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Author: admin | Category: Loan Calculator Canada | Date: 30.06.2014

With an impressive line-up of Swifts to take on the Fiesta, and the Celerio on Up-baiting city car duties, we’d understand if Suzuki’s small car range left you baffled. In fact, barrel into a corner with too much speed and you’ll feel the car’s heft shift markedly.
It’ll rev smoothly from very low down the engine’s operating range, but it’s when you pass 2000rpm – and thus hit peak torque – that things really get going.
There’s still a good dollop of performance above that magic threshold, with peak power arriving at 5500rpm. Since it’s positioned as a more grown-up proposition than the Swift, it’s also going to come to the UK very generously equipped. As will a set of 16-inch alloys, which we tested and considered a decent match for the suspension, though some fatter tyres might serve UK buyers better if potholes or speedbumps are a major issue.
The further Skoda travels away from its previous life as a purveyor of automotive jokes the more difficult it gets to assess its place in the market.
Actually we’d rather start from the seat behind the driver, which just happens to offer the most legroom, shoulder room and headroom this side of a Rolls Phantom. The steering’s numb but linear, the primary ride compliant enough, and a tendency to thunk clumsily into secondary craters only occasionally jars. The seats themselves are a bit flat, especially in the back (Alan Sugar wouldn’t swap his Phantom), and the whole interior atmos is a wee bit TOO VW – all don’t-touch plastics and funereal swathes. To car buyers it still means a lot of car for the money, but the car tested here retails at ?22,790 and costs a consequential ?26,275 as tested. I remember, back in 2001 when they dusted off the Superb name (it dates back to 1934) it sounded like a very bad joke indeed, destined to haunt.
The words ‘design’ and ‘Toyota’ aren’t exactly the most natural bedfellows – the classic 2000 GT excepted – but nonetheless, here they are brought together on the range-topping Yaris specification. In an effort to emphasise the angry-looking front end treatment copied over from the Aygo, the Yaris Design is available with an Eclipse Black metallic ‘wrap-around roof’ finish.
Note the use of ‘available’ – it’s a ?795 option only offered in combination with Vermillion Red or Glacier Pearl White paint. Putting the Bi-Colour option to one side, all Design customers get a roof spoiler and 16-inch black alloys with machine-polished faces as standard. The little 1.33 doesn’t offer any particular objection to this – it’s a revvy thing, which commendably avoids sounding thrashy – but don’t equate such accommodation with performance. The Toyota also suffers from a notchy gearshift action, slightly sticky steering weighting – though this is an improvement over the vacuous over-assisted feel of previous Yarii – and a busy ride.
There’s no getting away from it: the Yaris’s interior is plasticky – in a much more plasticky way than, say, a Polo or even a Fiesta. Standard equipment is generous, with ‘Touch 2’ touchscreen, reversing camera, DAB radio, Bluetooth and cruise control amongst what’s included. The latest Yaris is by no means a bad car, and this combination of power unit and specification almost conspires to muster a little sparkle. It ought to make a no-nonsense, reliability-is-key used buy in about five years’ time, but if you’re looking for cheap thrills you should still head to Ford – just as those with delusions of grandeur remain best served by Volkswagen.
Available engines are two petrol and two diesel engines, with power outputs ranging between 128bhp and 173bhp. Unlike with the Megane, Renault will not be offering a hybrid model Koleos further down the line. Both front and all-wheel drive Koleos models are available, with the latter offering switchable FWD and AWD modes, as well as full-time AWD for low-speed, low-grip conditions. The Koleos will be one of the longer models in the Renault range at 4670mm – 221mm longer than the Kadjar. In the cabin, Renault’s R-Link 2 infotainment system is available in 7-in landscape or 8.7in portrait setups, while the dials are replaced by a standard-fit touchscreen displaying driving data.
Renault claims a widespread use of premium and soft-touch materials in the cockpit of the Koleos. Optional extras include a heated steering wheel and windscreen, electronic seat adjustment, heated and ventilated front and heated second row seats, reversing camera and all-round parking sensors, remote starting, and a Bose speaker system.
The new Koleos will be built in the existing Koleos plant in Busan, South Korea, for all markets except China.
The Koleos will be sold in 80 markets around the world, starting later this year in China and most international markets, before arriving in Europe and Russia in early 2017. Based on the Kadjar’s similarity in price to the Nissan Qashqai, we expect the Koleos to follow suit with Nissan X-Trail pricing.
Another good looking Renault, apart from that superfluous bright strip over the front wheelarch, which looks odd and doesn't even have the merit of concealing a (clamshell) bonnet shut line. The 488's incredible engine and handling and open-top experience make for something very special indeed. The Isuzu D-Max is starting to show its age; after a drive in the range-topping Blade version, is it still competitive?
The first-ever Alfa Romeo SUV, strongly tipped to be called the Stelvio, is expected to be launched as an ultra-high-performance model powered by the firm’s potent V6 engine.
The decision to launch the new SUV in 2017 with a top-end performance model mirrors the strategy currently being applied to the roll-out of Alfa’s BMW 3 Series rival, the Giulia, with which the Stelvio will share many of its underpinnings and powertrain options. Insiders say the firm’s bosses have given engineers the go-ahead to develop the car to challenge the class best for on-road ride and handling as well as straight-line pace. Power for the high-performance Stelvio will come from the same twin-turbo 2.9-litre petrol V6 that sits under the bonnet of the Giulia Quadrifoglio — the engine that its maker describes as being “inspired” by sister brand Ferrari’s turbo-powered V8 without actually having any relation in structural terms. However, the engine is likely to be retuned for increased torque at the expense of outright power in the Stelvio, in line with its SUV character, prompting suggestions that it may not be badged as a full-blown Quadrifoglio model. Likewise, although rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models will be made, this top performance version is tipped to be restricted to rear drive to save weight and add agility.
That should still mean the hot Stelvio, likely to cost around ?65,000, will rival the fastest SUVs for outright pace.
In particular, Alfa is said to be benchmarking the Stelvio against the Macan and Jaguar F-Pace. The Stelvio’s development is being overseen by Ferrari’s former technical director, Roberto Fedeli, who rejoined FCA as chief technical officer from a role at BMW’s M division early this year and reports directly to Alfa and Maserati boss Harald Wester.
The choice of the Stelvio name was revealed by FCA boss Sergio Marchionne in an off-the-cuff remark at Alfa Romeo’s Stabilimento Fiat di Cassino production plant in Italy.
It is named after the famous Stelvio Pass, which runs over the Alps in northern Italy and is widely regarded as one of the most challenging driving routes in the world.
The exterior shape is expected to be in line with the current Alfa family look, with the Stelvio being designed to accommodate five despite a coupe-like tapering roof to underline its sporty credentials.


The biggest-selling Stelvio models will be powered by petrol and diesel engines, but there is the prospect of plug-in hybrids joining the range.
However, FCA’s 2.2-litre diesel engine is expected to account for the bulk of sales and be sold in 150bhp, 180bhp and 210bhp guises.
More formal details are expected to be revealed when the production car is unveiled, most likely at this year’s LA motor show in November or the Detroit motor show in January. In time, Alfa is expected to launch a three-strong SUV family in its quest to cash in on booming global demand for the bodystyle. Alfa Romeo has been suffering a slow decline in sales for more than a decade — it peaked in Europe in 2001 with 205,432 units — but the launch of the Giulia this year and the Stelvio next year should kick-start a reversal of that trend. To hit that sales goal, the firm has said it will launch eight new models by 2020, boosted by investment of around €5 billion (?4bn). These are expected to include a BMW 5 Series rival, a replacement for the Giulietta, two new SUVs and two so-called “speciality vehicles”, likely to be special editions in the vein of the 4C, although whether these are sports cars, other coupes or derivatives of existing models is unknown. Success in North America will be crucial, which in part explains why the Stelvio SUV is likely to be launched at one of the key US motor shows.
Alfa Romeo Giulia QuadrifoglioRange-topping Alfa saloon wields its rear drive platform to captivating effect.
The new Fiat Panda Cross is a tougher sibling to the already surprisingly tough little Fiat Panda 4x4.
Expect to pay around ?1650 more for a Panda Cross than you would for a regular Panda 4x4 at present.
On both petrol and diesel versions the intake ducts have gone up in the world to allow a deeper wading depth, steel underbody shields fend off damage from pointier bits of terrain and the tyres have been swapped for knobblier mud and snow rubber. Like the regular Panda 4x4, an electronic locking differential helps find traction on loose or slippery surfaces but the Cross also gets a few extra electronic tricks up its sleeve. A new ‘Terrain Control Selector’ – a rotary dial behind the gearlever – gives you a choice of three driving modes: Auto, Off-Road and Hill Descent Control. Auto is the default setting, and makes its own decision as to whether the engine’s torque is sent to the front or rear axles. In Off-Road mode, all four wheels are driven all the time (up to 30mph, anyway – beyond that the car reverts to front-drive mode to save fuel, in case you forget to switch back to Auto mode), the locking diff is engaged and the stability control system brakes slipping wheels to help find traction on uneven or low-grip surfaces. Hill Descent Control safely controls the car’s speed down steep slopes – more on that in a bit.
Both come with manual gearboxes, a five-speed for the diesel and six for the TwinAir, with an extra low first gear for off-road driving. We drove the Cross on the off-road course at Fiat’s Balocco proving ground where it scampered over some fairly severe obstacles. We also crossed Balocco’s concrete mounds (imagine a sea of giant, solid bubble wrap) diagonally in Off-Road mode, where the microchips kept the car moving by taking power away from the wheels dangling in fresh air and directing it to the ones on terra firma. Fiat claims the Cross benefits from improved sound-proofing over the regular 4x4, but you wouldn’t think so after a drive in the gruff, boomy diesel. Although the diesel’s pleasant enough to drive with a more progressive, less laggy delivery than some derv motors, the TwinAir suits the Cross’s character better – it’s a fun engine for a fun car.
An ordinary Panda 4x4 is cheaper, can manage nearly as well off-road and is more tolerable on it. It was a badge seldom seen on our roads, but look closely at the classifieds and you’ll spot the odd one for sale. It doesn’t elicit the sort of cheeky smile a Fiesta does on a B-road, its damping suited more to bump-absorption than lift-off oversteer. You’re sat high in the cabin which means good visibility, but you’re feeling perched on rather than planted in the seats – so the tilt is amplified. The compressor comes online incredibly quickly, forcing huge gulps of air into the tiny combustion chambers and dramatically improving its character, both aurally and out on the road.
You’ll only need to drop a cog for the most desperate of overtakes, even with the five-speed manual ’box doing its best to frustrate with a longer-than-necessary throw and cheap shift knob.
The 7in touchscreen will get covered with fingerprints in seconds but looks the part, responds well to finger inputs (including smartphone-aping pinch-and-swipe operation) and is standard across the line-up – complete with Bluetooth, sat-nav and a reversing camera. The ride can be jolty, and will be more so if you fill the car with four adult passengers (possible in remarkable comfort thanks to excellent rear headroom) or make full use of the 355-litre boot. There’s a lot of promise here, especially from the wonderful engine, and pragmatically the space and kit look as good on paper as the running costs.
The engine we’re trying here is the 1.6-litre turbodiesel, which offers its modest 118bhp in good faith, but is hamstrung by an offbeat power curve that eludes the best efforts of the manual gearbox to keep you in the zone. Excellent body control and the lack of any true mid-range urge means you can corner as fast as you need to without understeer. They’ve rummaged around behind the seats and somehow found an extra 85 litres of luggage space to add to what were already truck-rivalling dimensions. That it all works sublimely and is properly screwed and glued is the plus side of the VW equation, but I wish Skoda would have a bit more fun with it – take the odd risk here and there.
Our SE gets 17in alloys, adaptive cruise, dual-zone climate and DAB as standard, to which they added keyless go, the so-called ‘virtual pedal’ which lets you open the boot by wafting your foot under the bumper, and ?1600-worth of sat-nav. Chief designer Josef Kaban can bore for hours about what he was trying to achieve, but the result speaks for itself.
Not peanuts, and in an age full of Koreans waving seven-year warranties about on equally impressive (and cheaper) machines it’s no longer a no-brainer (Skoda warranty is three years). Yes, this car is called the Toyota Yaris Design; it replaces the preceding Yaris Sport, which was perhaps equally unlikely. Given the alternatives are a 1.4-litre diesel and the hybrid, it’s also the most appealing. This carries on the top of the scowl from the headlights, up the front wings and into the windscreen pillars. The steering is quite direct, it grips well and there’s not much body roll, all of which lends the Yaris an air of determination that we’re not often used to experiencing in Toyota’s run-of-the-mill machinery. This gets smoother as you go faster, but as soon as the surface deteriorates you’ll start to notice it again.
There’s nothing especially wrong with the quality (the lack of rattles when dialling up the really rather decent stereo attests to that), but the oddly biological-looking design puts us rather too much in mind of a David Cronenberg film; the sinewy tops to the front door panels, for example, are just weird. Our car was fitted with the optional Toyota Safety Sense package, including pre-collision alert, automatic high beam and lane departure warning – the sorts of things you’re dismayed to find fitted to a supermini, until you attempt to input an address into the equally optional satnav add-on to the fiddly touchscreen and the lane departure warning saves you from unintentionally inputting into a central reservation. The major secondary controls, such as those for the air conditioning, are a little pokey but easy to understand; less so the steering wheel buttons, which, in an oversight that left us feeling short-changed, lack any form of illumination. These will be available with either a six-speed manual or Renault-Nissan’s X-Tronic CVT ‘box.


Renault claims approach and departure angles of 19 and 26 degrees respectively and a ground clearance of 213mm. Bluetooth and USB connectivity are included as standard, and voice recognition also features. As featured on the Megane, optional, personalisable interior mood lighting is also scattered around the interior.
However, we do know that a wide range of driver aids will be available, including AEB, lane departure, traffic sign recognition, blind spot and safe distance warnings, tiredness detection, and easy park assist, either as standard or as options. What does this 567bhp range-topping brute have to offer, seeing as it costs more than ?100,000? The intention is that these qualities will underpin the entire model range and clearly differentiate it from the all-road prowess of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) stablemate Jeep. In the 1524kg Giulia, it produces 503bhp and 443lb ft of torque, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 3.9sec.
Even so, it is expected to be linked to the same eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard, with a manual option unlikely to be offered. Insiders have indicated that the Porsche has been considered the dynamic benchmark to date, but the achievements of the XE saloon and positive early reviews of the F-Pace have forced the development team to also consider Jaguar’s contender. Insiders have subsequently said it is one of three names under consideration, but it is significant for the clues it gives about the SUV’s intent. Spy pictures of the car testing have been confined to heavily disguised mules, although a single, seemingly off-the-cuff picture taken by FCA’s head of design, Ralph Gilles, of Alfa and Fiat designer Lorenzo Ramaciotti sitting in the boot hit the internet last year.
FCA confirmed to investors that it would launch plug-in hybrid vehicles from 2016 and offer a new 48V electrical architecture for mild hybrids from 2018. One is expected to be bigger and the other smaller than the Stelvio, giving Alfa rivals to the BMW X1 and X5. Whether it is enough to allow the firm to reach the 400,000 annual sales that bosses say are key to its sustainability remains to be seen. It’s not a new idea; just like the previous-generation Panda Cross of 2006, Fiat’s taken the Panda 4x4 and machoed it up with chunkier bumpers, plastic skid plates, red tow hooks and raised fog lights.
Ground clearance has been bumped up, the springs are different and those reshaped bumpers make for more accommodating approach and departure angles – gradients as severe as 70% are possible, says Fiat.
In normal driving conditions, 98% of torque goes to the front wheels but if the Panda loses traction the system is designed to direct up to 100% to the rear in a tenth of a second if necessary. Both have had a minor boost in power, so the diesel now puts out 89bhp and the TwinAir 79bhp. Climbing’s not a problem, and when you need to get down again Hill Descent Control can take care of things for you. The raised ride height means it sways like a swingometer on election night, and the body roll’s emphasised all the more because you sit so high up. It’s fractionally longer nose-to-tail and wider than the Swift; but more squat in its stance, better-equipped, and while prices have yet to be announced, it’s likely to be quite a lot more expensive. Don’t expect much engagement through the steering wheel either, because the electronic assistance on offer sullies any sort of genuine feedback about what’s happening under the front wheels. It feels far quicker than its numbers suggest, because even fully specced-up this car’s kerb weight doesn’t reach a tonne. That’s a product of the Baleno’s surprisingly good NVH levels, meaning the cabin’s a relatively serene environment for a car of this size. That’s a whole 1,000 millilitres more than a Honda Jazz, incidentally, but it’s worth mentioning Honda’s clever stowing Magic Seats here: they make for a more versatile solution than the Baleno’s - which don’t even fold down flat. It’s the list price that’s likely to ruffle feathers, but don’t forget how many toys you’re getting for the cash. Result is too much time spent too high in the rev range (not great for achieving the promised 67.3mpg). Seats down you can fit 1950 litres in there, which is 170 litres more than a Passat estate, 95 more than an E-class wagon, 345 more than a Mondeo estate… I could go on. You can go on adding to your heart’s content – Smartlink infotainment (with CarPlay or Android Auto), rear-seat remote control, tri-zone climate, adaptive cruise, traffic-sign recognition – but you might start to panic if signing for a ?40 grand Skoda. The new front end pulls all the furniture closer to the road, creating a crisp, sharky look, the bold side crease lowers the profile and the car, while bigger inside, looks shorter by virtue of all four wheels being plonked nearer to the corners of VW Group’s ubiquitous MQB platform.
If a rock-solid VW is the obvious sensible option and a budget Korean is the cheap-as-chips variety, in some ways, ironically, Skoda remains the quirky, leftfield choice – only now it wears a badge of honour rather than a rotating bow-tie. It isn’t as joyous as a Fiesta, by any means, but you feel that you could easily keep pace with the Ford cross-country – assuming you’re prepared to get acquainted with the Toyota’s redline. A panoramic sunroof over the front and rear seats will be available, however Renault couldn’t confirm whether it would be standard-fit or an optional extra. It revealed little beyond the boot opening’s shape and a glimpse of the dashboard, which also followed the format of the Giulia’s. I am not going to claim that our cars are better than those of our rivals, but I am going to tell you that they are different.
Sales in China remain a priority, although Alfa’s presence in the region has so far stalled due to the lack of a global distribution network and import restrictions. You wouldn’t call it pretty, but it’s got character by the bagful and a certain Tonka Toy appeal. Stick it in neutral, keep your feet off the pedals and it’ll inch its way down the slope by itself. Thing is, you often feel you’re travelling faster than you are anyway as the mud and snow tyres squeal like you’re on a qualifying lap when in reality you’re meandering gently around a roundabout.
It’s genuinely capable off-road, great in the city (no speed bump too big, no multi-storey too steep, no parking space too small) but in all honesty a bit rubbish on the open road. I suggest you try the 2.0 TDI instead – 148bhp ought to be enough – and maybe the 7-speed DSG box in preference to this six-speed manual, too. However, with the Giulia’s interior layout and quality already receiving some criticism, rumours suggest the Stelvio’s could be improved before launch and the changes fed back to the saloon as part of a 2017 model year update. We have a very pure, simple DNA at Alfa, not just guided by our heritage but also by our plans for the future.



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