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Our Oliver at the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power 2012

“We should probably hold the event in November, next time”, one of the course marshals said to me as she grinningly trudged past me on her way along the hey-bale-lined course during what was the final timed lap of the day. The British ‘Summer’ being what it is, June was once again besieged by rain – but it didn’t stop this year’s Pageant of Power turning out to be another belter.

Cholmondeley Pageant of Power 2012 photo by Isabel Carter - BMW M3 1988 Demon Tweeks

I donned my woolly hat, jumped into the Suzuki Swift Sport press car and along with my wife Isabel set off to Cholmondeley in Cheshire, for our debut attendance at their increasingly-popular ‘CPOP’ event. This is the fifth year which has seen tens of thousands of people descend on Cholmondeley to feast their eyes on a humongous array of not just cars, but also planes, helicopters, motorcycles, hovercraft, speedboats and even tanks.

Being the fanatical car spotter I am, I always recall what the master spotter Simon Ford says when I turn up at events – the car park is where you see some of the best cars. And Cholmondeley (pronounced ‘Chumley’, actually) was no exception. Two cars down from where we parked the Swift, there was an Audi R8. In front of us, a Jaguar XKR. Then as we walked down the slope towards the enclosure, we passed no less than three Audi S8s, before spotting a gorgeous Noble M600, which turned out to be the firm’s boss’ car.

Compared to the day before, the rain on the Saturday was only intermittent, so once we had collected our passes from PFPR’s Tom Richards in the press pavilion, we got stuck in. It was just a case of being torn, as it would be an understatement to say that there was so much to see.

When it comes to the amazing lineup of pre-war, pre-1965, post-1964 and contemporary sports, rally, touring and grand prix cars on display throughout the day, I will let Isabel’s photos do the talking – but it’s certainly true that CPOP has something for everyone, from a 42-litre Bentley, Morgan 3W Super Aero and a Lancia Stratos, to a Pilbeam MP40, Aston Martin One-77 and a Lexus LFA. The fascinating, gorgeous, history-soaked cars with their wonderful sounds and smells were enough to convert any non-petrolhead. Even people whose car interest is confined to watching Top Gear would have been happy to see the actual Citroen Ami and BMW Z3 cars used in the show’s challenges. James Bond cars were also on display, situated between the ubiquitous Bentley areas and several helicopters.

The commentary provided over the tannoys throughout the day was excellent – informative and captivating, further bringing the laps to life with stats such as Continue Reading →

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Ford Focus Estate 1.6 Duratec petrol manual Ti-VCT 125PS Titanium Road Test Review by Oliver Hammond

The first two generations of Ford Focus were both generally accepted as class-leading in the dynamics stakes and for providing great all-round propositions. With this third generation model, has the Focus just got even better?

Kinetic Design that blows your mind?

Ford Focus Estate 1-6 petrol manual 125PS Titanium Ti-VCT road test review by Oliver Hammond - front 01

In recent years, Ford has harped on about its Kinetic Design ethos and to be honest, who can blame them, as the new Mondeo which debuted in that James Bond film looked amazing to many, me included – and Ford carried their success on with stylish cars in the form of the S-Max, Kuga and even the latest Fiesta models.

I’m going to stick my neck out a bit and admit that Continue Reading →

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Kia Optima 1.7 CRDi 2 Tech – Road Test Review by Oliver Hammond

As the Kia Press Office and many on Twitter are aware, a Kia Optima was responsible for making me miss my motorway junction one night! As a car reviewer and motor industry chap, my eyes always hone in on newly-launched or rare cars. So you guessed it, when I spotted this, my first Optima out in the wild, I followed behind it to weigh up its rear looks, inadvertently missing my junction in the process. I knew I had a Kia Optima on its way in a month’s time to review, so it had better be good! Read on to find out if it was worth it…

KIA Optima 1-7 CRDI 2 Tech – Road Test Review by Oliver Hammond - front tiger nose grille - lead

Kia, and the actual Optima I drove (if it had feelings, of course), will  be delighted to know that I loved the Optima, so I have more than forgiven ‘that’ one for making me miss a junction. In my view, the Kia Optima looks pretty darn good indeed. Other folk seem to appreciate the Optima’s design too, as I got plenty of double-takes during my week with it.

It’s a large car, make no bones about it – which is likely one of the reasons why my eye latched onto the infamous one that evening. Kia’s family ‘tiger nose’ grille is inevitably present and I think it looks at its very best on the Optima. The wide, imposing face, complete with its front LED DRLs (daytime running lights), easily makes it stand out from the crowd in a very positive way. It makes many of the ubiquitous ‘Euro boxes’ look very plain in comparison. One fellow I spoke to Continue Reading →

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