It Never Rains but it Pours……

New Year glumness for our petrol head as his Mini saga continues but our man behind the wheel is taken by the Ford Galaxy – if only he could hear what the occupants in the back seats were saying……

Column by Marc Stickley

So, as Santa saw fit not to reward me with a new car for Christmas – which is beaucoup weird, as I’ve been a good boy and I sent my letter in, with time to spare – this month I have had to make do with my Mini and a solitary loan car. I’ll give my mini review of the Ford Galaxy TDCi I have piloted on two occasions this month.

Firstly the Mini, and I’ll be frank – after last month’s shafting (broken camshaft – no really), this month I’m screwed.  Literally…  One recent morning on my commute, I thought I could hear a tapping noise over my right shoulder. Suspicious, as I knew I didn’t have Riverdance on the stereo and there’s no room for a kitchen sink (with leaky tap, clearly) in a Mini. Ominously, it sounded like a nail in my tyre… I got to work and checked both driver’s side tyres – nothing. The next day, having received word from a friend that he had become stranded at work when a nail pierced his BMW’s run-flat, I checked again (the noise was still there).

Sure enough, I had an unwanted passenger, one that looked expensive. You see, I too have run-flats fitted. Now to me, the run-flat provides a dichotomy of benefits and drawbacks. You can get a puncture, but continue your journey to safety. You don’t need to carry a spare (or at least, the manufacturers don’t think you do), so you save weight, gain boot space and possibly reduce emissions and increase economy. But (and it’s a sizeable, two-pronged but…), in return, you get left with rock solid ride that can jar your back/teeth/eyeballs (delete as appropriate). This is a side product of the necessarily reinforced sidewalls on usually already low-profile tyres. The second negative is the cost of the tyres. It isn’t recommended to repair run-flats, so I shopped around (three major players – Black Circles, Kwik Fit and ATS) and the cheapest quality branded regular tyre was about £80. The cheapest equivalent run-flat was £105 and you also have to be prepared for the fact that most run-flat equipped cars rely on a tyre pressure monitor (TPM) to warn you of punctures or loss of pressure. This will be fooled into not working (or staying on permanently) if you fit a new run-flat with a worn one on the other side.  So you may have to stump up for two. Which can be almost two for the price of three regular tyres…

So, I as I limped to my chosen garage of choice, the TPM went into crazy frog, banzai alarm mode.  The bad news was I was too far from my fitter of choice (obviously who had the ‘reasonably’ priced tyres), so I had to plump for the least cheap tyre supplier.  The good news – silver linings and all that – was the tyre was on offer (20 per cent off) and all three of my other tyres were showing a healthy 5mm of tread. Back in the game!

Anyway, enough of motoring woes (I won’t mention the onset of frost and the corresponding increase in local driver idiocy, lack of lights, blinding 5000 lumen bicycle lights, water filled and hence invisible potholes…sorry, I sort of did!). When not nursing the freshly repaired Mini, I was mostly driving long distances in a 2013 Ford Galaxy diesel. Now the Galaxy, should it have escaped your vehicular radar, is Ford’s seven-seat MPV.  It will carry seven occupants, of fair adult size (I’ve done it), but not with much luggage. It would be better carrying five grown ups with fair luggage, or a family of four with everything including the kitchen sink. The middle and rear rows of seats move forward and back, fold, tumble (rear row) and other stuff I couldn’t be bothered to check. You all get proper belts and leg room.

The Galaxy, being a full sized MPV has a long wheelbase (think transit van) and this lends it a pliant ride, best described as somewhere between comfy and magic carpet.  It simply smoothes over bumps, possibly letting the rear row occupants know about it a few minutes after the event – but I couldn’t hear them complain, as they were too far behind me. The diesel fitted to “my” Galaxy allowed for moderate progress, but definitely benefited from the diesel torque wave for easy motorway progress.  You won’t be winning many traffic light Grand Prix, neither will you set too many ‘Ring records (unless you’re name happens to be Sabine – Google it), but you can get from A to Z in comfort, using not a lot of juice.  The driving position featured electric height adjustment on the seats, then manual fore and aft. You can move the steering wheel up down and in and out.  In short, you could be Warwick Davis or Robert Wadlow and you should be able to get yourself sorted. The “infotainment” appeared to have been found in a car boot sale circa 1994, but I had to turn it down to try to hear the comments from the back row anyway… Maybe the coolest feature (I led a sheltered life before Riddle) is the aircraft throttle aping handbrake.  You imagine being cleared for take-off every time you release the handbrake. I imagine the Galaxy is easier to navigate UK roads than an airliner though.

So, if you have a large family, or just a number of full sized individuals, or a small family that never travels light, or maybe you need a van, but get claustrophobic and want windows and a car like driving position, then you should look at the Galaxy – it has space (literally, but I like the pun) in spades, it covers distance with ease and would be cheaper than something that pretends it can ford a fjord (crossovers, I’m looking at you here) but would really get stuck on the grass at the car boot Ford rescued their car stereo from.  In the meantime, it’s back to the Mini hoping nothing else triggers a warning light (except the temperature – that’s ok), while I wait for the next review car to land on my driveway. riddle_stop 2

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