Ford Ranger 3.2 TDCi Wildtrak

Close-up action shot of Ford Ranger Wildtrak.

The Ford Ranger comes in many forms, each suited to a different type of customer with specific requirements for a pickup. Since you’re reading a page on a general motoring site rather than one devoted to industrial or agricultural matters, it seems fair to assume that the Wildtrak is most likely to appeal to you. Uniquely in the line-up, the Wildtrak is offered only with a Double Cab body, four-wheel drive and a 3.2-litre diesel engine. Among its more obvious rivals are the Toyota Hilux (one of only two pickups…

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Kia Rio 1.4 CRDi 3 Eco

White Kia Rio 3 directly facing the camera.

The Rio has a long and not always happy history stretching right back to the turn of the 21st century. The original 2000 model dates from a time when the most significant feature of any Kia was that it was cheap. It was both ridiculed and stoutly defended, but it’s not unreasonable to say that it wasn’t much of a car by the standards of its time, and certainly not by those of today. Later Rios, introduced at roughly five-year intervals, were better, but I had issues with all of…

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SEAT Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95 SE

Static shot of blue SEAT Ibiza SE parked on a cobbled street with trees and grand building in the background.

I recently read a review of the SEAT Ibiza somewhere (or it may have been somewhere else) in which the writer devoted a couple of sentences to criticising its steering. I can’t remember the exact phrasing, but the words ‘lifeless’ and ‘uninvolving’, if not actually chosen, were certainly implied. I can just about understand this point of view, but I don’t agree with it. How involving or full of life does the steering actually have to be in an everyday supermini? On the contrary, one of the many things I…

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McLaren 570S Spider

Static shot of blue McLaren 570S Spider with roof down.

The 570S Spider is the cheapest (or, if you prefer, least expensive) open-topped car built by McLaren Automotive, and the only one in the entry-level Sports Series. Despite being a very new model which became available to order as recently as June 2017, it’s actually made of quite familiar stuff, being mechanically identical to other 570 models and fitted with a two-piece retractable hard top already used on the 650S and 675LT Spider. It shames me to confess that I didn’t check this for myself, but McLaren says that the…

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Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer 2.0D 4×4

White Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer on a narrow grass-lined road.

The first Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer disappeared from the market so soon after its launch that you might not have noticed it was there at all. Except in the case of a limited-edition model, this is not an experience any manufacturer would choose to repeat, so the fact that Vauxhall has introduced a new Country Tourer suggests some confidence that this one will be more successful. The old and the new are very different, because Insignias are no longer what they once were. A new model arrived earlier this year,…

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Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance DSG Five-door

Tilted action shot of red Volkswagen Golf GTI cornering hard.

A colleague happened to mention, shortly before I climbed aboard the GTI, that he thought it a far superior machine to the Golf R. It would be easy to refute this during a frank and forthright exchange of views over coffee by quoting figures and pointing out the R’s mechanical advantages, but when you actually drive the GTI it’s easy to come round to his point view. At this point, a scamper through Golf history seems appropriate. Volkswagen originally used the GTI badge to denote only high-performance variants. Later, its…

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Ford Edge 2.0 TDCi PowerShift Vignale

Highly coloured frontal shot of Ford Edge Vignale.

In October 2016, Ford announced a new Vignale version of the Edge SUV it had launched three months earlier. Vignale, named after a now defunct coachbuilding company established near Turin in 1948, is not quite a sub-brand but certainly Ford’s way of telling you that if you want the highest possible level of equipment in a particular model, this is where you’ll find it. In the case of the Edge, this equipment includes a lot of unique exterior detailing, polished aluminium wheels and, inside, plenty of hexagonal-quilted Windsor leather. There…

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Mazda2 1.5 GT Sport

Static shot of blue Mazda2 GT Sport parked on gravel with dust visible on tyres.

It doesn’t seem that long since the current Mazda2 supermini was introduced for the good reason that it actually isn’t – UK sales began as recently as the early days of 2015. Nevertheless, barely two years passed before Mazda introduced its first upgrade, which included new seat fabrics, a new steering wheel, new door mirrors, modified suspension, extra sound insulation and the G-Vectoring Control system (basically a way of limiting power to whichever of the front wheels is struggling to cope) first seen in the revised Mazda3. The flagship of…

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Fiat 124 Spider Lusso

Red Italian-registered Fiat 124 Spider parked beside a lake with mountains in the background.

No matter how much Fiat enthusiasts may want to avoid it, there’s no getting away from the fact that the 124 Spider is to all intents and purposes a Mazda MX-5 roadster wearing a different frock. Half a century ago the idea would have been unthinkable, and certainly unspeakable, but in these days of manufacturers sharing technology with each other it shouldn’t come as a great shock. Nor should anyone have a problem with it. The MX-5 is itself a fine sports car and an entirely acceptable basis for another…

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BMW 540i xDrive M Sport

BMW 540i M Sport frontal action shot.

Sometimes a car that does its intended job very well surprises you by being just as good at doing something completely different. To the list of effective multi-purpose cars I would happily add the BMW 540i xDrive M Sport. The fact that I’m writing a review of it is incidental to the purpose of borrowing it. It was supplied by BMW to compete in a hillclimb at Shelsley Walsh in August, and since I’ve already written about that here I won’t go over the same ground now. The thing is,…

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