Posts Tagged ‘driving’

Ok, not so long ago I did a post asking how Superb Skoda’s new motor really was. Well, thanks to a bit of free time, people asking me if I had an answer yet and a certain Sussex Skoda dealer I was able to find out.

new skoda superbI’m not one for writing road tests. I don’t have the sufficient vocabulary to describe varying degrees of handling or grip. I’ll leave that to certain TV presenters with an odd taste in clothes. But I will say that i was more impressed with the Superb than I have been by a car for a while – well, one that I’ve taken for a spin at least.

It does handle really smoothly (I did tell you), it pulls away from standing with a fair bit of pace that wouldn’t be expected for a car of its size – or badge – and feels like there’s plenty of guts hiding underneath the bonnet. A bonnet which is part of a car styled nice and sleek and looks so much better in the flesh and metal than phots do it justice. 

Ride quality is also a lot better than I was expecting. I’ve never driven a Skoda before and grew up in the time of Skoda jokes but this was as quiet and solid – feeling as within my own Alfa Romeo. Though obviously not styled in quite the same way. 

There’s some nice little tricks to it – the twin boot thing is something that I don’t think I’d get bored of: sliding your fingers under the lif to switch between hatch or saloon. There’s also the Park Assist thing which is just plain strange – seriously: the car pretty much parks itself. I could grow extremely lazy with this one.

Skoda are pitching this against cars like the Insight but I think it could go and box in a heavier wieght class, against the big German saloons it’s so obviously styled like.

So, in answer to my earlier question: is it Superb? It ain’t far off and for the money your dealer will want, it’s as near-as-damnit.

Anyone else taken one of these out for a spin? Or home? Do you see it in the same way?


The “Is It Just Me or is Your Driving Shite?!” book gained another chapter last night thanks to something I’d remained happily unaffected by for a while: the obnoxious speeder.

Once again I was commuting home though the motorway was a little more clogged than usual so I’d pulled out into the outside lane to, strangely enough, overtake a line of slower moving traffice. No sooner had I cleared than my attention is drawn to my rearview mirror by some schmuck in his Vauxhall Astra flashing his lights and getting so close he could no doubt see up my exhaust pipe. 

So, to Mr Astra I ask: why? Why do you think that you are important enough to bully me out of your way (despite the fact that my car could quite easily lap yours up for dinner) when there’s nowhere for me to go? What are you hoping for: that I’ll somehow find a gap in the stream of traffic to let you pass? Or that I won’t touch my brakes even once and have you cause mulitple fatalities? Cos that’s all it would take, just one little touch with you that close! Do you have any idea how stupid your driving behaviour is?

This has happened to me before, though not for a while, and I’m often tempted to slow down but I know the risks of touching my brakes with someone going that fast that close behind me even if they don’t. Instead I got out of his way as and when I could.  

Now, I could understand why people would think they had the right to act like such moron is if the lights he was flashing were blue, or even – at a stretch – they were rushing to be by their wife’s side as she gave birth. But just to bully people out of your way so you can enjoy your speed is something that should mean your license is revoked or you have to drive a Lada for a decade. 

As it was I had the last laugh as 5 minutes later I spotted the same Astra sat at the back of traffic queueing at the next junction as I sailed past restraining my middle finger. Must have been well worth the risk to get to that traffic. Moron

Anyone else got a suitable punishment or reaction to such obnoxious behaviour?

It’s small, powerful, stylish and… heading to America?

new alfa romeo



This is the new Alfa Romeo MiTo GTA. The powered-up version of Alfa’s new and already beloved MiTo and has been unveiled to the world at the Geneva motor show. The big news is that Fiat are looking to make use of their new connections in North America and roll out the Alfa Romeo brand.

But is there a ready market? The GTA, for examply, packs a 240bhp punch from its 1.8litre engine but will the normal 1.4litre MiTo find a warm-welcome State side? Of course it won’t just be the MiTo that Fiat roll out over in the U.S but it’s a gorgeous looking car isn’t it? Is one as powerful and stylish the ideal first attempt to break America for smaller cars?

So the big news in the social media world is how Ford are embracing all us bloggers and lovers of the communities but offering 100 people a free Fiesta before they launch it in the States. Great huh? 

Well, there’s a couple of catches. The first is that you’ve got to be deemed socially cool enough – they’re looking for people who have what they call a “strong presence on the web.” Then you get the keys to an “international model” Fiesta, for six months. Then you get to generate an online buzz over the new Ford

Except… well if you saw my lost post, the “international” Fiesta isn’t the one that’s launching Stateside in 2010. 

So… unless I’ve read this wrong the winners are getting the funky little super-mini we all love here in Europe for six months in order to promote the chuffing great sedan?  Making the ‘Ford Movement’ a great big exercise in futility. 

America needs a small car but the Full-Fat Fiesta isn’t likely to be it. Or am I missing something here in this campaign? Anyone???

Ok, let’s play a game of spot the difference.

First: the current new Fiesta that we get to enjoy in Europe, it’s picked up numerous awards including best Super-Mini and European car of the year. Below, the ‘Fiesta’ that Ford will be launching in the U.S in 2010.


Seems to have grown a bit doesn’t it? Well this is the new Ford ‘Fiesta’ that the Americans will get – Ford have stated it won’t be here in Europe – that kind of quashes hints that the U.S is ready for the smaller car.

Or is this small by American standards? I just want to know why they’ve kept the Fiesta name?

You know, I’ve been hearing and seeing a lot of the new Ford KA, given that a lot of my colleagues drive the old one and don’t like the new look.  

Little KA, Big Responsibility?

Little KA, Big Responsibility?

Thing is, something that nobody has mentioned about the little monster so far (and probably because it’s not too appropriate for advertising) is just how important it is for Ford. Well, Ford Europe at least given the Blue Oval’s seeming readiness to let em go on their own and that the American’s aren’t likely to get it even if they need it. 

The downside for the KA is that it has a huge weight on its shoulders. Ford were close to bankruptcy and ready to ditch the European element so it needs to hugely well for such a little car. Given the recessive market place it launched into… fingers crossed. 

What I’d like to see is for it to do a staggering turnover to the point where they sit up in the meetings in Detroit when looking at stats – low cost to build, healthy margins, huge sales – and give it to the Americans. Then again it could be that Ford (Europe) have put so much clout behind the KA because they know it’s what the market has been asking for and they want to save their skins. 

The new Ford KA is the right car at the right time here. It’s small, hugely economical and cheap in comparison to its rivals. On the business end there’s more margin for dealers to play with prices and given that its predecessor lasted 12 years, it has the potential to grow into a big seller too.

It’s more than likely to see a big reaction from people looking for something cheap to run (so cheap to insure it’s almost negative numbers in insurance groupings), a doddle to park in the tight and – to many – a funky looker. 

Just a shame Ford had to face bankruptcy before really pushing the economical and ‘green’ cars it currently does.