Driving Torque

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Archive for the tag “Convertible”

Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air – Driven and Reviewed




The Adam’s been a huge success for Vauxhall since its release in 2012 and has sold especially well here in the UK. A huge part of the car’s modus operandi was based on personalisation, with over 1 million combinations of options apparently available. This thrust it into the highly competitive area of the market that’s also occupied by the ubiquitous MINI and Fiat’s 500. Brave move.

A Little Fact

Here’s a little Vauxhall Adam based fact for you; it’s the only model in the current Vauxhall range that doesn’t end in the letter ‘A’. Feel free to use that the next time you’re on a first date or you really want to impress your mates down the pub. Alphabet based nuggets of information aside though, what is this new version – the Adam Rocks Air all about?


vauxhall_adam_rocks_air_sunroofRocks Air?

This Rocks Air is a quasi-SUV version of the Adam, complete with a little rise in ride height (15mm) and some rufty-tufty bits of plastic splashed liberally about the place. That explains the ‘Rocks’ part of the new title then, but what is the ‘Air’ bit all about? It’ll come as no surprise that it refers to the full length fabric sunroof that every Adam Rocks comes with. Don’t worry if you didn’t really want a soft-top though; it doesn’t impede rear visibility when it’s folded back like some similar models do, and the added noise it creates is barely detectable.




They might only be for show, but I feel that the visual additions to the Adam Rocks really set it apart from the base model and give it far more road presence. I’m not sure what the extra 15mm ride height will achieve in terms of off-road ability, but where the Adam could get lost in a crowd, the Adam Rocks stands out, especially with the 18” ‘Twister’ wheels that our test car was shod with.

vauxhall_adam_rocks_air_door_handleRide Quality

These enhanced looks do come at something of a price though, and I don’t just mean financially. The whole setup has been adjusted and tuned to accommodate the loftier height and it’s left the Adam Rocks jittery on uneven surfaces; any bumps and potholes are felt throughout the whole car, irrespective of which wheel encountered them.

This particular Adam Rocks is powered by the same 1.0l, three-cylinder engine that so impressed us in the New Corsa recently, proving to be competent and refined in equal measures. It works just as well in the smaller Adam, as you’d expect, and when it comes down to triple-cylinder units that are so de rigueur at the moment, it really puts Vauxhall up there with the best.

vauxhall_adam_rocks_air_goldIt combines the best qualities of a three cylinder engine – decent economy and bags of character, with a useable torque curve and just enough restraint in the sound department to not be intrusive. Plus, it gets this Adam Rocks Air to the 60mph mark in a not-too-shabby 9.9 seconds


Simply press the Griffin, et voila…..

Luxurious Touches

Vauxhall as a brand aren’t really renowned for their luxurious little touches but that’s precisely what’s so satisfying about the Adam range as a whole.

Take, for example, the exterior boot release; not an element I usually get over-excited about but I feel it deserves special mention in this case. There isn’t a button or lever as such, one simply presses the boot’s entire Griffin badge and the bodywork depresses slightly, opening the boot.

Some of the prettiest dials I've encountered

Some of the prettiest dials I’ve encountered

The basic design and materials in the cabin are satisfying both in terms of aesthetics and quality. The rubber-look eye level plastics, user-friendly Intellilink infotainment system (£275 option) and large, circular air vents put the Adam Rocks ahead of much of the competition, but it’s the fabulous dials that seem to take inspiration from both the aviation and nautical world that pleased me most. A tiny spotlight glows behind the dials, following wherever the needles go, and when the stop/start kicks in, the tachometer needle doesn’t just drop to zero like most cars – it goes to an ‘Auto Stop’ position, leaving ‘Stop’ solely for when the ignition’s turned off. It’s these little touches that add an ‘air’ (excuse the pun) of exclusivity.

vauxhall_adam_rocks_air_interiorAt What Price Though?

The Adam Rocks Air’s premium look and feel does come with a premium price tag however; this exact car would set you back a whopping £20,335. It doesn’t have to be this way though; even with this highly desirable engine option that does suit the car so, the basic price is a far more reasonable £16,695. Or, if it’s just the show you’re after and the go element isn’t a priority, you can spec your Adam Rocks with their 1.2l unit, dropping the base price to £14,695.

There’s obvious flair, and equal amounts of care that’ve been put into the Adam Rocks Air’s design – both inside and out; show some restraint with the options list and you can end up with something that’s got enough taste and refinement to put any MINI to shame.

By Ben Harrington

Specifications; Vauxhall Adam Rocks Air, 1.0l 12v Direct Injection Turbo , Transmission – 6 spd manual, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power – 115PS, Torque – 170Nm, Emissions – 119g/km CO2, Economy – 55.4 mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 121mph, Acceleration – 9.9s 0-62mph, Price – £16,695 OTR, £20,335 as tested

For full details, go to; http://www.vauxhall.co.uk/vehicles/vauxhall-range/cars/adam-rocks-air/overview.html

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

Preaching to the non converted

audi-R8-spyder in red

Audi R8 Spyder

In a recent episode of BBC’s Top Gear, Jeremy tested two of my favourite cars on sale at the moment, the Porsche 911 Turbo and the Audi R8 V10. They are both frighteningly fast, extremely expensive and combine exotic looks with build quality typical of the Fatherland. Unfortunately, both cars had been ruined before they even left the factory by one common problem – no roofs. Let me make myself clear here, I’m not against convertibles per se. I just feel that there is a certain type of car which lends itself beautifully to being scalped and others which, well, don’t.

I appreciate that the sensation of open top driving is pleasant, with the wind in your hair, the sun on your back and generally feeling closer to nature. But let’s be honest, a large proportion of convertible buyers are simply wanting to be seen by as many people as possible in their status symbol, posers in a word. One car which fits the bill for these people is the BMW 320Ci. It’s certainly not made to break records at the Nurburgring yet the image and the badge combine to make the perfect ‘look at me, I’ve got expendable income’ mobile.

This brings me on to my issue with the likes of the 911 Turbo cab and R8 cab. They are both designed in hard top form in order to push the boundaries. They must be the quickest, nimblest and shoutiest in their class otherwise they have failed miserably. Engineers work tirelessly to push output higher, weight lower and chassis’ stiffer. We adore seeing covert spy shots of the new models being pushed to their limits around ‘the Ring’, talking in hushed tones about rumoured performance figures. Buying the likes of these cars will hopefully provide a driving experience like no other, setting us aside as a true admirer of automotive engineering.

So what do you think it says about the person who opts for one of these exquisite cars and then chooses the one with no roof? I’ll tell you what it says, it says that the owner would like everyone to think that they are a driving god but when it actually comes down to the nitty gritty, they care more about being seen in the car than actually driving it. This therefore makes them not only a poser but a poser and a fake.

By Ben Harrington

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