So Friday morning my dad and I went off to Donnington for a day out with Ford, getting to trial and test their latest range of cars.
We arrived to a lovely bacon sarnie and coffee, what better way to start the day, the people in the room were divided up into four groups and off we went.
First up we got to test drive two of the new range, as I'd already had the Galaxy previously, we went for the S-Max and then the Kuga (4x4 Chelsea Tractor wannabe). The S-Max was a lovely drive, both cars were automatic (why no stick shift I have no idea) but we got to whizz upto the local services and back without any bother, it picked up nicely, had lots of space inside (7 seats) and boot space, which always helps if you have a ton of family in tow. Alas the radio, sat nav etc weren't loaded, so we couldn't test any of these, but for a good size family car, this would do the job nicely. Next up was the Kuga, which had funky adjustable electric seating (it's the small things that amuse me) and the double hatch boot, just in case you couldn't be bothered to open the whole thing to put your shopping in. I did feel this car was aimed at the Chelsea Tractor market, I somehow can't see it doing much off roading (particularly as we tried out the automatic...) but it drove well and as we later found out, has Fords new EPS technology on it http://forums.motortrend.com/70/6662823/the-general-forum/ford-eps-improves-product-lineup-electronic-power/index.html these guys go into it in more detail if your interested, but basically it stops the car skidding or spinning, by anticipating and reacting to what the driver is doing. More on that in a bit.
After the car test, we did the boring bit of the day, which involved safety talks and the sales guys trying to get us to buy their new range of cars. So that's the New S-Max, Galaxy and C-Max Grande, of which the latter impressed me the most, having sliding back doors, an additional two pop up seats in the boot (5 seats or 7 madam) and a nifty trick middle seat, which could be whipped out of the way in a jiffy so you can get between the two back seat rows from the inside (but you still have to get out of the front and into the back door, as the middle console is in the way at the front) I'd like a test drive in one of those when they become available though, as it could be a serious contender for our next family car. (I love the way I'm writing this like we're going to have a none family car as well! hahahaha)
After lunch (sarnies, cold chips or luke warm soup, coffee and biscuits, I think they got out of sync with the caterers somewhat) it was off to the 4 x 4 track for some serious fun in a Ford Ranger (twincab van for those of you who don't know) :-). Dad drove 1st and didn't do too bad a job, so I had no excuses when it was my turn, we did the same 1st part of the 4 x 4 course, muddy water, ramps, steps and then stopped to get the engine jet washed, then it was off onto the dryer part of the course, where I managed to get us to 30 degrees twice! on either side of the van, we did some serious hillage too, all lots of fun and I didn't get stuck once (unlike some of our fellow drivers) so hurrah for me! :-)
Onto the final bit of our day and I made the mistake of warming up with a hot chocolate, with hindsight I'd have left this until last, but hey, I was getting cold and thirsty and it seemed like a good idea at the time, whilst I was queing to test drive the Kuga round the course that had been set up for us. This is where we got to test the EPS technology, by trying to roll the Kuga basically, we were asked to drive at a set of cones, (to start with at 30, but this quickly descended into as fast as each person in each car could or wanted to!) swerve to the right, then immediate left again, the idea being to demonstrate how the technology compensates on the opposite side of the car to prevent it falling over, so of course this became a competition to see who in the group could get which wheels of the car off the ground :-) I didn't do as well as the two boys in our group (who got two wheels off briefly), but I gave it a damn good go! So basically the course went, swerve, down the hill, racing line through the cones, next set of cones weave, hard right and feel the car compensate for your oversteering and not spin out, then back up the hill, racing line through cones, next set swerve the other way. I managed it all fairly fast, to the point Sarah our instructor was hanging onto the door handle yelling 'don't forget to weave', which I wasn't, I'd just left it till the last minute to break :-) they wanted the car testing after all! Dad however fluffed it on all 4 occasions he tried it, I'm guessing at his age, being in the back whilst I threw him around was enough for him! he said he needed arrows on the ground to tell him where he was going, but I think he just didn't want to swerve at speed just in case he crashed??
The final bit of the day and the 'piece de resistance' was the Hot Lap in the RS Turbo, we got our helmets on and this is where I wished I'd have left the hot chocolate a bit, as I ended up in the back (one lap only and I figured at his age (68) my dad might not be doing a hot lap again, so he got the front (they only just let him do this one...) so off we went, very blooming fast! it was all over in about 2 minutes, we followed the initial Kuga course, then headed off on a track to the left, right, straight on, right, right, down to 60/40 through a chicane and back to the start, it was sooooo fast, very good fun :-) and I so wanted to do it again, but bah, it was a one time lap.....and to be honest after I got out I started to feel rather quesy (which I reckon I wouldn't have in the front?). I'm waiting to see the video of this bit for the rest of the speeds, as I can't remember, but the driver was shouting them out all the time!
So a cracking day was had, Dad has been happily making his mates jealous with his RS Turbo ride by all accounts and we got a great goodie bag at the end too, with an MP3 player in it, which daughter no1 has her eye on, pens, paper, mousemats and a Tomy MegaSketcher!! (that's the mumsnet bit, where the competition was located) I want to go again, maybe BMW or Audi next time, whaddya reckon my chances are?