Steering Column 20.06.08

Streamlined Supermini

MAZDA is breathing some magic on its already excellent supermini – the Mazda2.

The company is bringing out a three-door version that looks the business. It gets larger front doors than its five-door sibling to make it easier to get into the back seats, a new rear side window to make it look a bit sportier, and there will be a new Sports Appearance Package available to put a sexy new front bumper, side sills and a roof spoiler on the mini-beast.

Good looking and good running, in my opinion this is one of the most desirable little cars on the market today. It comes with a choice of one diesel and three petrol engines – all of which are clean and economical.

The 1.3-litre standard power petrol engine has 74bhp available, there’s a high-power version of the same unit turning out 85bhp, and there’s a 1.5-litre petrol with 102bhp under your right foot.

The excellent 1.4-litre diesel engine is the pick of the bunch for me, even though I’ve only driven it a short distance. It gives you 67bhp but that’s backed up with 160Nm of very useful torque to keep you going up the hills. Best of all you can drive an average of over 65 miles on a gallon of fuel.

The three-door is lighter than its five-door sister and it’s smaller but it doesn’t skimp on kit. Packed into the wee thing are six airbags in case things go wrong and intelligent brakes to stop it going wrong in the first place.

More details and prices will follow.

Citroën seasonal specials

Citroën, meanwhile, has brought out some freshened up versions of its C2, C3 and C3 Pluiel cars to try and attract new buyers through the summer.

The little C2 doesn’t get any boost in power, but you’d think it did if you took a quick look. “Performance Styling” they call it and it adds a new radiator grille and an “imposing” front bumper.

The bigger C3 hatchback gets new entertainment and safety kit and the 1.6-litre diesel engine is now available on the mid-level specification model known as the Rhythm.

Additions to the convertible Pluriel are very muted, visually restricted to aluminium-look roof arches, bumper inserts and side rubbing strips, a metallic front grille and changes to the front and rear lights.

Advance and be Green

In the world of green motoring, market leader Toyota has made what it has described as a major breakthrough. Toyota has developed a new hydrogen fuel cell hybrid vehicle with more than twice the maximum cruising range of its last best attempt.

Up until now the maximum range was 205 miles but the new, snappily named FCHV-adv (it stands for fuel cell hybrid vehicle – advanced) has proved itself capable of 515 miles on a single fuelling . . . and the only bi-product is water.

All sorts of technical advances have gone into the car, stuff which would probably bore you and baffle me, but the bottom line is that Toyota has an estate-car weighing 1.9 tonnes that can seat five people, reach speeds of up to 96mph, turn out 120bhp, run from Aberdeen to Bristol on a single 156-litre tank of fuel and turn out no pollution other than a bit of damp.

How exciting is that ?

Mike Grundon


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