is Volvo new Plug-in Hybrid with a 215bhp Diesel engine and a 70bhp electric motor and 4 wheel drive

The figures speak for themselves

Top speed 143,  0-60 5.8 seconds, Tax band A, spitting out a measly 48 co2 g/km which is very Impressive, and thats even more impressive when you think it’s powered by Diesel and Electricity.

Interior wise It’s a great place to be, very good seats as standard, and a limited edition designed Interior just for the V60 Hybrid.

On the road the Volvo V60 Hybrid can be selected to drive on Electricity for a range of 31 miles producing 50 kWh 70bhp & 200nm Torque, but the button I was interested in was The POWER button, this combines the 215bhp diesel engine and the 70bhp Electric motor which in turn, makes the V60 a True sleeper car.

On the Millbrook high speed bowl, the acceleration was Instantaneously available the Noise was sporty but a little to muffled for my liking, 100mph came up very quickly indeed and on the twisty Hill route the V60 was very sure footed through the bends, stable, agile and great fun.

The V60 Hybrid is entitled to the PICG subsidy of £5000 which makes the price £48,775.00 and 1st impressions would seem a little steep to some people but we have to remember Volvo Really have come up with an Industry Game changer

Simonscarspot Rating 8/10

Next up I tried the Volvo V40 T5 R-Design

Volvo’s Answer to the Bmw 1M and the Audi S3

Here’s the thing with Volvo, They’ve always been Marketed as a premium product It was always above Ford and Vauxhall but not as popular as Bmw and Audi, which is a good thing because while Ze Germans have been attracting a name for making fast cars, they’ve also attracted what TopGear call the Cocks car of choice, the one where a certain type of person buys to show off and basically drive like a cock, while in the Meantime Volvo have been lurking in the shadows perfecting a great car that’s fast, fun, safe, and doesn’t make you look or drive like a cock.

The V40 T5 R-Design  costs from £31,390, has 254bhp and does 155mph  and really is good, and definitely better than the Bmw or Audi offerings.

SimonsCarSpots Rating 7.5/10

Next up is the Mini Cooper S Paceman

This Mini is the first Mini I’ve driven since 2009,

It’s Aimed at the trendy city types who only need 2 doors and pick up rear passengers occasionally..

The interior is a mixed bag, it has some funky touches like the speedo and main dial, but then it has some very strange touches like the flying saucer key fob that you slot into the start hole and press THE smallest Start button in the world.

On the road I’m sorry to report that when I drove the Paceman at speed on Millbrooks High speed bowl and Hill route the Paceman felt very Twitchy, it felt like I was having to fight with every movement of the steering wheel to stay in control, and the hard suspension set-up didn’t help things either.

Priced around £24,000 the Paceman Looks Funky for the people it’s aimed at, but just doesn’t deliver for those that actually like to drive.

SimonsCarSpots Rating 3/10

AlfaRomeo Guiletta 1.4 Tb MultiAir 170bhp

AlfaRomeo used to make some Mad Cars in their good old Glory days, the 147 GTA, the 145 2.0 twinspark, but have been loosing their way and have been limited to just two remaining models – The Mito and the Guiletta, and when I was asked which one I’d like to drive, my response was “The Fastest one please”

Now a 1.4 litre engine doesn’t sound a lot, but when it has 170 bhp a 0-60 time of 7.7 seconds and a six speed clutch that can only mean one thing ‘Fun’,

Gone are the days of the Dubious Build Quality and the Mechanical Reliability of yesteryear! – since 2005 AlfaRomeo have been addressing these problems and although their reputation had been damaged, they persevered and have finally got their act together and produced Their best car to date!, out of the cars I drove that cost around £24,000 the AlfaRomeo Guiletta was the best of the bunch, it was surprisingly Fast around the High speed bowl, and very very Agile and communicative around the Hill course, whilst leaving a slight rawness to the handling, I threw it around the bends but nothing seemed to unsettle the mid size Alfa. In my opinion it even beats the Mighty Seat Leon for Handling.

My only concern on living with the Guiletta on a daily basis would be down to one thing, and one thing only!, and thats the Shiney Dash!, it’s a bit of a dust collector with all the shiney surfaces.

Priced from £23,155 a very good drive but needs to be cheaper to sell more!

SimonsCarSpots Rating 6/10

Fiat Panda 4×4

Fiat Panda 4×4 1.3 multiJet with it’s tried and tested 75bhp engine, with it’s tough little Dinky toy looks and it’s go anywhere attitude (It can as I took it up Millbrooks offorad course and it was so Amazingly good I took it round twice)

At £14,995 (approx) The Fiat Panda 4×4 isn’t exactly cheap for a small car, but it’s a 4×4 that you can take anywhere, it’s cooler than a Suzuki Jimny, and good fun.

SimonsCarSpots Rating 5/10

Bentley Gt v8

There are some Alright cars! some Good cars!, then there are some Great Cars! and This Bentley Gt v8 is one of them, (plus the fact that the Bentley Pr guy gave me the most unexpected compliment of the day ‘just checking, are you over 25?’ Me ‘yep I’m 39′ made my day)

Last year I drove the Bentley FlyingSpur and whinged that it was a bit overRated! More VAG group then Bentley, It’s really not the case with the Bentley Gt v8 with it’s machined aluminium facia, to it’s sumptious Diamond patterned leather seats, everything just shouts ‘Special’

On the road the Bentley Gt v8 is amazing! – handling that belies it’s size! –  and a noise from the engine that is truly in it’s own class. and every conceivable extra you could think off, one for the wish list.

SimonsCarSpot Rating 9/10

Rollsroyce ghost

Now If the Bentley GT v8 shouts Special!, then the RollsRoyce Ghost shouts out Sublime,

From the Moment you open the Doors to a Rolls you know you’ve arrived!, – (Now that should be their Company Slogan,) your just in awe of everything before you even sit down in the Ghost real wood Hand made, hand laid by a master craftsman, Real Leather Trimmed from the best cow hide available, the seats incorporating real Hungarian Goose down, and the deep Wilton Carpets that are so deep and sumptuous that they double up as a Duvet for your feet.

On the road everything in the RollsRoyce Ghost is Whisper quiet and as it should be, Refined and statesman like, But then at £280,000 it should do!.

Also the Ghost doesn’t feel as unwieldy or as cumbersome as it’s size suggest chucking the little Roller around Millbrooks Hill course was fun, and the Digital speedo in the Windscreen was brilliant, (it was so clear that I kept trying to touch it) and the Spirit of Ecstasy on the front of the Ghost would  always serve to remind the owner they have definitely made it in life despite being the being the baby of the (RollsRoyce) Manor.

SimonsCarSpots Rating 9.5/10

Seat Leon FR 2.0 TDI 150 ps


What Can I say about the New Seat Leon thats not already been said before!

Well how about ‘This is V.A.G’s best offering to date,’

It Handles Sublimely! with it’s well sorted chassis,  It feels like it has more than 150 bhp, and for under £24,000 it’s joint 1st in it’s class, shared with the AlfaRomeo Guiletta as the most underrated fun you can own thats not a main manufacture list.

WellDone Seat

SimonsCarSpots Rating 6.15/10

Porsche Cayenne S diesel

Whats got 108 buttons, costs £71,000 and has a Twin-Turbo V6 Diesel engine?

Good to drive, Good Handling, Not a Bad price for this category of car but let down by having way too many buttons on the dash to fettle with,

SimonsCarSpots Rating 5/10

Jaguar F-type S

Jaguars World Car of the year, and it’s easy to see why,

Aimed at being the replacement to the original E-Type the designers have really pulled out the stops in creating what is Jaguars modern day Masterpiece, Completely fresh from the ground up, and a new interior that uses LCD’S behind Contemporary Toggle switches,

The Rumble from the engine on start up comes in 3 noise levels, Normal, Sport, & Orgasm,  driving the F-Type and everything just falls to hand easily the Handlings amazing the noise is immense, and the price is probably the bargain of the century for this type of car £67,500

SimonsCarSpot Rating 8/10

My Last car of the day but by no means least as this turned out to be my UnderRated star of SMMT

Nissan Juke Nismo

£20,000 for a Nissan Juke? I hear you Shouting!,,, Are you Mad? I hear you cry!,

Well the answer to your questions are Yes it’s just short at £19,995, and No!, I’m not mad this really was the underRated star of the SMMT day, for you see this Nissan Juke has not only been Breathed on by the boys at Nismo! –  this Juke has been swallowed, Gargled, & spat out again by said boys at Nissan –  But why did SimonsCarSpots decide to make it his UnderRated car of the Smmt

well Packing a 197bhp 1.6 litre turbo charged engine, it drove fantastically around the Millbrook high speed bowl, The acceleration was Rapid, the driving position was spot on, and moving to the Hill course The Nissan Juke Nismo powered up the hills without a problem, the CVT gearbox was brilliant, being of an slightly older design than the double clutch flappy paddle type, a Cvt allows you to wring every ounce of power and changes when the driver selects to change up rather than the Gearbox automatically selecting 300 rpm’s sooner than you wanted to, plus at Millbrook it felt the most composed yet complete car for less than £25,000

Welldone Nissan

SimonsCarSpots Rating 6.3 – 10

UnderRated Car of the SMMT 10 – 10


Oliver Hammond at SMMT Test Day 2013

Waking up on what would be my second SMMT Test Day down at the iconic and really rather surreal and wonderful Millbrook Proving Ground (the place Fifth Gear and Top Gear often use) in Bedfordshire, I was just as excited as I was the first time around. How could one not be? SMMT Test Day is the main annual opportunity to catch up with and introduce oneself to most car manufacturers, drive some of their splendid vehicles of all shapes and sizes, catch up with fellow blogger friends and journalists and of course to experience SMMT and Newspress’ delightful hospitality.

SMMT Test Day 2013 Millbrook Proving - Oliver Hammond Simons Car Spots MyCarCoach review writeup photos -Yelloy Alpine Course

My First Impressions Writeup Review & Photo Gallery – SMMT 2013

Last year, a quite admirable Peugeot 3008 was our transport down to Millbrook. This year? A brilliant Mazda6. My guest this year? Mrs Vel Satis – or Izzy, as she’s really called! She’s my primary press car photographer, by the way. After a bit of a duff start to the year weather-wise, SMMT and Newspress had once again managed to pull a few strings and bring out glorious sunshine. Nice one, guys. It was excellent to see some lovely classics there today too, including Jensen Interceptor, a Datsun 240Z, Firenza HP ‘Droopsnoot’ and a Vauxhall 30-98. McLaren and Rolls Royce were also there this year, but I didn’t get a chance to sample their delights. Hopefully next time…

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This year, the plan wasn’t to drive as many cars as possible, but to prioritise thanking, catching up with and introducing myself and the SimonsCarSpots website to various manufacturers, and focusing on the handful of cars I had circled on the provided list. It was great to meet new bloggers of all ages for the first time, as well as established bloggers, seasoned journalists and motoring photographers. The constant supply of drinks and cakes, the lovely lunch and the goodies provided by several manufacturers were very much appreciated – not that I actually managed to sample any of SEAT’s sweets, Skoda’s popcorn, Newspress’ chocolate or Citroen’s apparently delicious crepes, as I was too busy yacking, driving and scribbling. Anyway, let’s cut to the chase, as I know you all really want to know what cars we drove today! And we won’t waffle on about their mechanical minutiae as we only got 15 minutes or so behind the wheel of each. So here’s our snappy, realistic ‘first impressions flavour’ overview of all the metal we tested.

S7 4.0 TFSI quattro (420PS) S tronic @ £71,045

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Hands up, yes, I have sometimes referred to recent Audi models as being rather homogenised, it proving tricky at a glance to differentiate an A4, A5 saloon, A6 or A8 from each other. I’ve always yearned after an A7, though, owing to its subtly different styling and exclusivity. After three laps round the yellow Alpine Hill Route and a couple of blasts round the red high speed ‘bowl’, what was our verdict?

  • Excellent interior which felt extremely solid, with quilted sports seats and plenty of space
  • Just the right amount of buttons, Audi’s MMI was pretty simple to master the basics and the flip-out screen is pretty cool
  • In my view the A7 is the best-looking Audi ‘saloon’ of the moment, although I know it’s really a 4-door coupe Mercedes CLS and BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe rival
  • Nicely aggressive exterior with beautiful curves and a subtly attractive ‘behind’ with sexy light clusters
  • The first car we drove today, but the handling was superb. The chassis felt great, steering was precise and it was fast enough. The official 0-62mph figure of 4.7 seconds is believable and the 7-speed S tronic direct-shift transmission got it there smoothly
  • Surprisingly for an ‘S’ model, there was no Continue Reading →

Suzuki Jimny 1.3 SZ4 road test review by Oliver Hammond

Good grief – the last Suzuki Jimny experience I had was of the soft-top one we hired in Crete a few years ago! That brings back memories, including quite a few hair-raising moments on the country’s abundance of twisty and rocky country roads. Oh, and the beaches. Anyway, back to the point and here we have it, a facelifted Suzuki Jimny. No, you’re not the only one who thinks the Jimny has effectively remained unchanged for what feels like decades. But does it still carve any kind of place for itself in 2013?

2013 Suzuki Jimny 1-3 SZ4 road test review by Oliver Hammond SimonsCarSpots MyCarCoach Car Finder - photo front 34


It’s the most compact 4×4 ‘SUV’ – if you can call it that – on the market and yes, the Jimny hasn’t changed much at all over the decades it’s been knocking around. The Jimny genealogy goes back all the way to 1968 but it was in 1997 when the version familiar to almost everyone was introduced.

Hire Rental Suzuki Jimny Crete Greece

So what’s new now we’re in 2013? The Jimny’s lovable, cheery and characterful face has been mildly tweaked, with a groovy central air intake on the bonnet, a new grille and fog lights, plus alloy wheels. Yup, sorry to disappoint, but that really is about it as far as any styling updates on the outside. One day, I saw no less than eight Jimnys drive past me within 5 miles of leaving the house, so the Jimny’s army of cult followers are apparently still happy with its tried and tested styling.

[thethe-image-slider name=”Jimny 1″]

Taking it at face value, the Jimny does look quite cool, with its chunky wheels, rugged, contrasting bumpers, square silhouette and dinky little, round, beaming headlights, with the very basic, squat rear styling, side-hinged boot and spare tyre on the back giving it a mini-macho image. It would be great to see an all-new Jimny at some point in the near future – but for now, it seems Continue Reading →


Mercedes Media Test Day from Simon Ford @Sf4d74, #Mercedes #Amg #Brabus

The Date was friday the 1st of March,

The start time was set for 8.30 am to drive all of the Mercedes range including The Brilliant Amg and one Brabus product!.

So what did I do?.. Well as I’d never been to MercedesBenz world in Surrey before, and I had to drive on the dreaded M25!,  I set my alarm for 4:45 am, left to depart my 69 mile journey at 5:40 and arrived at MercedesBenz world at 6:50, to see all of splendour that Mercedes has to offer all lined up in two rows perfectly in their bays.

Also being an hour early meant I had the perfect opportuniy to get a few snaps before the Crowds arrived.

Dead on 8 o’clock the Doors opened, I introduced myself to the Mercedes Benz PR Team, then I was lead in the direction of the sweet smelling bacon sandwiches and told to help myself…So I did!.

After refreshments and finding out I was the first to arrive I went to get my first car which was the:

Mercedes CLS AMG Shooting Brake

I fired up the 6.3 litre Amg tuned engine, and was in awe of the sound it made when being revved up, the noise was like every cliche you’ve ever heard or read about! which instantly brought a massive smile to my face.

Now!, this is where it all goes a little bit sour.

In all honesty I couldn’t give the MercedesBens Cls Amg Shooting Brake a fair review!

Not because it’s a bad car!, but because 8.30am in Worthing the roads were filled with heavy rush hour traffic, I was stuck in it and managed an average speed of 5mph, I couldn’t utilise the 6.3 litre engine or test the optional £9,300 Carbon ceramic brakes,

Standard price for the Cls Amg Shooting Brake was £83,055 and the test car I drove was over £100,000 …(Sorry Mercedes maybe I’ll get longer next time)

My next Cars were Two Smart Cars,, one I really liked, and one that I didn’t like!..Read on to find out more,

Smart Fourtwo Cabrio 98 Brabus Exclusive + Smart FourTwo Electric drive coupe 55

Heres two cars from the Smart range where the comparisons end up on the opposite end of the scales,

One was Fun, Nippy, Great drive with fantastic acclereration and power delivery & Very well priced!

The other was Leather Clad felt slow in comparison, twitchy at speed, slow gear change,and costs nearly £500 more!

Yep thats right! the winner was the Smart FourTwo Electric drive coupe 55, It really was great fun, puts a smile on your face, has fantastic accleration, a high driving position, feels bigger than it actually is, and is fantastic value for an Electric car at £15,395.00,  even equipped with the options fitted to the test car which totalled £17,555.00 beats the Mitsubishi i-mev hands down,

The only thing I think could improve the Smart FourTwo Electric drive would be to drop the Flappy paddle gear stalk, because only having one speed it really doesn’t need to be there,

Incidentally if you’d prefer the Brabus option, it costs £16,750 and with the test cars options fitted comes in at £17,930

Citan 109 cdi Traveliner

Hands up if you remember the Mercedes Vaneo, based on the first generation A-class built with input from Mercedes Van division….well this is the new version of the Vaneo in my eyes,

The Citan (pronounced Si-tan) comes in 3 forms Panel van, Dual-Liner, and finally as tested here Travel-Liner.

The Travel-liner has 5 seats, two sliding doors, lots of storage space and very little in the way of blind spots, using a 1.5 litre diesel engine with 109hp it pulls very eagerly has very little body roll for a car of this class, the interior is very well made, has lots of storage and boot space, and seats 5 passengers in very good comfort,

I’ve always liked cars from the family work type vehicles with a rough and ready feel, like the Citroen Berlingo, Renault Kangoo and the Fiat Doblo, because they do anything and everything you could ask for without being presumptious in the way they look and work.

Mercedes have produced a NEW Class leader with their new Citan and also it’s a lot cheaper than you think, at £15,885 it’s also a cheap way to get a mercedes on your drive.

Well done Mercedes, (I’d love to live with one for longer though)

My last car for the MercedesBenz Experience was something a little bit special (in other words I took more photos of it)

MercedesBenz Ml 63 Amg

Now that RangeRover have softened up their new RangeRover for the masses, whats left in the old fashioned 4×4 world that still puts a smile on your face, offers blistering performance, overwhelming supreme luxury, yet remains civilised untill you stamp your foot on the accelerator, gives you a Raw unadulterated drive, and has 200mph on the speedo?.

Thats where the Ml 63 Amg comes in, it does all of this and more, on start up with a little blip of the throttle you know you have something special under the bonnet in the form of a 6.3 litre Amg tuned engine, by the way the car rocks slightly from side to side showing off it’s power.


Inside the Interior and equipment levels are everything more than expected in fit and finish, if your not satisfied with that, there is an extensive options list ready and waiting for you the Ml 63 costs £83,620,00 my test car with options costs £103,090,00 .

Driving wise the Ml 63 really is civilised at low city driving speeds.

Smooth, Comfortable, Refined,

Stick your foot down though and the Mercedes Ml63 is a totally different animal!

Loud, Growling, Throaty, Rawness, these are just a few of the words that sum up but don’t half describe the feelings or sensations of this car…. ASTOUNDING! is the word I’d use, it does everything a RangeRover does on road but missing the Rawness the new Rangie once had.

The Ml 63 Amg isn’t cheap, but then again not many 4×4′ s can reach a claimed 174 mph (in conjunction with AMG performance pack £6,165,00)

Overall an exceptionally accomplished car!!

A big thanks to the MercedesBenz Uk PR team for a great day ( I look forward to testing more in the future)


2012 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 3.2 diesel automatic road test review by Oliver Hammond

Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love haute cuisine, umpteen-course taster menus and the like. But I’m equally at home with a good old, honest, supersized burger and chunky fries. In fact, I’m often a teeny bit envious of the guy who presents the TV show ‘Man vs Food’. In my case, ‘All things big or beautiful’ are the order of the day. Cue the 2012 model Ford Ranger. It’s certainly big. But is it any good?

2012 Ford Ranger Wildtrak 3-2 diesel automatic road test review by Oliver Hammond photo - front Ridge Hill 1


The new, 2012 model year Ford Ranger looks and indeed is much bigger than the previous model – which not only looked somewhat diminutive in comparison to some other pickup rivals of its day, but also looked rather Hillbilly-ish. Not so the new model, which completely dwarfs it and looks nothing but modern. Ford have done a marvellous job of styling the latest Ranger, which looks very American and will no doubt continue to go down a treat in the vehicle’s far-flung markets all around the globe, especially those in which big pickups are the norm.

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Okay, the side profile and the rear of the new Ford Ranger look more or less like its equally massive main rivals, the Nissan Navara, Toyota Hilux and Isuzu D-Max. But then they’re all designed to accomplish the same tasks, so I’ve not got a problem with that. And in my view, the styling of the front of the new Ford Ranger, especially in range-topping Wildtrak guise as tested here, blows the competition out of the water. It looks amazing. You’ll certainly never lose your Wildtrak in a car park if you order it with this press vehicle’s bright orange paint job. Nor will you forget what model you own, as Ford have tastefully etched ‘Ranger’ above the front grille, as well as printed it in huge lettering on the back.

The Ford Ranger means business, which is apparent from the moment you set eyes on it. The gaping wheel arches, large tyres and chunky body panels ooze ruggedness. And the great thing about the new Ranger is that it doesn’t seem to attract the remotest bit of animosity. Neighbours, pedestrians and fellow road-users all looked at the Ranger admiringly and with respect. People realise that it shouldn’t be classed as part of the Chelsea Tractor brigade. The Ranger is, after all, a Continue Reading →


Alfa Romeo MiTo MultiAir Distinctive 1.4 Petrol 135BHP TCT road test review by Oliver Hammond

There’s something about Italian stuff. Most people seem to have the perception that anything from Italy is somehow better – everything from food, wine, fashion and women to history, culture, fancy coffee machines and of course, cars. So what did I personally make of the Alfa MiTo in aptly named ‘Alfa Red’, with its flappy-paddle automatic gearbox and its stop-start 135bhp petrol engine?

Alfa Romeo MiTo MultiAir Distinctive 1-4 Petrol 135BHP TCT road test review by Oliver Hammond - photo front 34b


To me, the MiTo looks like the lovechild of an Alfa Romeo 147 and the Italian firm’s drool-inducing beauty the 8C. The front light clusters are very similar to the 8C’s and partner the 147’s grille very well. The front fog lamps, air intakes, spoiler and other design features all work very well, too. Moving round the car, the side profile of the MiTo looks squat, purposeful and sporty, whilst at the back, the 8C-inspired LED light clusters, large Alfa badge which doubles as the boot release, the chrome exhaust tip and the mesh insert in which the parking sensors are sat, finish off the sexy little Italian’s styling nicely.

Okay, one couldn’t really miss this test MiTo in its bright red colour scheme, which perfectly reflects the spirit of Alfa Romeo. But it’s the little touches and details on the MiTo which really do make it a special object to own. The red brake callipers look great, as do the various flashes of chrome courtesy of the the wing mirrors, the bezels around the rear lights, and the door handles. Alfa Romeo cars have always oozed style and the MiTo is no exception, with its suitably distinctive alloys which look decidedly un-German. The MiTo’s design conveys the car’s sporty nature effectively, without being at all yobbish. Boy racers and chavs need not apply, when it comes to an Alfa Romeo Mito. Okay, a fair number of hairdressers and lettings agent types have subscribed to the MiTo philosophy in droves, but so have a decent number of genuine petrolheads from all walks of life, who love what Alfa Romeo stand for but don’t have the cash, the space or the conscience for a much larger Italian stallion.

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Stood still, the MiTo looks great, and on the road, it’s always a pleasure to spot one. Although it did attract some very aggressive comments from one thug who, going by what he was shouting, had seemingly mistaken me for a banker, most other motorists and pedestrians who caught sight of the MiTo looked on appreciatively. It’s a shame the Continue Reading →


Mazda 3 Sport Nav 185ps diesel (is it a Q-Car) from Simon Ford @Sf4d74,

Here at we like a good Challenge of Driving cars from Manufactures and Giving you our views/opinion/verdict, and today is no exception,

Over the last few Months we have Tested City cars, 4×4’s, Mid-range cars, Luxury cars, But never a Q-Car….Well untill today that is.

Now as you may or may not know, a Q-Car is a high performance model that looks (from the outside) like a standard car, and doesn’t attract unwanted attention from the Police, Eg think ‘Lancia Thema 8:32′, ‘Peugeot 405 m16′

As we also know!, Q-Cars are usually the petrol derived variants from car manufactures, these days with the economy being the way it is, why can’t we include diesels and open up the definition of Q-cars and why the ‘Mazda 3 Sport Nav 185 ps’  might! be included.

The Mazda 3 Sport Nav isn’t an out and out Sports Model, It’s Mazdas way of naming their line up, Tamura, Venture and Sport Nav being Mazdas top of the range version


Mazda have created a fresh yet Sporty look to the Mazda 3 Range, it’s good looking, understated yet Striking!, at the same time also has some neat little touches like the Sculpted bonnet and flared wheel arches, which are also present throughout the Mazda 3 Range.

What makes the Sport Nav stand out from the rest of the Range on the exterior front I hear you ask?

Well there’s Privacy Glass, 10 Spoke Alloys (17″), Honeycomb Grille, Side Skirts and a Sport Badge, But you also Get these with the exception of the Sport Badge on All Mazda 3’s,

So Far So Good as a Q-Car then!.


Open the door to the ‘Mazda 3 Sport Nav’ and the first thing that you notice are the cowled dials on the dashboard instantly giving a sporty appearance before you’ve even sat down, Once you’ve sat down you begin to notice everything else around you bit by bit.

All the information you’ll ever need, Trip computer with economy figures are directly above and to the left of the dials, next to that is your lcd  for heater settings,

Then the centre console, you have the Sat Nav (very easy to operate by touchscreen) below that are your Dual Climate Controls (many buttons), + Heated Seat Buttons, (1 being warm 5 being toasted) then there’s the Button Filled Steering Wheel for cruise control, Stereo, + Information, It’s all nicely laid out, good quality plastics and soft touch hard wearing materials, but there are just so many buttons, saying that if you like buttons, then you’ll be in button heaven in the ‘Mazda 3 Sport Nav’.

Again what makes this car a Q-Car I hear you all ask?

Well NOTHING! it’s essentially the same as the rest in the Mazda 3 range, well made, good quality product.

Ride + Driving

Now this is where a Q-Car will either be made or Broken in it’s driving experience,

I took the ‘Mazda 3 Sport Nav’ from Letchworth to Glasgow then onto Loch Lomond and Luss (in very challenging weather conditions) a distance of 460 miles .

Through the country roads of the A507 heading to the M1 the Mazda felt very good driving through all the twisty stuff, with very little body roll, no bumping through uneven surfaces, the Front Mcphearson and the rear E-type multi-Link suspension with monotube Dampers doing a fantastic job of dealing with all the hard work whilst making the driving experience sure footed and enjoyable everytime I pushed it.

Onto the Motorway itself and this is where the ‘Mazda 3 Sport Nav’ comes to it’s own,

With a (claimed) 0-60 time of 8.9 seconds the middle sized Mazda will join main carraigeways very safely and easily, demolish miles and miles of motorways with Ease, also there’s 400nm of torque available to play with, so overtaking middle lane hoggers who are doing 60mph means you’ll just blitz past.

Mazda claim a top speed of 132mph from The 2.2 litre diesel, but It’s the way the power is distributed that makes this a brilliant engine and well suited for this particular version, with the Turbo kicking in at 1900rpm once your moving it’s always there at your disposal

My only gripe with the Sport Nav was it’s Gearbox, (although a small gripe) and that was between 2nd-3rd gear the spacing seems a little stretched especially if you try to hurry your changes, otherwise very smooth indeed.

Economy wise Mazda claim a combined figure of 52mpg with a co2 of 144g/km (£135 a yeat to Tax), on my trip I managed 48.6mpg which is still good and meant my 460 mile trip cost me only £50 in diesel

With a Torquey engine, good bhp, respectful Economy ‘The Mazda 3 Sport Nav’ as a Q-Car keeps getting better.


Being Mazdas Top of the Range Model the Sport Nav comes well equipped as Standard, some of the features include, Cruise Control, Intergrated 4.1″ Sat Nav, Premium Bose sound system, Heated seats with 5 settings, Dual Climate Control, Welcome Mode Lighting, and Everything else You’d expect from a modern car nowdays, Yet suprisingly No Parking Sensors as standard

Standard Safety Features include,

MAIDAS – Mazda Advanced Impact Distribution and Absorption System, 4W-ABS, EBD, EBA, DSC, ESS, + Traction Control


Overal Verdict

Mazda Have Made a Very Well Built, Well Equipped, Great Engined, Mid sector car competing with the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Vw Golf.

At £20,995 it’s not the cheapest car in it’s class, nor the most class leading in it’s sector, It has a couple of faults, like too many buttons, average sized boot, and a tricky 2nd-3rd gear if rushed, but it does have that Good Engine, It’s Descreet, Fast, Fun to drive, Eats the miles easily, (remember no Q-Cars are perfect thats the appeal).

Ok Ok!, I know the ‘Mazda 3 Sport Nav’ Isn’t a Q-Car, but don’t you think we should consider some modern day diesel variants from ‘Low Volume Car Manufacturers’ as Replacements, If so! then I Bagsy the ‘Mazda 3 Sport Nav’ goes in first!.



Honda Accord Tourer 2-2 i-DTEC EX Automatic road test review by Oliver Hammond

Unless you happen to be an antiques dealer, someone who regularly hauls white goods around or the kind of person who doesn’t really care about cars as long as they’re practical, the majority of us are thankful that estate cars these days seldom look like boxes on wheels. Actually, most contemporary estates look very stylish, some even going as far as being sexy, many people considering them more desirable than their saloon counterparts. But not so with the old Honda Accord Tourer, unfortunately. The rear-end looked rather like an after-thought and was more or less vertical. Fast forward a few years and my car on test this week is the latest Honda Accord Tourer.

Honda Accord Tourer 2-2 i-DTEC EX Automatic road test review by Oliver Hammond - photo - Manchester City Stadium Eastlands 9


Honda’s designers have done a great job in styling what is technically the 8th generation of their international stalwart, the Accord. Using their chisels adeptly they have managed to chip, sculpt and smooth the previous model’s estate variant into an altogether much more attractive proposition.

The new Accord Tourer looks wider, sleeker, sportier and more expensive than the one it replaces. My test car looked elegant, stylish and impregnable in its Alabaster Silver paint job. The sleek and muscular front-end with its dashing spoiler is now complemented by a massively improved rear, which actually looks quite distinct. The rear design and its wide, wrap-around light clusters at the back have got a slight whiff of Insignia about them and especially from the side profile, the latest Accord Tourer looks much more the part. Goodbye slab-bum, hello curvy one.

Thankfully the lower window line is now partnered by a down-sloping roofline, resulting in an overall design that appeals to sports-estate lovers. Honda have fairly recently fettled the new Accord line-up even further, with extra chrome garnish, new grilles, lights and other little details, which all hit the spot very well. Honda have even put thought into the attractive door handles – and it is attention to detail that prospective buyers notice.

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Okay, it’s not a radical-looking car and the face of the previous generation wasn’t ‘broken’ so Honda subsequently haven’t ‘fixed it’ much, but seventy percent of Accord buyers will be from the traditionally more conservative corporate sector and it’s fair to say that quite a chunk of the remaining private buyers will come from the brand’s faithful band of followers. Honda’s press blurb cites the D-segment Accord Tourer’s primary rivals as the Continue Reading →


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