Steering Column

Ford fancies

Ford is preparing to unveil a few new cars at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

It will be showing off its new C-car alongside the latest version of the C-MAX multi-purpose vehicles and upgraded Kuga four-wheel-drive and Mondeo family car.

C-MAX comes as standard with five seats or now with seven seats in the version that will be known as the Grand C-MAX which comes with two sliding doors and clever fold-away seats.

We’re promised a coupe-like sweeping roofline for the five-seat version while the seven-seater will have a higher roof and thinner pillars to make the cabin particularly light and airy.

The Kuga gets a new powertrain and gearbox options to boost performance and improve fuel economy. The two-litre TDCi diesel engine now turns out 161bhp, an increase of about 33bhp over the outgoing model. That 20 per cent more peak power pushes the top speed up by nine miles per hour and cuts the sprint time from 0-62mph by a second, bringing it home now in 9.6 seconds.

As for the Mondeo, it’s getting what Ford describes as the “new high efficiency Ford EcoBoost petrol-injection turbo and upgraded Ford Duratorq TDCi diesel engines”. Cripes!

In an nutshell, the EcoBoost is a two-litre petrol engine that turns out 200bhp and the diesel engines are all two-litre units with a choice of power output of 112bhp, 138bhp and the 161bhp unit we’ve just heard about in the Kuga.

There is a new six-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox available for the Mondeo too which comes as standard with the new petrol engine or as an extra cost option for the 138 and 161bhp diesels.

And in the opposite corner

Vauxhall is celebrating 30 years of the Astra in the UK – the company’s small family hatchback.

All six generations have been built in the Ellesmere Port plant and in total almost three million have been sold since February 1980.

Statistics show that one in 20 cars on the road in the UK is an Astra. It’s officially Britain’s best selling UK-built car. Britain accounts for more Astra sales than anywhere else in Europe. A quarter of them have been sold in this country.

Most people have an Astra story. Mine dates back about 20 years when I was working as a labourer on a building site in Cornwall when the boss’s wife took me to Birmingham (I think it was) to help her sell wool at a trade show. Long story, you don’t need to know any more … but it was all above board.

Anyway, I was asked to park up her husband’s pride and joy – the boy-racer’s favourite – a bright red Mark II GTE. When we came back to the car park it had been stolen. I always thought they suspected I’d left it unlocked. I hadn’t.

Fresh Polo

Volkswagen has started selling its new green-and-clean Polo BlueMotion. BlueMotion is the name given to the company’s most efficient vehicles and the Polo is powered by a 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo diesel engine that turns out 74bhp and 133lb.ft. of torque.

Thanks to longer gearing though the five-speed manual box, an engine that turns off when stationary in traffic and a number of other techy things, you can get, it’s said, an average fuel consumption of a virtually miraculous 80.7mpg.

That makes it one of the most efficient vehicles available in the country. It’s no sports car but with 0-62mph sprint times of just under 14 seconds and a top speed of 107mph, it’s not unbearably slow either.

As for tax … what tax? The car emits just 91 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre so it’s exempt. Smashing.

You can order yours today and the first cars will be here in May. Prices start at just under £14,500 for a three-door. Two more doors will cost you an extra £600.

Mike Grundon


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