Nine-time 24hrs champion gives the current crop some tips
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£15,620 when new
Diesels and hybrids may be the gods of green, but petrol still has its place, as demonstrated by the VW Group’s impressive direct injection petrol engine, or FSi. The Skoda Octavia has had FSi lumps in various sizes since launch, but this 1.8-litre turbocharged unit is brand new. And not before time. FSi engines are all well and good in theory - the direct injection technology controls fuel use and thus improves efficiency and lowers emissions - but the smaller unit, the 1.6, is a bit rough and gutless. This 1.8-litre is much better. It’s quieter at all points in the rev range and pulls well above 2,000rpm, when the turbo kicks in. True, it lacks punch low down, but the turbo kicks in smoothly and it’s quick once it gets going. The crucial thing which makes the 1.8T FSi the engine to have in the Octavia (aside from the 2.0 TDI) is that it lacks the coarse edge which made the other FSi such a brute on long journeys. There’s even a sporty paaarp to enjoy.
If this is the immediate future in cars, long may global warming continue to be an issue.
£32,150 – £41,200
The V60 is a sensible, safe Volvo, just as you’d expect. The estate car of choice if comfort means more to you than handling
£21,240 – £38,425
Roomier and better than the hatch, but rivals are better still. Facelift gives it a helping hand
£20,740 – £33,210
A worthy competitor in the saloon and estate market. It offers lots, for not much cash