Steering Column

Reliable as a Transit

Similarly it is impossible to tell, just from looking at a vehicle, whether or not it is particularly reliable, so we rely on independent testers to try them out for us.

A recent survey here in the UK has turned out some interesting results for Ford. According to the annual reliability survey by the magazine Fleet News, the Ford Transit has been named the most reliable van on the road for a third year running.

Questions on reliability were asked of the UK’s leading lease and contract hire companies. They were quizzed on actual breakdown rates and Ford came up smelling of the proverbial roses.

Magazine editor Stephen Briers describes his survey as “the largest of its kind in the country and is based on feedback from those who really know about the reliability of vehicles – people who run hundreds of thousands of vehicles over many hundreds of thousands of miles”.

Ford’s commercial vehicle director Steve Kimber says the com­pany’s reliability is “of para­mount importance”. He’s clearly and understandably delighted . . . and says as much.

Safe as a Subaru

It’s impossible to tell, just from looking at a car, whether or not it is going to look after you if you get into a bit of a smack, so we rely on independent testers to try them out for us. A recent test in America has turned out some interesting results for Subaru.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety there has crash tested a wide range of vehicles to see just how good they are at protecting their occupants in the most common types of collision or crash. They’ve done front, side and rear impact tests, along with roll-over tests.

Anyone expecting the top performers to all be Volvos and Mercedes-Benz will be surprised to know that Subaru outshone all the opposition. It put in a range of vehicles for destruction testing, and it was the only manufacturer to see all its entries get the oddly-named, but worthy all the same “Top Safety Pick” award.

Only vehicles with roof supports more than twice as strong as the US minimum standard are entered for the award because statistics show cars with stronger roofs cut deaths and serious injuries by half in rollover crashes.

Subaru won five Top Safety Pick awards in four categories. In the mid-size car group the new Legacy and Outback emerged with flying colours, in the small car group the Impreza took an award, in the small SUV section it was the Forester that took a prize, and the Tribeca took an award in the mid-size SUV class.

The results don’t necessarily mean Subarus are safer than everything else on the road, but they do show the badge can be looked on as an indicator of consistently high levels of passenger protection. The company is clearly and understandably delighted.

Advanced as a Kia

Engineers with the Korean company Kia have emerged with big grins on their faces after spending nearly four years and £88 million (170 billion won in their home currency) developing a new kind of engine.

Known as the Gasoline Direct Injection engine, the 2.4-litre petrol unit uses advanced control of fuel injection, valve operation and internal friction reduction to turn out, we’re told, up to 12 per cent more torque than a conventional engine, 10 per cent better fuel economy and much cleaner emissions.

Precise figures for how that translates into performance won’t be available until the technology goes into road-going cars but Kia says its GDI engines will be available in the UK in 2011 in its own cars and those of its collaborator on the scheme – Hyundai.

Kia is … well … understandably delighted. Chief technology officer and vice-chairman of the Hyundai-Kia Motor Group, Lee Hyun-Soon, says the emergence of the engine “convincingly demonstrates our advanced powertrain engineering capabilities”. Can’t argue with that.

Mike Grundon


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