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ScottishWestie

ScottishWestie

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since 29/07/2007

208

Ford Galaxy TDCi Zetec 2.0 18/12/2009

It's like driving your living room around!

Ford Galaxy TDCi Zetec 2.0 There comes a time in your life when you need more space, squeezing everyone in to your favourite little car is no longer practical & you have to think about a larger car. The multi purpose vehicle (MPV for short) is ideal family carriers but their box shaped looks don’t win a lot of admirers. Ford put a lot of thought into this problem & a couple of years ago introduced two new MPVs that are based on each other. One was the S-Max, a stylish MPV with a sloping roof & sporty features but it still carried all the space a modern family is likely to want. The other was the Galaxy, a more boxed shaped MPV with a higher roof, seven seats, more space & it shared the majority of the components to the S-Max. For the subject of this review it is the bigger Galaxy models that I tested with the 2.0 litre TD diesel engine & six speed manual gearbox, it emits only 159g/km Co2. & will achieve 47mpg. THE FORD GALAXY It’s a big car; a proper family sized one that will swallow seven people & a little luggage or five people & their entire luggage. From outside it is vey stylish & modern despite its boxy profile. Ford call it kinetic engineering, they say it looks like its moving when it’s standing still, I say what marketing hype!! However, it is well finished with good even panel gaps, nice quality of paintwork & decent plastics. Ford supply a basic key with a push button that releases the key blade, there are buttons on the key for remote control operation. The door handles are ...

Renault Grand Scenic 2.0 dCi 11/12/2009

A stylish seven seater people carrier

Renault Grand Scenic 2.0 dCi THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE 2009 RENAULT GRAND SCENIC (THE PREVIOUS MODEL IS PICTURED) We take multi purpose vehicles (MPVs) for granted these days as there are so many to choose from & a popular sight on the roads. The British press often gives Renault the credit for ‘inventing’ this type of vehicle, it didn’t. In 1957, Fiat introduced the original small but spacious Multipla which despite its funny looks was the first true multi purpose vehicle. Strangely enough it was an idea that never really caught on, in the old days if your four door saloon wasn’t big enough for your needs, you just bought an estate car or a bigger car. Back in Italy in 1978, Lancia displayed the Megagamma at a motor show, a futuristic people carrier that featured a high roof & generous interior space. The designer was Giorgetto Giugiaro; his thinking was that passengers needed to sit high to save on interior space. The vehicle was boxy looking but it started a trend, four years later Nissan in Japan released the Nissan Prairie (which came to the UK), it looked quite similar & featured no door pillar between the two side doors & a sliding rear door, the result was a very roomy, albeit boxy vehicle. A year later Chrysler in the USA released the Voyager which although bigger took the whole concept just that little bit further. Then a year later Renault released the Espace with seven versatile seats which included swivelling front seats & middle seats that folded to become tables. Other ...

Toyota Prius Hybrid 1.5 VVT-i 08/12/2009

Is this the future of motoring?

Toyota Prius Hybrid 1.5 VVT-i We are living through challenging times, especially when it comes to the environment. Governments are putting pressure on so many companies to reduce their carbon footprint & none more so than car manufacturers. You can’t invent solutions overnight but all the car makers are trying their best to produce more environmentally friendly vehicles, it is costing billions of pounds for research at a time when we are enduring the worst financial crisis in our history. However, one car maker did ‘steal a march’ on the competition & introduced a hybrid in 1997 which can still be purchased today. WHAT IS A HYBRID? In this particular case it is a car that has a conventional petrol engine as well as a separate battery that can power it electronically. You start the car on battery power & drive at slow speeds emitting no emissions, once the battery power becomes low or you need more power; the engine kicks in to allow you to finish your journey. You don’t have to plug this car into the mains to recharge the battery, it does it itself through a series of clever systems. The results is a very low emissions vehicle, at present it is one of the lowest with an engine fitted & thus saves the owner a fortune on fuel bills & road excise duty as owning one of these vehicles exempts you from paying road tax. Oh, & you get to travel around the City of London without paying the congestion charge too. HISTORY OF THE TOYOTA PRIUS Work started in 1994 & the original Prius was introduced ...

Land Rover Range Rover Sport 2.7 TDV6 03/12/2009

A car that will go anywhere, but at a price

Land Rover Range Rover Sport 2.7 TDV6 THIS REVIEWS COVERS THE RANGE ROVER 3.0 T/D HSE MODEL & NOT THE SIMILAR 2.7 T/D MODEL ILLUSTRATED In 1970 a gallon of fuel cost around 7/6d a gallon (that is 35p for 4.54 litres of four star fuel!!) & the average wage for a good secretary was £126.00 a month. It was the year when Blue Mink, Mungo Jerry & Edison Lighthouse where in the pop charts. We were still paying for goods with old currency & it was the days when you could ask a policeman to keep an eye on your house whilst you were away on holiday. It was also the year when a new type of vehicle was introduced to a very sceptical public, the Range Rover. Up to this point in time anyone who wanted a 4x4 vehicle was left with a stark choice, a utilitarian Land Rover with all its foibles or mega expensive Jensen FF sports car. The Range Rover was a luxury 4x4 & came with a large V-8 engine, self levelling independent suspension, split tailgate & carpets, all for £2000.00. That appears to be a right bargain today, but in those days it was considered very expensive, for a few hundred pounds more you could have purchased an E-Type Jaguar. It was an instant success with the ‘country set’ & over the past 40 years has become well established in 4x4 circles, its probably the best known 4x4 on the market. Most people who buy them never venture off road, they are purchased for their image & they feel safe driving them. For this review I am looking at the Range Rover Sport diesel which is one of the cheaper models on ...

Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi 30/11/2009

A stylish small car

Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi In the 1970s Ford were producing the best selling cars in the UK, that was despite having only four models to offer, the Escort, Cortina, Capri & Consul/Granada. Their models were pretty conservative, rear wheel drive with a choice of two & four door saloons & estate cars except for the sporty Capri. They were modern looking, reasonable reliable, cheap to run & they held their value quite well. Ford could no wrong in the 1970s with a successful rally programme & a sporty image most car makers would die for, but there were problems ahead & they came from foreign countries. Companies such as Fiat in Italy, VW in Germany, Renault in France & Datsun (Nissan) in Japan were importing small front wheel drive cars, some with hatchbacks that were proving very popular with British buyers. Although smaller on the outside than an Escort they were just as roomy, easier to park & very adaptable. Clearly if Ford wanted to remain the UK best seller of cars they had to produce a similar vehicle. However with a conservative management based in the USA it would be a tough job convincing them. In 1972 they took the brave step to authorise the design of project ‘Bobcat’ a small front wheel drive car (Fords first) for the European market which would be built in Spain. Big companies with large fleets shied away from front wheel drive cars as they were more costly to maintain & repair, so Ford who traditional sold their cars to big fleets would have a mammoth job on their hands ...

Everything that starts with R ... 25/11/2009

Wanted superhuman to negoiate a minefield

Everything that starts with R ... R for Recruitment agencies Earlier in 2009 I was made redundant from my job & started the process of looking for another. This was the first time in my working life I was without work. Things have changed considerably in the job market since the last time I looked for work & the stark realities of recruitment agencies have now been brought to my attention. Since leaving school I have worked in the Motor industry, starting off as a humble apprentice mechanic (they call them technicians now) & over the years working my way up to an Aftersales manager at a number of busy dealerships. I looked for another challenge around the mid 1990s & got a job as a regional manager for two car companies, one foreign & one British, jobs that I really enjoyed. All those previous job vacancies were filled during ‘boom times’ when unemployment was low & competition for work wasn’t too bad. How things have changed, each job now has a large number of people applying making it even tougher. HOW IT ONCE WAS Previous jobs I had applied for rarely needed a CV, I remember going for an interview straight from the garage where I worked in tatty clothes, no CV, no smart suit & tie, no assessments or biometric tests, just me explaining about myself & what I was capable of doing. Right there & then I was offered the job. Fantastic, if only it was that simple now. THE CV You are not going to get far these days without an up to date CV, you may get asked what is a CV ...

Vauxhall Corsa SXi 1.2i 23/11/2009

nice looking car, shame about the reliability!

Vauxhall Corsa SXi 1.2i The Vauxhall Corsa has been with us since the early 1990s when it replaced the old Vauxhall Nova. In that time the Corsa has always been a big seller in the UK probably down to the fact that its good looking, appeals to all generations, it’s cheap to run & insure & holds its value quite well. I have just been running a number of Corsa models over the past three months (company owned) all with low mileage & all 1200cc models & it gave me a good opportunity to review this big seller. However the experience wasn’t what I expected in a modern car! VAUXHALL CORSA There are two basic models, a three door hatchback & a five door hatchback, from the windscreen pillars forward they are identical but they differ at the rear. The three door model looks sportier & has a more sloping roofline where as the five door is more boxy but has the advantage of more headroom. From outside they are good looking cars from all angles, this is the models that have recently been advertised on TV with those horrible looking soft toys shouting out ‘come on’ to the young girls passing by. From outside the general finish of the paintwork is good & all the gaps between the panels are consistent & quite tight. Some of the models have a conventional key with two remote control buttons. Some of the keys have the button you press to release the key blade & two buttons to lock & unlock the doors. When you press the unlock button once on the five door model, only the drivers door unlocks, you ...

Mercedes S320 19/11/2009

How the other half..........................drive

Mercedes S320 You have just won a few million pounds in the lottery, you have bought a new house, had your luxury holiday, opened up a savings account for the grandchildren & now you have decided to spend around £60.000 on a new luxury car. Would you consider the latest Mercedes S Class saloon? It would take a brave person to spend that sum of their own money on a luxury car, would they get value for money, would it live up to expectations & would you get satisfaction from it? My experience of the new Mercedes 320 S class came quite recently, a 60 mile drive in one & a 60 mile return trip as a passenger, if you want to find out how the ‘other half’ live & drive, read on. THE MERCEDES S CLASS Arguably the most respected luxury car in the world the S class Mercedes is the company’s flag ship model that costs between £55.595 for the ‘basic’ model & £148.290 for the top of the range one. For that sum of money you get a choice of petrol or diesel models with various levels of luxuries although I do find it hard to believe there is a £92.695 price difference between the basic & top of the range models. However, lets get too over excited here, even as lottery winners you want value for money so we’ll slum it & go for the basic diesel model which I drove at a mere £55.595!! At this price range there is fair amount of competition, the main contenders being BMW, Audi, Jaguar & Lexus, I have omitted Bentley, Rolls Royce & Maybach as they all cost considerably more. The car I tested was ...

Mercedes S320 19/11/2009

How the other half....................drive

Mercedes S320 You have just won a few million pounds in the lottery, you have bought a new house, had your luxury holiday, opened up a savings account for the grandchildren & now you have decided to spend around £60.000 on a new luxury car. Would you consider a Mercedes S Class saloon? It would take a brave person to spend that sum of their own money on a luxury car, would they get value for money, would it live up to expectations & would you get satisfaction from it? My experience of the new Mercedes S class came quite recently, a 60 mile drive in one & a 60 mile return trip as a passenger, if you want to find out how the ‘other half’ live & drive, read on. THE MERCEDES S CLASS Arguably the most respected luxury car in the world the S class Mercedes is the company’s flag ship model that costs between £55.595 for the ‘basic’ model & £148.290 for the top of the range one. For that sum of money you get a choice of petrol or diesel models with various levels of luxuries although I do find it hard to believe there is a £92.695 price difference between the basic & top of the range models. However, lets get too over excited here, even as lottery winners you want value for money so we’ll slum it & go for the basic diesel model which I drove at a mere £55.595!! At this price range there is fair amount of competition, the main contenders being BMW, Audi, Jaguar & Lexus, I have omitted Bentley, Rolls Royce & Maybach as they all cost considerably more. The car I tested was a S320 V-6 ...

Nissan Micra 1.4 16v 25/10/2009

A worthy little car with unusual looks

Nissan Micra 1.4 16v Firstly, the photo Ciao have issued is not a Nissan Micra. It’s an anniversary probably no one knew much about, 25 years is a long time & a milestone worth celebrating. However, this anniversary in the middle of a recession was only probably celebrated by a handful of marketing people & the odd factory worker. What am I on about? Well the 25th anniversary of the humble Nissan Micra recently happened; did it have much effect on you? No I thought not, much the same with me. The Mini will celebrate 50 years of motoring with a big national party but I doubt if there will be street parties for the Micra, life is like that I suppose! When it first came to the UK it hardly became a household name, Datsun as they were called then released it as a three door hatchback with a 1000cc engine. It was a bit tinny & non descript to look at it but as time would prove it would make a big impact on the UK buying public. It was cheap to run, easy to drive & thus became popular with motoring schools & best of all it was extremely reliable & built in Japan. Ten years later a new Micra emerged, this time built in the UK & this time it was so far ahead of the competition that it won the Car of the Year award in 1993. It’s cutey looks did wonders for sales & best of all it remained cheap to run, reliable & kept British workers in a job. Ten years later the third version came along & the subject of this review. Even cuteier looking this time & still ahead of some of the competition ...

SEAT Altea 1.9D 21/10/2009

A stylish alternative to a conservative VW

SEAT Altea 1.9D When you think of all the great car producing countries around the world you automatically think of the USA, Japan, Germany & that once great car producing country, the UK. Spain is not one you think much of but in actual fact both Nissan & Ford produce cars in Spain & the country has been producing its own cars since 1953, namely Seat (pronounce it See-at). Early Seat models were made under license from Fiat in Italy but it helped to kick start their motor industry, Seat vehicles were only sold in Spain. It wasn’t until the mid 1980s that Seat took the brave step to produce a model of its own, the Ibiza. This ‘supermini’ was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro & boasted as having "Italian styling & German engines" as Porsche were responsible for the engine design. It was known for having a rather quirky interior instrument layout, marked by a lack of control stalks. The indicators were operated by a rocker switch & the headlights by a sliding switch. It was the first official Seat car imported into the UK & although build quality left a lot to be desired it established Seat in the UK. It wasn’t long after that when Seat were taken over by Volkswagen & today all the Seat models are based on VW models but with a less conservative look both inside & outside. Seat cars appeal to a younger market & tend to be more stylish than the VW models they are based on. THE SEAT ALTEA It is difficult to ‘pigeon hole’ the Altea, its like a tall five door hatch back or a mini MPV, ...

Chevrolet Matiz 0.8 S 26/09/2009

Small car, big name

Chevrolet Matiz 0.8 S Mention the name Chevrolet to any car enthusiast & it will conjure up an image of the huge American V8 saloons & SUVs that dominate the America car scene. Along with Ford, Chevrolet is among the best selling cars in America & famous for producing a number of classics such as the legendary Corvette sports car, the muscle cars of the 1960s & many more. It’s a true American brand, up there with Coca Cola & McDonalds, yet Louis Chevrolet who founded the company came from Switzerland. His family left Switzerland to live in France in the late 19th century & it was there where Louis developed his mechanical skills & interest in motor racing. At the turn of the century he emigrated to Canada to work as a chauffeur & mechanic, later he moved again to New York City where he worked briefly for a fellow Swiss immigrant's engineering company. He had many other jobs in America & even pursued a racing career, however it was when he was working for Buick that he learned the skills of producing his own vehicles. The Chevrolet Motor Company was founded & very quickly taken over by what became the huge General Motors Corporation (GM) & Louis died a near penniless man. During the entire 20th century Chevrolet & Ford dominated the domestic car scene in America. So where does all this leave this review on a little Korean built car with a famous name? Daewoo in Korea was partly owned by GM in America & produced a series of vehicles made under license from GM until they were big enough ...

Vauxhall Astra 1.9 CDTi 16v (120ps) SRi 3dr 31/08/2009

A powerful diesel hatchback

Vauxhall Astra 1.9 CDTi 16v (120ps) SRi 3dr The Vauxhall Astra has been with us since 1979 in various guises & is constantly in the top selling list of cars in the UK ever since. The reason that the Astra has proved popular is due to its modern designs, the fact that it is usually well equipped, cheap to run & insure & despite its reliability concerns its quite simple & cheap to repair. A recent 270 mile blast to central Scotland in the new Astra Diesel gave me an opportunity to assess the latest model. It was a 1.9 turbo diesel hatchback with a six speed gearbox, from the outside the paintwork finish was excellent & all the gaps around the doors & body panels were consistent & narrow. One you jump inside the quality theme continues, the upper dash & upper door trims were finished off in a quality rubbery plastic finish often seen in many up market makes. The lower dash (see picture) was in fake aluminium plastic which was a bit ‘in your face’ but nicely done all the same. All the switches had a quality feel to them although the markings for the heating controls were a bit confusing. Getting a comfortable driving position was easy thanks to a multi adjustable drivers seat which could be lowered or raised, however the lumber support in the drivers seat was broken. Overall the interior is a comfortable place to be but leg room in the back of the car was less than I would have expected for a car of its size. I own a smaller car with loads more leg room in the rear. My other criticism of the interior is the ...

Fawlty Towers - Complete Fawlty Towers (DVD) 18/08/2009

A comedy classic

Fawlty Towers - Complete Fawlty Towers (DVD) Whenever there is a poll carried out to judge the best television comedy show since TV was invented you can always rely on Fawlty Towers to either be voted the best or at least the second best comedy of all time. It is a remarkable achievement for a show that only ever had 12 episodes & which was slated by a senior BBC executive for being dull & uninspiring before it went on air. The first episode in 1975 had just over one million viewers at a time when we only had three TV channels to choose from. By the third episode the viewing figures had crept up past the three million mark & by the time the second series ran in 1979 viewing figures peaked to over 13 million. So what makes it so great? What makes this comedy show such a classic? THE BASIC IDEA / STORY Fawlty Towers was written by the ex Monty Python creator John Cleese & his then wife & actress Connie Booth. The whole idea was based on a visit to the Hotel Gleneagles in Torquay in May 1971 when John Cleese & the other members of the Month Python team were staying. The owner of the hotel was Donald Sinclair who had a dislike to the hotel guests & was often very rude to them. He complained when he saw Terry Gilliam using a knife & fork to cut his food & then switch his fork to his right hand to eat, as an American it was regarded as quite normal but for the hotel owner it wasn’t. He remarked to Terry “we don’t eat like that in this country!” On another occasion Eric Idle had left his brief case in the ...

Gadwin Sytems Gadwin PrintScreen Professional 13/08/2009

A slick print screen facility

Gadwin Sytems Gadwin PrintScreen Professional If you look at your computer keyboard on the top row of keys on the right hand side you’ll see the ‘Prt Sc’ key, the one that captures a print of the screen that you are currently looking at. It’s a very handy facility to have but notorious for not working properly & being a little restrictive. Gadwin Systems offer free software that eliminates the problems of the ‘Print Screen’ facility & turns into a very slick operation. You can capture a screen print & save it for printing, you can choose a number of ‘hot keys’ that you prefer to use for the simple function. You can capture a full screen or a certain section; in fact there are about six different image formats to suit each individual user. I find it very handy when your browsing through websites looking for something & come across similar offers, printing a copy of the various screens allows you to look again & compare later on. It is also very handy for quickly passing on information by email to a friend. GADWIN SCREEN PRINT Before the system will work on your computer you need to download the free software from the following website: www.gadwin.com/printscreen On the site you can get a demo of it working & try it out yourself before downloading anything. The basic requirements for downloading the software are that it’ll work with Microsoft Windows 98, ME, 2000, 2003, XP, Vista or NT 4.0 SP6, they also state that if you are running any of these systems with a Windows compatible mouse or pointing device ...
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