The unstoppable force of Audi strikes again!! Just when you thought we had a derivative of every possible shape and size carrying the four rings of gorgeousness, here comes…. A HATCHBACK!
It now appears that, if you’re a motoring manufacturer, it’s all the rage again to have some seriously famous and seriously beautiful bits of superstar totty flogging your cars. Kylies kicking off about how quiet her Lexus 200H is (well better the Devil you know a Kylie), Renault have decided that Thierry Henry isn’t shifting enough Clio’s on his own, so they’ve drafted in Rihanna and 40yr old stripper (all be it she’s in damn fine nick) Dita Von Teese to give Marlon Brandon an eyeful from the ceiling of a red padded wank bank, someone remind me how these ads sell us cars! The manufacturer that revived the whole trend….Alfa Romeo! I do have to say, Christ I wish Uma Thurman would make up her mind, she spends most of the last decade telling us she’s ‘Black Mamba’ and the Bride you would seriously think twice about leaving standing alone at the Alter, then turns up in an Alfa advert, kid’s an all, informing us that she’s now Giulietta!
Having never been a massive fan of the last generation of 'boxy' Fiesta's, I was hugely surprised when Ford unveiled the all new Fiesta, it looked sporty and fun… So when Ford invited me to beautiful Sienna in Italy to test-drive it, I was expecting the Gaydar profile of the motoring world, you know what I mean! The pics and the profile say one thing but in reality 'sporting' actually means 'runs only to answer the door for Pizza's' and 'funky' means 'cuts own hair - badly'. However with the new Fiesta it does what it says on the tin, I was totally blown away by just how good it is!
Where to start… hmm, well the Chevrolet Captiva has always been a fairly decent SUV, its always been predominately purchased in its 7 seater guise, mostly with a diesel lump under its vast bonnet and more often than not by buyers looking for the most metal their money will get them. These little clues to the past audience of Captiva, shout loud… it’s never really been purchased by cash savvy pimps as a blinged up cruising wagon to ferry their rent about. Nor is it likely to have graced the drive of any of the winners of Britain’s-got-very-little-talent-it-would-appear-factor-on-ice…Not even the good ones.
For those of you thinking hmmm interesting a rep wagon, thanks Rich…
Don't be too hasty to judge, yes the old Laguna had a few build quality issues, however this all new model seems to have sorted all that out with the new Laguna Hatch seeming to have a much stronger and more quality feel about it.
Now the model I had to test was a top of the range Initiale 2.0L Diesel model with a cracking 150bhp, which makes it quick to say the least, 0-62mph is done in nine and a half seconds. So the new Laguna has much improved handling as well, its far more precise and so smooth and quiet you do actually have to check the engine is running at times. With regards to the new exterior styling, don't misunderstand its no Calvin Klein model in Daniel Craig's short shorts (oh the thought) but… I love it, the pictures just don't do it justice, and the new wrap round front lights / low front give it an altogether more sporting and poised look. The new rear is pleasant and will no doubt grow on me over time.
Interior wise the quality feel has gone through the roof, its very Starship enterprise sat behind the wheel with electrickry, full colour screens and computers everywhere; controlling everything from the climate control to the 6 stack in-dash CD player. You get an awful lot of kit for your money, regardless of the spec level you go for. My Initiale model had just about everything you could ever want and more. Because it's a Renault is just about as safe as you can get with even the entry level Expression model coming equipped with ABS, EBD, ESP and ASR Traction control as standard. Now don't get me wrong if you drive like a Turkish taxi driver on a country road you're still going to wrap yourself round a tree, but the Renault safety systems will try their best to help you avoid it.
So overall it's a great motor, nice to drive, comfortable, well equipped and safe into the bargain. It also does nearly 50mpg on the combined fuel cycle which means its going to be fairly cheap to run as well.
There's no denying, no matter how much you dislike estate cars, that the new Laguna Sport Tourer is a great looking car. It's sleek, sporty and very upmarket with its dashing new bodyline. Renault's diesels have always been great performers, and the 2L Turbo unit in the Sport Tourer I tested was no exception, with more grunt than a eastern bloc tennis player the big estate never felt underpowered and returned great fuel economy.
Now the new Laguna Sport Tourer over the last version is a totally different car all together, it feels better made, looks better both inside and out, the quality of the materials inside feels far more upmarket and it looks far more expensive than its £24,370 price tag.
Equipment is another of Renault's big things; whatever you're buying it's normally got plenty of toys as standard. The new Laguna follows this rule and had more toys for boys than the Soho prowler store. Included as standard on my top-of-the-range model was full leather interior, CD/MP3 stereo, Bluetooth Sat Nav with a full colour screen, electric and heated front seats, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry, Xenon headlights and headlamp washers, amongst a wealth of other features included as standard. The extra sporting touches as standard on the outside included the gorgeous pair of twin tail pipes that just increases the big Renaults sporting look from behind.
Even though the Laguna Sport Tourer shares the same wheelbase as the hatch version its been extended to give a load area that feels big enough to fit half of Ikea in the back. It also feels massive within the actual passenger cabin and five are seated with more than enough room to cope with long journeys in plenty of space and comfort. Handling wise it's a lot of fun and you really wouldn't know you where in a large barge estate, it handles corners well and is great flying down country roads and twisting bends.
A triumph for Renault and well worth a test drive if you're looking for a big estate or need an estate company car.
Showing off a more suave and sophisticated attitude towards motoring, Renault launched the Laguna Coupé in 2008 to dispel any remaining bad feeling toward the brand and, with a clever tongue-in-cheek campaign behind it, proved that driving a Renault is not what it once may have been.
2011 sees the coupe having a slight nip-tuck to bring it inline with the rest of the range offering, and continue bringing a fantastic driving experience into 2012.
So as you can guess I am quite a fan of the mid-sized coupe. In fact, I would go so far as to say I think it’s quite underrated among the industry, and deserves much more attention than it’s been given. The sleek and slender lines give the coupe a very sporty look, and boasts a very mature nature compared to that of its product counterparts – like your best mates hotter, older brother all suited and booted. The Laguna Coupe brings an elegance and grace to the road and, like his hot older brother, looks just as great from behind.
Inside is just as subtle, with a sharp interior and the use of higher-grade materials; the Laguna Coupé is matched perfectly to the exterior finish, keeping that classic style. Reclined sports seats are complimented with a cascade style centre console with integrated satellite navigation and a compact control panel nested by the gearstick. The addition of a flat-bottomed steering wheel invokes the typical coupe feeling and matte chrome highlights within the door trim and dashboard complete the cosseted cockpit perfectly. Keyless entry and exit also makes the whole experience pretty cool, especially when out to impress.
Moving onto performance and this is where the Laguna Coupe excels. Renault have really worked hard to make sure the coupe experience isn’t all style and no substance – all thanks to introducing a technology they call ‘4control’. Definitely one to test out on sweeping bends and tight country corners, the 4Control system works to turn the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front, creating tighter steering and more precision when tackling those tricky twists. You can really push this car to its limit with no trouble and it will keep giving as good as it gets.
Specs and stats next and prices range from just over £20k to a range topping £28k! But, don’t think that you’re being sold short if you opt for the entry level TomTom dCi 150, as you may have guessed from the model name, navigation comes integrated as standard, along with rear parking sensors, dual zone climate control and even auto sensing lights and wipers. Options include extras like leather and metaillic paint, but for the most part Renault is spoiling its Coupe purchasers. The 2.0 litre diesel performs well too, sprinting to 62mph in just 9.8 seconds and still returning an impressive combined mpg of 46.6 – not bad at all.
Responsive and engaging, the Laguna coupe will compliment your smart and sophisticated image at the office, while servicing that ‘boy racer’ urge round town and on the motorways. The 2012 model sees the addition of running lights and some shiny 18” alloys, as well as some rather special, special editions. Definitely the most surprising coupe I have driven over the past few years, and one that I can’t recommend enough.
If men were cars this particular motor would have Vin Diesel's body, Brad Pitt's face and Daniel Craig's arse. I know my dream man is half black, half white and has a combined age of 125, but the point I'm making is that the R8 is a fantasy come true, take-your-breathe-away styling coupled with road dominating performance. As sports cars go it ticks all the boxes, beauty, brawn, power, stability and desirability.
Mitsubishi have definitely stepped up their game in the past few years with design and desirability, however the ASX gives the brand a new market sector to tailgate aggressively and looking at their offering, I think the likes of Land Rover and Nissan should be worried, I think people will be more than happy to make room for this great compact crossover.
Firstly I’d like to look at design, and Mitsubishi have done really well with the ASX. The front end looks more aggressive than a drag queen after the last big wig on the shelf in a January sales and creates a fear inducing presence a dominatrix would be proud of. Smooth curves mixed with chunky grooves create a kinetic styling to the crossover, achieving a deceptively smaller and sleeker look. This is a car that means business and commands respect even while comfortably cruising down the motorway.
Over the festive period, we were hit heavily with snow and ice. The perfect conditions to test the ASX to its limit, and I have to say there isn’t much that this little trooper couldn’t handle. The model we tested was an ‘ASX 3’, a mid range model that was packed out with standard equipment, including the drive mode selection into 4 wheel drive that helped a lot. For its size and look, the ASX is quite unassuming if you’re looking for a capable 4x4. We have tested many crossovers before and would only dare drive over a field for fear of incapability, but when we found ourselves in a good 3ft. of snow, we realised the ASX’s brilliance.
The ASX coped incredibly well with the snow, the only issue being the ice, ultimate enemy of any vehicle never mind a 4x4. A little careful negotiation and reversing however meant the crossover performed fantastically, and being the good, kind-hearted people we are, everyone got their eggs, milk and bread to last the big freeze.
A fantastic car off-road, the ASX doesn’t stop there. Under normal driving conditions the crossover performs incredibly well. Seeing you comfortable on long journeys and coming alive through country surrounds, discovering sweeping bends and manoeuvring through tighter corners. ASX definitely takes some characteristics from its older performance siblings, and gives you a chance to have fun, even when driving a bigger, heavier car. Plus with the stability and traction control methods, you know that you’ll be stuck to the road, come rain or shine…or even snow.
One of my favourite finds about the ASX was looking at the spec sheet to find that everything on the car was standard. Things like iPod USB connection, Auto lights and windscreen wipers and keyless entry with push button start to name but a few. Mitsubishi seem to have thrown it all in for the one price and aren’t asking for any extra dosh, the brilliant all wheel drive system with all its initialled stability systems and even the AS&G (Auto Stop & Go) ClearTec technology is included. The only things lacking, which I knowingly miss, are running lights and sat-nav which are two luxuries I’ve become accustomed to, with the ASX 4 featuring sat-nav, however still not even a single LED bulb to call running lights.
Switching the driving mode from 2 to 4 wheel drive changes everything and makes the ASX one of our favourite ‘soft’ off-roaders, a stylish crossover that’s capable and makes the whole experience good fun. We had the mid range 1.8 diesel, with its great fuel economy, 40mpg round town, 56mpg on the motorway and a very healthy 50mpg combined, well that’s Mitsubishi’s claimed figure…. It’s a break with tradition for me to be writing this next line…. It would appear (bearing in mind that we’ve been testing the ASX for a month and have done over 2,000 miles in it) Mitsubishi have been a tad pessimistic with these figures! On the motorway for instance (driving at normal speed, not crawling along like a granny), we were getting a fantastic 65mpg and getting an average of over 500 miles per tank of diesel!
In all the ASX really is a superb motor, it ticks all the boxes of being a truly great car to live with, regardless of your lifestyle and will pretty much cope with everything you ask of it or throw at it, all coming in at a modest price of just £22,599, which is pretty impressive if you ask me. All I know is, I’m really going to miss our little ASX.