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…
[thethe-image-slider name=”SMMT North 2013 1″]
Logan MCV Lauréate Tce 90
[thethe-image-slider name=”SMMT North 2013 2″]
- 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
[thethe-image-slider name=”SMMT North 2013 3″]
- 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
[thethe-image-slider name=”SMMT North 2013 4″]
- 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