Driving Torque

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Archive for the tag “Citroen”

Citroën DS3 Cabrio DSport – Driven and Reviewed

Citroen DS3 Cabrio DSportCitroën’s DS3 has been on our roads for an almost unbelievable four years now, and this cabriolet version has been allowing us to maximise our enjoyment of the sporadic British sunshine since 2013. Just prior to this article being published, Citroën announced a slight midlife refresh of the model including new headlights and a few new, ultra-efficient engines, two of them being Diesels.

That news may encourage some buyers to hang on a while so that they can get the most bang for their buck, but the fact remains that if you like your DS3 Cabrio to perform and sound as well as it looks (I don’t believe in Diesel cabrios – it’s something of an oxymoron, IMO), and you’re not prepared to shell out the somewhat lofty sum of £30k for the DS3 Racing – this 155bhp petrol model is the one you’ll most likely opt for.

Gotta love the fin. Although I'd opt for a lighter body colour to make it stand out

Gotta love the fin. Although I’d opt for a lighter body colour to make it stand out

The DS3 might be four years old but the look is still very fresh and I challenge anyone to say that shark-fin doesn’t continue to raise a smile. Speaking of ‘the‘ fin – I was initially worried that the release of this cabrio model would do away with this most pleasing of features. Thankfully though, Citroën opted to give their soft-top just that – a soft top. This means that the roof frame stays in tact, as do the rear side windows and the cloth section simply slides rearwards, kind of like an enlarged sun-roof. Not only does this mean my favourite bit of the whole design stays in tact – yes, the dorsal – but the structural rigidity of the car only required a bit of strengthening where the parcel shelf used to be, in order to maintain the taut feeling of the hardtop. Kind of a win-win situation really as it only adds 25kg to the overall weight, too.

Citroen DS logoCitroën were always very keen to distance the DS sub brand from their mainstream models, even selling them in DS-only dealerships in some countries, and they’ve achieved this aim with aplomb. There are Citroën badges on the DS3, obviously, but they’re subtle and require some searching for. In their place are the modern, slightly cryptic DS logos that are splashed around the whole car in various formats. In fact, the only double chevron I found on the whole car that was actually combined with the Citroën name was a diminutive blanking piece in the cabin – it’s no accident that this could easily be missed.

It’s not just the look of the DS3 cabriolet that’s separate from the Citroën hoi polloi, though – the way the car drives and feels is quite different too. The flamboyance and character of the DS3 is quite French, in so many ways. Contrarily though, the soft, accommodating ride you’d normally associate with cars of this origin, especially Citroëns, is dismissed in favour of an altogether harder, more focused approach. This is obviously something of a double-edged sword as the DS3 Cabrio’s handling is precise, with hardly any roll to speak of, but when your primary concern isn’t kissing apexes, and you just want to get home in comfort after a tough day at work – the DS3 Cabrio’s ride could jar a little, especially over our typically pot-holed roads.

Citroen DS3 Cabrio interiorIt’s a tired old cliché that French cars aren’t built very well, and a tag that’s not as relevant as it used to be. If you need some convincing – just drive this DS3 Cabrio for a while – the build quality feels excellent and everything has a solid, chunky air about it. Put the roof up and the sensation of calm and quiet could easily embarrass some drop-heads that cost twice as much. You could of course argue that for nearly £20k, it shouldn’t be anything other than screwed together properly, but it’s not just money that’s been thrown at the DS3 Cabrio, the imagination and flair that’s especially evident in the cabin comes from ambition, not a chequebook.

Roof up......

Roof up……

.....going down.......

…..going down…….

.......and it's down

…….and it’s down

When discussing practicality, cabriolets often crop up in the same sentence, usually accompanied with the words ‘a distinct lack of’. Because of the way the DS3 Cabrio has been developed, the soft top doesn’t impinge on the boot space as such, it just leaves you with a letter-box style aperture to access said boot. But negotiate that and you can easily fit a decent sized fortnightly shop in – trust me, I did it. The counter balance to this, though, is that if you retract the two-stage roof all the way back, your rear-view is reduced slightly. Actually, it’s annihilated, it’s probably a better idea to keep the roof at its first stage which keeps the rear window in its correct position. The slight revamp of the model I mentioned earlier does include the option of a reversing camera – I think it’s a must if you go for the cab.

Not the best access, but at 245 litres, far bigger than the competition

Not the best access, but at 245 litres, far bigger than the competition

The DS3 Cabrio uses the four-cylinder, turbocharged engine that, until recently, was found in various MINIs. The fact that BMW have opted to go down the tri-cylinder route shouldn’t reflect badly on this Citroën developed engine as it’s still really rather good. Yes, it can be a tad frustrating and a little gutless at low revs, as you wait for the turbo to wake up and do its stuff, but once you get going, it’s a sweet unit that suits the DS3 well, especially with the clunky, satisfying gear changes from the six-speed ‘box. My only real complaint with this engine is that the turbos stifle the sound too much, but get the roof down and drive through your favourite tunnel and it’s just loud enough to keep you coming back to do it again.

The Citroen DS3 is one of those cars that remains affordable, whilst offering a certain element of quality to make it stand out from the crowd, much in the same way as the Fiat 500 and MINIs do. The difference with this, though, is that it’s not some retro-mobile, cashing in on past glories, it’s ultra modern and the first of its kind. This DS3 Cabrio model stands apart from the soft-top competition due to its increased levels of practicality and comfort. Opt for this 155bhp engine, and it’s a hoot to drive, too.

By Ben Harrington

Specifications; Citroën DS3 Cabrio DSport THP155, Engine1.6l petrol four cylinder turbocharged, Transmission6 speed manual, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power – 155bhp, Torque – 240Nm, Emissions – 137g/km CO2, Economy47.9mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 132 mph, Acceleration – 8.2s 0-62mph, Price – £19,845 OTR, £21,490 as tested.

For full details, go to: http://www.citroen.co.uk/DS3

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Citroën DS5 DSport Hybrid4 – First Drive

Citroen DS5 OS three quarter

Citroen DS5 DSport Hybrid4

With the Citroën DS5, you can pretty much forget everything you know about French cars. In fact, with the release of this Citroën DS5 Hybrid4, you’d probably do well to forget quite a few things about cars and driving them in general. Automobiles from our Gallic cousins always attract a myriad of tired old clichés such as ‘quirky interior’ and ‘typical French flair’ but this DS5 is different. Still very, very French but, well, different.

According to Citroën themselves, they envisage the DS5 creating a little niche for itself, somewhere between ‘D’ segment cars such as VW‘s Passat and Vauxhall’s Insignia, and more premium models such as VW’s CC and Audi’s A4. Even Mercedes would be proud to create this new segment, but the overall perception of quality that emanates from the DS5 makes Citroën’s aim a realistic target.

Exterior

Citroen DS5 side view

Citroen DS5 – Many design features

When assessing the aesthetics of the DS5, I think it’s only fair to judge it on its own merits. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of comparing this model to its little sister – the DS3 and to consequently find the DS5 wanting due to its sheer size and dimensions. Taken on its own, the ‘5’ is a pleasurable car to behold with every last line and feature trying it’s best to impress. There are so many visual treats on the DS5 that to gain a true appreciation, I don’t think a picture can really do it justice. In the metal, and given plenty of time, one seems to find a new highlight with every glance. Take, for example, the ‘A’ pillar that starts in its conventional position at the base of the windscreen but then runs the length of the car and tapers to a point around the top of the boot. Or the upturned metal boomerang which forms the top of each headlight, follows the waistline and finishes half way up the front quarter-light windows in a familiar shark’s-fin style.

Interior

Citroen DS5 Interior

DS5 Interior – many more design features

Open the driver’s door, however,  and the attention grabbing nature of the exterior somehow pales into insignificance. Just when one thought that everything which could be done with the conventional layout of a car’s cabin, had been, the DS5 moves the goalposts. Citroën apparently drew inspiration from a fighter-jet’s cockpit for the DS5’s cabin – ‘that’s not original’ I hear you cry BMW and Saab did that years ago’. Well, yes, Citroën obviously aren’t pioneers in this approach but, whichever plane they used as a template, it’s not been used before. There are buttons, dials and switches aplenty, all beautifully designed and crafted but not necessarily by the same person at the same time.

In my head, I imagine artists drawing up ideas at Citroën for many years, coming up with innovative designs for everything from door handles to window switches. These fictitious artist’s ideas are consistently met with comments of approval and appreciation but then they’re invariably shelved due to financial constraint and a lack of nerve, the disappointed designer sent packing with promises that their work will be considered again in the future.

Back to reality and this car’s interior is a new home for all of those previously mothballed ideas, all of them innovative and striking but slightly head-ache inducing when presented together in such a relatively small space. It’s certainly not unattractive, it just might take a little getting used to.

From the driver’s seat

One decidedly un-French aspect of the interior is the driving position and the use of space. Once in the driver’s seat, the steering wheel seems to stand remarkably proud of the unusually deep-dash. Both then combine to give the sensation of piloting the DS5 from somewhere near the rear seats, not unlike where WRC drivers are positioned to achieve optimum weight distribution. Between the front seats is an oversized transmission tunnel, not only housing all manner of switch gear but also lending much weight to a secure, cosseted environment. A very welcome feeling but quite the opposite of Citroëns of old with their voluminous quantities of space.

Hybrid4 Drivetrain

Hybrid4 badgeOne aspect of our test car that should be paid special attention is it’s Hybrid4, 4wd drivetrain and once on the road, it can become all-encompassing. A PSA development, it differs hugely from other hybrids as, not only is its conventional engine a common-rail Diesel, but its electrical motor is completely independent and the two never meet. This means that the platform lends itself to far greater adaptability than traditional hybrids and also aids more even weight distribution.

In Layman’s terms, the Hybrid4 system utilises a conventional engine to drive the front wheels and an electric motor to power the rear. Both can work completely independently of each other or concurrently which is where the 4wd capabilities occur. There is a certain amount of driver input to govern how the car is powered and this is controlled by a rotating knob with four available modes; ZEV – electric motor only which works up to 37mph, assuming there is enough battery life left. 4wd – to provide extra traction on rough ground or in low grip conditions. Sport – this also utilises all four wheels but allows for a more enthusiastic driving style. Auto – this is the default setting and, I would imagine, the one used 99% of the time as it decides when to use Diesel, electric or both.  The batteries for the electric motor are  recharged purely by harvesting power from the rest of the vehicle, not by being plugged in as you would with an all-electric car.

On the digital dashboard of the DS5, there is a diagram of the vehicle showing which wheels are being driven at any particular moment and this is where the fun really starts. Not only will it show how much power is being used, it also displays power being returned back into your batteries – a highly satisfying experience. It’s very easy to quickly become enthralled by this demonstration of power-farming and it starts to feel like a game. I must have slightly lead feet as I struggled to keep it in electric only mode for any length of time – even if ZEV mode is selected, it will defect to Auto mode if it feels that the driver is demanding performance that the batteries alone can’t provide.

In Sport mode, it is possible to achieve some spirited performance in the DS5 Hybrid4 but I felt that it was slightly unnatural. At high revs, the common-rail Diesel engine becomes quite an intrusive noise in the cabin and this detracts from what is usually a serene driving experience. For me, the DS5 is about gracefully wafting around with the minimum of fuss, not trying to break speed records in what is, due to its extra motor, quite a heavy car.

In Conclusion

Citroen DS5 NS Three quarter

Still very obviously a Citroen

Citroën’s DS5 is a huge step forwards for the marque in terms of quality and design and I hope certain aspects are filtered down to the rest of the range. DS’ now account for a quarter of all of Citroën’s sales and surely propel them to the top of the ‘French Trio’ tree. The extraordinary levels of design that have gone into the DS5, coupled with the ingenuity of the Hybrid4 system make this particular model a force to be reckoned with. At £32,000 before options, however, I sincerely hope it avoids that most French of pitfalls – being too expensive for the brand. I feel that this car can carry it off given the chance and could provide some credible competition for its German cousins. I hope so too.

By Ben Harrington

Specifications; Citroën DS5 DSport Hybrid4, Price –  £32,200, Engine –  2.0l HDi + 27Kw, Power –  163bhp + 37bhp, Acceleration –  0-60 8.3s, Maximum Speed –  131mph, Economy –  68.9mpg combined, Emissions – 99g/km CO2

Ben’s Cars

 

 

Austin Metro

Austin Metro

1. 1983 Mk1 Austin Metro 1.0L, Owned May1996 – Jan 1997

Colour – Stratos Blue

Purchase Price – ?- Sold For – ?

Although technically my first car, I tend to disregard my Metro as I never actually drove it on a public highway, legally. Bought for me by my dad, it was an MOT failure which needed plenty of bodywork and dad naively thought I would jump at the chance of learning to weld. Observations on handling and performance are obviously limited in spite of the hundreds of journeys made travelling up and down Mum’s 30ft driveway.

2. 1967 Volkswagen Beetle 1200, MNG 781E, Owned Feb 1997 – Jan 1998

Colour – Peppermint Green

1967 Volkswagen Beetle Lowered

1967 Volkswagen Beetle

Purchase Price – £1500 – Sold For £1000

The car I prefer to refer to as my first. In lurid green and slammed to the floor, subtle this car was not. Despite pedestrian performance, wayward handling and woeful unreliability, this little bug was my introduction to air-cooled VWs, a breed I’m still passionate about today.

3.  1990 Peugeot 205 1.9 Gti, H936 CPO, Owned Jan 1998 – Dec 1998

Colour – Cherry Red

86-peugeot-205-gti in red

Peugeot 205 Gti

Purchase Price – £3995 – Sold For – £3000

A combination of receiving my first regular income and still living at home meant I could afford the Pug, arguably the greatest hot hatch ever. Seemingly supercar performance and renowned go-kart like handling easily justified the insurance which was equal to over a third of the value of the car!

BMW 320i

BMW 320i

4. 1987 BMW 320i, Owned Dec 1998 – June 1999

Colour – Cirrus Blue

Purchase Price – £4200 – Sold For – £3900

From the days when the Germans were hell bent on over-engineering, this Beemer was heavy, and I mean heavy! So much so that despite the more desirable six pot engine nestling under the bonnet, it struggled to propel its own weight and the result was mpg to rival a Hummer. I admired this car but never truly grew to love it.

Volkswagen Golf Mk2

Volkswagen Golf Mk2

5. 1986 Volkswagen Golf 1.6L, Owned June 1999 – Jan 2000

Colour – Mars Red

Purchase Price – £1700 – Sold For – £1500

University meant my days of desirable motors were forced to go on hold and thriftiness was the order of the day. This Gti look-alike however, proved that little budget doesn’t have to mean little quality. The lack of outright power was overshadowed by the magnificent chassis, cocking the inner rear wheel when pushed. If nothing else, this car knew how to have fun.

Ford Sierra Sapphire

Ford Sierra Sapphire

6. 1988 Ford Sierra Sapphire 1.8L, Owned Jan 2000 – March 2000

Colour – Rosewood Red

Purchase Price – £500 – Sold For – £400

Some of the most honest, satisfying  cars I’ve owned have cost less than one thousand pounds, so have some of the worst. The Sapphire fell into the latter category. Built when quality control was becoming a foreign concept at Ford, its bodywork was unseasonably rusty although I’m fairly sure a bodged accident repair didn’t help matters. The previous owner had had a decent stab at replicating a Cosworth by pilfering a set of wheels from a Mk2 Escort RS2000 and they were definitely the highlight. I would say the worst aspect overall was the engine though. The car ran on petrol, the engine looked like a petrol engine, the logbook even stated petrol fuel was required and yet the rattling engine note wasn’t dissimilar to a tired London Taxi.

Mini Mayfair

Mini Mayfair

7. 1984 Austin Mini Mayfair (Auto) Owned March 2000 – May 2000

Colour – Ermine White

Purchase Price – £400 – Sold For – £200

As a rule, automatic ‘boxes aren’t really my thing, I prefer the pure driving experience of a manual. The lack of a clutch pedal in this Mini however only added to the joy it brought. The handling was so precise and accurate that being an auto enhanced the feeling of driving a go-kart on the road. There was no fluidity or smoothness to the box, rather a violent jolt with every change which, to me was pure rally car. Unfortunately, one two many jolts resulted in broken engine mounts and that was the end of my Mini adventure.

8.  1988 Renault 5 Campus, Owned May 2000 – January 2001

Colour – Avis Red

renault 5 campus in red

Renault 5 Campus

Purchase Price – £250 – Sold For – £250

I have very fond memories of my Five, for the simple reason that it did everything asked of it and it did it well. It suited my needs perfectly – it was cheap, reliable, did about a million mpg and, joy of joys was an absolute hoot to drive. The suspension was too comfortable to ever make handling precise but somehow you always knew where the limits were with no nasty, hedge bound surprises. Hailing from when French autos still had a sense of humour, even the dash was a design masterpiece with random levers sprouting from bizarre locations like a Dalek.s helmet.

9. 1987 Volvo 340 GL, E596 GOO, Owned January 2001 – November 2001

Colour –  Smoke Silver Metallic

Volvo 340

Volvo 340

Purchase Price – £400 – Sold For – £300

It may be purely psychological but I always find a Volvo a warm, cosseting environment to be in, like a great big steel hug. My Volvo really was a warm place to be in due to the fully functioning heated seats, a pleasure until the many occasions when I forgot they were on in mid summer resulting in a Swedish sauna effect. My friend and I were once waiting in traffic, heard a screech of tyres and felt a slight shunt from behind. We went to survey the damage and found an apologetic Punto driver clearly upset about his mangled front end. Damage to Volvo wasn’t even a scratch. Crumple zones – who needs them anyway?

10.  1985 Volkswagen Golf  1.3L, Owned November 2001 – November 2001

Colour – Mars Red

1985 vw golf mark 2 in red

Mark 2 Volkswagen Golf No.2

Purchase Price – £100 – Sold For – £100

Whilst possibly trying to rekindle my emotions for my first Golf, I stumbled upon this example, similar in many ways except for the smaller capacity engine. Like going back to a favourite holiday destination, I was destined for disappointment. This Golf was to put it mildly, knackered. A nightmare to start, when it did start it stopped again at every opportunity and when it didn’t stop it still felt as though it had due to the measly amount of power on tap. Thankfully my torture lasted but a week when a workmate needed extremely cheap transport and I saw my opportunity to end my misery.

From November 2001 to June 2002 I reverted back to car number 4, the BMW as I had sold it to my dad and he wasn’t using it anyway.

Volkswagen Golf GTi MK3

Volkswagen Golf GTi MK3

11. 1996 Volkswagen Golf Gti 8v, P383 KND, Owned June 2002 – September 2004

Colour – Dusty Mauve

Purchase Price – £4995 – Sold For – £3500

2002 was a big year for me. I met my future wife and started earning proper money again, life was good. Of course, more money meant a new car and I’d always wanted a Golf Gti so that was what I got. The Mk3 8v always gets bad reviews as being overweight and underpowered but after years of snail pace driving, it initially felt pretty spritely to me. Admittedly though, it wasn’t long before 115bhp started feeling a tad pedestrian but as is usual with VW, the car was greater than the sum of it’s parts and the Gti’s character and build quality shone through.

12. 1996 Ford Escort Si, P96 WBV, Owned May 2003 – February 2007

Colour – Metallic Panther Black

1996 Ford escort SI 16v panther black

Ford Escort Si 16V

Purchase Price – £2995 – Sold For – £ 750

In truth, my wife’s car but I ended up doing a lot of driving in it so it’s on the list. The Mk6 was doomed to fail from the start as its technology was outdated before production even began, poor safety levels and even poorer build quality didn’t help either. I always found this ‘warm hatch’ quite endearing though, the Zetec engine moved it along nicely and I don’t remember it breaking down. The interior was quite a pleasant place to be, that is until a cucumber was lost under the back seat for a month, resulting in an ungodly smell that never really seemed to dissipate.

Audi 90 Quattro

Audi 90 Quattro

13. 1988 Audi 90 Quattro 2.2, Owned April 2004 – May 2004

Colour – Lagos Metallic Blue

Purchase Price – £800 – Sold For – £300

I’d always fancied an Audi Quattro so when two of my friends bought Audi 90s, I decided to take the plunge. The theory was to sell the Golf and save some money by running a decidedly cheaper Audi. The engine had plenty of life left in it and the handling was excellent due to the 4wd system. Its first long run to the Lakes resulted in a strange knocking noise developing on the motorway. You can imagine my joviality when I discovered the wheel nuts had worked their way loose, a trick they continuously repeated. A disastrous MOT led to the car going, albeit at a huge loss. Thankfully, I’d never got round to selling the Golf so I jumped back in that and forgot the Audi ever happened.

14. 1974 Volkswagen Kombi, ANW 610M, Owned September 2004 – Present

Colour – Originally Alpine White, now BMW Jet Black & Antique white

1974 Volkswagen Camper

‘Matilda’

Purchase Price – £4750

Where to begin?! We originally went to a VW show to find a Karmann Ghia and came away with our hearts set on a camper. After viewing several rust buckets, we found a company who imported VW’s from Australia and went to have a look. We were shown a weather beaten, plain white van with no interior but more importantly with no rust or bodged repairs either; we fell in love and agreed on a price. Matilda, as we christened her was my daily drive for over a year – not much fun in winter with no heater! Having spent thousands on her, she sadly spends most of her time in my garage now but that’ll change once the kids are a bit older. My eldest loves her already – she should do really, she was conceived in her after all!

15. 1993 Volkswagen Corrado VR6, L479 VLA, Owned January 2006 – Sept 2007

Colour – Midnight Blue Pearl Effect

1993 Volkswagen Corrado VR6 in blue

Volkswagen Corrado VR6

Purchase Price – £3500 – Sold For – £6360

The only car I’ve ever bought by accident. I traipsed down to Brighton with a bag of cash to see this car but it was far from as advertised. It was low mileage and had potential but the owner wanted top money for it so I made my excuses and motioned to leave. After relentless pressure to make any offer, I came up with a meagre figure- less than half the asking price just to allow me to leave. Next thing I knew I was circling the M25 in a car I didn’t really intend to buy, luckily my gamble paid off though. Torque steer aside, it drove magnificently with an addictive soundtrack and after some more money and time were invested, yielded a healthy profit. I’d still have it today if it wasn’t for those pesky kids! (Sold following news of wife’s pregnancy – baby seats don’t fit in Corrados)

Fiat Punto

Fiat Punto

16.  2001 Fiat Punto ELX 16V, AP51 HMC, Owned January 2007 – January 2008

Colour – Metallic Gun Metal Grey

Purchase Price – £2995 – Sold for – £1400

Another of the wife’s cars technically, recommended by me after I walked away unscathed from a Punto that was involved in quite a serious accident. Sadly, a truly dreadful car however. Over lightened steering meant the driver could only marginally affect the direction of travel via the traditional steering wheel method and an iron maiden would embarrass the interior when comparing comfort levels. By far the worst aspect though was the build quality which sported rust levels previously unseen on a non seafaring vessel.

Volvo 460 GL

Volvo 460 GL

17. 1993 Volvo 460GL, Owned September 2007 – June 2008

Colour – White

Purchase Price – £200 – Sold for £100 (Scrap)

Finding myself in-between cars again meant a cheap solution be found quickly, resulting in a return to Sweden’s finest. Joy of joys, this one had heated seats too which more than made up for the rotten bodywork and various dents. Testament to the brand, this unloved shed got through a freezing winter without a hiccup. I almost felt guilty when the MOT ran out and I summoned the scrapper without even granting the opportunity to attempt a further twelve month stay of execution.

Citroen Xsara Picasso blue

Citroen Xsara Picasso

18. 2002 Citroen Xsara Picasso Sx, PE52 DFO, Owned January 2008 – Present

Colour – Mediterranean Blue

Purchase Price – £2995

Getting closer to two becoming three meant that the hateful Punto had to go in place of a larger, five door model. The price and family friendliness of these ubiquitous Gallic oddities does a good job of excusing their faults, i.e. build quality and driver satisfaction. Some nice little features inside that really feel like a helping hand after a long night with a screaming baby!

Subaru Impreza WRX

Subaru Impreza WRX

19. 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX SE PPP, AY05 MLO, Owned June 2008 – Dec 2008

Colour – Crystal Grey Metallic

Purchase Price – £9600 – Sold For £9000

I needed a family car by now and to me, having four doors meant the Scooby qualified perfectly, fulfilling a long term desire to own this road going rally car was merely a bonus! I didn’t want the attention the Sti brought with its pink badges and spoilers so I opted for the relatively subtle WRX SE with the Prodrive Performance Pack. This meant I got luxuries like leather interior combined with a 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds – supercar territory. By far the fastest car I’ve ever bought and also the most painful on the wallet with mpg averaging around 20 and already high insurance premiums reliant on a tracker. The expense combined with being surprisingly small inside meant after six months I wanted out and on Christmas eve my wish was granted with little depreciation. Time for a proper family car.

Audi A6 Avant

Audi A6 Avant

20. 2003 Audi A6 1.9Tdi SE Avant, KC03 HLG, owned Jan 2009 – August 2011

Colour – Crystal Blue Metallic

Purchase Price – £6000 – Sold For £5000

Without doubt the most complete car I have ever owned. Torquey, economical, beautifully built, absolutely reliable, cavernous inside, handsome and even cheap to tax. I really cannot fault this car for anyone with a young family. High mpg is appreciated whilst outgoings rise and incomes drop, the boot easily swallows buggies etc and if you go for the multitronic or auto, it’ll even change gear for you, leaving you free to consume precious coffee on the way to work. I’m even lucky enough to have an incredible stereo for when the kids aren’t in the car.

Piaggio Vespa PX125

Piaggio Vespa PX125

21. 2006 Piaggio Vespa PX125, YX06 LTZ, owned July 2011 – Present

Colour – Black with tan seat

Purchase Price – £1250

Fair enough – it’s not exactly a car. My first venture into motorbike ownership is represented by my beautiful black Vespa. I’ve desperately wanted a Vespa since I was 16, so this is really an ambition fulfilled, as well as a very cool, ultra economical piece of transportation. The fact that it’s iconic, black and air-cooled means that it fits in perfectly next to Matilda the VW and I’ve used my Italian scooter in all weathers without her missing a beat.

2003 Mini JCW Cooper S

JCW Cooper S

22. BMW MINI Cooper S JCW, CU53 UNB, owned October 2012 – August 2013 

Colour – Royal Grey

Purchase Price – £5650

Sold For – £5000

‘Buy a Cooper’, I said to myself. ‘You’ve driven the Cooper S and it’s too powerful, the Cooper is more fun’. I’ve got a track record of not listening to my own advice though, so, although I didn’t buy a Cooper S, I went the other way and bought the 210bhp John Cooper Works. Great fun over a perfectly flat road, not so much on the tarmac disgraces we call roads in Britain. Jarring ride aside, the performance was fabulous, especially with that supercharger constantly whirring away.

0534525-Saab-900-Cabriolet-900-SE-2.0i-Turbo-Cabriolet-199523. Saab 900 SE Turbo Convertible, R978 XON, owned August 2013 – November 2014

Colour – Midnight Blue

Purchase Price – £1060

Sold For – £995

I’d always admired Saab’s quirky nature and the 900 Turbo is an absolute icon. Having seen the upwards spiral that the early models’ prices had taken, I couldn’t resist this immaculate, low mileage ‘New Generation’ car. The body was about as rigid as cooked spaghetti, but that 2.0l Turbo Saab engine was a dream. Registered at the end of February 1998, I believe that my car was one of the last ever made before the arrival of the GM sourced 9-3, and I saw it as something of an investment. Unfortunately, it was getting enough use and when I was made the right offer, it had to go.

 

 

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