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ALL THE LATEST NEWS, VIEWS AND STORIES FROM AROUND YOUR LOCAL AREA:NOVEMBER/DECEMBER


MOTORING


NEWS With autumn traditionally being motor show time – and some might recall the gleaming new models under the glare of the Earls Court lighting – I’ve chosen to examine four forthcoming or recently introduced cars to be found in showrooms near you.


With emphasis on electricity, an important newcomer is the MINI Hybrid Countryman which enjoys the same styling as its petrol and diesel siblings. A close look at the interior reveals a compromise in boot space where the battery and charging equipment is housed. Compared to the conventionally powered models, the petrol-hybrid ALL4 4x4 model is vastly superior in terms of acceleration and performance. Given that the new generation Countryman has a greatly improved ride over its predecessor and is generally much more comfortable with its hugely revised cabin, it’s a strong contender in the small SUV market despite its relatively high price starting at £31,585. Factor in some desired options and you could be paying around £40,000. MINI might claim 135mpg, for which you’d need


The New MINI Hybrid Countryman PHOTO © M.BOBBITT


to do most of your driving in electric mode, but in real life terms it will be between 50- 60mpg.


For more sporty types the new Fiat 124 Spider directly rivals Mazda’s MX-5, and in fact the two cars share the same platform technology. The 124 feels all the more racy with its confined cockpit which is truly Italianesque in its feel and layout. There’s much more grunt thanks to Fiat’s nicely tuned engine: go for the highly-fettled Abarth and what you’ve got is one of the most potent of affordable sports cars. The downside is that in right hand drive format


the pedal


positioning takes some getting used to, but it’s worth it. Priced from £23,295 the 124 offers much, and at £26,126 the Abarth is even more exciting.


are receiving considerable praise. Just announced is the new generation Rexton SUV which is a total revelation compared to the aged and not very agile outgoing model. I’ve tried the LHD Rexton in advance of RHD models arriving in the UK and am impressed by its styling, excellent ride and roadholding. Inspiring, too, is its build quality and comfort. It isn’t in the Land Rover league, but it does offer a lot for its £25,500 asking price, which rises to £37,000 for the extremely generously equipped top range version.


PHOTO © M.BOBBITT


MG GS Until


has been an also-ran with the


The New SsangYong Rexton recently Korean


PHOTO © M.BOBBITT


SsangYong carmaker


Fiat 124 Spider PHOTO © M.BOBBITT WWW.THECOCKERMOUTHPOST.CO.UK


commanding a minimal share of the market with cars that haven’t amassed an enviable reputation. Things are changing as some of SsangYong’s


latest models, including the mid-size Tivoli SUV,


Finalising this quartet I’ve chosen the MG GS. I wasn’t overwhelmed with the car when it was introduced a couple of years ago, but engineering tweaks plus interior upgrades have transformed this SUV-style family car. It’s comfortable, well equipped and rides well, and the top range model offers real luxury. Helping to put MG back on the map, it deserves to appeal to many customers, which it should at a price starting from a little over £15,000.


Malcolm Bobbitt www.wheelspinautomedia.co.uk


16 NOVEMBER 2017 ISSUE 420 PAGE 61


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