Ford S-Max 2.5T – Matt Saunders
There were some utterly daft family cars around when I first started out reviewing. A Ford S-Max with a warbling five-cylinder Focus ST hot-hatch engine sounded pretty daft even back in the mid-noughties, but I was totally sold on the idea before I’d got near one. That Volvo engine had the accessible torque to move a heavy car, after all – and the S-Max had a chassis that deserved the compliment. Today, you could pick one up for well under £5000 and ferry the kids around in it over distances that make 25mpg seem easy to swallow. And at that price, you wouldn’t think twice about getting the engine remapped, either. I’m told you can get close to 300bhp and more than 300lb ft from it without a major mechanical overhaul.]
Suzuki Jimny – Rachel Burgess
Objectively, the Jimny is quite terrible. If you were to consider key desirability factors of a modern-day car, the Jimny may be one of the worst cars currently on sale: loud, inefficient and let’s not get started on the steering. Yet the day my long-term Jimny departed, I was truly sorry to see it go.
Once you adjust, the Jimny is an utterly charming companion – perfect for driving around town (and, crucially, parking) and for bumbling around country roads. Its superb visibility and compactness won me over. I was happy every time I stepped into the car, although over time I learned to avoid motorways. (If you stick to 60mph in the slow lane on a still day, it’s doable but never enjoyable.)
But the Jimny excels off road. That’s the reason for its existence. Driving it in a quarry was the most fun I’ve had off-roading. For that reason alone, I sincerely hope Suzuki can justify producing the Jimny for a long time to come.