Our cars: updates January '09

  • Updates on our long-termers
  • From Audi to Suzuki
  • All the latest news here
Find out what's been happening this month in the world of our What Car? long-term test fleet.

Here are the latest updates from the real-life streets of every-day motoring…

Audi A4 1.8 TFSI S line
Report Feb ’09
Mileage 3200
I must confess that I feel like a bit of a dipstick this month... for looking for a dipstick.

After clocking up a couple of thousand miles, I thought I had better do the right thing and check the oil — but I couldn’t find the dipstick anywhere in the engine bay. The manual showed where it was supposed to be, but it simply wasn’t there.

The only way to check the oil - I eventually realised - is through the on-board computer.

Citroën C5 Tourer 2.7 HDi Exclusive auto
Report Jan ’09
Mileage 6500
I thought one of the most useful electronic aids on the C5 Tourer would be the push-button system to open and close the powered tailgate. However, the electrical system doesn’t seem able to store enough power to make it work consistently — sometimes it goes up and down just fine; others, it doesn’t respond.

Honda Civic 2.0 i-VTEC Type R GT
Reports May, Aug, Oct ’08; Jan ’09
Mileage 14,200
Call me old-school, but one of the great things about driving is the act of changing gear. Get it wrong and you feel like a clumsy learner; get it right, you feel like a touring car star. That’s where the Civic’s slick gearshift comes in — it makes every cog-swap a joy, and makes me seem more talented than I probably am.

Kia Cee’d SW 1.6 CRDi 89 GS
Reports Sept, Dec ’08
Mileage 5400
Estate cars are popular with us: it’s one thing to look flash, but most of us are more likely to need to do some heavy load-lugging. Editor Steve Fowler took the family and luggage in the Kia to the airport, and felt that only a few rough edges — the ride comfort, trim quality, style — stopped it from being a great car.

Mazda 6 Estate 2.0D Sports Luxury
Reports Oct ’08; Jan ’09
Mileage 8000
I lent the Mazda to a colleague recently, but it came back with a flat battery. This meant I had to re-programme the car’s settings, which made me realise how many preferences the 6 remembers, such as my seat position and that I’d stopped it from going ‘bing bong’ every time I turned the key in the ignition.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X FQ-300 GSR SST
Reports Sept, Nov ’08; Feb ’09
Mileage 12,500
The Evo’s tyres generate face-bending grip, but they also wear out quickly — especially when they’re usually digging into the Tarmac for all they’re worth. The 12,500 miles it’s done have taken their toll, with all four tyres down to 2.5mm of tread: time for a new set. Then the Evo will be back to its feature-distorting best.

Renault Laguna Sp’ Tourer 2.0 dCi (180) GT
Report Feb ’09
Mileage 9500
Colleague Euan Doig and two friends used the Laguna for a camping jaunt to the Belgian Grand Prix: the car took all of their camping gear, and it proved a quick and refined motorway-muncher. It did struggle in the muddy campsite, and it got through fuel quicker than he’d have liked, but it was still great for the trip.

Suzuki Splash 1.3 DDiS
Reports Nov ’08; Feb ’09
Mileage 7100
Fellow road tester Ivan Aistrop was worried about using our Splash for a fishing trip, because of its small boot. Yet dropping the rear seats means there’s
a surprisingly large load area, so the little Suzuki swallowed his gear easily. If only the fishing had been as successful — this little fella was the only thing he caught.


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