Steering Column 13.03.09

Power and glory

A massive milestone in the car industry is going to be passed in three years time.

Vauxhall has confirmed it is going to launch a mainstream electric car on to the UK streets in 2012. Known as the Ampera, it was unveiled at Geneva this month. The company claims it will have a 300-mile range.

The car can be plugged into any household 240-volt power supply for recharging and GM’s European president Carl-Peter Forster describes it as having “game-changing technology”.

Amazingly, the first mock-ups look stunning with striking design features and rugged good looks. It’s a five-door, four-seat car with sleek aerodynamics that can recharge itself as it goes. Okay, if your electricity is produced by a diesel power station like ours is just now, it’s not clean technology. But if you plugged it into a windmill it would give you free and clean travel.

More details will be revealed and confirmed over the next three years.

Swan Fiesta

Born of a long line of bland and ugly beasts, the latest Ford Fiesta van is a genuine beauty.

On sale since Monday it has lovely smooth lines, handsome alloy wheels and those long, drawn out light lenses that give the standard hatchback eyes like Cleopatra.

Priced from £9,025 to £10,780 plus VAT, they are available with three levels of trim and three engines – a petrol and two diesels.

The 1.25-litre Duratec petrol engine turns out 81bhp but is capable of a fuel economy figure of 46.6mpg. Both the 1.4 and the 1.6-litre diesel engines have official average fuel consumption figures over an impressive 67mpg. The 1.4 has 67bhp on tap and the range-topping 1.6 has 89bhp to offer.

They will all carry around half a tonne of cargo.

Bull Terios

Daihatsu is using the economic downturn and recent snowfalls to emphasise how sensible it would be to buy its mini 4×4, the Terios.

The company’s operations director Paul Hegarty says its cars have never made more sense than they do in these “tough times”.

Even though there is nothing new to say about the little car, he’s reminding us that it has enough traction and agility to cope with the excesses of the unpredictable Brit­ish weather while still giving an aver­­age fuel economy of almost 36mpg. The 1.5-litre petrol engine turns out 103bhp which doesn’t give startling on-road performance, but it is enough to make it able to cope with mud and ruts off it.

Anyone who was stuck with wheels spinning in the snow a few weeks ago will have wished they had the locking centre differential option that’s available on the Terios, so even if the front wheels are slipping, the back wheels could still grip.

Prices begin at £12,725 on the road.

iQ of 1.33

Toyota’s beautiful baby, the diminutive iQ hatchback, has been given a new engine choice.

From July you will be able to buy it with a 1.33-litre VVT-i petrol engine which feeds 98bhp through a six-speed gearbox. It may not sound like much but it’s a major step up from the standard one-litre engine.

From launch it will have “stop-and-start” technology which shuts the engine down when it’s sitting stationary and idling. Soon afterwards it will also get the multidrive transmission set up which is said to give step-free gearshifts and the best balance between performance and fuel economy.

Mike Grundon


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.