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    My plan when I got up this morning was to go on a 450km roadtrip to Sweden, and then 450km back. When I had arrived in Haparanda (on the Finnish-Swedish border) the engine sounded like a rock crusher. The mechanic at the first garage I found told me off with a "I mostly do Volvos" without dropping his tools. Well, thanks a lot.

    At the next garage, the nice mechanic came out and had a look and diagnosed it as a faulty water pump. Thankfully the water pump is driven by the accessory belt so the engine was never in any danger of actually grenading on me but I sure as hell didn't want to do the return trip.

    I've owned the car from new and always had it serviced at the main dealer, so I decided to try their free mobility warranty service. They pay for the courtesy car and one night at a hotel for you and your passengers if the car can't be sorted immediately. Two phonecalls and 30 minutes later, this happened:



    I was then given a tow back 20km in the direction from which I came, to Kemi where the closest Skoda dealer is. The tow truck driver then arranged my free courtesy car from Hertz. About 30 seconds after the phonecall the Hertz guy stopped by - apparently he had been grocery shopping next to the dealer and noticed a yellow tow truck unloading a Skoda just as his phone rang.

    The Hertz guy drove me to their office and gave me the keys to this:





    A Toyota Avensis estate. First impression was that it's a lot quieter inside and soaks up bumps better than my car. It's one class above the Octavia, after all. It's fairly well screwed together on the inside as well - no rattles or squeaks. No handbrake lever or button either, which is strange. I guess it's automatic in one way or another but I have no idea, haven't bothered to read the manual. There's an idiot light on the dash with crossed over P in it, so I guess the handbrake is deprogrammed (to avoid calls from customers with frozen handbrakes) or broken. It also claims the tire pressures are off, and the Hertz guy told me the TPMS needs to be deactivated.

    As for features - well, it has cruise control. And a heater, and bluetooth which works well. But other than that, nothing. It even has manual windows in the back. The steering wheel has a button that I assume is for voice control. Nothing happens when you push it. In my own car, it goes ding and then tells me it doesn't understand what I said.

    The fact that it is a naturally aspirated 1.6 became blindingly obvious when I tried to merge onto the 100km/h freeway in fifth gear. Dropped to fourth, still nothing. Third? There we go. This is the first naturally aspirated car I've driven in several years.

    The fuel consumption sits at 7.something liters per 100km, which is pretty normal for a family car this size I'd guess. It's about the same as my car gets.

    I'm typing this at the kitchen table in a rented cabin in Kukkolaforsen which I guess means Kukkola Rapids in English. Before it got dark, the view from the window was of the actual rapids, as well as Finland on the other side. I'm about 50 meters from the border, not that it matters up here. The only thing that changes when you cross the bridges is the font on the traffic signs.
    Last edited by Perc; March 6th, 2017, 4:39 PM.
    2014 Opel Insignia Country Tourer Biturbo CDTI 4x4
    For once I don't have the same car as everyone else.

    Comment


      Originally posted by Cowboy View Post
      Nobody does kid....no men do anyway.
      Real men can enjoy a good car while ignoring everyone else.
      Octavia
      Fabia
      Beetle

      Comment


        Originally posted by narf View Post
        Real men can enjoy a good car while ignoring everyone else.
        A good car is one that's actually enjoyable. Which a Mini convertible isn't.
        "Men with guts attack those corners!" - Keiichi Tsuchiya
        2006 Acura TL and 1999 Mazda Miata

        Comment


          Today I drove a car that is incredibly rare in this country.



          2011 Ford Focus 2.0 S TDCi Hatchback.

          For anyone in Europe this car is probably a bit like Zubat. You will find one even when you don't want to. Walk and there's going to be gajillion example appearing everywhere. But in Thailand this car is very rare indeed, being the expensive, top of the range model at the time when Ford's reputation was in the gutter. How many were sold? Try mid 3 digits. But it's not the rarest Focus on the market. That title belongs to the pre-facelift TDCi, those were available only in Manual, and so have production number in the tens. Even though it's probably even more common in Europe than this post-facelift Automatic.

          This particular example belong to a friend. It's done 209,000km. It's been chipped to 150-160hp and lowered a little bit by unknown means.

          From the outside I think it looks terrific. A very subtle design that aged quite well, 13 years later and still looking good. I just wish it's on ST wheels. Step inside and you will find that the interior is quite nice, again, in a subtle way. The ergonomics a bit weird, but then again I am more used to Japanese car. But the design is simple, and quality of material is great indeed. And after 209,000km it doesn't appear to be wearing badly. Nice instrument cluster too. And it does have all the equipment you'll ever need.

          All post-facelift TDCi are Automatic. The Durashift Double Clutch Automatic. I am not even going to call it a manual. This car is quite special in a way. It's one of the fastest "normal" car you can get here. 0-100km/h in 9.5 seconds or there about. Only a few "cheap" car can match it's acceleration even today. It might not seems like much, but any car that can out drag typical motorway police vehicle is fast enough. () This also have been chipped for another 20-30hp. But it's still a diesel, alright. From 0-2000rpm there's nothing but the turbo lag. And after that it only revs up to 4500rpm. Then again, that 2000-4500rpm push is quite fun for people who are not used to them. Torque!

          Ford Focus is quite renowned for the way they drive. This generation in particular. Having never driven one before I'm now glad I had a chance to. I know now why these are so acclaimed. The steering is weighty and precise, yet isn't too heavy to be jarring. The suspension is quite firm, but not uncomfortable. In fact, on a narrow, bumpy road going 50-90km/h the suspension felt a lot like the W124. If even slightly more comfortable. But at motorway speed? I do not know. Haven't got a chance to get up there yet.

          I can see this being a very nice daily driver. However, I cannot see it as that a good urban runabout. That turbo lag until 2000rpm is annoying. And because it's a double clutch transmission, it cannot creep forward very well. But on an slightly more moving road, doesn't have to be that clear either. It's quite nice. Quick enough, handles well, looks great, and reasonable price to boot. But then again there's a reason why these are "reasonably price" on the second hand market.

          Ford's reputation really is in the gutter, even today. This model apparently is the more reliable one, the owner hasn't got any problem whatsoever. But other models such as Petrol Focus, Fiesta and Ranger truck, those are really doing quite badly. With major issue being the double clutch gearbox. It got so bad that every time we see a Ford we joked that the mothership (slide-on flatbed truck) is around the corner. Which is a shame, because I think this particular car looks great and drives even better.

          And I guess life in the third world really is crappy when a Ford Focus is considered interesting.

          Comment


            A friend of mine drives a 2014 Opel Astra Sports Tourer (Generation "J") with the 2.0 l Biturbo Diesel (143 kW).

            I had the opportunity to drive some Autobahn kilometres in it on our journey to Croatia and back recently, so here's my short and entirely pictureless review.
            • Exterior: Well, it's an Astra Caravan. I admit I like the styling, but it's also very visible that Opel wasted some interior space and visibility to design features. Also, the car already looks as heavy as it is: 1701 kg according to the papers. One thousand seven hundred and one kilograms for a compact car! This is ridiculous. It's about 400 kg heavier than my old Focus (which was admittedly neither an estate car nor a Diesel).
            • Interior: Nice place to be in, good sports seats in the front row, back row spacious enough except for sleeping, but the car wasn't built for that anyway. I'm impressed how far the driver's seat can go back (if no one with legs sitting behind it). Lots of places to put things. Also lots of buttons on the center console and for the on-board computer. The operation of that and the infotainment takes some getting used to.
              Space-wise, we had no problem fitting luggage for four persons and a one-week trip without obstructing the view through the rear view mirror.
            • Driving it: Well, nearly 200 horses and 400 Nm of torque do their job quite nicely, and the car as a whole is quite quiet - but on this, I'm not really qualified to judge because just about every normal car is noticeably quieter than my MX-5.
              On the Autobahn, the car feels at home. 130 kph is very relaxed, 180 or even faster is not a problem. But it has a very sluggish gearbox and the pedal travel for clutch and especially the brake pedal is frighteningly long. Again, my judgement may be impaired by driving an MX-5. Cornering is about as good as expected for a compact estate car.

            Verdict: 6.5/10. Good car, but far too heavy which worsens fuel economy and driving.

            Incidentally, the very same car stands in front of my house waiting to be driven back to its owner. With the back seats folding down very easily, my road bike fits into the boot without any problem, so can can cycle back and make good use of the fine weather toda?. Sometimes I miss having a practical car.
            Last edited by DanRoM; April 9th, 2017, 10:17 AM.

            Comment


              Originally posted by DanRoM View Post
              Also, the car already looks as heavy as it is: 1701 kg according to the papers. One thousand seven hundred and one kilograms for a compact car! This is ridiculous. It's about 400 kg heavier than my old Focus (which was admittedly neither an estate car nor a Diesel).
              You say "compact car", but the estate is 4,70m long - that's more than 20 cm longer than my E46 touring...

              Originally posted by DanRoM View Post
              Incidentally, the very same car stands in front of my house waiting to be driven back to its owner. With the back seats folding down very easily, my road bike fits into the boot without any problem, so can can cycle back and make good use of the fine weather toda?. Sometimes I miss having a practical car.
              My road bike fits into the boot of my 20 cm shorter E46 without any problem, too, so no real surprise for me there.
              Why E10? I'm driving E46...

              Comment


                I can't imagine that Opel sold very many astras with the biturbo.

                My car with the same engine weighs around 1800, but then it is one size larger and has four wheel drive and an automatic too. 1700kg for an astra sounds insane.
                2014 Opel Insignia Country Tourer Biturbo CDTI 4x4
                For once I don't have the same car as everyone else.

                Comment


                  Sensible vehicles as selected by the wife.

                  Before I go any further, my thanks to those who offered suggestions a month back in the Random Thoughts thread. Sadly, my wife is going to ignore all of them and wants either a minivan or a CUV. There will be no proper truck based SUV for us (we made a deal, she let me get my car... I let her get hers).

                  So, today's round up is as follows:

                  1) Chrysler Pacifica. Handsome looking thing. Stupendously practical and spacious. Actually makes minivans almost cool (it is very good looking). Drives like... a car. Leather seats feel stiff, and thin, and narrow. That nine-speed auto gives me pause... as does the long term reliability. This car is also priced into the stratosphere for what you get. It's not got the x-factor, it is the x-factor. Caveat emptor, baby...

                  2) Nissan Pathfinder. Bulletproof 3.5 V6 mated to (ugh) a CVT, which I have to admit, suits this car's purpose fairly well. Comfortable chairs, well laid out, but rubbish third row space and storage. Out.

                  3) Hyundai Sante Fe XL. The value proposition, and what Hyundai giveth with one hand (the optional toys, the side shades, the great pano roof, the decent second and third row seating), they taketh away with the other (leather/vinyl feels cheaper than other cars listed here, herky-jerky transmission that either kicks down too soon or too late, never on time, terrible mechanism for moving second row seats to access the third). This was my pre-test drive favourite for my wife, but we both disliked it.

                  4) Honda Oddysey. Holy Japanese ingenuity and use of space, Batman. Storage space and cubbies galore. Unbelievably easy to manipulate second and third row seats, and the legroom, wow! Pretty good value for what you get, and the resale on these is amazing. 3.5 V6 with 6-speed auto a great choice, and startlingly quiet. Downsides? It's a big heavy fucking pig, and nothing screams MINIVAN!!! quite like this car. I felt nauseous looking at it, as well as riding in it (mainly because it conjured up some pretty bad childhood memories).

                  5) Honda Pilot. Brilliant. Rides smoothly, has adequate power from the same V6 with six speed auto as the Odyssey, but faster too because it weighs less than a moon. Best second row leg room AND access to third row out of all the non-minivans. Best touchscreen pinch and zoom satnav as well. Resale also into the stratosphere. Decently priced. Decent storage behind third row, but doesn't touch the minivans. Right now, this one's the odds on favourite.

                  She still has to try the Toyota Sienna (ugh) and Highlander, and the Mazda CX-9 even though I warned her I'm concerned about that engine's ability to lug up the steep grades where we live, as well as its longevity in such a big car. I'm also going to try and get her into a Flex, as well as possibly a Tahoe, but the latter is so much money that even used they are more than she wants to pay. She balked at the Armada upon seeing it in person, and doesn't want to drive it. I think the Toyotas might make a run at the Hondas, but it'll be between them and nothing else.
                  Last edited by JimCorrigan; April 16th, 2017, 6:59 AM.
                  Originally posted by tigger
                  The Lord spoke, "Let there be angry V8s, whistling turbos and big ass cams." And it was good.

                  Comment


                    Our "own" car reviews

                    Is the Atlas available yet? Normally I'd never recommend a VW (sorry Euros they have a bad rep for a reason) to anyone I cared about despite liking them personally.

                    However, at least in the US, VW is putting their money where their mouth is with a Atlas (and next gen Tiguan) specific 6 year/72,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty that is fully transferable.

                    That and the space (apparently it's a bit larger than a Pilot) could be interesting if you could get over its ahem...challenging exterior design.
                    "The way I see it a car enthusiast is somebody who is enthusiastic and interested about the motor car in all its various shapes and forms from supercars to East German 2-strokes made of cardboard. Everyone else is merely a car elitist IMO." ~ Captain 70's

                    Get out of my way! I have photocopiers to sell! ~ Perc

                    "A computer is a Lite-Brite for bad fucking ideas."

                    FinalGear's Dash-Stroking Whore

                    Comment


                      Originally posted by rickhamilton620 View Post
                      Is the Atlas available yet? Normally I'd never recommend a VW (sorry Euros they have a bad rep for a reason) to anyone I cared about despite liking them personally.

                      However, at least in the US, VW is putting their money where their mouth is with a Atlas (and next gen Tiguan) specific 6 year/72,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty that is fully transferable.

                      That and the space (apparently it's a bit larger than a Pilot) could be interesting if you could get over its ahem...challenging exterior design.
                      Thanks, Rick, but I am predisposed to not touch a VW either. The fact this is a brand new car with no history makes it even less appealing.

                      Also, in Canada it appears to come only with a 4 year/80,000 km wear and tear and 5 year/100,000 km powertrain warranty, and it costs 5 grand more than a comparably equipped Honda... so make that a HELLZ NO!
                      Originally posted by tigger
                      The Lord spoke, "Let there be angry V8s, whistling turbos and big ass cams." And it was good.

                      Comment


                        Sensible car reviews part 2.

                        1) Toyota Highlander. Flimsy seats. Worst third row seating and storage I have ever seen. Sat nav is a POS. Rides and drives like a Toyota (I.e., only casket sleepers need apply), and despite the V6, is gutless on slight inclines.

                        Verdict: POS car is POS.

                        2) Toyota Sienna. We didn't even drive this one. Just looking at it made us both lose the will to live, but the main reason being that, comparably equipped to a Honda Odyssey, it costs 8 grand more.

                        Verdict: Fuck off.

                        3) Mazda CX-9. The looker of the bunch (from both today and a few weeks ago), inside and out. The most car-like ride and drive of the lot, as well. Lovely interior, even in lower trims. Seats pretty to look at, but not great at being, y'know, seats. Front two console is so wide, in either driver or passenger side with the seat moved all the way back my knees rub against it constantly, and I hated that. Third row is tighter than than a nun's arsehole. Stupid turbo four banger, none of the torque, none of the fuel economy.

                        Verdict: Coulda been a contender if Mazda didn't go all Volvo and refuse to offer a bigger, naturally aspirated engine, but still had too many flaws.

                        4) Honda Pilot and Oddysey redux (because already described a few posts above). Both in not the highest trim, meaning you get the 3.5 L V6 mated to the 6speed auto, not the 9-speed which apparently spends more time hunting for gears than Ivanka Trump does meaningless publicity. Pilot not as car-like as CX-9, but it's close. Best steering. Most comfortable seats. Easiest access to spacious third row (even easier than the stablemate Oddysey), and best post third row storage for any non-minivan (Oddysey humiliates it). Pilot has best satnav, far better than Oddysey (for 2018 the mommy van reportedly gets the same touchable, pinchable Garmin as the Pilot). Pilot has best low end grunt for starts on steep inclines, and it weighs far less than the minivan (even with its AWD vs the van's FWD), so it's faster and gets better real world mileage.

                        Bottom line: we are getting one of the Honda products. My wife is leaning mostly towards the Pilot (of all the choices she's driven, I'm 100% in for this car), but the Oddysey still has a punter's chance with her on ease of use alone (sliding doors, post third row storage). Still, I'm fairly certain it'll be the Pilot. It may not be a FG approved truck/RWD based vehicle, but it is her daily vehicle (that I'll be driving on family outings), and frankly I'm not bothered. Either of these two Hondas are great for what they are.
                        Last edited by JimCorrigan; May 7th, 2017, 8:18 AM.
                        Originally posted by tigger
                        The Lord spoke, "Let there be angry V8s, whistling turbos and big ass cams." And it was good.

                        Comment


                          Originally posted by DanRoM View Post
                          A friend of mine drives a 2014 Opel Astra Sports Tourer (Generation "J") with the 2.0 l Biturbo Diesel (143 kW).

                          I had the opportunity to drive some Autobahn kilometres in it on our journey to Croatia and back recently, so here's my short and entirely pictureless review.
                          • Exterior: Well, it's an Astra Caravan. I admit I like the styling, but it's also very visible that Opel wasted some interior space and visibility to design features. Also, the car already looks as heavy as it is: 1701 kg according to the papers. One thousand seven hundred and one kilograms for a compact car! This is ridiculous. It's about 400 kg heavier than my old Focus (which was admittedly neither an estate car nor a Diesel).
                          • Interior: Nice place to be in, good sports seats in the front row, back row spacious enough except for sleeping, but the car wasn't built for that anyway. I'm impressed how far the driver's seat can go back (if no one with legs sitting behind it). Lots of places to put things. Also lots of buttons on the center console and for the on-board computer. The operation of that and the infotainment takes some getting used to.
                            Space-wise, we had no problem fitting luggage for four persons and a one-week trip without obstructing the view through the rear view mirror.
                          • Driving it: Well, nearly 200 horses and 400 Nm of torque do their job quite nicely, and the car as a whole is quite quiet - but on this, I'm not really qualified to judge because just about every normal car is noticeably quieter than my MX-5.
                            On the Autobahn, the car feels at home. 130 kph is very relaxed, 180 or even faster is not a problem. But it has a very sluggish gearbox and the pedal travel for clutch and especially the brake pedal is frighteningly long. Again, my judgement may be impaired by driving an MX-5. Cornering is about as good as expected for a compact estate car.

                          Verdict: 6.5/10. Good car, but far too heavy which worsens fuel economy and driving.

                          Incidentally, the very same car stands in front of my house waiting to be driven back to its owner. With the back seats folding down very easily, my road bike fits into the boot without any problem, so can can cycle back and make good use of the fine weather toda?. Sometimes I miss having a practical car.
                          Saying it has a biturbo made it sound powerful, until you gave the numbers.
                          1993 Ford F-150 Flareside - July 2010 - August 2013
                          2004 Ford Mustang - September 2013 - February 2018
                          1987 Mercury Colony Park GS - August 2015 - Present
                          2003 EZGO TXT - March 2015 - Present (it's road legal!)
                          2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI 6-Speed (February 2018 - Present)

                          Comment


                            Originally posted by 93Flareside View Post
                            Saying it has a biturbo made it sound powerful, until you gave the numbers.
                            Well... it's still a 2-liter diesel. The bi-turbo part mostly means it has a nicer powerband than your usual single-turbo diesel. It hits boost earlier which does wonders for driveability. Especially if you have a manual.

                            I have the same engine in my car. I did a 827km round trip to Helsinki this week and it returned 6.5 liters per 100km or 36 US mpg. I'm sure Narf would do better in a 1979 Eldorado, but I'm not Narf.

                            Anyway, the Skoda Octavia 1.4 TSI I had before returned similar mileage on the same trip, but the Opel did it with half a ton more weight, 235/50-18 instead of 195/65-15, a slushbox instead of a DSG and twice as many driven wheels. I'm satisfied.
                            2014 Opel Insignia Country Tourer Biturbo CDTI 4x4
                            For once I don't have the same car as everyone else.

                            Comment


                              Originally posted by rickhamilton620 View Post
                              Is the Atlas available yet? Normally I'd never recommend a VW (sorry Euros they have a bad rep for a reason) to anyone I cared about despite liking them personally.

                              However, at least in the US, VW is putting their money where their mouth is with a Atlas (and next gen Tiguan) specific 6 year/72,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty that is fully transferable.

                              That and the space (apparently it's a bit larger than a Pilot) could be interesting if you could get over its ahem...challenging exterior design.
                              About that Atlas recommendation...

                              Comment


                                Originally posted by Spectre View Post
                                Oh VW, you just can't get it right can you?
                                "The way I see it a car enthusiast is somebody who is enthusiastic and interested about the motor car in all its various shapes and forms from supercars to East German 2-strokes made of cardboard. Everyone else is merely a car elitist IMO." ~ Captain 70's

                                Get out of my way! I have photocopiers to sell! ~ Perc

                                "A computer is a Lite-Brite for bad fucking ideas."

                                FinalGear's Dash-Stroking Whore

                                Comment


                                  An opportunity for a long sunny weekend presented itself, so this happened a week ago:




                                  As you can see, I've been to the 17th Bundesland again epic roads still are epic.

                                  ...and no, I haven't started biking, Europcar shoehorned me into a tiny Fiat...



                                  ...but what a Fiat correct colour scheme included.



                                  It's an Abarth 595C with the 145hp 1.4T and the robomanual - no choice there - and 12km on the odometer




                                  Once you get over the utter stupidity of its auto mode and turn that off (every time you start it! but it remembers the farty burpy sport mode ) it's a hoot to drive. Pointless as a daily driver, but excellent for a weekend in the Serra Tramuntana.
                                  The metal paddles are placed beautifully - in the Beetle, letting your fingers wander mindlessly gives you indicators or wipers while the paddles are small and slightly hidden. In the 595, the paddles dominate. Who needs indicators anyway, right?





                                  downshifting into first behind a cyclist magically clears up the road ahead
                                  Did I mention it burps and farts like a Roman orgy?

                                  Brilliantly, they held a triathlon on Saturday which blocked the main bus road into the mountains. I've never seen the road down to Sa Calobra this empty did several laps of that with minimal traffic

                                  Despite being pointless as a daily, it did have some practical points... the boot holds two carry-on trolleys plus two messenger laptop bags with ease, and despite the crappy turning circle it's a pleasure to look for parking in residential Palma.
                                  Less-than-practical, I had to fill up after the first day and after the second day and before returning it on the third day the pumps say 8.6l/100km but still only 29c/km thanks to epic Europcar offers.



                                  The number of Scorpions is over 9000




                                  I didn't bring my dashcam, so have someone else's video instead:



                                  Yes, that mountain range really is that epic.
                                  Last edited by narf; May 21st, 2017, 3:19 PM.
                                  Octavia
                                  Fabia
                                  Beetle

                                  Comment


                                    Dayum that drive sounds incredible.
                                    "The way I see it a car enthusiast is somebody who is enthusiastic and interested about the motor car in all its various shapes and forms from supercars to East German 2-strokes made of cardboard. Everyone else is merely a car elitist IMO." ~ Captain 70's

                                    Get out of my way! I have photocopiers to sell! ~ Perc

                                    "A computer is a Lite-Brite for bad fucking ideas."

                                    FinalGear's Dash-Stroking Whore

                                    Comment


                                      It's been a while, but last weekend I tried my hand at another round of the rental roulette. There was a LAN party at my employer's main office 200km away, and my wife needed her car for the weekend, so a rental it was. So I booked a "Kia Picanto or equivalent" via AVIS, which should be adequate to transport me, LoOsE_uNiT (henceforth called "Joe") and PC gear some 200km.
                                      Rolling up to the AVIS station, we're greeted by a row of cars, one of which is a Chevrolet Spark "It's not great, but at least it's not an Opel", I say to LoOsE_uNiT. In the office, the AVIS guy says "good news, you're getting upgraded" and hands me an Opel key. Joe LoSeS it...
                                      So, what did the nice AVIS guy upgrade me to? A two month old Opel Mokka X (Because it's X-tra, baby!) TURBO.


                                      Getting in, it's clear that Opel has finally managed to make it to this decade, it feels totally different from the 2014 Corsas I hated12 with a passion. The interior looks nice and modern, the trim level AVIS bought had (faux) leather padding on the dash, and the mount of buttons was basically just right.

                                      (Image stolen off the interwebs, because I didn't take any pictures of the interior, but mine was similar except for the gearbox and adaptive cruise control)
                                      Another good thing was that the indicator stalks are FUCKING NORMAL STALKS AGAIN, making it much easier to use them. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by the car before setting off.
                                      Setting off, the first gear immediately grabs attention, because it rivals VAG diesels for shortness, and because it's followed by a realtively long second gear, the acceleration isn't what you'd expect from a 1300kg car with 140 turbo horses, and worse, it makes smooth and quick takeoffs nigh impossible. And because the second gear is so long, you cannot really skip first and set off in second. The reast of the gears are pretty evenly spaced, and quite long. On multiple occasions I've forgotten to shift back to sixth after a slowdown necessitated a downshift to fifth, because the car already felt like it was in a cruising gear. Using the gearbox was decent, the action was precise enough, although first and second provided more resistance than you'd expect when engaging. Especially first gear is annoying, when you think it's in, then release the clutch only for it to pop right out of gear again, making for an awkward getaway. The engine itself is, well, for a lack of a better word, decent. It's a 1.4 liter four pot with a TURBO (it proudly says so on the rear hatch) producing 140 horses. It's not spectacularly anything, not too loud, nor exceptionally quiet, pulls nicely, although it kinda lacks a top-end, but that's not surprising. Refinement is as you'd expect from a small four pot.
                                      About an hour into the two hour drive, both me and Joe start noticing slight back aches from the seats lacking proper lumbar support. Approaching Rotterdam, there's a few nice humps in the motorway, which are a good way to test a car's suspension. Hitting them at 108kph on the (non-adaptive) cruise control, we actually managed to hit the bump stops on multiple of these humps, with 2 people (neither of us particularly slim) and PC gear in the boot. In addition to this, the ride at low speeds is quite appalling, it's harsh and bouncy (which only gets worse when it's empty), while with a bit of load it becomes floaty and soft at speed. As you'd expect from a small GM designed CUV the steering is completely dead, no matter what speed you're doing, which lead to me doing the stereotypical American 1980s sitcom driving on the highway. In corners there's a fair amount of lean and understeer, but nothing dramatic, neither worse nor better than you'd expect from a small CUV. Larger radius corners at speed will lead to a rear-end that feels lighter than I'd like. It'll still do what you want, but it doesn't feel reassuring or comfortable.
                                      Equipment wise, it was quite well endowed, with multi-zone climate control that did its job admirably in 29C weather, keeping the car at a comfortable 22 degrees while not blowing overly cold air at its occupants. It also came equipped with auto headlights with automatic highbeams, which did what it said on the box, turn on the highbeams when the situation allows, and turn off when needed. Windshield wipers were automatic, according to the options list, yet somehow also featured an adjustable interval speed. There was not enough rain for me to properly test how this was supposed to work. The car came with parking sensors front and rear, which basically do nothing except beep at you when stuff is within 2 meters of the car, so they are essentially useless, as I started ignoring them after ten seconds of incessant beeping while I was in no danger of hitting anything, standing still in a traffic jam. As a bonus, there's a readout in the central display showing you where you might be in danger of hitting anything, which is more useful than the incessant beeping. At the rear, there's also a backup camera, with the standard lines showing you your turning circle and stuff. The display can of course also be used for satnav and media, with blue teeth included. The blue teeth worked well enough, sound quality was nothing to write home about. I didn't really test out the navigation, because I knew well enough where to go, but we did set some routes. The default setting of it is a north-oriented top-down map, which for all intents and purposes is completely useless. Maybe there's settings to change this, but I didn't feel like exploring them for the two days I had it.
                                      After driving some 440ish kilometers of mostly highway driving at 130-140kph it needed a little over 32 litres of fuel, so 7.3-7.5 l/100km of fuel usage, which while not as atrocious as the Corsas, it's really not good.
                                      The verdict is that it's a LOT better than what Opel used to offer, but while a huge leap forward, there's still things that feel half-assed and not really thought out. The seats are a big letdown, but probably a lot better if you're not a 100+kg 1m86 guy. Suspension and ride is just not acceptable for any car, but I've driven worse stuff. While it's not something I'd buy or recommend, you could do a lot worse than this car, if you don't really care about dynamic driving. It's still MILES off the Renault Captur, which is better in every regard, and cheaper.
                                      Last edited by Adunaphel; May 30th, 2017, 8:50 AM.
                                      1986 BMW E23 735i Goodbye...
                                      1996 BMW E36 328i Touring Executive R.I.P.
                                      2001 Mercedes-Benz W203 C220 CDI Classic ...Aaaand it's gone
                                      2003 BMW E46 330dA Touring Lifestyle Edition
                                      2014 Renault Clio Tce 90 S&S Expression Pack Introduction
                                      2018 Renault Clio Tce 90 Intens
                                      Rental roulette: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

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                                        So my car finally went in for its door latch recall work today. Work was scheduled to take all day, but I couldn't take time off from work as we're currently getting slammed. Luckily, the dealer was kind enough to set me up with a rental.

                                        Dropped the car off after work yesterday and picked up the rental for today. Got to be honest, it's not exactly what I was expecting. I was expecting to get something along the lines of...well, my car. Something small and sensible like a Fiesta or a newer Focus, or even an Escape like the last time my car went in for repairs.

                                        No.

                                        Instead, I got...


                                        2017 Ford Explorer Limited










                                        Side Note - I forgot to charge the battery on my DSLR, so these pictures were taking with my old point-and-shoot.


                                        This thing was LOADED! Now, this being a rental-fleet vehicle, it was configured weirdly compared to consumer Explorers. As far as I can work out, it had every option from the 301A equipment package with the exception of the BLIS blind-spot system and auto-dimming driver's side mirror (had the auto-dim center mirror).







                                        ...anyways, versatility.

                                        SUVs/CUVs these days are usually designed so that you can easily configure them to carry varying quantities of cadavers people or cargo, and the Explorer is no exception. The Explorer is sold as either a 6 or 7-seater CUV (SUV?), depending on whether you get the standard 60/40 bench seat or the buckets seats for the 2nd row. This one came with the standard 60/40 bench for the middle. While the 2nd row seats are folded by hand (optional bucket seats offer power assist fold), the third row can be folded/unfolded by electricity with the exception of the headrests, which have to be folder by pulling the tabs sticking out from the back of each seat. Both 2nd and 3rd row seats fold completely flat for ample cargo space.







                                        (Took this last picture from the Ford website since I was a dumb-dumb and forgot to take my own)

                                        With all the seats unfolded, cargo space is drastically reduced. So if you need to carry 6 or 7 people AND a lot of luggage, you may have to look elsewhere (Ford Flex maybe?). In terms of seating comfort, the 2nd row does offer plenty of head, shoulder and leg room. Seat cushions are a bit firm and don't offer much in terms of adjustment other than tilting back and forth, but not bad overall. 3rd row seats, on the other hand, leave much to be desired. However, these seats are usually intended for small children, so we'll gloss over that.


                                        Now, what's an Explorer like to drive?

                                        Well, it is rather large (duh) and heavy (also duh) and you do notice both of these things. Coming from someone who's used to driving small hatchbacks and midsize sedans, trying to thread this thing through the narrow streets where I live was amusing, but also ever so slightly terrifying. Hell, it barely fit in the parking space where I took the pictures. Outward visibility is a bit ugh, especially out the back window...OK, to be brutally honest, rear visibility is crap. You do have to use the rear camera when parallel parking. The high-ish hood doesn't help much either.

                                        In terms of control feedback, there's not much there. Steering is somewhat vague and the pedals feel like they're not actually attached to anything. The dead pedal was also a little too far to the right and a bit too narrow, so my left foot felt weird resting on it.

                                        While navigating tight city streets is not this thing's forte, out on the highway it was actually rather nice. Tire and wind noise is well managed and it doesn't get bumped around easily by crosswinds. It also absorbs bumps rather well, though it's no old-school land barge as you do notice some of the larger impacts. Road trips won't be an issue for this beast. Body roll is well managed, but it does still rolls around a little bit when cornering hard. It is basically a small school bus, after all, so it's not going to be the most exciting thing to drive out there, especially since the controls are somewhat devoid of feel.




                                        To hustle this beast along, Ford offers a slab of plastic. Somewhere beneath that plastic is a sideways-mounted V-formation 6-cylinder pushing 290 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque mated to a 6-speed slush-box with all wheel drive. This powertrain combination allows the Explorer to go from a standstill to 60 MPH in about 8 seconds and get an EPA-estimated 16 mpg city, 23 highway and 19 combined, though of course results may vary. Not bad, though. It managed my commute traffic rather well.

                                        Since the engine is mounted sideways, the AWD is front-wheel biased. Like the Escape I had 2 year ago, while driving along normally, most, if not all, of the engines power is being sent to the front wheels. It's not until you start nailing the engine that some of the power gets sent to the rear wheels. With that said, the system as pretty good at managing where it sends the power. Torque-steer is almost non-existent and on the one occasion I had to floor it, the tires didn't make so much as a peep.




                                        As for the gearbox itself...eh, it wan't bad, but at the same time, it wasn't brilliant either. Yeah, it moved gears around and generally got the job done, but it was a bit clumsy about it sometimes. On several occasions, the change from 1st to 2nd was rather rough (kind of slammed it) and it wouldn't always pick the right gear when going up hills. It's also rather hesitant to kick down unless you slam the throttle or pulled on the steering wheel paddle (joy, oh joy, the shift lever toggle switch is gone!). Even when in manual mode, it would hesitate to change gears, so it's not the most obedient gearbox out there.








                                        As for gadgets and comfort, like I said earlier, this thing was loaded! Power EVERYTHING, 10-way adjustable seat with memory settings, power folding mirrors, power adjustable steering column, adjustable pedals, keyless-go and entry with remote start, touch screen with SYNC 3 and sat-nav, dual-zone automatic climate control with auxiliary 2nd row controls, heated and air conditioned leather seats, front and rear cameras, park assist...the list goes on. I'm pretty sure this had more toys than that Lincoln MKZ I had back in 2012.

                                        I am not used to this level of luxury (mainly because outside the occasional rental cars, vehicles with all this crap are generally outside my budget).



                                        Anyways, looking past all the neat toys, I do have a bone to pick with the interior. Aside from the leather seats and steering wheel, everything else is just PLASTIC. A lot of hard and cheap-ish materials, and with the exception of a few faux wood and silver trim pieces, everything was black. This included the pillars and headliner, which kind of made the interior a bit dull and gloomy. Now, in fairness, it is a Ford. It is supposed to be built down to a price. Given that the Explorer is a mid-size bus that starts at $31K, cheap plastics are to be expected. However, the Limited is pushing north of $40K and at that point, having some more soft-touch materials would be appreciated. Maybe it's just Ford's way of persuading buyers to upgrade to the Platinum trim level?

                                        Other than those items, the interior is not bad. It's certainly very spacious and reasonably comfortable.


                                        So, final thoughts?

                                        While it makes a good highway cruiser, it's not that great as a city commuter. Unless you are CONSTANTLY hauling a lot of infants and/or cargo around, I would honestly get something smaller. This might just be me, though, as I prefer compact cars that sit low to the ground and feel stable under evasive maneuvers. Personal preferences aside and looking at just the vehicle itself, I would say the Explorer is a good contender for this segment, though this is based on (very) limited experience. Yes, I wasn't particularly fond of some of the details of THIS Explorer, but that's a configuration thing which can be customized (to some extent, anyways, depending on packages). Overall, it offers a good deal of interior space, comfort and technology for not too bad of a price.
                                        Last edited by Leadfoot866; July 27th, 2017, 5:33 AM.

                                        My Car(s):
                                        2006 Nissan Sentra 1.8S sedan - 1.8L I4, 4-speed automatic - work commuter (PYC coming soon)
                                        2012 Ford Focus SE hatchback - 2.0L I4, 5-speed manual - weekend/road trip warrior
                                        1999 Chevrolet Cavalier sedan - 2.2L I4, 3-speed automatic, crap-ton of rust and not much else (first car) - SOLD!

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                                          (Picture not from today, heavily enhanced. You do not want to see how it actually looks ).

                                          I once put an Audi S6 on Classic or Crock thread. The consensus seems that eventually the Ur-S4 and Ur-S6 will become classics. That day hasn't quite arrive yet. But I finally got a chance to properly drive an example.

                                          Despite appearing to be an S6. It isn't one. It's a 1993 Audi S4 C4 Automatic that belong to a mate who purchased it a while ago. It's his daily driver and he put 30,000km on it in a year. It's indicating roughly 170,000km. But the odo's is not accurate because the cluster's been replace once. So who knows how many km it actually has. The interior certainly is indicating much more than 170,000km. That and the car actually feels like it's done a lot more than 170,000km. Or maybe it's an Audi thing.

                                          Starting the car up was easy. But knowing this Audi since the owner's got it, I can never truly trust the electrical system. Hell, a simple walk around it reveals a lot of electrical issues. The owners reported the car being very tough. But this article

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