Lexus RX Review

Lexus added a hybrid powertrain to its popular SUV, and is focusing on that ever increasing number of eco-conscious buyers.

The company’s hybrid-powered 4×4 has been introduced at the perfect time as ecological issues weigh heavily on the public’s mind. The Lexus brand has always offered high-tech modern features regardless of make or model, so a complex petrol-electric combination that can cope with four-wheel drive is  not a surprise. The company has always introduced innovative and practical ideas leading the way and setting high standards for rival brands. Lexus’ RX model has been on the market since 2001, and has always offered a comfortable ride within the SUV sector. The car’s good looks and excellent performance have kept it competitive and have allowed it to secure a loyal following in this sector. The Lexus RX sports a six-cylinder petrol engine, combined with two electric motors, one to drive each pair of wheels, allowing two and four-wheel drive, offering additional grip. The car can also run in full electric mode, reducing emissions to zero. This gives the RX a clear advantage over competitors.


The Lexus RX is less expensive than the competition. It gets good fuel economy and has a low insurance group. The RX will prove to continue to be inexpensive as it is reliable and servicing costs tend to be low. The cabin is large but only accommodates four passengers. Headroom is plentiful and even the tallest passengers shouldn’t need to worry about legroom. The boot is large and will easily carries luggage and other bulky items around. The gauges live up to the Lexus trademark. They are concise and easy to read. Where there was once a rev. counter, now sits a power gauge that displays information on the electric motor. The cabin is comfortable and quiet. The suspension is well adapted to provide a smooth ride. Front passengers enjoy the luxury of electronic adjusting seats, and although rear passenger’s seats don’t adjust electronically, they are comfortable and supportive. Access to the RX is easy. The seats are high, but not an uncomfortable reach for most. The boot is also high, but easy to load and unload. All doors open wide enough to allow for easy loading of both passengers and cargo. The light steering, generous side mirrors and good visibility make parking the large RX easy. To assist, the SE-L models come with a rear camera. Although useful, these aren’t options on the base model.

 Life Style

 The Lexus RX is not designed for performance. It provides a comfortable and reliable ride in town and on longer trips. It’s at its best when not being pushed too hard. Enthusiastic drivers may not enjoy the ride but passengers will be more than comfortable. This would make an excellent family car. The car provides plenty of space and a high ride height providing good all-round vision for passengers. The DVD player in the rear is ideal for entertaining children on long journeys. This car is probably too expensive for most newly licensed drivers, even a second hand Lexus RX would probably be outside the budget of most first time buyers. The car is an expensive purchase and also has high insurance rates. The driving experience itself would be excellent for most novice drivers. The car is easy to drive and easy to park. Lexus is relatively new to the SUV sector of the market. This hasn’t slowed them down one bit. The Lexus brand is viewed as a quality and classy brand. Lexus is leading the way with new SUV technologies and will continue to have a strong presence and influence in the SUV sector.

 Security and Safety

 The RX comes equipped with an immobilizer, and high quality alarm. The door deadlocks are also a theft deterrent. With nine airbags the RX is sure to do well in the case of an accident. The placement of the placement of the batteries under the back seats keep them out of harms way for most circumstances The VDIM system that comes with the RX is more efficient than the usual ESP system. The electronically controlled brake system also provides much safety in the event that much braking force is needed.

 The Finishing touches

An eight-speaker dash mounted CD auto changer with RDS radio, including steering wheel controls comes standard on the base and SE models. The upgraded SE-L version gives you an 11-speaker system. Some other models have an optional DVD player. Entry models have cloth trim, and SE and SE-L models have leather trim in the color choice of either beige or black. Silver trim inserts are standard, but on the SE-L version a wood pack is available, the wood pack covers the steering wheel and gear lever surround.


 The Lexus RX delivers good performance and economy providing the buyer with excellent value for the money. Its 4X4 capabilities are not the strongest in its class, but given the fact that most drivers will never leave the road they are more than adequate.

Smart Fortwo Review

The benefits of the Smart Fortwo are easily guessed by just looking at the car – it can be parked in spaces other drivers wouldn’t even consider, running costs are incredibly low and it’s fun to own and drive.


The main weakness of the Smart Fortwo is the fact that it’s obviously not that practical as it has only two seats and limited luggage room. That said there is space for a couple of large adults in the tall cabin and wide-opening doors make it easy to enter and exit. The Smart Fortwo is also clever at creating the feeling of space thanks to the straight dashboard and minimal furniture around the handbrake. The boot is anything but huge with a capacity of 220 litres – but this isn’t that bad when compared to other city cars. The twin section tailgate forms a platform making loading and unloading easy. As has already been mentioned running costs are low whichever smart fotwo you choose as it is cheap to insure and even the most powerful engine averages an impressive 43.5mpg in town and 54.3 on average. You are likely to pay on or close to the sticker price though as discounts are notoriously thin on the ground at dealerships. Being designed by Germans quality is assured and apart from some cheap looking heater controls the Smart Fortwo’s interior has a durable feel to it. It is well laid out and has large easy-to-use buttons and dials. One quibble though is with the driving position as the seat doesn’t adjust for height and the steering wheel is fixed. Low band vehicle tax and congestion charge exemption – plus low fuel consumption – add up to one of the most economic vehicles to own in the city car market.

Life Style

The Smart Fortwo is one of the most distinctive cars on the road with an iconic design that makes it instantly recognisable wherever it is driven. The original softer shape is now replaced by a more macho and athletic style. Looked at from the front the first thing you notice is the more mature grille, as well as distinctive headlamps with built-in projection technology. The vertical door handles have made a 90 degree turn to the horizontal position on the latest Smart Fortwo. The rear window is less steeply angled so keeping the roof length short and putting the accent firmly on its coupe characteristics. But it is inside where the Smart Fortwo has undergone the most radical changes. The S-shaped dashboard has been replaced by a straight facia which gives an increased sense of space and thus of comfort. External mounted dials and fabric covered areas on doors and instruments still feature but overall the interior has the feel of a more conventional cabin which is an improvement on the original. Power steering is surprisingly only an option as parking without it is more hassle than it should be. The Smart Fortwo offers great green credentials as in addition to excellent carbon dioxide ratings the car uses only water-soluble, solvent-free base coats for the plastic body panels, while the tridion safety cell is powder-coated so no solvents are needed here either. The solid body panels are also recyclable.

Security and Safety

The Smart Fortwo comes with an engine immobiliser which means thieves will struggle to drive it away. There is also remote control central locking. All Smart Fortwo’s are kitted out with a stability control system which helps the driver keep the car on the road especially when conditions are less than ideal. Driver and passenger airbag come as standard and side airbags are optional extras.

 The Finishing Touches

Even the entry-level Smart Fortwo gets a rev counter, electric windows, a panoramic glass roof, alloy wheels and steering wheel-mounted gearshift paddles. The more luxury-orientated cars do without the paddles in favour of a fully automatic programme for the clutchless gearbox and add air conditioning.

 Smart Fortwo Car Review Summary

The latest Smart Fortwo is a city car offering lots of fun with a surprisingly well kitted out interior and upgraded safety equipment. The city slicker is clearly aimed at the youthful, cost conscious, green voter and they seem likely to be beating a path to its doors. The body is now longer and wider and the engine is linked to a much improved 5-speed semi-automatic transmission which nevertheless is still a bit jerky unless you easy your foot off the accelerator. Engine options are a 999cc three-cylinder petrol engine, with 70, 83 or 97bhp outputs or a 54bhp 800cc diesel. The 70bhp petrol model is probably the best option as it’s the cheapest but still offers ample legs and accelerates from 0-62mph in 13.3 seconds. The diesel is glacially slow. All the power units allow you to get to the supermarket and back on a few drops of fuel.


Saab 9 Review

The Saab convertible has been a huge success for the Swedish firm since the car’s introduction in 1986. The car offered buyers an alternative to the big German brands. Saab’s 9-3 continues to offer buyers a stylish alternative. The car is and reliable and has drawn many buyers to the Saab brand.

Saab doesn’t always do so well in the executive saloon market, but manages to do very well in the premium convertible market. Saab’s performance in this sector has been most impressive. The company’s 9-3 Convertible borrowed some design cues from the 9-3 compact executive saloon. All of the traditional Saab elements have been included to create an understated look. This is exactly what many buyers are looking for. This 9-3 offers a good driving experience with finely tuned suspension, and serious horsepower. The car has much to offer, but is often out performed by rival brands. The 9-3 does have the competition beat in several areas however, such as Saab’s ability to score well in usability tests. The car’s cabin is also excellent and very ergonomic. The 9-3′s seats also provide impressive support and are very comfortable.


Saab’s 9-3 is one of the better value options available among the premium convertibles. The car comes with high levels of standard equipment and residual values are good. The petrol engine tends to be thirsty, especially when fitted with an auto gearbox. The car should prove be reliable helping to keep costs down. Front seat passengers enjoy a good deal of space, but rear seat passengers are more limited with modest amounts of room. Boot space is also limited when the top is down. Front seat passengers shouldn’t have any problems getting comfortable though. Saab has a reputation for providing good ergonomics, and the 9-3 is no different. The main instruments are clear and easy to read. The audio and ventilation units boast big buttons and clear displays. The car’s instruments are practical and well designed. This car was designed with comfort in mind. The car handles road imperfections well and delivers a smooth ride. The Swedish firm is famous for making comfortable seats, and the seats in the 9-3 are testimony to the company’s ability. The car is comfortable but the cabin does not suppress wind noise very well. Access to the car’s front seats is very good. Front seat passengers will have no trouble accessing or egressing the car’s cabin. The doors open wide allowing easy access. Rear seat passengers don’t fair so well; climbing over the folded front seats into very limited space. Access to the car’s boot is unhindered and straightforward. With the roof up, rearward visibility is limited, but roof down visibility is good all-round. Parking is straightforward, and the car’s steering assists greatly making parking even easier. Side mirrors are a decent size and assist even further.

 Life Style

Despite the car’s sporty look the 9-3 Convertible doesn’t offer much in the way of providing driver appeal. The car can be fast and is an accomplished motorway cruiser, but it isn’t a performance vehicle. The car’s primary focus is on comfort. The 9-3 Convertible wasn’t really designed to be a family car. The car provides seating for four, but rear space is extremely limited. The rear wind deflector takes up most of the rear space, and the already small boot gets smaller with the top down. There are much more suitable family cars available. Saab’s convertible is probably not a good first car. It will be costly for a newly licensed driver to buy and run. Insurance will be high or impossible to get, and limited rearward visibility with the top up could pose problems for new drivers. The 9-3 Convertible has a very positive image and has had no problems competing with bigger brands such as Audi and Mercedes. The Although often perceived by critics to be one step below the Germans, the drop-top Swede has done well for itself – helped in no small part by the success of its predecessor, the 900. Saab also scores highly in the quality department, as the car feels sturdy and durable.

 Security and Safety

 The 9-3 Convertible is a very desirable vehicle and will be high on the list of many car thieves. The fabric roof poses a security risk as with all soft top convertibles. The car comes with an engine immobiliser and a security alarm system boasting motion and tilt sensors. Remote central locking is also included, but, an aftermarket tracking device would be a wise investment as well. Saab does not skimp on safety, and the car comes with twin front and side airbags. Rollover protection is also standard in the form of pop-up roll bars. All of the familiar active safety systems are present as well as ABS and electronic stability programmes.

 The Finishing Touches

The standard audio unit includes a radio and CD player. The unit is conveniently located and boasts large controls and a clear display. When you Buy Your Saab you will be presented with a bunch of optional upgrades include a CD changer, a sat-nav system, and a Bluetooth connection. The 9-3 looks good in most exterior colours. Silver is one of the most popular choices. The metallic hue will help to increase resale values. The interior is comprised of mostly dark colours with splashes of lighter trim.


 There are sportier convertibles on the market, but Saab’s 9-3 is stylish and easy to drive. The 9-3′s is ideal for anyone who doesn’t need to have a more prestigious badge.


5 stars for Kia Carens

Euro NCAP has awarded the Kia Carens a maximum 5-star safety rating in its crash tests.

The compact MPV was helped on its way to the coveted rating with the aid of a comprehensive level of safety equipment. As standard it comes with six airbags (front, side and curtain), seatbelt reminders for all occupants, electronic stability control, hill-start assist and emergency stop signalling, which flashes the brake lights to alert other motorists when the car is making an emergency stop.

Individually, the model scored 94 per cent for adult occupant safety, 76 per cent for child occupant safety, 64 per cent for pedestrian safety and 81 per cent for its safety assist equipment.

Benny Oeyen, vice president of marketing and product planning at Kia Motors Europe, commented on the achievement: “In the last five years, Euro NCAP testing criteria has become tougher, making it harder for manufacturers’ products to be awarded top marks.

“It is a testament to Kia’s ongoing commitment to improving vehicle safety that we are able to once again achieve the highest rating with new Carens.”

The Carens is priced between £17,895 and £23,895. Previous generation models are available for a fraction of this however. Perhaps the improved safety features will boost residual values of the new model.