What Car? test fleet: Bye-bye BMW - Our cars update

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  • Our long-term test fleet
  • Read all of our reports, here
  • Real-world motoring
Ford Fiesta 1.6 Ti-VCT Zetec S
Reports May, Sept 2009; Jan 2010
Mileage 19,700
Tested by Euan Doig

The sound of metal being dragged along the pavement is not a pleasant one, as one colleague discovered during a parking manoeuvre gone wrong.

The Fiesta’s alloy wheel looked somewhat worse for wear, but thankfully the Wicked Wheels mobile service (www.wickedwheels.co.uk) came along, worked some metal magic and after only a short time
and £75 plus VAT the wheel was as good as new.

I’m genuinely sad that the car is shortly to leave my care, because it’s been a cracker.

Honda Insight 1.3 IMA SE
Reports August, November 2009
Mileage 9400
Tested by Leo Wilkinson

I’m more aware of one of the quirks of choosing the Insight in SE trim; unlike the ES and ES-T versions there’s no map light. Yes, there’s a central light that switches on when you open the door, but you miss out on the one at the top of the windscreen that illuminates the front of the cabin.

Renault Laguna Coupé 2.0 dCi 180 GT
Report February 2010
Mileage 10,255
Tested by Matt Sanger

The Laguna’s metal gearknob adds to the car’s elegant cabin design, but it’s harsh on your hands during the winter. It’s freezing on the coldest days – causing your fingers and palm to quickly go numb. A glove is the easiest way to solve the problem, but then that just looks silly.

Nissan Qashqai +2 2.0 dCi Tekna 4WD
Reports June, Sept 2009; Jan 2010
Mileage 21,755
Tested by Neil Williams

I’ve taken the Qashqai over from former keeper John Bradshaw. It’s comfortable and, excessive engine noise in town apart, easy to live with. The four-wheel-drive system was brilliant in the wet December weather, too. Not even heavily worn front tyres could put the Nissan off course.

They were replaced at 21,755 miles by Micheldever Tyres Ltd (01962 774 437), which had the lowest price
for the (still rather expensive) 4x4-specific Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport tyres, at £125 each. Micheldever also delivered and fitted the new rubber quickly at the What Car? office.

Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI 140 Elegance DSG
Report December 2009
Mileage 9500
Tested by Mel Nichols

Amid all the Superb’s thoughtful touches, there’s one anomaly: up to 80mph, the speedometer is segmented in 10mph steps. From 80 upwards, though, it’s in 20mph steps. This means that when driving abroad, it is hard to know at a glance exactly how fast you’re going.

Toyota iQ 1.0 VVT-i 2
Reports August 2009; January 2010
Mileage 9700
Tested by Steven Huntingford

A colleague from our sister magazine What Hi-Fi Sound and Vision borrowed the iQ the other day. He was impressed with the adjustability of the stereo’s sound that the optional touchscreen allows, but felt it would have sounded better if the speakers were on the dashboard, not the doors.

Mazda 3 1.6D TS2
Reports Nov 2009; Feb 2010
Mileage 11,020
Tested by Barnaby Jones

Another job well done for the Mazda 3. It took a friend and me 80 miles from Surrey to Hampshire in the pouring rain for our 30th birthday presents: a tank-driving session.

The wipers were quiet and efficient at clearing the windscreen of rain and spray on the motorway, although I’d have liked heavier steering offering more feedback once we got on to fast, winding country roads. Still, once we’d finished mucking about in the cold tanks, the Mazda’s standard five-stage heated seats were a godsend.

Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer 2.0 CDTi 160
Reports Nov 2009; Feb 2010
Mileage 13,250
Tested by Alex Jenner-Fust

Drivers of all shapes and sizes have been able to get comfortable in the Insignia. The part-electric seat adjustment helps, as does the extendable base. My lanky husband can lower the seat so his head doesn’t touch the ceiling — it’s just that it looks like he’s driving a Formula One car.

Volvo XC60 2.4D DRIVe SE Lux
Report Feb 2010
Mileage 6500
Tested by Peter Lawton

The XC60 took a trip deep into the countryside recently with whatcar.com deputy editor Alex Jenner-Fust. Alex thought the boot’s load-liner was brilliant, but was miffed that the Volvo looks like a 4x4 but is front-wheel drive. It doesn’t bother me, but then I wasn’t asked to tow cars out of ditches.


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