Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The new car and why we chose this one

If you read further down this blog you will see that it does snow in the Dordogne despite what people think. It is very rare to see the amount of snow that we saw this year, the locals tell us that it was the worst for 30 years, but next year might be the worst for 31 years!
We decided that we needed a four wheel drive. The track through the woods to our house was a bit rough on the Citroen Xantia HDI, so that was a good excuse.

We needed a small 4X4 for the two of us and the occasional trip to Bergerac airport to collect visitors. It had to be a diesel as diesel is much cheaper than petrol here and generates less CO2 than a petrol vehicle, it is also much more economical. I had a new Range Rover once in the UK and was not impressed by the quality or the depreciation, but a car should never be an investment. After much research the choice was narrowed down to either a Kia Sportage or a Hyundai Tucson.
We were in Bergerac on the bikes in July and in the car park was a Tucson with black windows. Jude liked it. That is very important because she normally only looks at the colour of a car and I look at the engineering. I started an internet search and found a dealer in Cahors who had new Tucsons with 5000 euros off the list price. Next step was to direct one of our bike trips towards Cahors. I was going for the Comfort model, but he had a luxe model with leather and heated seats standing there, so we went for it.

The engine is a 140 bhp 4 cylinder diesel that is very smooth and quiet. The 4 wheel drive system is automatic, and the car has more toys on it than my Range Rover had.
You may notice that the pictures show different registration numbers, this is because here in France the car must have the department number for the area where the owner lives. The 46 plate was similar to a trade plate to allow us to drive the car until the 24 plate registration was ready.

How do we like it? We both love it. We came back from Barcenona (sea level) and climed to over 6000 feet near Andorra through mountain roads, around Tolouse in traffic jams, and up the motorway at 80 mph to home, and the car managed 6.3 liters/100 km, that is around 45 mpg. That figure was with only 3000 km on the clock so I would expect better with more miles on it.

Does this mean the bikes are redundant? No way. Although the bike season is very long here, they are no good for our skiing day trips in the winter. With the Tucson we will have no problems fitting the skis in and no problem with the snow.

I am amazed at the build quality of the car and cannot understand how Land Rover still manage to sell the Freelander with the old engine that it has fitted.

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