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Car of The Year - 
Part 2 - the cars

Broadcast dates : 30th January 2005
3rd February 2005

Ford Fiesta 1.4i 5-door

Ford has been building a reputation for excellent chassis behavior, and the latest Fiesta lives up to that expectation.

Thereís an admirable poise to the carís progress over all sorts of roads. And on the race track, despite modest tyre sizings befitting a car costing R99 850, the balance between under-steer and over-steer is reassuringly predictable

The 1388 cc engine is profiled as a lugger rather than a high-revving unit. But nevertheless itís happy to spin way past 6 000 rpm.

The Fiesta impressed as a no-nonsense entry-level car with attractive styling to set it apart from the budget crowd.

There are a few glitches, like the window winders that intrude into the knee space.

Overall, a worthy finalist, but not a winner in our book.

Volvo S40 2.4i

The Volvo is a classic case of the intrinsic value of the Car of the year competition.

The Volvo is so good, but so understated. It needs the bright lights of competitive scrutiny to showcase its many strengths and few weaknesses.

For the money, this is the car that takes a lot of beating. Its five-cylinder engine has wonderful charisma, its handling is impeccable over all surfaces.

It has a Feng Shui approach to the cockpit. Simplicity, form follows function. The same applies to the rest of the car and yet in the latest version, the S40 has shed the typical Swedish door approach.

This is a car with flair to go with its mechanical integrity. Oh yes, the Volvo is looking good for the overall prize. 

Peugeot 407 2.2 ST Sport

The Peugeot 407 impresses in the way it turns into a corner. Lots of bite from those front wheels. In the fashion appeal category, the Peugeot 407 blew everyone away. 

But do those good looks translate to real ability on the road? The answer is yes and no. It has good handling, lots of feedback through the attractive steering wheel, but itís a let-down in two major areas.

The engine is fine for pottering around town, but it becomes harsh as the redline approaches. The rev range is quite narrow too and this means you are often caught between gears.

And when a snappy gear change is called for, the Peugeot gearbox is not precise enough.

Mazda 3 1.6 Dynamic

The Mazda 3ís strong suit is, well just that. Its exterior styling is a masterpiece of class and understatement.

The interior is a bit too zooty for some tastes, but thereís an overall feeling of quality that impresses.

As for the mechanicals, it has predictable handling, well-weighted steering, and a solid chassis that should remain creak-and-groan-free for many years.

But itís the engine that lets it down. Too harsh, from idle all the way through to the redline.

Part 1 - How it works
Part 2 - the cars
Part 3 - more cars
Part 4 - and finally

The contenders
Volvo S40 2.4i
Audi A6 3.0 Quattro Tiptronic
Volkswagen Golf 5 2.0 TDi Sportline
Peugeot 407 2.2 ST Sport
BMW 120i Manual
Opel Astra 1.8i Sport

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