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ladies night

We look at some sexy, sassy, stylish performance cars aimed at women in the know

Suzuki Swift Sport › Alfa Giulietta › Peugeot 208 R5 & GTi


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ars designed with female buyers in mind who ROYLE MEDIA & ROAD like a bit of poke under their right stiletto are Road Magazine is published by pretty few and far between. And whilst we’re happy publishing & PR team, Royle not saying the three we’ve picked to feature in this Media. Contact us for your own brand magazine – print or diggy month’s Road Magazine are either (a) exclusively – and perfect PR or SoMe. feminine or (b) the only ones, it’s a good selection. We’ve picked three sports hatches, or ‘warm Phil & Bonnie Royle hatches’ if you’re being cynical. But in this day and age, even a ‘warm hatch’ has more performance & packaging than any so-called-classic hot hatch from decades back, and look at the cult car status ROAD SNAPPER: Neil Denham they now hold. Are these three future classics? First up is the recently re-vamped, best-selling Suzuki Sport Swift – a great value car with a proper ROAD USA: Ashley Van Dyke rally pedigree, offering no frills, all spills. Can it still deliver the goods, dynamically speaking, and from the supermarket? We also look at Guy Wilks’ aweROAD RACER: Neil Primrose some Super 1600 Swift, flying high as ever. Next up there’s the Alfa Giulietta – as marketed by our cover girl, Uma Thurman. Undeniably sexy (both car & star), but is the Alfa actually up to much ROAD I.T GURU: Steve Davies and will it make your mates jealous? We find out. Finally, with the Peugeot 208 GTi about to let rip Follow Road on Twitter, like us on and attempt to fly the French flag for hot hatches Facebook, enjoy our daily blog & again, we look at the 208 Feline THP – a top-spec, visit our Royle Media publishing & turbocharged, great value package. Will it make GTi PR website, by clicking on the blob links below. purchasers think twice? And we also look at the ace new 208 Type R5 rally car in testing and reveal a racing experience to die for – the Nürburgring 24Hr in a 208 GTi. Enjoy the ride ladies! And gents!


Cheap Thrills

Suzuki’s Swift Sport is a perfect modern machine – practical, economical, cheap to run and, best of all, simple, fun and rammed with rally DNA.


’ve long had a golden rule with buying cars; pick any car homologated, or at least used for motorsport, especially rallying (the closest motorsport DNA link to road cars) and you’re almost certainly guaranteed a great driver’s car. It’s worked for me with many a motor – guaranteeing you a dose of race or rally pedigree running through its spinal cord (even if somewhat anaesthetised for road use), providing the fundamentals for driving enjoyment, like happy handling, sorted suspension, beefy brakes, sound steering, an exciting engine and other alliteration.

And anyone who knows anything about the ace Super 1600 rally series will be familiar with the sight and superb sound of Guy Wilks getting air over crests and keeping his foot hard in on the way to many a podium finish, in his bright yellow rally Suzuki Sport Swift. It’s the FWD rally pocket rocket. The road-going Swift (Suzuki’s first global strategic model) has now shifted three million units since it launch late 2004! The £13,749, 136PS, 1.6-litre, 121mph flagship Swift Sport we have on test here has been on sale in its new spec since last year. And the Swift has shifted 6,000

units since its launch in May 2006, in the UK alone. Popular is not the word. But unlike some cars that are popular for their badge, unjust pub myth reputation or other spurious reason, the Swift Sport is popular for just one – it’s amazing. Raw, simple, sexy and charming in equal measure, I defy anyone not to be hooked on this car – if not from the off, seduced by its perfect proportions and likeable looks, then certainly after a spirited B-road blast, guaranteed to make you feel like Guy Wilks on a charge. Suzuki have poured their rally-winning expertise into the Swift Sport – upgrading the engine, suspension, braking and perhaps most importantly, steering – and it shows. From the moment you get inside, you know this car is about the drive. There’s

nothing superfluous to detract or weigh down inside – just the basics (which are enough, like Bluetooth, push start, auto air con, rear privacy glass etc.). And that means the money’s gone on the important stuff – ride, handling, throttle maps, ignition advance, dampers, brake pads, steering columns, bushes. And one quick drive instantly reveals this to be so. Whilst the M16A, 136PS/118 lbft 1.6-litre Variable Valve Timing (VVT) engine is not a real powerhouse, it’s super keen and, crucial to the success of any FWD sports hatch – it loves to rev until the valves dance like a sweating raver on whizz. It’ll knock out 062mph in 8.7 seconds and crack onto 121mph though, which is quite rapid – and it feels quick. The reason? Weight. Su-

zuki have applied the ‘lightness is power’ Lotus mantra here, as the Swift Sport only weighs 1,045Kg – which is the weight of the old Peugeot 205 GTi, and we all remember how great they were, right? And the Swift Sport has more grunt and a better chassis. Go figure. Of course, to be a perfect sports hatch, FWD B-road gem like the 205 GTi, you also need sharp, lively, exciting, fun handling. And, the Swift Sport has certainly got that in abundance. The new model’s stiffer front springs, well-developed rear bushes and uprated steering sub-frame have combined to make a perfect FWD cocktail. Turn-in is accurate and sharp, the rear end is playful (with a swift mid-bend lift) and the overall package is composed, capable and comical fun. Showing the wide track,

short wheelbase Swift Sport a back road becomes highly addictive stuff. And, unlike the majority of hot hatches – powered by thirsty two-litre turbo lumps – Suzuki’s warm hatch is normally-aspirated, not only offering sharper throttle response and more redline hunting thrills, but it’s a ton more economical and green. In fact, the new Swift Sport can offer as much as 44.1mpg, which is excellent (and up almost 5mpg over the outgoing model). It also only produces 147g/Km CO2 (down from 165g/Km), which is also excellent. Sporty, sassy, stylish, simple and swift by name and nature, the Sport is a definite modern classic. And with all Swift models VAT free until the end of March, there’s just no excuse not to buy one and fall in love yourself ladies, or gents.

Flying High

Guy Wilks may have moved to Peugeot now, but we have fond memories of the 2004-2006 Junior WRC seasons in his Swift.

Wilks almost won three JWRC’s with Suzuki. Happy days!

Podium finish in Finland


Style over substance? Alfa’s Giulietta – difficult to spell. Difficult to love?


hen an A-lister movie star, of the ilk of the stunning Uma Thurman, gets brought (sorry, bought) in to promote a new car I’m filled with a mix of emotions. On the one hand, it’s a treat to have such a stunner in the promotions hot seat, replacing the usual crowd of Joe and Jo regular folk filling up our multi media channels. But on the other hand, as a car tester, Uma’s sexy presence makes me nervous and my cynical brain kicks in asking ‘is the A-lister taking my attention away from what is a sub-standard product?’ I guess there only one way top find out… drive

Alfa’s pretty Giulietta. First impressions of the Alfa are extremely favourable. Sitting there in hooker’s nail polish Alfa Red, the £23,450 2.0 JTDM 170 Veloce fivedoor looked seriously smart, from any angle. It looks expensive too – but it’s not really, compared to its Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series rivals, with the huge 21 car range start-

engines at full chat, and with the right exhaust. And I know times have changed and Vengines (certainly petrol powered) are dying out thanks to CO2 politics, but I expect – ney, demand – that an Alfa engine is exciting. It should sound like a cross between war and sex. And, despite the fact the 170 Veloce turbo we tested was far from slow and was still economical, it wasn’t special… nor did it sound great, and I expected that from Alfa. And Uma. ing at £17,760 (1.4 TB 120 What about ride and hanTurismo), up to £25,520 (TBi dling then? Surely, being an Alfa it’s got to corner with Cloverleaf). All the cars in the range are the urgency and accuracy of turbocharged too – giving an illicit lover making tracks great grunt, whether from the through the streets of Venice with an angry hammer-wield118bhp 1.4-litre right up to the flagship 231bhp 1.7-litre, ing husband in hot pursuit? which is certainly going to be No! The handling may be quick enough to worry the top quite sharp, but the ride is on hot hatches. Even the turbo the irritating hard spring-undiesels offer between 103bhp der-damped side and worse, for the 1.6-litre to 168bhp for steering feel is practically the 2-litre. Points there then… non-existent, meaning driver sort of. involvement is too. You might You see, to me, an Alfa’s be on the edge of grip, going heart should be its engine. flat out, with the inside front wheel spinning up frantically, Even ugly old Alfas (yes, there are some), like the 75 or just pottering, a mile from had cracking V6 lumps that lift-off oversteer… you’d just sounded like mini Ferrari never know. Which is another

real shame, because the Giulietta’s chassis is definitely a good one, deserving of accurate steering, good feedback and better suspension. A big plus from Alfa though is the cunning, excellent and user-friendly D.N.A Vehicle Dynamic Control system (as fitted on both Alfa MiTo and Giulietta ranges), enabling drivers to select from ‘D’ (Dynamic), ‘N’ (Natural) and ‘A’ (All-Weather) driving modes at the simple flick of a switch. It snowed a lot while we ad the test car and in All-Weather mode, the ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) system continuously monitored tyre grip, yaw and steering angle – decreasing the throttle opening and

applying brakes to individual wheels to maintain stability, whilst also boosting the VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) system and DST (Dynamic Steering Torque) feature (providing steering torque movements to prompt natural correction of oversteer). That sounds confusing, but what it means is –it works a treat and is dead easy to operate, at the flick of a switch. The Dynamic mode is great too, really sharpening up throttle response, for some more oomph on the open roads. Like the other cars in this issue though (and surely the reason Uma Thurman was brought in, to inspire women motorists not make men per-

spire with desire), this is a car aimed mostly at women. It’s sexy, stylish, has great interior mirrors and comes in a range of fab colours. And my wife, as with all the other ladies I asked to review the car would (a) never touch the DNA button, ever… (b) not care about the ride, handling, sound of the engine or indeed most of what I’ve been waffling about. Is the Alfa Giulietta a case of style over substance? Maybe. I think so; it’s a good car let down. But what do I know? It’s good value. It’s got a very wide range. It got great lines. It’s sexy. It looks hot in bright colours and it’s difficult to park… just like A-lister, Uma Thurman!

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Pumped-up Kicks

Peugeot’s 208 Feline offers a high-spec, sleek looks and a potent turbo engine. Better than a GTi?


eugeot have been at the forefront of FWD sporty hatches since the iconic, lift-off-oversteering champion 205 GTi. The 208 GTi is now on its way and we will test that soon, but right here and now, what we have to test

in the ‘warm hatch’ arena is the 208 Feline 1.6 THP – a fully loaded, 156bhp turbocharged bargain of a car, for just £16,985. And when I said fully loaded, I mean, full loaded – huge twin-tone alloys filling the flared arches,

twin exhausts and a roof spoiler set the car off outside, while inside there’s climate control, cornering lights, parking sensors and the piece de resistance, the huge panoramic glass roof, which is fantastique. Our test car also came with the

very reasonably priced £400 sat-nav upgrade with touchscreen, which dominates the dash and worked better than some posher systems worth twice that. Whilst the interior and exterior package of this pumped-up Peugeot cer-

tainly is generous, don’t be expecting Teutonic build quality. Like the Citroen DS3 the 208 shares an engine and many other bits with, quality is the compromise for price and equipment level. On first glance, it all looks tip top. But day to day

tactility reveals some pretty nasty plastics and some design issues – like the miniature, pointless glovebox, difficulty in viewing the (superbly lit and designed) dash through the (sport feeling) super tiny steering wheel and the slightly

crammed feeling (if not reality) caused by the huge thick door pulls. Aesthetics aside, dynamically, you’d expect the Peugeot to be superb. It’s French. It’s a Peugeot. It’s got to be, right? Well, sort of… The THP engine is excellent. The twin-scroll turbo is so fast to spool up, if it weren’t for the glug of midrange torque on tap, you’d think it was normally-aspirated – such is the speed of the throttle response. And, despite sharing the engine with the Citroen DS3, Peuegot ECU boffins have man-

aged to drag another 20Nm torque from it, taking it to 260Nm, which you can feel. Part of this pace of course is down to the weight – with the 208 weighing in a few Kilos over a tonne, and being lighter than the DS3. All of this adds up to a speedy 7.2 seconds to 62mph and an engine that’s keen to deliver its grunt – back road blasting, or motorway cruising. It even has a good sound track, with mild boost whistles, mini back pops when the exhaust is hot and you lift of suddenly and a good rorty exhaust and inlet note.

The unexpected trouble area is how it all comes together. Neither the slighty sloppy gear change (which I felt I could break in my hands, were I rallying it), vague steering, nor the suspension feel quite right. And all of these factors – steering, handling, transmission – have got to be right to make a perfect package in this sports hatch arena. The 208 Feline might look good, it might be generously specced and have a few party pieces, but as a package – however good VFM it is – it’s just not quite right. Does this spell trouble for the 208 GTi? I fear so.


Peugeot’s 208 Type R5 is go


eplacing the 207 Super 2000 rally car is Peugeot’s new 208 Type R5 – shown here being put through its first gravel test of a gruelling 10,000Km of loose and tarmac testing. The R5 was first unveiled at the 2012 Paris Motor Show in September and is the first car built in compliance with the FIA’s latest ‘R5’ regulations to have broken cover and turned a wheel in anger. The 208 R5 had its first gravel stage test in the southeast of France (Riboux) where it completed a four-day programme in the hands of Bryan Bouffier and Xavier Panseri. “That first run was a key step,” says Alexis Avril, technical manager of Peu-

geot Sport’s customer competition department. “We still have work on our hands – putting as many kilometres on the car’s clock as possible in order to validate its reliability. After that, we will be able to turn our attention to the optimisation of its performance potential... focusing on the suspension & the turbocharged engine which are the two chief factors of the global performance package.” Bryan Bouffier said: “The car felt good out of the box. I was happy with its overall balance and I was comfortable behind the wheel. It seems to be a strong basic car and I particularly liked the turbocharged engine... easy to use, and that’s a big asset on loose surfaces.”

uary and 3rd February 2013 via www.208GTiracingexper Peugeot say: “This competition is aimed at drivers, from 18 years of age, who hold a valid full driving licence and have held a national (Grade A) or International Race Driver Competition Licence for at least two years.” The national pre-selections will take place between 18th o celebrate the launch and 28th February 2013, selecting five candidates from of the new Peugeot each of the eight countries, 208 GTi, Peugeot is giving eight lucky drivers from over 400 possible candidates. the chance to race in the The five winning candiepic ADAC Nürburgring 24 dates, from each national Hour Race in May 2013. How mega is that?! pre-selection event, will then be assessed on 4th Eight European countries (UK, Germany, France, Bel- March 2013 during an intergium, Spain, Italy, the Neth- national final at the La Ferté erlands and Switzerland) Gaucher circuit, in France. So, from the 40 national invited drivers with race winners, eight (one from licences to register on the internet, between 16th Jan- each of the eight participat-

Ring racer


ing countries) will be selected to drive the 208 GTi in the Nürburgring 24 Hour Race. It’s the racing experience of a liftetime. To make it even more amazing, the eight lucky winners will gain familiarisation with the NürburgringNordschleife circuit during the first three races of the VLN championship, between 23rd March and 27th April 2013 – getting them ready for the epic Nürburgring 24 Hour Race 2013 in May in the new 208 GTi Peugeot Sport (pictured). This car has been specially developed for this endurance event by Peugeot Sport, using the latest technology designed for the 208 R2, 208 Type R5 rally car (as featured in this issue) and the RCZ Racing Cup. You can follow the story here in Road Magazine, on the blog ( and via Twitter with the hashtag #208GTIRacing. Bon chance everyone! Get ready for a wild ride...

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ROAD:33 Sports Hatches  

We look at three cracking, female-focused sports hatches – Suzuki's Swift Sport, Alfa's Giulietta & Peugeot's 208. With some rallying & raci...

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