Celebrating a year of motoring adventure, here’s my top five TotallyMotor testers that most impressed, surprised or delighted, in 2011

Five great cars I’ve driven in 2011

Friday, 6 January 2012 4:51 PM

Citroen DS3

The Citroen DS3 with popstar popsicle, Pixie Lott. If it's good enough for her…

There was plenty of test-driving on TotallyMotor throughout 2011, with many road miles dispatched and a fair few gallons of fuel burned, all in the name of giving our lovely readers some hints, tips and head-ups on what’s out there in new-car-world that might fit their motoring bill.

And to celebrate a year of motoring adventure, here’s my top five list of TotallyMotor testers that most impressed, surprised or delighted, in 2011. 


5. Skoda Octavia 1.2 TSI 105PS

Price: £15,040 OTR
CO2: 134g/km
MPG: 49.6 (quoted)

There are a multitude of different types of Octavias to choose from and you’ll see plenty on the UK’s roads, and for a simple reason – it’s a great car for so many people; bringing inner space (and a huge boot), understated exterior style and solid reliability to the masses. 

I was very interested to see how this 1.2 TSI engine – a 4-cylinder, turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol unit – would perform when pulling the big ol’ Octavia. And I was impressed from the off.

The little motor balanced peppy turbo performance with small-capacity frugality; beautifully matched with all the right ratios in a slick 6-speed manual gearbox.

The ride was more cruiser than sportster and the interior, whilst a little uninspiring, offered acres of space and a look and feel of quality. And on the road, with the gas pedal firmly applied, this Octavia was a delightfully dastardly dark blue wolf in a dapper sheep’s suit.



4. Peugeot RCZ GT THP 200

Price: £25,945 OTR 
CO2: 155g/km
MPG: 42.1 (quoted)

All this gorgeous curving coupe for £26k? What’s the catch? Well, with Peugeot’s stunner-for-the-people there is no catch.

This deep-red RCZ GT THP 200 was a top price, top-trim test car with plenty of leather, that auto-erotic bodywork, huge 19-inch alloys and a punchy 200bhp, 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, matched to a slick close-ratio 6-speed manual gearbox.

RCZ’s wide and flat chassis and firm suspension returned some pretty incredible cornering experiences during my week of fun with the French flier, with only the odd too-firm suspension jolt through (big) potholes being a (small) drawback with this totally attractive car.

Everyday useable, frugal when right-foot-respected, and ready to provoke a pub-car-chat with your mates at the drop of a Lion-embossed key fob, this Peugeot just seems untouchable for the price to pay.



3. Ford Fiesta S1600 / Fiesta Metal

Price: £15,845 OTR
CO2: 139g/km
MPG: 47.9 (quoted)

The Ford Fiesta is the UK’s best-selling car. Not because it’s the cheapest, but because it’s brilliantly executed from every angle. Handsome, agile- and modern-looking, spacious and featuring a well-packaged interior with the best, most supportive driving position I’ve ever encountered, even for a tall chap like me.

The S1600, or Metal as the same car is now known (with a different paintjob and bits 'n' bobs), is the naughty sporty Fiesta with 134bhp of high-revving naturally aspirated petrol power, sports suspension, big ‘n’ juicy 17inch wheels, and go-faster stripes that actually work!

Great fun on your favourite roads with a chassis that knows exactly where it’s going and a quick-reacting front-end, but also smooth and quiet enough to gobble some serious motorway miles. I covered 500 miles in one (long!) day in an S1600.



2. Citroen DS3 DSport

Price: £16,800 OTR
CO2: 155g/km
MPG: 42.2 (quoted)

Exactly along the same lines as the funky Fiesta; a pocket rocket that’s packed with character, easily fast enough to raise a wide smile, but also perfectly practical and reasonably frugal for everyday motoring.

The DSport just nudged above the Fiesta in my personal 2011 top 5 drives thanks to its extremely eye-catching French character and styling, and handsome interior. Not that the Fiesta is in anyway a slouch in these important departments; it’s just a little personal taste thing.

But, the 1.6-litre, 150bhp turbocharged motor really is a potent little peach and suits the DSport’s make-up perfectly, and with a succinct 6-speed manual gearbox and a chassis that inspired confidence during fast back lane fun, this super-Citroen definitely goes as good as it looks.



And the winner is…

Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart 1.5 Turbo

Price: £14,229 OTR
CO2: 153g/km
MPG: 42.8 (quoted)

The little rally-ready Colt was an absolute blast during my week behind its leather-wrapped steering wheel. The turbo’d Colt delivers big-excitement-bang-per-buck, with the 3-door car costing just £14,229, for the most surprising, exciting and engaging car I’ve driven in ages. The hot hatch recipe served up with a tasty touch of Ralliart spice.

The 147bhp, 1.5-litre turbocharged engine under that short black bonnet is, of course, at the heart of this Colt’s wild riding, but all the lust and shove in the world would be wasted if the power was delivered in a sloppy bucket of bad suspension.

But, Colt Ralliart’s suspension is just that; a work of rally-art. Grip is tenacious; ride is firm yet pliant enough to keep your vertebrae where they should be, while body roll is felt only in the smallest of sways.

Hustling through bumpy switchback back lanes and this Colt laps up the bends like it was born to do it, which clearly it was. The Ralliart-tuned shocks and springs keep the low-pro tyres in constant road-contact and the Colt just keeps on gripping.

Not the prettiest car, not the best interior package and, annoyingly, a steering wheel that doesn’t slide towards the driver. But, for the sticker price to pay versus the fun to be had in this incredible-handling car, the Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart gets my number one nod all day long.

By Daniel Anslow

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