New cars: Talbot Tagora

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Although motoring historians make play with the variants of the Talbot name, which has been applied to widely differing cars, we must try to look at the present car bearing this title in its own right, as a product of the Chrysler Europe/Peugeot AS combination, although I confess it is confusing; the test car apparently came from Whitley, Coventry but had a label on its windscreen saying it had been made in France. No matter; what you have is a spacious, 4-door, booted saloon with a simple, conventional engine driving the rear wheels through a five-speed gearbox. The rest of the car has a Peugeot flavour, from its rack-and-pinion power steering to its all-round-independent coil spring suspension and disc/drum servo-assisted braking. The result is an uncomplicated, medium-to-large-size, family conveyance, slightly smaller than the Peugeot 604 but available with the more powerful version of the V6-cylinder power unit used also by Renault, or a 2.3-litre turbo-charged diesel engine. The car I tried had yet another power option, the 2,155 cc (91.7 x 81.6 mm bore and stroke), four-cylinder in-line engine, which has a single chain-driven overhead camshaft and is carburetted with a 32,35 TM/MA twin-choke Solex, and has transistorised electronic ignition. This gives the five-bearing engine 113 (DIN) bhp at 5.400 rpm and 133 ft/lb. torque at 3,200 rpm and is marked on the tachometer to run safely up to 6,250 rpm, which the handbook says must never be exceeded. Therein thus adequate but not sparkling performance.

The first impression of this Talbot Tagora was that it was not quite so sure-footed, not quite so quiet, not quite no comfortable as the (more expensive) Rover 3500 with which I am more accustomed, and naturally has nothing like the acceleration. Yet on further long day journeys I found that I enjoyed the easy running and effortless control of this Tagora. It is the sort of unassuming car you don’t feel you have to necessarily drive brilliantly or fast all the time, Which makes for untiring touring. The acceleration is in the order of 0-60 mph in 111/2 sec through the gears, which is rather leisurely, not being a match for the Rover 2300 for instance, but on the road it seems enough, in normal motoring, if good use is made of the gears and throttle. In this context, it has to be remembered that the Tagora is commendably thrifty of petrol. I was surprised to find that even when pressing on it bettered 30 mpg, if the fifth gear was used liberally, and overall fuel consumption was 29.6 mpg. This is also a car with a commendable fuel capacity (15.4 gallons) so here you have a range of well over 400 miles — so useful! This in spite of the fact that the instruction book asks you not to brim the tank, which has a flap-covered, but unlockable, filler-cap.

The controls function well. The GLS has the four-dial (Veglia) instrument panel before the driver, comprising tachometer, speedometer (which is ridiculously optimistic, with its odometer 7% over-reading), heat and fuel gauges. the latter decently steady-reading, and all easy to read. Above these is a row of nine warning-light windows, the last one blank, as it is a “choke-in-use” light not applicable to the auto-choke, which, by the way, starts a cold engine promptly. To the right of this panel is a smaller one, carrying the switches for rear fog-lamp, front fog-lamps, rear window heater and hazard-warning and it also incorporates a rheostat to quell panel lighting.

There are triple steering-column stalks, the awkwardly-placed short I/h one working too-eager-to-cancel turn-indicators. There is a means of winding the headlamps into any of eight beam-levels, but the knob came off in my hand — a pity, as although the main beam from the combined circular and rectangular lamps was excellent, dip was lethal.

To the left of the main instrument panel is the Test panel of seven big warning-lights that come on before the engine is started, or can be used at random, giving rather a pin-table effect, in which some of the other warning-lights join, but the reassuring aspect of which is bound to become popular, I suppose. The test-car had a Jaeger digital clock but not the trip computer. which I find is a distraction anyway, and it was fitted with those Goodyear Grand Prix “S” tyres (175 x 14) which that policeman advertises, so I knew that had it rained I would have been able to stop all right in an emergency. . . .

Creature comforts include electric front windows, their switches well placed on the front doors, central door-locking, velour-upholstered seats, open rigid front door pockets, two remote-adjustable (but employing twin knurled knobs) door-mirrors, stereo-radio, with roof aerial, map-lamp, etc. The heater/ventilation uses four unusual press-button selectors but the throughput of cool air is very inadequate, and the 3-speed fan too noisy. Even with it on the first, acceptable, notch we spent a summer day in some discomfort, as you can get cool air from the base of the screen or the many adjustable fascia vents, but not from both together. That was the most regrettable feature of the Tagora.

Otherwise, this is a good car for family motoring. The suspension is slightly on the hard side but the comfort factor is high. cornering secure at speed, with little roll and slight tyre-scrub only on fast tight bends. The steering is neither too light, nor heavy, but somewhat indecisive around the straight-ahead position. The stubby gear lever controls a smooth, pleasant-functioning gearbox, so that although its lateral movements are short, only clumsiness can cause top to be selected instead of second gear, the right-hand side of the gate taking fifth and reverse locations. At 3,000 r.p.m. the road-speed in 5th is a lazy 671/2 mph and the engine will pull away from low speeds in this ratio. There was a trace of transmission snatch at times.

The body is conventionally styled, but the big screen is well raked, the pillars obstructing vision at some types of road junction. The steering wheel is single-spoked, with a thick rim, the wide interior screen-sill is in light, plasticky finish, not quite in keeping with a quality car, and as a shelf its lip is inadequate. The clutch is smooth and quite light. The drop-cubby well is too small and difficult to shut even if only the instruction books are stored in it, but it can be locked. The big boot is unobstructed and its lid can be opened without using the key, but the too-stiff bonnet release is on the left, the heavy bonnet-lid has to be propped up, and the dip-stick is well buried. It is hardly necessary to remark that no oil was required (in more than 1,200 enjoyable miles).

To sum up, the Talbot Tagora is a usefully effortless, uncomplicated, simple-to-drive and very comfortable car, with a commanding driving position reminiscent of a BMW, and it is notably sparing of petrol in 2.2-litre form. The price is £9,072 and an Automatic-transmission version costs £9,557. — WB.

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