Here is another chance to see my column from the October 2016 editions of The Local Herald and The Clitheroe Local. This month we have the highly-acclaimed Ford Focus RS; a car which is setting the motoring world alight. There’s also the Skoda Octavia vRS, which is a great alternative to the Golf GTi. Lastly I write about the Volvo XC90, a car that is simply magnificent. This is a column full of cars I’d happily own, which made it a rather interesting month. Full write ups will be on the Reviews page shortly.
This month I want to start with another fast Ford. The Focus RS is one of the most anticipated cars of the year, and after driving one on the UK launch I couldn’t wait to spend some more time with in. What can I tell you? Well, it has a 2.3-litre, turbocharged petrol engine producing 350PS and 470Nm of torque (on overboost). Through a 6-speed manual box featuring launch control it will go from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 165mph.
The best feature on the RS is the 4WD system. No car I have ever driven handles this well. There is no understeer, just heaps and heaps of grip in all conditions. This then, is a true hot hatch. And it starts at £31,000 which makes it the hot hatch for the everyday man. What are you waiting for?
Should a 5-door hatch not quite suit the family, then how about a Skoda Octavia vRS Estate? This is certainly more practical; being able to accommodate the dogs and luggage on top of the family. But the Skoda is no slouch. It has a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 230PS and 350Nm of torque. It will do 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds which makes it a rather warm estate car.
You get full leather seats, satellite navigation, privacy glass, bi-xenon headlights vRS drive mode selection and some delightful 19-inch alloys. It’s a great car to live with for the family, and also great fun when you find a decent road. Essentially the Skoda has the running gear of a Golf GTi, but with added practicality. The Octavia costs £27,800 which is also slightly cheaper than the Golf, and makes the vRS a rather enticing proposition.
Next up is the Volvo XC90. This is another car I drove briefly last year and have been waiting to get my hands on since. The R-Design model is now on sale, and when it arrived in bursting blue there was no denying that this is a great looking car. From the ‘Thor hammer’ daytime running lights to the 20-inch two-tone alloy wheels, the XC90 oozes style.
On the inside the flagship Volvo is a plethora of luxury, from the huge touch-screen media system to the snug seats and high-quality trim. I was testing the diesel, which is a 2.0-litre unit producing 235PS and 480Nm of torque. For a large car it’s rather sprightly; 0-62mph takes just 7.8 seconds. My test car came with the optional air suspension setup which means that it is immensely comfortable, yet can be put in dynamic mode to improve handling. The XC90 is motoring perfection, and I would love to own one. At £50,450 for the D5 R-Design I better get saving!
Last up this month is another car I would like to own; the Jaguar XE R-Sport. One of the latest additions to the Jaguar line-up, the XE aims to take on the likes of the BMW 3 series. The R-Sport is a looker, with a subtle bodykit, lip spoiler and optional 19-inch alloy wheels to give serious kerb appeal.
Under the bonnet lay one of the new Ingenium diesel engines. It has 180PS and 430Nm of torque. This is sent to the rear wheels through an 8-speed automatic gearbox, but there is an AWD available. The diesel is smooth, feels faster than the 180PS would have you believe and cruises effortlessly on the motorway. The Ingenium is a clean diesel too, returning a combined 67.3mpg and emitting just 111g/km CO2 on the larger wheels. Prices start at a reasonable £34,775 but be careful, because options can take you upwards of £45k!
That’s all for now, see you in a month!