Car Choice: How to stay hot but not get too thirsty
Sunday 28 March 2010
Ben Garside wants a used car and has sent me a list: Ford Puma, Mark 2 VW Golf GTI, Toyota Celica 1.8 petrol, the 130hp turbo-diesel versions of the previous-model Seat Ibiza, Skoda Fabia, and VW Polo. However, his point is that most of the petrol hot hatches he has considered have poor fuel economy – under 40mpg – which Ben finds hard to accept, having driven a diesel and got 50+ mpg, as well as good performance.
A car for the head
The reality for Ben is that you can't have it all. If he wants the responsiveness of a petrol hot hatch, then he will need to pay for that in reduced fuel consumption. If you want a sexy supercar the price is usually six figures and mpg in single figures. I am surprised, though, that Ben has not considered the new generation of hot diesel hatches. I would have thought the Seat Leon 2.0 TD FR would have been one answer. Here is a car that is clearly better than the Volkswagen Golf on which it is based. The old Leon, built up to 2006, was more spacious, better equipped, and had Volkswagen's excellent 150bhp diesel engine. In an urban environment it will manage 39 mpg, then at a constant 56mph it shoots up to 64.2mpg and overall it is 52.3mpg. In the real world Ben could manage 50mpg consistently. In the hot hatch stakes, the FR model has a top speed of 134mph and it will get to 60mph in just over 8 seconds – so it should tick the majority of Ben's performance boxes. A tidy 2005 example will set him back £6,500.
A car for the heart
If Ben was handy with a spanner he could knuckle down and build his own high-performance, low-consumption vehicle. Lotus design legend Colin Chapman said that he just "added lightness" to his sports cars. Certainly a Lotus Seven is as basic as you can buy – just four wheels, no doors and a small engine, but lots of fun and very decent mpg. So Ben could buy a Lotus Seven style kit and make something very interesting but frugal for a few thousand. I guess, though, Ben needs a boot and a roof. So how about a Smart Roadster-Coupé (pictured)? In many ways, this is a modern update of the old Seven, with a tiny three-cylinder turbocharged engine and a light body. The coupé even has removable roof panels for when the sun shines. It may not be the quickest car, even with the larger 80bhp engine, but it does feel exhilarating, putting the driver so close to the road. At best, it will get to 112mph maximum and get to 60mph in almost 11 seconds, but Ben will be delighted to read that the fuel consumption figures are 55.4mpg overall. A 2003 to 2004 example, with 60,000-plus miles on the clock, will be more than £4,250 – and the value of such a car can only go up in the future.
Looking to buy?
Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF or email James Ruppert at firstname.lastname@example.org, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested, and your budget.
Life & Style blogs
Three in every four British men will be overweight by 2030, says World Health Organisation
Rihanna's Met Gala dress took one Chinese woman 2 years to make, was reduced to omelette meme in 2 seconds
How to gain confidence and maximise your sexual potential
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
The 12 most sexually satisfied countries in the world revealed
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
- 1 Katie Hopkins gives rare glimpse of sensitive side with heartfelt open letter to her children penned in case she dies from epilepsy
- 2 Rihanna's Met Gala dress took one Chinese woman 2 years to make, was reduced to omelette meme in 2 seconds
- 3 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
- 4 Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...