Our "own" car reviews

I had my employer's courtesy car again, and for a bit longer this time because my car ended up spending the night on the rack. Big cambelt service including a hard to reach toothed belt that runs the oil pump. Not necessary according to VW, but I prefer to swap it before the service light comes on... that is, the oil pressure light that tells you most of the toothed belt is inside the oil pump.

So, a 2021 or something Yaris 1.5 liter manual. Yes, a conventional drivetrain, not a hybrid. Mileage doesn't matter when the courtesy car renters are paying for the fuel.

The good:
- The dashboard is really solid and well laid out. Most things are on real buttons which are nicely dampened and backlit. So are the stalks. All the controls make sense. The "oh shit" handles are dampened, all four of them. VW, are you watching? You used to be great at these things.
- I've said this before but a 3-pot really makes a nice noise when you give it a bit of shoe. I'm used to a 2.0 TDI DSG and this is a nice change of pace. For a while.
- It has Adaptive Cruise Control. This japanese manual-transmission shoebox actually has ACC.
- It rides better than a small car has any right to.
- It's fun to drive. Remember, I'm used to bigger cars.
- The interior light comes on when you approach the car.

The bad:
- The outer door skin actually shudders/bounces visibly when you close the door with a normal amount of force. This does not feel reassuring.
- The *clong* from the hollow empty door when you let go of the outer door handle. Again, I don't want to have an accident in this.
- The ACC follows too closely even in the max setting. I was in a truck's salt spray for 20 kilometers today. It was nothing compared to how closely the truck was following a poor Ford Focus in front of him, but that's another story. Then again it's a base spec Japanese car and for it to even have ACC is astounding to me.
- The physical button for the auto highbeams is by your left shin. Wtf, toyota?
- It has auto headlights unlike most Japanese cars (it seems they learned) but I still had to twist the lights on today, it was a grey day and roads were covered in salt and slush. My Passat had switched the lights on a long time ago. So if you buy one of these and don't pay attention, you're still going to be that toyota driver without your fecking rear lights on.
- The throttle response is weird. When you rev it out and go for a quick gearchange it will still not have registered you letting go of the throttle by the time you release the clutch pedal in the next gear. Jerk-erk-erky gear changes.
- The bolted-on iPad feels like it's angled away from you in a Morris Marina sort of way. It probably isn't, but that's what it feels like sitting in the drivers seat which is pushed aaaallll the way back.

The noted:
- It's not a bad looking little rollerskate, but just like I didn't like it when Mercedes went from the W212 to the bar-of-soap W213, I like my cars to be a bit angular. See my avatar for one example.
- It is the same size as a Volvo V40 I parked next to today. Nobody goes "heehehehhe you're driving a shopping trolley" when someone pulls up in one of those.
 
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I left my car to service and update and i got the courtesy car provided by Europcar:



Skoda Enyaq IV 2023 rwd In grey

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I had been thinking of one of these to replace the id.3 at one point, but never to around to test drive one. But now that I had one, might as well write something about it now.

The car is grey, with grey cloth seat’s, and front seats are with electrically adjustable ones with memory.

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The back seat is from the small test that i have, really uncomfortable, as a bench. I would not want to sit there long periods. Rear seat on the id.3 is much more comfortable.

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While i was at the back seat i noticed that the indoor lights on the doors turn to red when the doors are opened. I thought it was very neat, but door would have to be open pretty wide before the red light would be seen.


neat doorlights



As for the trunk, i really liked the squareness of it, and the carpet was actually the floor, no second floor underneath (apart the hole that housed the charging cables. The Skoda window scraper was also at the trunklid instead of the charging flap, like its usually in.
The bag hooks were on nice position and could be pushed in when not in use.
Boot cover didn’t move when trunk was opened, but it was easily pulled out and pushed in.


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While Sitting on the driver’s seat, the seats were slightly more comfortable than the ones in my id.3, and seating position could set fine.
The only bad thing to me is that my right knee was rubbing on the centre console while I kept my foot on the pedals, and if I dropped my foot off the pedals my knee would not rub on the dash.
This is not problem with the id.3.


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As for the dash itself, the screen containing the speed was to be always in good position, even if it was fixed in place (unlike in the id.3), and the centre screen was big and responsive (more responsive than the one in the id.3).


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Also small clip of some music played on the stereo:

stereo test



Conclusion, it is nice car maybe back seats designed for car seats for kids instead of adults.
Felt slow while on full acceleration, but that might be due to lowest power motor and not awd.
front seats were nice, and there were lost more room on the dash for stuffs.



Would have to test awd, maybe better seats, but not on my sort list when replacing the id.3 in the future.
 
For a while now, my DSG has been taking off like a learner driver every once in a while. I bought an extended warranty with the car and it expires soon so now is the time to use it. The dealer had my car all day today and ran into some issues during the repair, so it got to stay the night and I was given the keys to a Seat Tarraco to take home. Pictures from Google to protect the innocent. Also while I'm criticizing the car a bit down below, I'm of course hugely grateful to the dealership for lending me a set of wheels for free, and nice ones at that. And what's funny I met a guy tonight that had it before me. He's also had VW issues and had apparently just returned the Tarraco half an hour before I went to collect it.

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The Tarraco is a three-row family SUV built in Spain using mostly the same bits as my Passat. If you're used to a semi-recent Volkswagen of any sort, this will feel right at home. Everything inside looks and works the same way, except weirdly for the cruise control which is on a little stalk by your left knee instead of on the steering wheel like in a VW. It rides well, is quiet and just does everything as well as you'd expect from a VW group family truckster. Oh and it looks much nicer than a Skoda to me.

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This particular example is a weird spec because it's nicely optioned up with a sliding glass roof, digital drivers display with maps, hands free tailgate opening (why doesn't my car have this???), tri-zone climate and a Webasto heater. Someone ticked all these boxes and then figured that the drivetrain out of a Golf would be good enough. So 1.5 TSI it is. Compared to my 2.0 TDI it's down 40 horsepowers and 150 metric torques. This makes this seven-seat family car go like pee against a headwind, even when I'm alone in the car. Doesn't matter what gear you pick or how much shoe you give it. I don't want to know what it's like with six passengers and luggage trying to overtake a truck on an uphill passing lane. Oh, and this thing is a manual. Nobody buys manuals in this price range anymore, especially not VW group customers, so seeing three pedals and a knob in this thing is weird.

What was jarring at first but nice once I got used to it was that it feels like it has a quicker steering rack than my car. That's probably the Auto Emoción, or whatever Seat's slogan is these days. I will need to check the passat now because the Tarraco needs only slightly more than two turns lock to lock. It's really noticeable both when driving and parking.

And from the "SEAT has to be worse than VW at something" department, this only has keyless entry on the front doors. No touch sensors on the rear door handles. Skoda does the same thing. I haven't popped the bonnet to check if it has a stick or actual gas struts but I wouldn't be surprised.
 
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And from the "SEAT has to be worse than VW at something" department, this only has keyless entry on the front doors. No touch sensors on the rear door handles. Skoda does the same thing. I haven't popped the bonnet to check if it has a stick or actual gas struts but I wouldn't be surprised.

I realized this morning that while the stalks and light switch look exactly the same as in my Passat, they feel just that little bit cheaper to operate. This is brand management on a microsurgical level. I only realized this because I drive a VW every day. Of course, then we have the A3 mild hybrid loaner I had a while back which had stalks that felt like they were out of a British car from the 1970's, so I guess the microsurgery doesn't always work.

Anyway, I got my Passat back around lunchtime today and because someone succeeded in reaching me about my car's extended warranty I only paid the €100 deductible for a brand new mechatronic unit and about two days worth of main dealer diag and repair. It now takes off like it should and the 1-2 upshift is a lot neater as well.

edit: and the difference lock to lock between the Tarraco and the Passat is about 360 degrees on the steering wheel, so half a lap either direction. No wonder the first corner felt a bit jarring since the cars are so similar in most other ways.
 
Crosspost from the "Other random car sightings" thread:

We had a Microlino with us during the Twizy meet and I drove around with it for a few minutes:

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Pro: Way more modern than the Twizy (as that one is by now over a decade old technology), hence it has better range and it scrapes the swiss "light motor vehicle" legislation out to the limit (= max speed 90m/h, and max power of 15kw), it has more comfort (read: heating and windows, + better suspension), and with a regular trunk space you can load 2 persons and a lot of stuff with better access to it, and the trunk space is actually quite impressive for such a tiny thing.

Contra: The front flap entry is utter nonsense, as in bad weather it rains inside half of your car when you open said door, and in parallel parking you need some space infront of you. - The regular car seating arrangement (2 next to eachother) is too tight, it's ok for a few minutes, but for longer you must be in love with your compagnion to tolerate it. - Because you don't sit in the middle it's less fun to drive and lacks the Twizys gocart or jetplane cockpit feeling, and the one-sided weight distribution when you drive alone gives you way less confidence in corners. - Altough it has 4 wheels it's more of a 3 wheeler feel to drive with that ones main problem: You will run over potholes and stuff on the road in any case regardless if you are able to miss the obstacle with your front wheels, the rear ones will hit. = Note to car makers: 3-wheelers don't work and have never worked! It's a bad idea! Give it up already FFS!

Overall:
The shape is leaned on a 1950s bubble car, and this sort of retro styling is cute for 5 minutes but is too much of a compromise for the rest of the cars life. - Plus it looks like a fat frog! LOL - Also (like the Twizy) sadly it's still way too expensive to really start off a microcar trend and to be sold in masses.
 
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Some car magazine needs to put a Twizy up against an Aixam or Ligier whatever, one of those silly diesel moped cars.

I guess it wouldn't be a fair fight since the moped cars are side-by-side and have enclosed cabins with (some kind of) heaters and whatnot, but it would be interesting to compare ride, handling, build quality, longevity and crash safety. The Renault is made by an actual car company that knows how to make cars, while the moped cars aren't. And yes, those are probably Peugeot headlights. And that looks like Peugeot paint as well.

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Crosspost from the "Other random car sightings" thread

Overall: The shape is leaned on a 1950s bubble car, and this sort of retro styling is cute for 5 minutes but is too much of a compromise for the rest of the cars life. - Plus it looks like a fat frog! LOL - Also (like the Twizy) sadly it's still way too expensive to really start off a microcar trend and to be sold in masses.
I still love that goofy thing!
 
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Today has been a year of courtesy cars. Right now I’m driving an Audi A3 30 TFSI while my VW is getting a new clutch pack fitted, not an easy job on a DSG.

30 TFSI is a weird name to me. A name like 2.0 TDI is satisfying to me even though I know it says nothing. It can mean anything from roughly 100hp in a poverty spec Caddy to about 250 in a biturbo Passat, but I still tell myself I know what it means.

“200” on a diesel Mercedes is base or taxi spec. 220 means you spent a bit more. A “200” these days has twice the power of what it had 30 years ago but 200 still means something. It’s a car for a certain pay grade.

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But 30 TFSI, who knows? I didn’t, it says nothing. I now know it’s a one-liter three cylinder, or exactly the same size as a carton of milk. Feels a bit un-audi to me but it does propel the car forward. As for the feel, it’s just an drivetrain. In town there’s a distant random thrum from somewhere in front, while the DSG blends the gears back and forth. When you give it ALL the shoe you can hear it’s a triple but there is never any drama or fun.

The brake pedal is just a dead spring you press that slows the car down. Why has this become a thing?

The dashboard is nice. It’s an Audi after all. All the buttons have a solid and crisp clicky feel to them, the same feel across all buttons, and there are physical controls for most things. Even the light switch, unlike in a current VW. The vents are where they are supposed to be, which is to say they’re not down by your right knee blowing frigid air on it all summer long.

For some reason the volume control is an iPod-style solid state wheel next to the gear selector. Why this can’t be a knob next to the screen i’ve no idea.

The hvac controls are on rocker switches under the display. For some reason they’re unlit so you can’t see them in the dark. It’s easy enough once you know they’re there because there is a display above them that shows what they all do, but it was confusing at first, in the dark.

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The transmission has no manual mode, as far as I can tell. It has nice shift paddles but it goes back to auto after a few short seconds. My VW does the same but you can flick the gear lever over to manual mode to keep that from happening.

The seats (or the entire car, really) are either way too small, or i’m too big. I suspect the latter. There are shorter people in the world that probably would love this car but I would like to put it in a copier set to 150%. I guess that would make it an A6, which they already make, so I’ll just go ahead and say this isn’t a car for me.

Again, mega thanks to the dealer for the free loaner.
 
So I just put some 500km behind the wheel of a Toyota ProAce.

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What’s a ProAce? It’s a van. It’s the successor to the HiAce, which for the longest time was the default choice if you wanted a durable workhorse. For good reason, too. However, the only places where it was the default choice was in Norway and Finland. Nobody else in Europe bought them in any meaningful numbers. This is why one of the largest car makers in the world decided it didn’t make sense to develop a new one to replace it. Instead, they bought one from PSA. Or American LeylStellantis, as they're known nowadays.

I have a bad habit of reading comments under car ads on Facebook and every time there’s a ProAce ad there’s a middle-aged man in the comments saying that it’s ”Citroën junk”. It’s also Peugeot, Opel and Vauxhall junk, but it seems like Toyota fans find ”Citroën” to be the most derogatory sounding of the Stellantis brands. The HiAce drivers really want their outdated junk back.

So, the car then. The base model is a fleet spec product that probably doesn’t come with anything that isn’t mandated by law. This is not that. It’s the one the business owner buys to drive home at the end of the day. It has an 180hp engine mated to an 8 speed auto, keyless entry and start, satnav, bluetooth, dual zone climate control, parking radar and camera, automatic xenon lights, blind spot monitoring, auto folding mirrors, chrome bits on the exterior, and probably some other things I forget. There are also cup holders on top of the dash, one on each side. These are really great for holding a big travel mug. It also has windows in the split rear doors, AND rear wipers. I've no idea why, because the only thing you see when looking in the mirror is the center headrest and the pillar between the rear windows. As in any van you need to learn to use the door mirrors.

So, it turns out it’s rather good at covering distances. Unlike base models (any make and model) that run out of puff on the freeway, this has no problems doing battle in the left lane for a couple hours straight without ever feeling stressed. Steering is a two-handed affair if there’s a crosswind, and that’s just as well because the right side armrest certainly isn’t anywhere near where your elbow is, so one of the more comfortable things you can do with your right arm is to keep it stretched out holding the wheel. Other than that, the drivers seat is surprisingly comfortable, even for longer distances.

It’s also very good at urban driving. The 8 speed blends the gears together very nicely and because there are so many of them, you're always humming along at around 1500rpm with plenty of torque on tap. This is how van driving should be. It’s a proper auto with a torque converter so unlike a certain Volkswagen in my avatar, takeoff is smooth every time. It obviously has start/stop because everything has, but it’s the best kind where the alternator acts as a starter and kicks the engine into life quickly and smoothly instead of relying on the starter motor every time. You can tell they put some effort into the start/stop system instead of just doing the bare minimum to pass regulations. I don’t want to know how much a replacement alternator is, though.

There’s a lot going on behind the steering wheel - flappy paddles which probably are more for towing and less for spordy driving. The paddles are even on the column instead of behind the wheel, which means it’s easy to grab second even if you’re turning in an intersection, because the paddle stays where it is. The cruise control is on a pod at 8 o’clock. Then there are the two normal stalks that go up and down and twist etc. The only things the driver can see are the tips of the two gearchange paddles. Everything else is covered by the steering wheel spokes so you have to learn to do it by feel. This is alright for the cruise control, but it’s annoying when you can’t see if the light switch is in Auto or Off.

What this particular example doesn’t have is adaptive cruise control. Yes I know I keep going on and on about this but it’s just such a no-brainer when you’ve gotten used to it. Long distance driving in Finland is usually done on 1+1 highways with passing opportunities few and far between, and even if the speed limit is 100km/h you’re usually stuck behind a truck, a caravan or a Nissan Qashqai. Not having to fiddle with the cruise control all the time takes a lot of frustration away.

Normal car engineers:

Webasto heaters are good for comfort AND for making sure the diesel engine starts nicely when it’s -32 degrees C. Let’s install one.

Peugeot engineers:

Better invent an “energy economy mode” that blocks the webasto when voltage is a bit low. Nobody in their right mind would want to use the webasto when it’s cold anyway. Right?
 
Another month, another courtesy car.

I had my VW in for emergency repair when the AdBlue system died in the arctic cold spell we had early January. This is when my car decided it would be funny to wait a couple of weeks before telling me it needs its yearly service. No drama, just an oil change and four filters and a stamp in the electronic service book. So back to the garage it goes. My employer has a garage which I obviously want to use, but it's half an hour out of town which means I left the car with them on Friday after work so they'll have it waiting for them on monday. I will pick it up after work that day. I'm now driving the courtesy car which isn't a Yaris anymore, it's a Kia Ceed PHEV.

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I've put maybe an hour behind the wheel so far.

+ Electric drive is capable of turning even a DCT into a decent gearbox. I'm tired of the way my Passat slips the clutch, hesitates and generally makes a mess of everything that isn't calm, normal upshifts during sedate linear acceleration. The electric motor takes care of things and keeps the car moving while the DCT is busy drooling and trying to jam a square peg in a round hole for the umpteenth time within five minutes. Makes it feel like the car has a real automatic transmission.

+ Everything is well screwed together and logically laid out. There are buttons for most things even if some of them are touch, like the row under the touchscreen where you select between setup, phone, nav, radio etc. The HVAC has proper knobs and buttons as well. The only annoyance I've found so far is the lane keep assist which, like in my VW, goes bonkers and tugs the steering wheel back and forth when the road markings come and go, like they do in winter. It was buried deep in some menu behind tabs and long-presses but at least it seem to stay the hell off now that I turned it the hell off.

+ The charging port is next to the drivers door where it belongs.

+ The infotainment system is snappy and generally well laid out. There are built in background sounds like log fire, waves, forest etc. This is useless but funny.

+ It has a normal shift lever. This isn't a given these days.

+ It has proper, nicely made, tactile steering wheel buttons, not touch crap.

+- I realize this isn't a Passat competitor (that's what the Optima is for), but I thought I would touch it. The drivers seat is nowhere near as comfortable. With it set to my driving position, the rear seat behind me is also not usable for anything other than a laptop bag. On the plus side, I can reach said bag while driving. This is a faff in the Passat because it actually has room for four adults inside. This means you can't quite reach a laptop bag that's resting against the rear backrest. This is something I do on a regular basis, for example to get my sunglasses out. Poor planning on my part? Yes.

- Apparently its only heat source is the piston engine which means that the engine starts and stops even when driving in EV mode. For some reason it likes to kick the ICE into life when reversing.

- It has a sharp and annoying screw hole on the back of the steering wheel spokes where shifting paddles usually are. The paddles in the Passat have become my fidget spinner so I'm constantly finding the holes with my fingertips. If this isn't a first world problem I don't know what is.

- Like the Toyotas I've driven, the cruise control in the Kia follows too closely for my liking. If it's wet and you're following a truck, you're in its spray the whole time. This is one thing VW got right. I use ACC all the time so this is a big deal.

- When you're in EV mode and suddenly gun it, it kicks the piston engine into life like it's been stung by a bee. Poor thing.

edit:

- One of the new hallmarks of cost cutting is putting keyless entry on the front door handles only. My Passat has it on all four doors. The Kia doesn’t. Neither does Skoda or Seat. I haven’t checked if it has a stick instead of gas struts for the bonnet.
 
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Addendum:

The reversing camera is exposed and doesn't have cleaning of any kind. Ten minutes in salty zero-degree weather and it's useless. My car doesn't have camera cleaning either but it's hidden behind the VW badge until you engage reverse. I last cleaned it around 20,000km ago and the picture is still clear now.

Running around town, it seems to return fuel mileage roughly the same as its diesel competitors even when running in EV mode (6L/100km) because it cycles the piston engine on and off all the time to maintain cabin heat. This thing badly needs a heat pump. Obviously, with the tax system in Finland you're already ahead because the road tax is many hundreds less on a PHEV than on a diesel.
 
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