It’s not only posh cars that come equipped with life-saving tech

We now know, accordingto the boffins at Thatcham Research, just what the safest car in the UK is.

I was thinking that it could be one of those barn finds we see, so many of which have not turned a wheel in decades. Instead, the title belongs to the Volvo XC90. Apparently, since it was launched in 2002 and after 50,000 have been sold, no driver or passenger has been killed inside one.

Jolly well done to Volvo, which has had a commitment to keeping its customers safer for generations. It has also cultivated a civilised, middle-class image that I think helps keep us all safe and sound.

Find a used Volvo XC90 for sale on PistonHeads

The secret of the big V’s success in the real world is the early adoption of hazard-detection technology that warns drivers of possible collisions. Maybe artificial intelligence in the form of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), which automatically applies the car’s brakes, is the main explanation, and it can be found on plenty of cars, especially Germans, these days. Perhaps that’s the sort of used motor we should be targeting?

Starting small, a Kia Picanto 1.25 2 from 2016 will have AEB. I found a 2016 example with just over 40,000 miles and a full service history for £7490.

Then there is the Fiat Tipo, which you might remember from the 1980s, except that a less boxy version bounced back into the showrooms recently, which you may not have noticed – perhaps because most cars these days now look like Kias. Anyway, a 1.6 MultiJet has AEB and a 2017 with fewer than 5000 miles is £9450. Actually, there are lots in circulation right now. You would probably be a lot happier with a Ford Focus or a Vauxhall Astra, but a Tipo would at least be different.

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As you might expect, Renault is very active in this safety market and there are lots of 2017 Scenics around, which will keep you out of trouble. For £15,300, you will get a 1.5 dCi Energy with around 6000 miles. Actually, with a Dynamique, you get a whole suite of fatigue alert and pedestrian detection systems.

Posh cars have AEB, so here’s another reason to consider a Jaguar XE. How about the 2.0 i4: a petrol one in Prestige trim with 12,000 miles and all the AEB assistance you will need. A 2016 example is £19,500.

The late, great boss of Bristol Cars, Tony Crook, once told me that no one had ever died behind the wheel of a Bristol. “Mind you, one chap drove off Beachy Head,” he said. “Not sure that counts as an accident.”I’m off out to buy a Beaufighter. Wish me luck.

What we almost bought this week: 

LEXUS IS-FIf you want the practicality and Q-car capability of a hot four-door saloon but your budget is limited, don’t overlook the thundering Lexus IS-F. For £20k – or less, if you’re lucky – you’ll have a fire-breathing 5.0-litre V8 that revs to 7000rpm and hits 62mph from rest in just 4.8sec. Oh, and it’ll do plenty of sideways stuff too.

Tales from Ruppert’s garage: 

Volkswagen Golf - Mileage: 36,006:

Say hello to the new arrival, part-financed by the sale of our daughter’s Polo, the contents of her piggy bank and the Bank of Mum and Dad.

We turned up at a dealer who sold us the Polo and there was this Golf, which wasn’t even on their stocklist. The nipper drove it and hats off to the dealer for not having kittens about letting a youngster get behind the wheel. So we bought it.

And why not? It has a full dealer history, is immaculate and, as a 1.4 Bluemotion Tech, will do 53.3mpg to the petrol gallon.

A-Z Bangernomics - G is for Golf: 

There was only one truly classless yet classy car in the 1980s: the Volkswagen Golf. It had the broadest appeal: a basic GL was fine for the family unless they wanted to get somewhere in a hurry, then it would have to be the GTI. The VW badge was the guarantee of quality while the Golf meant modernity and practicality.

The brilliant twist was the GTI, a charismatic combination of sports and family car. There are not too many in circulation now, but they are still relatively affordable in dreary Driver trim. Now may be the time to buy.

Readers’ questions: 

Question: I’m very tempted by a Mk3 Toyota MR2 as a bit of summer fun. Is there anything I need to watch out for? Michael Hughes, via email

Answer: Mk3 MR2s are generally pretty reliable little cars but they do have one fatal flaw, which is that the pre- catalytic converter can break down and bits can be ingested into the engine, wrecking it. There’s plenty online about this problem, so do a bit of research on it first.

Question: I’ve always wanted a classic Mini and I’ve just come into a bit of money. Is now a good time to buy one and how much should I pay? Dee Smith, Southampton

Answer: Classic Minis always used to be quite pricey, but they aren’t shooting up in value like some other classics. As long as we’re not talking about a special model like the 1275 GT, £2500 gets you a solid, roadworthy example, £5000 gets you a good one and £8000 or so buys you a cracker.

Read more

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Vauxhall Astra review

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Comments
10

19 June 2018

Everyone buy Golfs when there are more interesting cars on the market, even on the Golf platform

19 June 2018
WallMeerkat wrote:

Everyone buy Golfs when there are more interesting cars on the market, even on the Golf platform

Or maybe they're just such solid all rounders in their class?...

19 June 2018
WallMeerkat wrote:

Everyone buy Golfs when there are more interesting cars on the market, even on the Golf platform

Or maybe they're just such solid all rounders in their class?...

19 June 2018

Another Ruppert article with patchy knowledge.  Mk1 XC90 never had any of those autonomous safety systems.  

19 June 2018
Volvophile wrote:

Another Ruppert article with patchy knowledge.  Mk1 XC90 never had any of those autonomous safety systems. 

Agreed. A poor piece of journalism. Maybe it got cut down from a longer, more accurate, article in the magazine.

19 June 2018

I am sure James Ruppert is a lovely chap but for years now he has been turning out these totally random and unfocussed articles about used cars, from which even I learn very little new.

Used car articles should be targeted on the a specific car or type of car that is of interest to the specific requirements of specific buyers, with all the relevant details, prices, availability, reliability, known faults, strengths, weaknesses etc clearly stated in structured format that you don't have to trawl through to find the pertinent details.

Sorry James but as a subscriber I expect more and this has been highlighted by the recent Pistonhead articles appearing in Autocar recently.

19 June 2018
chilly wrote:

I am sure James Ruppert is a lovely chap but for years now he has been turning out these totally random and unfocussed articles about used cars, from which even I learn very little new.

Used car articles should be targeted on the a specific car or type of car that is of interest to the specific requirements of specific buyers, with all the relevant details, prices, availability, reliability, known faults, strengths, weaknesses etc clearly stated in structured format that you don't have to trawl through to find the pertinent details.

Sorry James but as a subscriber I expect more and this has been highlighted by the recent Pistonhead articles appearing in Autocar recently.

Exactly, you've hit the nail on the head.  The other guy John Evans does a better job at that sort of thing.  

19 June 2018

I'd think the key factor is the crazy mass of these 'luxury SUVs', which carve through and kill anyone unfortunate enough to be in their pathway (who is not in a HGV).

As demonstated in this video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-GTTdnpGNg

20 June 2018

I wonder what the result would be with a  S 80 chassis. It is not a lightweight car by any stretch of the imagination. There was no V80 built on the P2 platform.

Mesumguy

20 June 2018

Yes, the XC90 driver who barged me out of lane seemed over-confident in driving such a large, high, robust, resilient and safe car. Lost his no-claims bonus though, and didn't seem to come out of it that well - it not mattering if the the proliferation of plastics surrounding modern cars is on a Volvo or a Dacia, still break / scratch / crack & VERY expensive to replace & paint.  

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