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First impressions: Volkswagen Polo Blue GT

I guess you could call the Polo Blue GT a warm hatch given its performance credentials. The 1.4-litre TSI engine is as smooth as you like and with 150hp it's neither boring nor overpowered. Add to this the 17-inch 'Montani' alloy wheels, 'Blue Silk' metallic paint and suspension that has been lowered by 15mm to improve aerodynamics and it's hard not to call it a handsome little car. In fact I've been conscious of the attention it has been getting on the roads from other drivers and it isn't just to do with the fact that it's on a 151 plate.

What has impressed me the most thus far though is the engine. Not from a performance perspective, rather from a fuel economy one. You see, this car is equipped with Volkswagen's Active Cylinder Technology (ACT), which in most cases when you're simply cruising along will shut down the two inner cylinders of the engine in order to save on fuel consumption.

Not that you'd notice though, as it does so virtually unnoticed. A small Eco symbol appears on the dash to indicate when this is happening, but were it not for that you'd barely notice and as soon as you touch the throttle pedal all four cylinders fire. It's seamless in how it works and I've been keeping the on-board computer displaying the real-time fuel consumption to keep an eye on it and the results so far have been surprisingly good. More details later.

Key tech specs:

- €23,720
- Six-speed manual gearbox
- Front-wheel drive
- 1.4 TSI (150hp)
- Emissions of 110g/km

Further reading:

Irish road test of the facelifted Volkswagen Polo

First impressions: Volvo XC60 R-Design

Although I only had the XC60 on test for a few days this week I ended up driving it more than expected, mainly because I liked it so much. The test car was in R-Design specification, which looks great, especially in this blue colour, and it's powered by Volvo's exceptional new D4 diesel engine. This unit is at least the equal of the 2.0-litre turbodiesel you'll find in thousands of BMWs around the country with quiet manners, good economy and decent performance.

I reckon the new Geartronic automatic gearbox suits the XC60 best, but…

First impressions: Renault Twingo

I wanted to like the Renault Twingo I am driving this week, as I think the styling stands a chance of being as timeless as that of the Fiat 500 and it could look as fresh in 2020 as it does in 2015. Unfortunately I just cannot gel with the car and it all comes down to ergonomics.

The Twingo, rather brilliantly, features a dashboard mounted phone cradle that is ideal for someone like me who gets lost on the way to the bathroom and travels everywhere with the help of Google Maps. The positioning on the dashboard, just far…

The category conundrum

Just like the late, great Richard Whiteley (yes, one of my broadcasting idols - how did you guess?) I'm about to present you with a conundrum. There will be no countdown.

As you may have noticed on this site, we answer a lot of questions sent into us by you, the reader. It's an enjoyable part of the job, always interesting and hopefully helpful, but it does rather bring up constant, nagging doubt in the back of my mind. One that's related to the just-mentioned conundrum, which is this: what car should you buy?

It's a staggeringly hard question to…