Steering Column 27.06.08

Nobody does it better

Mazda is the best car maker in the world. That’s not just a throwaway load of old opinionated tosh, it’s what those objectively minded analysts at Which? have decided is the case.

In this, the second annual Which? awards, Mazda managed to push the last winners, Toyota, into second place.

In summing up its decision, the judges praised Mazda for its “blend of excellent value for money, reliability and innovation”.

The Mazda3 hatchback was praised for its outstanding good looks, the best selling MX-5 sports car was described as a “motoring gem” with “engaging handling, powerful and refined engines and its folding hard-top options”.

The Mazda2 and Mazda6 were also praised for a host of reasons, but the bottom line is that Mazda is chuffed to bits with the accolade. There’s no doubt it will raise the profile of the brand even further and reassure anyone dithering over what brand to throw their money into.

Here comes the wind

There are times I really wish I had more money in my pocket . . . like now when Volkswagen opens the order books for the new Scirocco sports coupe.

You can’t take delivery of the thing until September, but lay down your deposit now and you can get your name on the list.

For looks alone the Scirocco deserves to be a runaway success, but there’s no reason to doubt it will have the balance and verve to back up the aesthetics. VW describes it as the most technically-advanced production coupe it has ever built.

The first batch will all have a 198bhp, two-litre petrol engine that can give you an average fuel consumption of 37.2mpg while tucking a 7.2-second 0-62mph sprint time under your right foot. That will be joined by a smaller 1.4-litre petrol engine and a two-litre diesel that will actually give an average fuel consumption of well over 50mpg.

Volkswagen suggests it will sell 3,350 Sciroccos this year, rising to around 9,000 next year when the full line-up is available. The interest already seems to be there – more than 11,000 people have asked the company to send them e-mail news updates about the car’s progress towards production 500 x 200
Toyota is the latest company to put more fire under the bonnet of a pick-up truck.

The Invincible 200 may sound like two-thirds of the Spartan cohort at Thermopylae, but it’s actually the latest version of the Hilux pick-up.

Only 500 models will be built for the UK and Toyota says its Motor Sport engine performance kit pumps the three-litre diesel engine’s power output up to 194bhp, its torque to 430Nm and its claim to fame up to being the most powerful production pick-up in Britain.

We’re also told none of this affects the fuel consumption or emissions in any way. Not quite sure how that works.

On sale from the first of next month, with prices at £21,540 for one with a manual-gearbox and an extra
£1,100 for the automatic, it comes with two-tone leather upholstery and heated seats, and a distinctive-looking stainless steel mesh grille that contrasts with the black metallic paint finish.

Mike Grundon


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