Tag Archives: car review

Who’s your ideal driving companion?

seat_miiIn a poll conducted to celebrate the launch of the new special edition SEAT Mii by MANGO it seems that the women of the UK have very clear ideas about who they would like to have travelling alongside them.

Prince Harry is the clear favourite, with a quarter of those questioned wanting the handsome Royal next to them as they drive around the city.

Some things don’t change though, as David Beckham shows his undying appeal, coming a close second with 21%.

It seems no one wants to take the chance of having their driving judged, with Simon Cowell getting a mere 8%. The big shock is so-called ‘dream boy’ Harry Styles, who received a measly 5%, which goes to show that looks don’t always count.

Embattled PM David Cameron can find no comfort in the fact that he gained only 3% of the vote, though some might say ‘as expected’.

Jennifer Lawrence leads the way with 18% of those asked choosing the Hunger Games star as their ultimate female car companion. And Prince Harry’s sister-in-law Kate Middleton (17%) beat Beyoncé (10%) among those polled. Maybe UK women are hoping Kate will spill the beans on her Royal brother-in-law?

When questioned about the age-old driving battle of the sexes, I’m delighted to see that women are more confident than they have ever been about their motoring abilities, with 70% considering themselves to be far more skilled drivers than the men in their lives. Hear hear.

Having said that, just over half said that men have a better sense of direction than them. They were just being benevolent we suspect as who uses a sense of direction when we’ve a Sat Nav to hand?!

And in case it’s not just me that’s more interested in the car than this gender ‘fun’, the SEAT Mii by MANGO is a city car available in either nude or black, with contrasting interior including Alcantara upholstery (three or five door options available). You get atom grey door mirrors, stylish 15″ alloy wheels, chrome door strips and a spacious boot, priced from £10,995 on the road.

Please visit www.seat.co.uk for more information.


Vauxhall New Corsa impresses

newcorsa1I was invited to test drive Vauxhall’s New Corsa recently, starting in Liverpool and then into north Wales.

As it had been a few years since I’d driven the ‘old’ Corsa I wanted to see whether I was still as impressed as I had been then – knowing just how competitive this small car sector is and how reliant Vauxhall is on the retail and therefore female market.

What interested me most was the promise of a complete makeover involving a new chassis, choice of engines and personalised interiors. Would I recognise the car I wondered?

Why buy a Vauxhall?

Vauxhall is one of the two best known car brands in the UK. A franchised dealership will be near you which is reassuring when it comes to car servicing and any warranty claims. Despite being launched c20 years ago the Corsa brand name still sounds modern and the New Corsa competes well in today’s market on looks and style.

Sadly Vauxhall’s leading lifetime (100,000 mile) warranty ends this year which is a big disappointment. This gave Vauxhall a clear advantage over others with 5 and 7 year warranties. Come 2015 New Corsas will come with a 3 year 60,000 mile warranty instead.


corsa_walesThere’s a choice of three and five door models. The three door (yellow model- see stylish door curves) is aimed at the 25 to 35 budget conscious age group, without children one assumes.

The five door model (see below in grey) can be expected to sell well with older motorists, depending on family size and the practicality of accommodating more than two passengers at any stage.

These cars are best described as sporty (3 door) and spacious (5 door) to distinguish them from each other although you can also add stylish to both.

Note the LED daytime running lights and the glass sunroof option…

Inside, the cabin feels spacious, even in the three door sporty model and there’s plenty of customisation in terms of fabrics and interior colour to please all tastes.


If you like gadgets, there are plenty to keep you happy, designed to make driving easier, safer, more comfortable and more fun.

A City Mode button notably lightens the steering so it’s easy to manouevre in tight spots.

Heated options include the steering wheel, seats, door mirrors and windscreen.

There’s an infotainment system called Intellilink with digital radio, USB and Bluetooth with voice control.

I didn’t need the SatNav because we were using special timed route maps to keep our navigators on their toes.

If you need help with clutch control, there’s a Hill Start Assist.

An Advanced Park Assist will self-steer you into the tightest parking space (and impress any onlookers).

There’s a front camera system that records what’s happening as you drive and clever headlamps that corner to help with better night vision when you need it most.

Most of these are optional extras of course.

The Drive

My test-drive companion was Alasdair Campbell who is taking his Automotive Journalism MA at Coventry University. We each took turns driving and navigating through the busy city streets in Liverpool then along winding scenic roads in North Wales. This was an excellent and most enjoyable route that took the best part of a day and meant we could each test the car in a range of typical everyday driving conditions.

I was particularly impressed by the 1.0i 90PS Turbo Limited Edition three door Corsa we drove. It’s the yellow one in the photo. The drive was smooth, energetic and very quiet.

To begin with I thought the engine had switched off as we waited at traffic lights but the moment you touch the accelerator the power is instantly there, making it eco-friendly and economic.

The brakes were impressive (compared to the ones I’m used to) and cornering and overtaking was smooth, efficient and reliable.

We then switched to the new version of Vauxhall’s 1.4 turbo engine and five door model. That’s the SRi in Shiny Rock ie charcoal metallic, parked outside the Titanic Hotel in Liverpool.

This gave me the opportunity to compare the onboard space and whilst the five door didn’t seem much roomier inside it will be the preferred model choice for Mums who need to fit child car seats in the back.

Price and economy

corsa 5 dr New Corsa prices for the three door model start from £8995 (the Sting 1.2i 70PS) and the five door from £9600. The entry price is lower than the current Corsa remember.

There are too many engine and trim combinations to list here so it’s best to go the the Vauxhall website and configure your ideal New Corsa there.

The combined fuel figure ranges from 52.3 mpg for a 1.2i 70PS Manual to an impressive 88.3 mpg for the 1.3 CDTi 95PS S/S eco-FLEX 3 door.

CO2 emissions g/km start at 85 g/km for the 1.3 CDTi 95PS S/S eco-FLEX 3 door – this means zero Vehicle Excise Duty. In fact all manual and Easytronic gearbox models qualify for zero car tax in year one.

Benefit in kind company car taxation rates range from 13% to 18% across the range.

Insurance groups are lower than before, mostly in 2 and 3 which makes this critical cost more affordable for younger drivers in future.

The verdict

This will be a big seller for Vauxhall. The New Corsa has involved changing every car panel even though the end size/dimensions are virtually the same.

We’re talking about a cheaper car (with better residual value anticipated), more efficient engines, new steering/suspension, less CO2 and better onboard equipment.

How can they fail when you spell it out like that?

Yes I’d happily own and drive the five door version with the 1.0i 90PS Turbo engine although I’m disappointed that the lifetime warranty is no more.

To find out more

You can browse the range, check out colours and see typical interiors and trim at vauxhall.co.uk/newcorsa.

If you’re planning to buy a car in 2015 I’d also recommend reserving a test drive via
https://www.vauxhalltestdrive.co.uk/ATD7/newcorsasignup so you’re one of the first to try it.

I was very impressed and hope you will be too.


FOXY’s all about the VA VA VOOM!

When Steph told me the next car for review was the new Renault Clio, I whooped with delight. Some might say I need to get a life, but you need to understand I already drive a five-year old Clio so I was keen to see how she had evolved.

Renault Clio 3As I went into the smart showrooms of Lifestyle Europe in Brighton I was impressed by the warm and friendly welcome. The service was exceptional and I was shown every gadget and widget the car has to offer. The only teeny issue I had was that the car was to be in the brightest yellow and certainly stood out! I soon learnt that this colour is fantastic when you’ve left the car in a public car park – you certainly can’t miss it!

On the other hand, if you just want a quiet drive and don’t want to be noticed, avoid this colour – as everyone’s eyes are drawn to it! Perfect for lovers of yellow and mini-celebs everywhere!

This model is important as the Clio is the replacement for Renault’s biggest seller.

Good looks

Renault Clio 1The funky-looking new Clio has a diamond-shaped front grille with a huge Renault badge. The Clio only comes as a 5-door now and the rear door handles are ‘hidden’ in the trim by the window. In fact, it looks like there are only three doors – very sleek!

This is a grown-up version, with new glossy exterior trim and ‘dynamic curves’ as Laurens Van Den Acker, Director of Industrial Design at Renault says in the brochure introduction.

The new Clio certainly takes a leading place along with today’s alternatives, while staying true to its original self.

There are four versions of the car: Expression, Expression+, Dynamique MediaNav (which I drove) and Dynamique S MediaNav. My car had 16” Passion alloy wheels, a new dashboard with 7” touch screen access to the onboard sat nav and media centre. The seats were comfortable but no different from earlier models and the same applies to the gear stick and hand brake position. This model had a leather steering wheel with gloss black insert to match the gloss black surround front speakers; electrically adjustable (manual folding) black gloss door mirrors and rain-sensitive windscreen wipers.

Whilst the Renault air conditioning and cabin temperature controls haven’t been updated, there are new personalisation features which mean you can create your own exterior and interior trim colour scheme. Apparently there are 30,000 option choices for trims, add-ons and gadgets! The mind boggles.

The new shape includes extended visibility through extra glass next to the side mirrors which is disconcerting at first but a bonus and easy to get used to.

Value for money

Current offers for the basic Clio range at Lifestyle Europe are between £11,995 and £14,995 depending on the type chosen, and there are finance arrangements available through Renault. The colour scheme comprises Glacier White, French Blue and Inca Yellow for solid paints and Oyster Grey, Diamond Black and Mercury for metallics, although there’s an extra cost for anything other than Glacier White.

The Clio range includes many features not always standard elsewhere such as electric windows at the front (the handles at the back let the car down, it has to be said), central locking via a key card, an excellent MediaNav centre including sat nav, radio, Bluetooth, USB and hands free technology, great sound system and fingertip controls on the right-hand steering wheel stem.

The range of Clios (apart from the 1.2 16V 75) has Renault eco² technology which means the vehicles emit less than 120g/km of CO² and is manufactured in a plant that has been certified ISO14001. The car can be 95% recoverable at the end of its life cycle.

My model has CO² emissions of 104 which makes it road tax exempt, a particularly attractive point for environmental and budgetary reasons. The 5-gear speed box gets a fuel consumption of c51.4 for urban driving and a combined consumption of 62.8 which makes it a good economic proposition.

Felicity enjoys a ride

Driving performance

I chose the petrol version rather than diesel simply because that’s what I currently drive so I could equitably compare.

Although this version had an 898cc engine, this wasn’t noticeable once the car was in third gear and above.

I was a little disappointed to see Renault haven’t tackled the problem of sluggish performance while going uphill, but the small engine size certainly didn’t make itself known on the motorway. My Yellow Peril positively purred past other drivers with a happy-go-lucky backward wave!

I found it nimble on a combination of dual carriageways and rural roads in Sussex. The 16 inch alloys meant it was quiet over bumps and it cornered fairly well. As with eco-version cars these days, when the engine was running, you couldn’t hear it. Switching the Eco mode on meant I was using less petrol too.

The practicalities

The back seats fold down easily to allow for extra space when needed and the usual good size Clio boot is still there, although it seemed more basic than on earlier models and you have to pay extra for a 15” spare wheel.

There was plenty of legroom in the front but because the new Clio has a more aerodynamic design, space at the rear seems to have suffered slightly, as has the rear window size.

The MediaNav is simple to use, especially if you’re used to sat navs, computers and technology generally. But – consider the usual disadvantage with touch screens: finger marks which certainly show up in the light.

A slight disappointment is the smaller glove compartment size which is due to a storage shelf above. Also there are two cup holders, one larger than the other, but they’re next to the handbrake which seems really awkward to use. There’s another cup holder for back seat passengers. And once again – no secure handbag storage area!

But I loved the hands free key card and stop/start button; also the useful placing of the hazard light and door locking buttons at the top of the dashboard panel. And the car has that satisfying ‘thunk’ sound when the doors close too!

The seat controls were the same as earlier models, basic but practical and easy to adjust.


Renault Clio 2Renault certainly hasn’t lost its Va Va Voom with the new Clio.

There was a certain French quality feel to the car and the thought of 30,000 options is impressive.

As a best seller, I would have expected little things like electric windows at the back, a full size spare tyre and a slightly quirkier dashboard, but the new Clio is still a highly functional, fun and enjoyable drive.

The Renault 4+ package is comforting too – it includes 4 years’ warranty, 4 years’ roadside cover, 4 years’ servicing and 4 years’ finance package if needed (Ts & Cs apply).

So, would I upgrade to the new version?

Mais oui, naturellement!

Jill Woolf


Model tested:
 Renault Clio Dynamique MediaNav TCe 90 S&S petrol engine, 5 door, 5-speed manual gearbox.
RRP: The new Clio range starts from £10,595. The Clio Dynamique MediaNav TCe 90 S&S petrol engine costs £13,345. Metallic paint adds £495.
Buying discounts: Current Lifestyle Europe offers from £11,995 to £14,995.
Fuel economy: MPG is Urban 51.4, Extra Urban 72.4 and Combined 62.8 which means it’s an economic car to run.
Insurance group: 8 ie should prove fairly cheap to insure.
Road tax/VED: 0
Safety: Scored 4-5 stars on the European New Car Assessment Programme http://www.euroncap.com/tests/renault_clio_2005/220.aspx
Reliability: A mid-range number 101 in the cars chart in the Reliability Index – this is based on claims made under warranty so again, it’s based on older models.
Environmental C02 rating: 104gsm.

Forget football and Brazil – the Rio is a foxy car for females

A FOXY Car Review by Steph Savill

carreviewIt was Mothers Day, I got taken out for lunch, the sun shone on the Saturday and then it snowed on the Sunday… Ah yes I remember the weekend I test drove the new Kia Rio very well indeed!

And it’s not just me that the Rio has made a good impression on – since the ‘new’ Rio model arrived in UK showrooms it’s collected a load of best car awards which is always a good thing to consider.

Sadly, unless you’re a female following FIFA or UEFA football games, the Australian Open or cricket at the Oval (that Kia sponsor), you mightn’t know all that much about this particular car brand despite its ‘family friendly’ marketing plans.

So this car review is for women who mightn’t be footie fans or petrolheads even but still want to know about the safety, reliability and practicality of their new car choices when it’s shopping time.

Let’s start by introducing Kia as a Korean brand with a European manufacturing plant in Slovakia and an industry leading 7 year warranty, which will surely reassure you about the reliability you can expect from their cars. And the car model I am writing about here is their Rio ‘2’ in the photo below, a 1.4 litre petrol engine with 3 doors and a 6 speed manual gearbox, supplied by Birchwood Group’s West Sussex Motors in Washington.

Good looks

Kia_Rio_daffs_March 2013The ‘new’ Rio has had a style makeover, adding a new ‘tiger-nose’ grille giving it a sporty stance and what they call ‘a muscular rear.’ The male equivalent of Pippa Middleton I expected… silly me.

It looks smart, the lines are clean and there are two body-styles depending on whether it’s the 3-door (ie wider front doors for easier back seat access) or the 5-door version.

The car comes in 4 different models – the ‘1’, the ‘1 Air’, the ‘2’ and the top of the range Rio ‘3’.

My car was in silver metallic paint with 16 inch alloys, a chrome surround grille and electrically folding and heated wing mirrors (which came in handy when it snowed) with integrated indicator lights. It had an attractive looking dashboard, a leather trimmed steering wheel & gear stick and was nicely upholstered in a quality black cloth. A stylish combination but, having raised my expectations here, I found the car ‘rear’ to be disappointingly ordinary if I’m honest

Value for money

The Rio range includes many features that aren’t always standard elsewhere, such as electric windows, central locking, Bluetooth, USB and AUX ports (all rated as impressive by my gadget loving son) with stereo controls mounted on the steering wheel. I was particularly reassured by the Vehicle Stability Management, Electronic Stability Control and Emergency Stop Signalling safety features across the Rio range.

Granted the diesel models have the lower emissions (starting from 85 g/km) and better fuel consumption as a result but you’re still getting impressive fuel consumption of c50mpg for a combination of city and motorway driving. The 6 speed gearbox makes motorway journeys especially economic.

Driving performance

Petrol engines are usually zippier to drive than diesels and this one comes in 1.25 and 1.4 litre engine options and a 6 speed gearbox. There’s an automatic version as well. I found it agile on a combination of dual carriageways and rural roads in Sussex. The 16 inch alloys meant it was quiet over bumps and it cornered well. Of particular note were the responsive brakes and the fact that when the engine was running, you couldn’t hear it. In fact it was so quiet my husband thought it had a Stop ‘n’ Start gearbox and had switched itself off at the lights. It hadn’t!

The practicalities

Kia_Rio_interior_March 2013The back seats fold down 60:40 to allow for extra space when needed. Even without this the boot seemed quite roomy to me.

I’d choose the 5 door model given the choice but my son still found it easy to get in the back via the front doors.

There was plenty of legroom front and back and the cabin felt a lot more roomy than the exterior of the car might suggest.

If you buy the Rio ‘3’ it comes with rear parking sensors which I’d probably opt for.

The radio and IPod settings were simple, even for me and particularly important on this Mothers Day – the heater worked quickly and efficiently thank goodness…


As you can glean from all this and the FOXY Facts below, Kia has a good pedigree and the Rio’s safety and reliability credentials are reassuring. Just as important to many women, this is a car you can probably get into and feel sufficiently confident to drive off in within minutes. It just feels familiar.

This matters because many women aren’t as confident test driving an unfamiliar new car as men – which may explain why many of us stick with the brand we know.

I felt instantly comfortable in the driving position, the seat was easy to adjust, I had excellent all-round visibility and the driving controls felt handy and familiar as well as intuitive.

On the minus side I struggled to get the gear shift into reverse and whilst my husband could do this with ease I wondered if it might be something to do with hand size (or just a wimpy me this time around)?

But apart from this tiny niggle this is an award-winning car I’d happily recommend to women for safe and easy motoring.

Steph Savill

Model tested: Kia Rio ‘2’ 1.4 petrol engine, 3 door, 6-speed manual gearbox and ISG (ie Intelligent Stop and Go).
RRP: The new Rio range starts from £9245. The Rio 2 1.4 petrol engine costs £11295. Metallic paint adds £445.
Buying discounts: West Sussex Motors has a scrappage scheme which would be the best offer whilst it lasts. Otherwise Kia savings of £1400 on the ‘2’ model apply until 30 June 2013.
Fuel economy: MPG is Urban 39.2, Extra Urban 62.8 and Combined 51.4
Insurance group: 8 ie should prove fairly cheap to insure
Road tax/VED: £100 (nil for entry diesel model)
Safety: 5 Star Euro NCap rating (2011) incorporating Adult, Child, Pedestrian and Safety Assist tests. This is an improvement over the 2009 4 star rating and includes 6 airbags as standard.
Reliability: An above average number 35 in the Top 100 cars chart in the Reliability Index – this is based on claims made under warranty so again, it’s based on older models.
Environmental C02 rating: 128gsm.

FOXY reviews the new Ford Fiesta

A FOXY Lady Car Review by Jill Woolf


I love driving, I like cars and I write for a living so when I was offered the chance to do some new car reviews for FOXY Lady Drivers Club, I jumped at the chance.

What could be better than sampling the latest models, designs, shapes and colours the motoring world has to offer?

And after reading up about the new Eco-Boost 1.0l Fiesta that’s so economic to run but without sacrificing engine power, I was keen to find out more. Just don’t ask me how Ford manages to do this but my test drive convinced me I was driving a car with a really powerful engine despite my preconceptions based on the engine size.

But, dear reader, please don’t expect any more than this from me about the internal workings of the engine or those complex on-board computers. Despite being fairly street-savvy, I am still one of those women who benefit from FOXY’s Women in the Driving Seat evenings where the garage or dealer shows you what’s actually under the bonnet and what to do with it!

But how times have moved on for Ford since my first car, a Ford Escort, and the many unhappy hours I seemed to spend in repair shops after silly prangs, where the proprietors seemed to take delight in patronising me. Let’s face it I was young, naive and totally inexperienced at the time. FOXY Lady Drivers Club’s female friendly advice wasn’t even a glint in Steph’s eye back then.

Good looks

Ford_Fiesta_Redesigned_Grill_and_Headlights (1)So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I collected my new Fiesta 1.0 Eco-Boost Fiesta from Birchwood Ford in Eastbourne and saw how much Ford has improved the exterior design, making this particular model look very sporty and jazzy.

The car I drove was in shiny metallic Panther Black (grrr…), which also helped!

The front grille, alloy wheels and almost coupé-like side and rear view make this new Fiesta a really good-looking super-mini; one to be proud to be seen in.

Value for money

This being a FOXY review, it’s important to look at the finances of course. I was particularly impressed by the Eco-Boost Fiesta’s fuel economy recording an average 65.7 mpg as well as a free VED (road tax) bill because of its remarkably low C02 emissions. The mpg ratings are affected by the Stop Start feature which means the car isn’t using fuel when you’re sitting at traffic lights or in a traffic jam yet the moment you touch the throttle it powers up immediately.

These are all important considerations in today’s economy when looking at the cost of running cars, not just the cost of buying one. I’d also add the reassurance that comes with buying a trusted Ford, as illustrated in the Reliability Index (see below), knowing that low running costs will add to your car’s resale value when the time comes to buy the next new one.

Driving performance

fiesta_jill_zoe_1332This gem of a car drives beautifully too. The latest in engine technology means it happily and economically purrs along and the Eco-Boost model slips effortlessly into gear to overtake or meet the challenges of a hill, even with a full load of passengers when we visited the ETC exhibition in Brighton.

It really is a delightful ride; the chunky leather sporty steering wheel feels fantastic and the front bucket seats have electric heating, meaning you just don’t want to get out of it on a cold day.

This car handles brilliantly and corners masterfully.

The practicalities

The modern, updated dashboard not only looks good but is actually easy to use once it’s explained. The friendly sales executive at Birchwood went through every button and widget with me (what a contrast to customer service levels I remembered of old) and I found the Bluetooth connection with my mobile phone easy to operate.

The car comes with parking sensors and a rear view camera (always useful), crystal-clear-sounding radio and CD player, power automatically retractable side mirrors (a boon if you have a narrow garage or when you park on a busy street), a mirror which dims when there’s a car with headlights on behind, heated front windscreen, rain sensor lights and a great black leather interior.

There is a full size spare tyre, not one of those slim-line versions, and the tools for dealing with a puncture are all neatly stored under the tyre.

If I had to find faults, I’d say that for an average height person it’s a little short on legroom in the back, the glove compartment could be bigger, the boot didn’t have the storage bins I’m used to and there’s nowhere easily accessible or safe to store a large handbag! Having said that, the back seats are easy to fold down for extra shopping space, to carry a baby buggy or wheelchair, perhaps.

Ford Emergency Assistance is included for my peace of mind and I should add that the older Fiesta came out No 1 out of 100 in the Reliability Index which augurs well in terms of running and servicing costs in future.

I really enjoyed test driving the Fiesta Eco-Boost but it’s flagged something up I wasn’t expecting – a simmering desire to buy a brand new car.

Watch this space for more reviews as I go through my car buying homework with you in the near future.

Jill Woolf


Model: Ford Fiesta 1.0 Eco-boost 125 PS Stop Start 5 door.
RRP: The new Fiesta range starts from £9795. The EcoBoost model we drove costs £17045 plus £495 for the Panther Black metallic paint.
Buying discounts: See Ford’s website http://www.ford.co.uk/Cars/CarPromotions/Overview. Offers subject to availability and terms.
Fuel economy: MPG is Urban 53.3, Extra Urban 76.4 and Combined 65.7mpg.
Insurance group: 16E.
Road tax/VED: Nil
Safety: 5 Star Euro NCap rating (2012) incorporating Adult, Child, Pedestrian and Safety Assist tests.
Reliability: Number One in the Top 100 cars chart in the Reliability Index.
Environmental C02 rating: 99gsm.

NB: FOXY is expressing personal views and opinions here. Please read this as part of your own car buying homework and test drive experience related to your family needs and expectations.