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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Road tests

Radical rethink reaps rewards for Peugeot 3008

June 28 2017

The original Peugeot 3008 never quite took off. It had people carrier looks when everyone wanted off-road style. With the second generation model, Peugeot has fixed that and made a pile of other changes that catapult it up there with the best mid-size SUVs. It’s an eye catching creature. Sticking fairly close to Peugeot’s original concept model, it’s much more radical in appearance than rivals such as the Seat Ateca and Volkswagen Tiguan. The new model is built on Peugeot’s latest platform, which is longer than the old car’s This means more interior space: both rear legroom and boot capacity are much improved. There’s also been a radical rethink inside and the 3008 boasts one of the most stylish and technological cabins in its class. Prices start at a little over £22,000 and top out around £34,000. There’s a choice of 1.2 or 1.6 litre turbocharged petrol engines, or 1.6 and 2.0 litre diesels. I drove the 1.6 diesel – likely to be the biggest seller – in high spec GT Line trim, which cost a not unreasonable £28,025. While the petrol engines are certainly worth checking out, the smaller diesel offers superb economy – combined economy is 70.6mpg. Comfort and refinement levels are high. On a lengthy tour of Perthshire, only deep potholes could unsettle the car. Wind, engine and tyre noise are kept well in check. Handling has improved but it’s not quite as sharp as the Seat Ateca and Mazda CX-5, the two most dynamic cars in its class. The cabin is absolutely superb. There’s an eight-inch touchscreen, a smart wrap-around design and high quality materials. The small steering wheel gives the car a sporty feel as well. As yet there’s no four-wheel drive version. This won’t matter down south but in rural eastern Scotland some buyers look for a car that can cut it in the harsher winter months. There is, at least, all-season tyres which Peugeot says offer more traction in cold weather, and a Grip Control system that uses electronics to mimic some of what a four-wheel drive can do. That aside (and a four-wheel drive hybrid model will join the range next year), there’s little to criticise. Perhaps the only problem is it joins a market stacked with talent. But then being faced with the choice of too many great cars is one of life’s better problems. Price: £28,025 0-62mph: 11.2 seconds Top speed: 117mph Economy: 70.6mpg CO2 emissions: 104g/km

Road tests

Baby Peugeot goes practical

October 26 2016

The world of cars is moving upwards,literally, with buyers picking SUVs over estate cars. Hence, Peugeot’s replacement for the 207 SW – its mini estate car – is a baby SUV. The 2008 has a raised ride height and a modicum of off road ability. Launched in 2013, it has now been through a mid-life refresh. Its goes up against the Renault Captur and Nissan Juke. What it is not is as adventurously styled as those rivals: Peugeot haven’t been daring or dangerous. It has safe but pleasant styling, though, and that’s perhaps no bad thing. For every person I’ve met who thinks the Nissan Juke is bold and visionary there’s someone who reckons it’s a bug-eyed monstrosity. With prices starting at just under £14,000 and running costs impressively low it scores highly on value. Another strong suit is practicality. Peugeot has managed to cram a wealth of space into the 2008’s little footprint. The boot is 360 litres: that’s 20% bigger than the 208 hatchback and almost a third bigger than a Nissan Juke’s. Rear legroom is slightly greater than in a Juke and headroom is much better. What it lacks, however, is the rear sliding seat the Renault Captur comes with that enables you to expand passenger room at the expense of boot space or vice versa. Engine options are a 1.2 litre petrol or 1.6 litre diesel in a wide range of power outputs – 75-130bhp. I drove the 120bhp 1.6 diesel in top spec GT Line trim, priced at £20,920. It has plenty of power, with 0-62mph coming up in 9.6 seconds, and official economy is more than 76mpg. In the real world I got just shy of 60mpg but that’s still pretty admirable. Such a price tag takes you into Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai Tuscon territory, however, so more modest versions are probably the way to go. Peugeot doesn’t offer the 2008 with four-wheel drive, correctly assuming it would sell only a handful of such models. Instead, pricier versions come with a Grip Control system that can direct more power to one or other of the front wheels and employs various other pieces of electronic trickery to boost traction. These models also come with “mud and snow” tyres designed to give additional grip. It’s no substitute for four-wheel drive, obviously, but it does make the 2008 much more sure footed than your average front-wheel drive car. On the road, the Peugeot is comfortable if uninspired. The additional ride height over a 208 hatchback gives greater suspension play and a much more cosseting ride. Handling’s nothing to write home about most owners would pick better refinement over race-car grip anyway. Another ace in the deck is the cabin. Peugeot’s designers have put a lot of effort into the 2008’s interior and it shows. There’s a seven-inch colour touchscreen that features Apple’s CarPlay and Mirrorlink so you can get your phone’s apps on it. Nice touches like copper-coloured vent surrounds elevate the cabin above that of its rivals. The 2008 is a likeable car that doesn’t cost the earth to buy or run. Although far from the most inspiring car I’ve had, I enjoyed spending a week in its company. It’s practical, comfortable and refined. If it’s not the last word in excitement, so what? Were I buying one myself I’d save money by going for a lower spec level paired with the petrol engine, which still offers impressive economy. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk Price: £20,920 0-62mph: 9.6 seconds Top speed: 119mph Economy: 76.3mpg CO2 emissions: 96g/km

Motoring news

Peugeot reveals stylish new 3008

May 25 2016

Peugeot has revamped its 3008, replacing the bland old model with a strikingly handsome new SUV. It is much better looking than the car it will replace. And it needs to be, given that it’s up against some very nicely styled and capable rivals including the Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Qashqai and the new Kia Sportage. The new model is the same length as its French cousin the Renault Kadjar. It sits higher off the ground than the existing 3008 but a sleeker cabin means it isn’t any taller. Some clever work by Peugeot’s design team means it’s bigger inside, with extra knee room and a larger boot. Given that boot size is a strength of today’s 3008, expect the new car to have a huge carrying capacity. It goes on sale in the UK from October and the first cars will be delivered in January 2017. Likely to be the best seller in the UK is Peugeot’s 1.6 litre diesel, which offers 118bhp and should return more than 70mpg. Higher-powered versions of that diesel engine are also available, as well as a larger 2.0 litre option. Petrol buyers can choose from a range of 1.2 litre and 1.6 litre engines. There is the choice of five and six-speed manual gearboxes, and a six-speed automatic. In order to appeal to keener drivers, Peugeot is also offering a new Driver Sport Pack for this latest model, which makes the throttle more responsive and adds the option of steering wheel-mounted paddles for the automatic gearbox. According to Peugeot the new 3008 will be able to cut the mustard off road as well. It gets a hill-descent system, as well as snow, mud and sand modes for the traction control. You can also have all-terrain tyres. It’s 100kg lighter than the car it replaces, which will boost fuel economy and should also make it a better car to drive. The interior has been drastically revised as well, with Peugeot introducing its latest “i-Cockpit” system. Essentially, this means more technology and fewer buttons – and plenty to look at. There’s an eight inch touchscreen in the centre console as well as a 12.3 inch display in front of the driver, replacing conventional dials. The new 3008 comes with the latest safety gear including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring. There’s also a new 360 degree camera to help with parking. It’s likely to cost from around £20,000 when sales begin early next year. That’s a small premium over today’s car, and makes the 3008 more expensive than rivals like the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, which are priced from £18,000 and £18,995 respectively. However, Peugeot will be hoping the space and technology offsets the higher cost.


Range Rover Evoque leads the pack of 2011’s new releases

January 9 2011

We'll have to wait until August for probably the most anticipated car of the year, the Range Rover Evoque. Promoted as the lightest and most fuel-efficient Range Rover ever, it's a major step towards making the brand more sustainable and relevant. Just as importantly, it looks terrific. Sticking with the SUV theme, Audi will be bringing out their pint-sized crossover, the Q3, which will slot into the range below the Q7 and Q5. There's also the Vauxhall Antara, Korean manufacturer SsangYong's Korando and the exciting Saab 9-4X. City-dwellers have plenty to look forward to as well, not least of which the Audi A1, which arrives in the autumn. The Honda Jazz Hybrid will be the world's first hybrid supermini when it comes along in the spring, and there's a new Corsa from Vauxhall, 208 from Peugeot, Micra from Nissan and 2 from Mazda. Small car enthusiasts with deep pockets can invest £30,000 in Aston Martin's Cygnet, which is based on the much cheaper Toyota IQ. I'll be driving as many of these vehicles as I can lay my hands on, and will bring you news on all of them.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Motoring news

Peugeot’s 500bhp 308 concept

April 18 2015

It can take your shopping in the boot, your kids in the back, roar from 0-62mph in four seconds flat and emits just 70g/km of CO2. It is the 500bhp Peugeot 308 R Hybrid. Sadly, you won’t be able to get your hands on one it’s a concept car only and unlikely to ever make it into production. However, there could well be a 308 R hot hatch and possibly even a hybrid version of that, although it would not be as powerful as this bonkers model. In any case, that should not stop us enjoying a look at it. One of petrolheads’ greatest pleasures is coveting supercars they can never afford, or one-off concept cars. So let’s see what we’ve got here. The 308 R Hybrid shares its powertrain with the Quartz concept seen at Paris, meaning the RCZ R’s 270bhp 1.6-litre turbo is used in conjunction with a pair of 115bhp electric motors. It is four-wheel drive and Peugeot claims 62mph in four seconds, a limited 155mph top speed and 70g/km. Economy, Peugeot suggests, will be well north of 90mpg. Those are some fairly impressive statistics. And while the car itself won’t ever be seen on a forecourt near you, some of the technology pioneered in it looks likely to make it into future production models. One of these is the four driving modes that vary the assistance offered by the electric motors. ZEV makes priority use of the rear electric motor, Road limits outputs to 300bhp and 295lb ft, Track ups that to 400bhp/391lb ft and then Hot Lap throws every horse the car can lay its hands on into the pot to deliver 500bhp and 538lb ft of torque. The 308 R Hybrid sits on a track 80mm wider front and rear than the 308 R and wears 235-section tyres wrapped around 19-inch rims. Batteries and all, kerbweight stands at 1,550kg, just a couple of hundred kilos north of the Ford Focus ST. So it’s not real but there’s no harm in dreaming.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

Road tests

New Peugeot 5008 is untouchable

November 1 2017

The Peugeot 5008 reminds me of Sean Connery’s great line from The Untouchables about bringing a knife to a gunfight. In this case, they brought a people carrier to an SUV fight, launching the original 5008 as an MPV just as rival manufacturers were turning out hugely popular 4x4 styled cars like the Nissan Quashqai and Kia Sportage. Despite being extremely practical and decent to drive, the original 5008 just couldn’t cut it against trendier rivals. Learning its lessons, Peugeot has now replaced the car with an all-new SUV version. It went on sale a couple of weeks ago and will take on other large SUVs such as the Skoda Kodiaq, Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe. It’s a much better looking car than the vehicle it replaces. Out goes the frumpy people carrier body shape, in comes a sleek nose pinched from the smaller 3008 and a more rugged, chunkier side profile. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_hVfI9rIe8 It doesn’t taper at the back like the 3008 but that’s because it has to accommodate two extra seats. Prices start at £24,495 and stretch to £31,425, making is competitive with its rivals. You might think that the entry level 1.2 litre petrol engine (Vital Stats are for this model) would be too weedy to power a seven-seat SUV but with 128bhp it’s surprisingly vigorous and extremely smooth. There’s also a 163bhp 1.6 petrol engine and four diesel options – a 1.6 with 99 or 118bhp or a 2.0 litre with 148 or 178bhp. While the petrol felt quick with just me in the car I suspect it might strain with seven people and gear in there – if you regularly travel fully loaded one of the torquier diesels is your best bet. Ride, handling and refinement are top notch. The 5008 absorbs undulations and bumps, feels nimble round corners, and is quiet enough to easily hold conversations with rear passengers at motorway speeds. The interior is also superb. Peugeot’s i-cockpit design is nicked from Audi and replaces analogue dials with a snazzy screen behind the steering wheel. There’s plenty of room in the back and, cleverly, the middle row of seats all slide and recline independently, letting passengers sort out their own seating position. The rearmost seats can be removed entirely to increase boot space. Peugeot has done a tremendous job with the 5008. Good looking, great to drive, well priced and practical, it might just be untouchable.   Price: £24,495 0-62mph: 10.9 seconds Top speed: 117mph Economy: 55.4mpg CO2 emissions: 117g/km