Join Date: 25th September 2008
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Four test drives in one day....
I've just completed 4 test drives of cars various (incl Civic) in one day. At the suggestion of someone on this forum (forget who - sorry!) thought I'd write up a review of the day.
1st drive - Mini Cooper
This was an impromptu test drive as I thought I'd make an unplanned stop at the local Mini dealer as I'd never seen inside one before.
The dealer was really helpful with no pressure at all. Explained to me all about the numerous sorts of minis and then offered me a test drive in a 57 plate Mini Cooper.
I was blown away by the quality of this car - I'd only ever seen the inside in pictures on the internet, and thought it looked a bit cheap. How wrong could I be. It was really well put together inside and out, really good quality materials and very comfortable seats.
Had a good drive and threw it around some country lanes - it's like driving a go-kart! The Cooper wasn't as quick as I thought it might have been, but was really great to drive. I had a smile on my face the whole time.
2nd Drive - Civic 2.2 SE
I'd arranged this with my local Honda dealer in advance. Was met by the sales manager on arrival and shown to the car. It didn't have much fuel in it, so he took me to the petrol station whilst explaining the controls. I drove it back, dropped him off then he let me go off on my own in it. That was the only dealer today who let me drive the car alone.
I'm after an EX spec, but was quite impressed with the level of trim in the base model. Coming from an Accord Tourer 2.2 I had an idea of the performance to expect - how wrong could I be - it REALLY flew. The car only had 750 miles on the clock and it didn't feel as smooth as the Accord - but I put this down to the low mileage. The torque seemed to kick in at higher revs than in the Accord and seemed to behave more like a car with a traditional turbo diesel unit.
Having read some of the posts on here I didn't know what to expect with regards to the suspension - I thought it was great. It hung onto corners very well with little or no body roll - the ride did seem firm (especially at low speeds), but I really liked it.
The car didn't seem as well built as my Accord, but couldn't put my finger on why. Maybe it was the different level spec (I'm used to driving an executive accord with leather seats). Didn't like the rear visibility issues either
There was a rattle! It was coming from the trim around the internal light. I pointed this out to the dealer who thanked me and said he would have it sorted as "Hondas don't rattle!".
3rd drive of the day - Ford Focus
I could write a lot here but I won't. Car was awful - dealer was worse. Really flipping awful. I remembered why I stopped owning Fords a long time ago
4th drive of the day - Audi A3 2.0 TDI 170ps Quattro Sport
This car was an 07 plate with 10000 miles on the clock. It was beautifully made and looked like new inside. Amazingly it didn't seem an awful lot faster than the Civic, but the handling on twisty country lanes - and I guess this was thanks to the Quattro system - was brilliant. It felt really sure footed.
Dealer was very good - no pressure to buy and was invited back for anothe test drive.
So verdict then......
In reverse order - 4th - Ford Focus - Can't understand what people rave about. Diesel engine seems and sounds really rough - naff build quality and cheap plastics. Dealer rubbish.
Now it gets difficult.........
I'd probably put the Mini 3rd. Only in terms of practicality. Three doors and child seats don't go well. Although we have a Ford Galaxy as our family car, occasionally We would want to use my car. Little Miss mistuk is a wheelchair user and I just dont think it would be a car that I could keep very long.
That goes to the Civic - maybe if I'd seen an EX spec this would be different. There are a number of compromises with this vehicle, but it seems an exceptionally good car. It doesn't seem as refined or as well built as my Accord, but boy does it fly!
The A3. My first time driving an Audi and I was very impressed. The cabin materials are of a high quality and the Quattro Drive system felt amazing. It was very quick, but not that much quicker than the Civic
The only thing that terrifies about owning the A3 is the servicing and repair costs should anything go wrong.
So I still haven't made up my mind which one to go for!