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New car road tests

The Sportage, now Kia’s most popular UK model, marks its 25th anniversary with a facelift and fresh appeal. Motoring editor Andy Russell finds out what makes it so popular.

Vauxhall has moved into the van-derived people-carrier market with its new Combo Life – it’s not pretty but it’s certainly spacious and practical, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Fiat’s 500X crossover has been updated – Rebecca Chaplin finds out what difference those changes have made.

Suzuki is now launching the fourth generation of its iconic, lightweight Jimny 4x4 which packs a heavyweight punch off-road. Motoring editor Andy Russell finds out how good it is with an early drive.

Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV is the UK’s best-selling plug-in hybrid – Ryan Hirons drives the new, improved version of the popular, electrified SUV.

Kia has raised its game with the third-generation Ceed hatchback which closes the gap on the class big guns and is boosted by generous kit, safety features and that long warranty, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Tom Wiltshire gets behind the wheel of Citroen’s latest Berlingo to see if the van-based multi-purpose vehicle still has a place in today’s crossover-dominated market.

My first car

With its peeling paintwork and clunky suspension, Ella Wilkinson’s battered Mazda 3 was not a picture of health but she loved it all the more for that but had to resort to a hammer when she locked herself out!

Bernice Hartley’s first car was a 1933 Austin 7, called Chug, and it certainly did after she drove into some flood water and had to be hauled out by a tractor.

Richard Baxter recalls the pride he felt about owning his first car, a 2000 Ford Fiesta, and the sense of freedom that it gave him.

Linda Westwood had visions of running along the road like Fred Flintstone when the cassis of the Vauxhall Cresta rusted through.

Ben Craske’s first car, a sun-bleached 1996 Toyota Corolla, wasn’t a looker but it took him the equivalent of 2.5 times around the world, only letting him down once.

Teresa Deacon recalls the feeling of independence her first car, a £100 1960 Ford Prefect, gave her.

John Wyatt’s 1955 Ford Popular never failed him, as he travelled between bases while in the Fleet Air Arm, and doubled up as a camp bed.

Allen Symonds’s route into motorsport was a 1960s Hillman Imp which sometimes saw him racing again the father of a future Formula One world champion.

Owning a Vauxhall Viva proved educational for Bob Hobbs – engine problems while on holiday in France led to a lifelong study of speaking French.

After a summer travelling around in a Renault 4L camionnette, running market stalls in France, it transported Sylvie Wheatley to university where she experienced a scary moment with a sleepy ‘stowaway’.

Desiree Bromwich-Hughes

Bob Vousden had a hairy moment after tackling the hairpin bends on a mountain road when the brakes failed in his well loaded Morris 1000.

It was 12 years before Sharon Willmott was able to afford her first car, a £20 1948 Morris Minor, but she then kept ‘him’ for more than 20 years... with the help of her father.

Roger Norvill found life with his 1931 Austin 7 could be an uphill struggle but playing hide and seek after fellow Servicemen’s good-humoured antics were all part of the fun.

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