Miserly Punto is no slouch ; STEVE ORME FIAT PUNTO TWINAIR [Liverpool Echo (England)]
(Liverpool Echo (England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) REGARDLESS of why we are striving to save the home and lifestyle of Happy Feet and Shardik, the motor industry has embraced carbon reduction with gusto.
Probably just as well or ordinary families would be reduced to eating their shoes.
We expect cars to be so frugal that if you leave home on a Monday morning you won't have to fill up before Easter.
The question on the lips of young drivers today is, what does it do to the gallon In my formative driving years it was all about time to 60mph. Oh, and graphic equalisers, even though no one knew how they worked.
In pursuit of this ideal comes twin-pot technology, not a happening rap artist and neither is it brand new.
Remember the Suzuki Whizzkid No, thought not, but surely the 1980 Citroen Visa, your passport to dullness Fiat, with its 500, was one of the few makers to win hearts by reducing in spark plugs.
Or sparkling plugs as an acquaintance calls them. How quaint.
The Italians have once more been travelling the doublebarreled highway, this time with the advantage of TwinAir turbocharging, which is ably demonstrated in the 85bhp, 875cc Punto.
First, an important point when it comes to driver expectations. Twin cylinder cars have a distinctive engine tone. Some may like to think this can be described as sporty. It can't.
That said, the Punto unit is also remarkably smooth and, coasting along at 70mph on the motorway, hardly hushed but not at all offensive.
Not, it may be ventured, that this is a first-choice long haul car. It is a clever blend of space, flexibility around town and stop- start economy. Ah yes, the old economy thingy.
Combined figures suggest 67mpg. I don't doubt it, but according to the car's own calculator I was getting less.
A slouch, considering the Twinair's reason for being, it is not. Ten seconds to 62mph for a car aimed at saving you money rather than competing for a Bond audition is not bad.
Handling is, it must be said, light and bright. One of the bigger- engined versions may be rather good fun.
Not that the Punto is not desirable but it's just there really, a perfectly adequate family five-door with six gears and a good-sized boot.
At Pounds 12,700 a most reasonable purchase. Tax There isn't any. Always a bonus.
For your money you get a reasonable list of passive safety features, like multiple airbags and brake assistance. Creature comforts are more basic; there's air conditioning and an MP3, CD, radio set up and that's about it if, we assume everyone this side of Pounds 6k has electric windows and heated mirrors.
You have taken your green medicine, depressed emissions to under 100g and learned to live with cars burning next to nothing and still perfectly functional. Well done.
The reward Well, this has left a hole in tax revenues. So plans are afoot for an exciting Pounds 150 a year punishment road toll. And that's no way to train a dog.
DRIVE TALK FUNDING FOR ELECTRIC CHARGER BUYERS of Vauxhall's Ampera extended-range electric models can now benefit from free installation of a home charging unit.
Hot on the heels of the Government announcing funding for owners of electric vehicles, where it will cover 75% of costs for home charging unit installations up to a maximum of Pounds 1,000, Vauxhall says the company will meet the remaining 25% for new retail customers.
The Government's Pounds 37m package of benefits includes additional measures for local authorities to install on-street charging posts and rapid chargers. Train operators can also claim for charge point installations at railway stations for EV commuters.
Vauxhall's environmental strategy chief Ian Allen said: "Vauxhall welcomes a nationwide plan, as it means all Ampera drivers will have the cost of their home charging solution covered, not just those who live in certain geographical areas."
Arriving in UK showrooms last year, Ampera has a battery range of between 25 and 50 miles, after which a small range-extender motor intervenes to provide up to an additional 300-plus mile range. At all times the Ampera's wheels are electrically driven, setting it apart from conventional hybrid vehicles.
Ampera pricing starts at Pounds 29,995, including a Pounds 5,000 Government grant, for the Earth model - available through a network of 24 specialist Vauxhall dealers.
A 'Love It or Return It' plan means if customers find that within the first 30 days or 1,500 miles of ownership that Ampera isn''t right for them, they can return it to Vauxhall.
It also offered the threeday test drive programme, through which company car drivers can test a Vauxhall for three days, paying only for the electricity or fuel used.
DRIVE TALK NEW LOOK CAPTIVA CHEVROLET will lift the wraps on the newly styled version of its compact SUV the Captiva at the Geneva Motor Show.
The new Captiva heralds several changes to the front and rear, including new LED tail lamps, angular chrome exhaust tips and a remodelled bumper, while up front it sports a lower bumper, a new mesh grille, restyled foglamps and new 18-inch alloy wheels.
Keyless entry and start becomes standard on higher trim grades and the cabin will boast fresh seat colours, new fabrics and restyled trims in the instrument panel. A dualzone climate system, an ambient lighting package and heated rear seats provide more comfort on select specifications.
The American brand is also showing off its new small SUV, the Trax, which will be available with both front and all-wheel drive, in Geneva.
Due for launch later this spring, the Trax offers a choice of a 140bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, a 1.6 petrol unit and a 1.7-litre diesel producing 130bhp, and all manual transmission variants come with Start/ Stop technology.
Upper trim grades will feature Chevrolet MyLink technology as standard, a system that shows content from compatible smartphones onto the seven-inch high-resolution touchscreen display. MyLink will also enable users to navigate by means of a smartphone app called BringGo, and will allow them to access TuneIn internet radio.
Chevrolet's European chief Susan Docherty said: "With Captiva and Trax, Chevrolet will offer two very distinct SUVs in Europe.
"Trax combines the agility of a small car and the versatility of an SUV, making it perfect for today's urban explorer. Captiva is the ideal companion for those who want to have some adventure, but feel that they could do with more space, capability and that extra bit of convenience."
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