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Classics, Plastics and the Fantastics: Simon’s SMMT 2014 Report – Part 1

Simon Ford founder of Simonscarspots.co.uk

Well it’s 22nd May 2014 and it’s time for the Annual SMMT Test Day at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire.

As always, it’s the Greatest honour that a Journalist or Blogger can receive on their yearly calender to be invited to attend.

I arrived – every year as I do -at 7.30 am meet up with a few people whilst we wait for the bus to take us to the Concept Centre for an 8am opening where bacon rolls and coffee/orange juice await us. We then go in for an industry briefing by SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes and a Safety Briefing from Keith Lewis, which is always great fun (especially when someone mutters ‘I’ve been driving for years – why do I need a safety briefing?’ and of course, every year someone always Stacks a Car at SMMT).

Believe Me – if you get invited to attend, then please do pay attention to everything.

Anyway I digress; it’s 9am and it’s time to collect our passes to go and drive the days’ delights (but what usually happens is that at this time, everyone piles out the doors, snatch their passes and head straight to Mclaren and This Year Alfa Romeo because of the 4C).

I, on the other hand, had different ideas for the day – 1st stop NewsPress Stand.

On display was probably the best line-up in my opinion: a Corvette Stingray, Seat Ibiza mkI, Jaguar E-Type and my personal favourite and boyhood pin-up car, a Maserati Ghibli.

The owner of the Ghibli was in attendance and very enthusiastic; he was a Member of the Maserati Owners club and owned 4 Maserati’s including the Maserati Ghibli Cup from the 90’s.

I never got to Drive this Ghibli as I was the guinea pig test run and the driver hadn’t been round the course yet but I didn’t mind – like I said, it was a boyhood dream car and I was more than happy to be a Passenger and I stuck to the old saying of ‘never drive your heroes’. I was, however, very impressed with the way it moved, sounded, stopped and handled as the owner certainly wasn’t shy in giving it the Beans.

And yes, that old car smell of Leather, Oil, and Fags: just can’t be beaten.

Next stop was Ssangyong to Sample the New Rexton

SSANGYONG REXTON W

The Rexton was for the off-road course only, which was great, but unfortunately I don’t do much off-roading, so luckily Roger was on-hand to give excellent turn-by-turn instructions that any monkey could follow.

The last time I wrote about Ssangyong was at the Korando Launch where I drove the entire Ssangyong range and I wasn’t particularly kind to the Last Generation Rexton (click here to view).

This New Rexton from Ssangyong really is nothing like the old Model: gone is the old tractor-sounding 2.7 engine and in comes the new euro5 compliant 2.0 Diesel with 360Nm of torque.

The interior has been vastly improved and mostly which is the all important part, so has the way it drives. In the old Rexton you felt very high off the ground and very narrow – like you’d topple if you went too fast round the corner. The new Rexton genuinely feels like a very capable off-roader that’s also at home on the road.

Well done Ssangyong for bringing a credible (and better in my opinion) alternative to a Kia Sportage; with prices from £21,995, it’s Cheaper too.

SimonsCarSpots Rating 6.1/10

BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GTC 6.0 LITRE W12

 

What Costs £153,000, Has Brutal Acceleration, weighs 2.5 Tonnes, and is absolutely brilliant….? Yep, that’s right – it’s the Bentley Continental Gtc W12,

Now, this is a car that’s well and truly hard to define by any standards. It weighs 2.5 tons and is capable of acheiving a top speed of 195 mph. It also does 0-60 in 4.4 seconds yet it feels and drives like nothing you’ve ever driven before.

The GTC W12 belies its size by feeling agile,nimble, light as a feather and sure footed with a noise so snarly, throaty, and brutal (and I do mean so hyperwarp that it kicks-you-in-the -kidneys-brutal) when driven hard. It’s so much fun but then – on the other end of the scale – when it’s driven serenely and gently, it’s the most refined drive you’ll have ever had in your life. Either way, driven slow or fast, the Bentley GTC W12 is a car you’ll want to be noticed in.

SimonsCarSpots Rating  9.3/10

 

ROLLS ROYCE PHANTOM

Their is no way of saying it but it must be said… the most expensive Car on the SMMT day that I drove was the Rolls Royce Phantom, which starts at £336,000 (plus whatever bespoke options you’d like to add on, of course).

And, as most Phantoms are all different due to the options specified, the true price is the old age adage of  ‘if you have to ask you can’t afford it’. Luckily, Rolls Royce and their modern owners aren’t as secretive as they once were due to new money coming through the ranks.

But Whats The Phantom like as a Drivers car when Rolls Royce themselves use the words ‘waftability’ and ‘sublime Ride’ and describe the comfort of being THE DRIVEN, rather than the Comfort of THE DRIVING?

In all honestly, if you are The Driven, then Rolls Royce really have created the perfect car to be Driven In. However, if you are the Driver then it’s a different story. Although your every whim is catered for with goose down filled sumptuous leather seats and every conceivable luxury item as standard, the Phantom really isn’t much fun as a drivers car.

The steering wheel is perfect though – very thin and just the right size – but then it gets a bit confusing; the switch gear is spaced out all over the place the gears (although using the waftomatic as standard from the steering column) didn’t feel that engaging when selecting drive. In reverse, the indicators (although silent in their operation) feel too low down as their are buttons everywhere – all hand crafted with the love and care that only Rolls Royce can provide – but they just feel scattered rather than positioned to help the driver.

The Phantom’s V12 engine is quiet and the 8 speed automatic is seamless in its actions. When pushed hard, it performs briskly and adequately, rather than feeling like it’s capable of its limited 155mph. Another downside is from the drivers seat you are about 7 feet away from the end of the bonnet (or should I say 7 feet away from the ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’) which acts as a target cross hair for all other cars and riding on standard 22″ wheels as standard most 4×4’s also.

So – all in all, a very well appointed – as expected – car but this one’s certainly not a drivers car in my view

SimonsCarSpot Rating Quality 10/10 Drivers Rating 7.4/10

MG3 3FORM SPORT VTI-TECH 106PS

MG .. been around for donkeys years in the UK,  then gone, then Back again, Hopefully this time MG are back for good.

In the past MG got a good and well deserved reputation for small nimble cars that could handle everything the British roads had to throw at them, and come out the other end better than it’s counterparts could hope for, even the old Rover 25’s were transformed when MG breathed new life into them..This time however MG has come back as a standalone brand again Making Good Honest Cars built and assembled in the Uk.

This MG3 3Form Sport is the top of the range version costing a whopping £10,136.00 including optional upgraded Alloy wheels, and the piano black interior,

Now many People know or don’t know that I drive Rover Streetwise 1.4 which is becoming or may become a future cool car. Size wise the MG3 is around the same size internally and externally where it’s bigger than say a Toyota Aygo but not quite as big as Toyota Yaris so Spacewise the Mg3 is Snug and comfortable rather than Class leading but depending on whether you think of it as Aygo or Yaris Class/Price Everything is very well screwed together and hard wearing ..and an improvement over the street wise, but a little less characterful.

The Mg3  3Form Sports 1.5 litre engine is absolutely brilliant, it’s lively, buzzy, with a little raspy engine note, which if you drive a small car you’ll know about working the engine and holding/keeping the revs up to the sweet spot (around 3300rpm) and having the power at your disposal, ok ok I know 105bhp isn’t class leading and it doesn’t have a turbo like the Fiat Abarth, but when it’s matched to a great Chassis like the MG has, then it’s Smiles per mile aplenty in a 10k car..I liked it a lot and drove the Alpine track twice The MG 3 deserves to do well over here, My only criticism is Please get that I-pod adapter moved from the console  it looks horrible.

SimonsCarSpot Rating 8.7/10 and the joint honest car award

Join me next week for part two featuring

 

Sexiest Cars Survey

Debbie Mountford - Motor MistressWe find out what our Twitter friends rate as their favourite Sexy car in our latest Interactive Blog

 

This week we thought it would be fun to find out what all of our Twitter friends thought when it came to naming their sexiest and un-sexiest cars.

As you can imagine, the conversation lasted quite a few hours on Twitter and there were a lot of varied suggestions.

This week, we will be looking at the sexiest cars – our next Interactive Blog will bring you the least sexy…

Sexiest Car List

@infomotiveUK started off by saying that he wasn’t “about sex appeal and cars, I’m more excited by design and engineering!” Then, after a little thought, he suggested the “drop dead gorgeous Alfa Romeo SZ”

This was a rather humorous one and to be honest, it was a suggestion that @simonscarspots “got” more than me (I think it’s the bloke’s sense of humour) – but here is Ben at @Connects2’s sexy car suggestion: “A HOMER SIMPSON CAR”

@perrysmotors have rather excellent taste, in my opinion – they rated the gorgeous Jaguar F Type as their sexiest car:

@Imperialcar favoured the fabulous “Porsche 918 ?” as their pick of the crop!

@AVC_Leasing said “How about this for a Sexy Car? Aston Martin Vanquish” – can’t disagree with that one, lads!

@BarrieCrampton said that the “Sexy Muira” floated his boat:

@simonshieldcars told us that “Simon’s sexy car is the Lamborghini Aventador” and the lovely Caroline’s choice was the “Bentley Continental GT”

@Lease4wheels had one word for this one – “SEXY !!!” Expensive taste, as always, Aleem:

@cars_portsmouth probably gave me the biggest smile of the day with their picture of the BMW 507 – they did say that the Ferrari Dino was on “quite a long list”

@stoneacremotors said that their favourite sexy car was the Ferrari 250 GT SWB – like I said, can’t really argue with any Ferrari offering in my view!

@EssexLeasing gave us an interesting one – they put forward the “’67 Ford Mustang”; I’m sure a lot of people would agree, there!

@Joe_Hallenbeck put forward a concept car as his first sexy car choice – The Cadillac Sixteen:

He also told us that he thought the “Ford GT40 was pretty sexy too [and] Pictured [his] old replica that was a “one off hand built replica by John Tojeiro designer of the AC Ace (pic)”

If that wasn’t enough, he told us that he & his Dad built the V8 – wow! Clever stuff indeed:

@MotorwiseUK gave us a very balanced view and said that “Sexy cars come in any form! From this…

to this!

When I asked if beauty was in the eye of the beholder they agreed, “Absolutely! Same goes for less attractive cars… :-)”. Well said, Tweeps!

@Andy4x4Richards left us all a bit jealous with his sexy car, “Oh look it’s mine!” Great plate, too Andy (apparently XWD means ex-war department in Andy’s business):

@johnwcurtis told us that his sexiest car is the Infiniti QX70 5l V8; I agree that the Infiniti brand is a little under-appreciated over here – they make some really great cars.

@LionheartIns said that he thought “probably one of the most sexy cars is the Aston Martin One-77 – [it’s] almost Batman-esqe” – check out his Pinterest board – there are loads of drool-worthy cars on there!

@WindmillLeasing told us that they “love the quickest Porsche, [which is] the 918 Spyder Hybrid – this is actually one of my favourites, too!

@CarDealerCliff said “How about a 69 Corvette Stingray? Like this one!”

He then proceeded to say that he may be buying one. I have to be the first in the passenger seat if that’s the case – bagsy @MotorMistress!

@Raceandrally put forward another Italian classic – the Ferrari 458 Italia and @alexanderfc said that his sexiest car was “the incontrovertible beauty that is the Jaguar E-Type”; good choices, on both counts!

@LeasingAdvice threw another Ferrari into the pot, telling us that the “F12 berlinetta is our choice for sexiest car :)” – I bet! You’d have to win the lottery to own one, though!

@365Daytonafan gave us a lovely shot of his own… jealous!!

Oliver from @SwannAutomotive told us that his sexiest car was the Lamborghini Aventador (which is also on Simon’s list)

@J8mes_b’s sexy choice was the Jag F type and @Cardeck_UK cited another Jaguar as being their favourite, this time they chose the Jaguar E Type. @leejh55 also told us that “any new style Jag” floated his boat. One thing’s for sure, there can be no denying that Jaguar make some beautiful, timeless cars – even nowadays!

@har155 bought some unusual sexy cars to the table, putting forward his “old 155 in a square line origami kind of way [and] also the original Audi Quattro. He also rated the more conventional Ferrari 250 GT California and Aston Martin V8.

Summary

I think @MotorwiseUK really did hit the nail on the head with their comments on the subject – there were many diverse offerings, varying from the retro to the uber-futuristic.

The pole position was a joint tie for sexiest car – Ferrari and Jaguar had 5 nominations each. In second place was Aston Martin with 3 (I was surprised that this wasn’t higher to be honest) and Porsche came in third with just two nominations.

Next time, we will give you the results of the survey for the least sexy cars, including some great links and a very special one from our friends at @autowebuk.

In the meantime, we hope that you enjoyed our Interactive Blog – let us know what you think at @MotorMistress or of course, @Simonscarspots!

Debbie Mountford - Motor Mistress

Disclaimer: All photos submitted by named Twitter IDs, Simons Car Spots Limited accept no liability if any of the images do not have permission from their owner to be displayed on this site. In such an instance please email simon@simonscarspots.com for prompt removal.

 

This Week’s Interactive Blog Topic: Desert Island Cars

Debbie Mountford - Motor MistressYes guys, it’s a rather random title that quite frankly, doesn’t really make sense. If you were to find yourself on a desert island, we are sure that cars would be the last thing on your mind. In any event, there’s the fuel to think about and practical things like… umm… roads.

Desert Island Cars

Practicalities aside, suspend your disbelief and run with it: we want to know what car you would take to a desert island with you. In other words, what is your favourite car in all the world?

Get involved on Twitter today by tweeting @Motormistress and feel free to copy in the man himself, Simon Ford @Simonscarspots – it will be interesting to see what is your overall favourite or if the results will be diverse and more on the unexpected side.

New Simon Says Guest Blog Feature

Don’t forget, if you want to get your very own guest blog on our new #Simonsays feature, drop us your story for possible inclusion in the coming weeks.*

As usual, we will credit all contributors and look forward to some lively conversations when the blog goes live at 9pm Sunday night!

Motor Mistress Blog

 

 

 

 

*n.b Simon Says feature not suitable for commercial blogs, we also cannot guarantee that all blogs will be featured.

Motor Mistress Meets the Nissan Birmingham Central Team for the Launch of the 2014 Qashqai

The new model Qashqai has certainly gone down a storm with the critics; there are not many cars that can win the What Car? Car of the Year accolade (as well bagging the Small SUV title) before they are even rolled out. 

The toughest of critics have applauded it and the public have embraced it – this has been demonstrated by a very healthy number of forward orders and a lotof general interest.

So yes, the pre-launch hype of the New Qashqai has certainly talked the talk.

When Nissan Retail UK invited me to check out the 2014 Qashqai at their Nissan Birmingham Retail Centre, I was keen to find out if the New Qashqai could also walk the walk.

Nissan Birmingham Central


Nissan Birmingham Central is a dedicated retail centre, situated in Digbeth, Birmingham. The showroom boasts a full selection of Nissan cars including the Juke, the Micra and the Note; it is also proudly showcasing the 2014 Qashqai.

I was welcomed by their New Car Sales Coordinator, Phillip Coates, who introduced me to their team of dedicated staff. Nissan Birmingham Central has been operational since 2012 and the smart environment is a great place to show off their wares.

Friendly and Experienced Team

 

I have been to many dealerships in my time and have seen salespeople swarming all over would-be buyers and also the opposite – I have wandered around for quite some time being ignored on a number of occasions.

The team at Nissan Birmingham Central handle this just right; they are not only approachable and happy to help at all times, they actually really know their stuff (trust me, I am a pro when it comes to sniffing this out).

The atmosphere is very relaxed and this really helps to create a feel of the one-to-one care that customers will experience if they deal with Nissan Birmingham Central; it was clearly present when potential customers walked in, in any case.

Excellent Customer Service

Phillip Coates told me;

“Our customer service ratings from Nissan are increasing all the time and this is something that we are all very proud of. 

We genuinely want our customers to be 100% happy and we are also here after they have taken delivery. We want them to have years of trouble-free motoring and we will do everything that we can to ensure that this happens.”

Nissan Birmingham Central offer a variety of funding options to suit all requirements – everything from Personal Contract Plan (PCP) to traditional Hire Purchase is available, along with fair valuations on any part exchange. They are also specialists in Motability and have an excellent portfolio of competitive offers across the model range.

 

Everyone is Welcome at Nissan Birmingham Central

Phillip Continued;

“We see a lot of buyers come through our doors – families, gents and of course, ladies looking to get a great deal on their next car. We are on-hand to give them all the information that they need and of course, to arrange for a test drive” 

People buy cars but people also buy people; there was every reason for me to believe that Phillip and the team would look after me if I were to buy a car from Nissan Birmingham Central. After experiencing over 15 years at the sharp end of the car trade this is something, coming from me, I can tell you.

In short, if you are looking for a dealership where you can explore your next potential car purchase in a “no-pressure” environment with the help of approachable and knowledgeable staff, Nissan Birmingham Central should be right at the top of your list.

To find out my initial verdict on the 2014 Qashqai, click here.

Find out more…

To find out more about the 2014 Qashqai or any of the Nissan model range, funding options or to arrange for a test drive, visit www.nissan-retail.co.uk or call 0121 418 0323.

Nissan Birmingham Central, 75-80 High Street, Digbeth, Birmingham, B12 0LL

Follow Nissan Birmingham Central on Twitter and Facebook

 

It’s Nearly Here: Out with 2013 and In with 2014

Well, it’s the last blog of the year for us at Simon’s Car Spots and what a year it has been.


We have seen literally 1000s of amazing cars, we have had masses of superb @simoncarspots Twitter interaction and we have had some fantastic fun with our @MotorMistress blogs.

As the year draws to a close, we would like to not only wish all of our Twitter friends and website supporters the best for Christmas and the New Year, we would like to also thank everyone unreservedly for their unwavering support and encouragement.

We really feel that the “Simon’s Car Spots” website has developed into even more of a community this year; bringing car enthusiasts together to have a bit of banter and most of all, fun.

With this in mind, we have a few changes planned that will allow us to extend the “car spotting” reach even further. We thought it was only right to share our news with you on our final blog of 2013 so that we can get your opinions and of course, your backing!

Changes to Come in 2014…

Oliver Hammond Steps Down from www.simonscarspots.com

 

 

Firstly, with a heavy heart, we are announcing that the Co-Founder of Simon’s Car Spots, Oliver Hammond, has stepped down in order to focus on his other existing activities and his family. Olly has been car spotting since he was a wee nipper and he certainly won’t be stopping. With this in mind, he will continue to contribute photos from time to time, perhaps in addition to the odd blog article.

“The timing felt right but I didn’t take this decision lightly”, explains Olly, “as SimonsCarSpots.com will always be my co-baby and I will always feel emotionally involved with the site. It’s been a great few years, starting the site with Simon and seeing it grow. I am sure Debbie (oops, I’ve let the cat out of the bag a paragraph early!) and Simon will increase the site’s popularity even further and I will certainly be keeping in touch. All the best, you two!”

You can continue to keep tabs on Olly via his personal Twitter account @renaultvelsatis. For the record, Olly, we have no intention of not keeping in touch!

Motor Mistress Steps Up to www.simonscarspots.com

Debbie Mountford new co-owner of Simons Car Spots

 

 

I am delighted to announce that I will be taking on a more active role here at www.simonscarspots.com. If you like my blogs, news and other car-related ramblings then you will be finding it right here!

Both Simon & I have some exciting plans for the future and we will, of course, be looking to our friends to help us to raise the website to a whole new level. Simon’s Car Spots will always be Simon’s baby so there will be no re-branding – I will just be here to provide a bit of added interest (well hopefully, anyway!) and to help with the day-to-day running of the site.

Don’t worry though; www.simonscarspots.com wasn’t broken, so we have no intention of trying to fix it. We are just going to work super-duper hard to make it into the UK’s favourite car enthusiast website.

 

Come along and join us in 2014 – it’s sure to be one helluva ride.

Once again, have a fantastic Christmas and a spectacular New Year celebration – see you on the other side!

Debbie Mountford - Motor Mistress

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All Time Favourite Iconic Cars – What’s YOUR Favourite? #Icons

Debbie Mountford for Simons Car Spots

 

 

This is the question that we asked all our Twitter community friends this week.

We thought that it was only right to finish our 2013 Interactive Sunday Night Blog with a true celebration of car diversity.

Cars – like music – mean different things to everyone. One man’s Ferrari is another man’s Ford (so to speak!) and the suggestions that we got back pretty much demonstrated that very fact.

So, what is Iconic Car?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word Iconic means a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration”. The word also carries religious connotations associated with worship – quite simply, the term will fit any car that is held in high esteem by the proposing party.

 

In many cases, Iconic Cars will have a much wider following than just one man or woman – across the UK and perhaps even the world. This may be due to a number of factors that make the car notable like style, speed, engineering or even an era that people associate with it.

The doors are open for Iconic Car interpretation; no holds barred; so let’s take a look at your All Time Favourite Iconic Cars.

Classic Car Icons

@alexanderfc: Jaguar E-Type

@CentralCarLease: Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta SWB

@LionHeartIns: Lotus 7 (first generation assumed)

@SimonsCarSpots: Auburn Speedster

Motor Mistress says: I’m with Alex and the Central Car Lease guys on this one – and, of course, the Porsche 356. I am also a sucker for a Mercedes SL Roadster of the classic variety and I love the 1960s Saab Quantum.


Retro Car Icons

@CarDealerCliff, @LeeJH55 & @RalphMorton: VW Beetle

@CarDealerCliff: 57 Chevy

@OldDiesel: Lexus LS 400

@RalphMorton & @LeeJH55: British Mini

@RalphMorton: Ford Model T

@paulomartini917: Porsche 917 – This choice it is actually a 1970’s race car rather than a run-of-the-mill production car – nice choice!

@RalphMorton: Ford Cortina

@Louise_Haines1: MX5 Mk1

@Louise_Haines1: jaguar xj220

@Louise_Haines1: Shelby GT500 Mustang

@LeeJH55: Citroen 2CV

*Even at Warp speed you can tell it’s a 2cv*

@Louise_Haines1: Delorean DMC-12

@InfomotiveUK: Ford Escort

@PerrysMotors: Vauxhall Viva

*Picture Vauxhall Viva Gt from @Joe_Hallenbeck*

@MotorMonsterCom & @RalphMorton: Lamborghini Miura

@Louise_Haines1: Ferrari f50

*Picture from Wayne Hinchliffe*

@J8mes_b: BMW E30 M3

@Joe_Hallenbeck: Dodge Charger 440

*Picture from @Joe_Hallenbeck *

@LionheartIns: Lotus Esprit

@SimonsCarSpots: Lotus Cortina

@Lease4Wheels: Sierra/Escort Cosworth

@jimreidvehicle: Lotus Carlton

@RalphMorton: BMW 328

Motor Mistress says: I love quite a few of these but in particular, I would agree that the Beetle & British Mini are certainly Iconic Retro cars. In addition, I would suggest that the Mk1 Golf Cabriolet, Renault 5 GT Turbo and Fiesta XR2i Mark II have to have a little spot (the latter two for reasons that remind me of my rather mis-spent youth).

Supercar Icons

@LeasingAdvice, @AVC_Leasing & @RalphMorton: Porsche 911

@alexanderfc & @RalphMorton: Aston Martin DB5

@RalphMorton: Audi Quattro

@RalphMorton: Ferrari 246 Dino

@MotorMonsterCom: Koenigsegg Agera

Motor Mistress says: It’s gotta be the Porsche 911 – all day long. There is a notable Mercedes absence, I see! Does the soon-to-be-extinct Mercedes SLS not count, then? Interesting…!

Off Road Icons

@alexanderfc: Land Rover Defender

@RalphMorton: Range Rover

Motor Mistress says: Both of these 4x4s are on my list; for every good reason going

Summary

That’s us for now, then blog-wise for 2013 – we will, however, be posting a special announcement next week (same time, same place!) that we would love you to join us for.

In the meantime, please help spread the word and also the love by sharing this post and perhaps even giving all the contributors a little follow, too?

We would love to hear your thoughts on our latest blog and any suggestions as to what our next interactive blog should cover; contact @MotorMistress or @simonscarspots if you have any comments or ideas to put forward!

Debbie Mountford - Motor Mistress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Vive La Différence – the debut post from me, Debbie Mountford @MotorMistress #Blog

Vive La Différence

If you follow me on Twitter, or indeed, are a regular visitor to www.motormistress.co.uk, you will know that I love cars. So, when Simon asked me to do a regular guest spot on http://simonscarspots.com I just had to say yes. My pleasure.

Being a regular car-spotter myself (and sometimes, quite a scary one judging from the looks that I get when I’m taking photos of people’s cars), I snap just about any car that is different from the norm. Car-spotting celebrates the diversity of motoring; for me, it’s not just about spotting the Lamborghini (although that’s always a good result).

Personally speaking, I do generally favour the more fast and furious of the bunch, but I actually appreciate cars for what they are and who they are appealing to.

In short, if manufacturers have done a good job at what they are trying to achieve with the model that I am reviewing then in my book, it always gets a good word.

Car Ignoramuses

The other day, I was enjoying a bit of Supercar banter on the old @motormistress Twitter channel – primarily about Porsches. Someone mentioned the new hybrid Porsche Spyder and then someone else (who barely looked old enough to even reach the pedal of a car, let alone have experience of a proper sports car) started telling us about how electric vehicles and hybrids were just not cool.

But he didn’t stop there. No; he told us that not only did he hate the idea of green cars, he also hated people that drove them. I will tell you this now; I exited that conversation straight away for fear that what I was about to say could cause a barrage of publicity-unfriendly abuse (or worse, “Hate Tweets”).

To me, this person represented everything that a car lover should not be. Yes, you may not want an environmentally friendly car yourself, but there are plenty of people who do.

You may like (or in this instance, you may want to drive) a fuel-thirsty Supercar, but the next man may think they are nothing but an ostentatious show of wealth.

You may love big SUVs – and may well have good reason to drive one if you, say, live rurally – but there are others that will disagree and think that there is never a good reason to own a “gas-guzzler” of any description.

There will be those that turn their noses up at modern MPVs and then those that swear by them to help get them through their daily school-run.

You may feel that a big, luxury saloon car is “old-man”, whereas the next man will pimp it up with big alloys, a good bit of gangsta spec and love it to small pieces.

My whole point is that there are many different cars for a very good reason. The manufacturers cater for different markets; the whole green car movement is one to be encouraged – whether you get on board or not – and certainly not one to be scoffed at.

Anyone who knows anything about green cars will know that the luxury marques are investing very heavily in hybrid and EV technology and improving performance all-round. The Porsche 918 Spyder is the worlds’s fastest car. Enough said.

So. Next time you hear someone say something that you disagree with (about cars, obviously) just remember to hold your tongue; vive la différence is the name of the game.

Feel free to tell them from me that ignorance is not.

Author: © Debbie Mountford AKA MotorMistress

 


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

Here at SimonsCarSpots.com 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

EXTERIOR

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!.

Interior

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.

Equipment

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!.

 

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