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Iceni Magazine | December 10, 2018

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Tim Tests It – In This 11 Car Mega Review

Tim Tests It – In This 11 Car Mega Review

If you’re a petrolhead, or you want some idea of what’s on the automotive market, then read what motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay, thinks of the following cars.


Giulia Quadrifoglio

Giulia Quadrifoglio

With its 0-62mph time of 3.9s and top speed of 191mph, the Giulia Quadrifoglio could well be the ultimate high-performance rear-drive saloon on the market. Not only does it look awesome, its 50:50 balance, lightweight body, braking talents and firm suspension make it a jewel to drive.

Step inside, and the Giulia means business. Carbon-fibre, leather and suede tell you you’re in something special. Grip the chunky wheel, set the DNA switch to ‘Dynamic’, and the Alfa screams off towards the horizon in a planted, adrenaline-pumping way.

Tilt into a double-apex, and the Quadrifoglio shows it’s the real deal. The throttle is on the ball, the steering is light, and the engine response is hard-hitting while shifting cogs, via the steering paddles, is more satisfying than a date with a blonde.

I’m convinced that this 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol-powered Italian stallion is a Bavarian brand beater. It’s so refreshing and seizes your soul in a way that the Teutonic marques don’t.

Fast Facts (Giulia Quadrifoglio 2.9 V6 – as tested)

  • Max speed: 191mph
  • 0-62mph: 3.9s
  • Combined mpg: 34.4
  • Engine layout: 2891cc 6-cylinder turbo petrol
  • power (PS): 510
  • CO2: 189g/km
  • Price: £70,020

Giulia Quadrifoglio


Volvo V90 Cross Country

Volvo V90 Cross Country

By lifting the ride height, tossing in four-wheel drive and sticking on body cladding, the V90 Cross Country offers a great blend of estate car with strong 4X4 traction.

The model’s appeal is reinforced even further, thanks to skid plates, plastic wheel-arch coverings, a 65mm higher deportment, the ‘Cross Country’ calligraphy and some off-road tyres.

I was given the keys to the D5 2.0-litre turbo diesel model. Producing 235PS and connected to an eight-speed, butter-smooth automatic ‘box, this version of the V90 Cross Country will do 0-62mph in 7.2s. It’s an economical configuration, too, returning 50.4mpg.

The estate car is reasonably swift to wield on all road surfaces, and it feels far from immense. Combined with the growth in ride height, Volvo has stretched the countrified V90’s tracks to enrich stability and empower the stockier tyres to work their wizardry off-road.

Indeed, a cheeky burn along a potholed farm trail and through an unkempt field demonstrated the Cross Country’s double-edged nature commendably.

Fast Facts (V90 D5 PowerPulse AWD Cross Country Automatic – as tested)

  • Max speed: 145mph
  • 0-62 mph: 7.2s
  • Combined mpg: 50.4
  • Engine layout: 1969 cc 4-cylinder turbo diesel
  • Max. power (PS): 235
  • CO2: 146g/km
  • Price: £47,320

Volvo V90 Cross Country


Volvo XC60

Volvo XC60

Staying with Volvo, the latest XC60 is hushed and steady on the motorway – in fact, my D5 Powerpulse AWD R-Design Pro test car’s engine was all but inaudible at 70mph. There’s hardly any road and wind clamour, either, making the diesel a soothing mile-muncher. It’s also an economical cruising machine – with up to 47.1mpg possible.

All models in the range get selectable drive modes, with user-friendliness being another strong forte. Knee room is more than satisfactory, and headroom is plenteous.

The Johnny-come-lately doesn’t have the larger XC90’s seven-seat arrangement, but you do get a 468-litre load area. The powered tailgate makes loading stress-free, while the seats fold over without difficulty to create a sizeable 1,395-litre boot, too. This all makes the up-to-date Volvo a perfect car for a family of four or five.

It’s tough to dislike this car, and it makes so much sense to go for one. You just need to have a little bit of wonga in your pocket to afford this Swede. These days Volvo might be premium, but the prices are premium, too. That said; you do get what you pay for – and you get an awful lot with the next generation XC60.

Fast Facts (D5 Powerpulse AWD R-Design Pro – as tested)

  • Max speed: 137mph
  • 0-62 mph: 7.2s
  • Combined mpg: 47.1
  • Engine layout: 1969cc 4-cylinder turbo diesel
  • Max. power (PS): 235
  • CO2: 158 g/km
  • Price: £49,835

Volvo XC60


DS 7 Crossback

DS 7 Crossback

This car isn’t all about the 0-62mph sprint; it’s far happier as a laid-back cruiser. But it can still pull okay, with the 1.6-litre Prestige PureTech 225 Automatic model doing the 0-62mph in 8.3s.

Room in the cabin is suitable for five-up, and it’s a comfortable car fore and aft. Indeed, the DS 7 Crossback’s flat floor means that a rear seat occupant sitting in the middle will still have space. What’s more, the boot is generously proportioned with 555-litres of cargo capacity.

The all-new DS’ weak point is its price-tag. At £38,990 for the Prestige PureTech 225, other more established premium brands may seem more attractive. The BMW X3 and Volvo XC40 are examples of the stiff competition the Gallic machine is up against.

Fast Facts (DS 7 Prestige PureTech 225 Automatic – as tested)

  • Max speed: 141mph
  • 0-62 mph: 8.3s
  • Combined mpg: 47.9
  • Engine layout: 1598cc 4-cylinder turbo petrol
  • power (PS): 225
  • CO2: 135 g/km
  • Price: £38,990

DS 7 Crossback


New Kia Ceed

New Kia Ceed

This new Kia is the same length as before, so there’s still decent space for four-up – five at a push. The hatchback officially has the best-in-class-rear-shoulder-room, too.

Also, the rear overhang has expanded, meaning that the renewed Ceed has a bigger boot. It now has a cargo capacity of 395-litres, which is better than the Golf’s 380-litre offering.

I was handed the keys to the 1.4-litre T-GDi Ceed in ‘3’spec. It’s punchy, effortless to drive and quiet. There are no complaints from me about the Kia Ceed’s steering either, it’s pin-sharp and weights up well.

This, as well as excellent space and a well-screwed-together cabin, is what you need from a family car. It’s reasonably priced, too – with this model, coated in a standard paint job and fitted with an auto ‘box, costing £22,605 on the road.

Fast Facts (New Ceed 1.4 T-GDI 3 – as tested)

  • Max speed: 130mph
  • 0-62 mph: 8.9s
  • Combined mpg: 50.4
  • Engine layout: 1396cc 4-cylinder turbo petrol
  • power (PS): 140
  • CO2: 127g/km
  • Price: £22,605

New Kia Ceed


Mercedes-Benz CLS 400d

Mercedes-Benz CLS 400

The 400d isn’t just the most muscle-bound diesel-propelled CLS; it’s also the most potent oil-burner Mercedes-Benz has ever shoehorned into a production car.

The Benz delivers 340PS and 700Nm, channelled via a nine-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive. 0-62mph is achieved in 5.0s, meaning this diesel is only half a second behind the AMG.

Despite the potency of the new CLS 400d, the Mercedes is relaxing to cruise in. This is because lots of torque is accessible from just 1,200rpm. And that means when you put the pedal to the metal, hardcore pulling power is available immediately.

The transmission is slick, too, kicking in speedily and ably. The Benz feels immensely planted in even the most inclement weather as well. Chuck in a tremendously relaxed ride and excellent refinement and the CLS 400d comes across as a superb grand tourer.

Inside, the car has digital dials and 64 shades of ambient lighting. There is leather all over the place, and the quality of workmanship is second to none. Space is good, too. Of course, this is no E-Class, so the CLS isn’t quite as practical, but occupants who aren’t too tall will be happy sitting in the rear seats.

Fast Facts (CLS 400 d 4MATIC AMG Line Coupe – as tested)

  • Max speed: 155mph
  • 0-62 mph: 5.0s
  • Combined mpg: 47.9
  • Engine layout: 2925cc 6-cylinder turbo diesel
  • power (PS): 340
  • CO2: 148 g/km
  • Price: £60,740

Mercedes-Benz CLS 400


Volkswagen Touareg

Volkswagen Touareg

The Touareg’s been around since 2003, but this latest incarnation is entirely new, with a platform similar to Bentley’s Bentayga and Audi’s Q7.

There’s a lot of fun to be had, especially if you go for the potent 286PS six-cylinder diesel version. I drove this model, and soon discovered how quickly it likes to flex its muscles. The SUV has masses of torque, making overtaking painless and motorway mile munching effortless. The all-new Touareg in this guise will do 0-62mph in 6.1s, and it’ll reach more than double the UK’s speed limit.

VW hasn’t let the side down on cargo capacity either. By eschewing the need for a third tier of chairs, the Touareg has one of the most substantial boots in the premium SUV segment. There’s 40-litres more room than in Audi’s Q7 – 810-litres compared with 770-litres in the Q7’s five-seater offering – and that’s with the rear seats in place. Fold them down though and space balloons to nearly as much as you’ll find in Volvo’s XC90.

Of course, if you’re after a family-sized SUV, then it’s likely safety will be on your mind. Therefore, you’ll be pleased to read that the all-new Touareg has just been awarded the full five stars from Euro NCAP.

Fast Facts (Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI 286PS R-Line – as tested)

  • Max speed: 146mph
  • 0-62 mph: 6.1s
  • Combined mpg: 42.8
  • Engine layout: 2967cc 6-cylinder turbo diesel
  • Max. power (PS): 286
  • CO2: 173 g/km
  • Price: £55,095

Volkswagen Touareg


Seat Arona

Seat Arona

The Arona is SEAT’s second player in the SUV market, following closely behind the larger Ateca.

It’s powered by a range of engines, including the 1.5-litre TSI petrol, which is the most potent powerplant you can get in the Arona. Obtainable in FR trim and above, it starts at just over £21,000.

The Arona I drove had the new 1.5-litre TSI Evo unit, which is economical due to cylinder deactivation. This enables two of its four cylinders to be closed off when there’s an undemanding load on the throttle.

If you do decide to discover the higher rev ranges, the Arona responds speedily, and the six-speed box is rewarding to use. The quiet 150PS powerplant propels the Arona from 0-62 mph in 8.3s, and the maximum speed is 127mph.

What’s more, you can select different driving modes to customise the response of the throttle and steering. The steering in ‘Normal’ is light, but ‘Sport’ adjusts the weighting to make it feel more athletic.

So, if you want an Arona with a bit of dynamism, then the 1.5 TSI Evo is the version to have. It’s an efficient, hushed cruiser, and offers more ‘oomph’ than the slower diesel models.

Fast Facts (Arona 1.5 TSI Evo FR – as tested)

  • Max speed: 127mph
  • 0-62 mph: 8.3s
  • Combined mpg: 55.4
  • Engine layout: 1498cc 4-cylinder turbo petrol
  • Max. power (PS): 150
  • CO2: 115 g/km
  • Price: £21,535

 Seat Arona


BMW X2 

BMW X2 

The front-wheel-drive BMW X2 has a great look, blending SUV sturdiness with plunging coupe lines.

The car I drove was in M Sport X guise, with a tailgate spoiler, twin tailpipes and side skirts. Inside is just as intense, with the sports seats of my test vehicle finished in Dakota leather.

Standard kit comprises LED headlights, M Sport suspension, heated sports seats, a reversing camera, and a powered tailgate. On the safety front, things are just as impressive; the BMW is fitted with collision warning, lane departure warning and active cruise control.

The 2.0-litre turbo petrol unit hauls the X2 to 62mph in 7.7s and on to a top speed of 141mph. The pace is facilitated by a quick-shifting seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox.

Routine running offers a trio of modes: ‘Eco’ gives a soft power delivery, ‘Comfort’ is best for load lugging and ‘Sport’ is the rev-happy setting.

What’s more, the sports suspension on the M Sport X model ensures it doesn’t tip much through the corners. It’s virtually hot-hatch-like in this regard, holding similar speeds to athletic lower riding cars.

Fast Facts (sDrive20i M Sport X- as tested)

  • Max speed: 141mph
  • 0-62 mph: 7.7s
  • Combined mpg: 47.8
  • Engine layout: 1998cc 4-cylinder turbo petrol
  • Max. power (PS): 192
  • CO2: 134g/km
  • Price: £35,840

BMW X2 


Mazda MX-5

Mazda MX-5

The 2019 changes to Mazda’s MX-5 may not be that obvious, but they’re perceptible once you’re behind the wheel. That’s because power has been hiked in the 1.5 and 2.0-litre petrol engines.

I tested the 2.0-litre 184PS GT Sport Nav+ in RF semblance. The rear-wheel drive car is exquisitely balanced, and the extra clout is evident with 0-62mph achievable in 6.8s. The top speed is 137mph. That might not sound exceptionally swift, but it feels rapid in the low-slung roadster.

Getting comfortable in the newest MX-5 has become simpler too, due to the ushering in of telescopic steering wheel adjustment and some extra seat adjustment.

Regardless of the engine improvements, the MX-5’s efficiency has not been impacted. Indeed, the 2.0-litre 184PS versions have a lower C02 output than the outbound 160PS model. According to Mazda’s figures, my test car could do 40.9mpg with emissions of 156g/km.

The modern MX-5 was awarded the World Car Design of the Year award, so little has changed on the outside for 2019, but there are fresh 16 and 17-inch alloys, as well as seven colours to select.

Fast Facts (2.0-litre 184PS GT Sport Nav+ RF – as tested)

  • Max speed: 137mph
  • 0-62 mph: 6.8s
  • Combined mpg: 40.9
  • Engine layout: 1998cc 4-cylinder petrol
  • Max. power (PS): 184
  • CO2: 156g/km
  • Price: £26,595

Mazda MX-5


Vauxhall Astra Ultimate

Vauxhall Astra Ultimate

This Vauxhall is the quickest Astra on the road. It pushes out 200PS from its 1.6-litre turbo engine, enabling it to get to 60mph in just 6.6s.

It powers around bends with the kind of vim and vigour you’ll love if you’re a frustrated rally driver. The 146mph car will also tear up the tarmac on the straights, if your driving licence doesn’t mean that much to you.

But, while its ‘Ultimate’ moniker alludes to the Vauxhall’s ability, its true character is in the trim level that the Griffin-badged firm has added.

You get heated leather sports seats wheels, a rear-view camera and blind spot alert. There’s automatic cruise control and hill-start assist, too. If that’s not enough, LED Matrix headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels are thrown into the mix.

It’s a fantastic bundle, and all for a reasonable £27,235.

Fast Facts (Astra Ultimate 1.6i 200PS – as tested)

    • Max speed: 146mph
    • 0-60 mph: 6.6s
    • Combined mpg: 45.6
    • Engine layout: 1598cc 4-cylinder turbo petrol
    • Max. power (PS): 200
    • CO2: 142g/km
    • Price: £27,235

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