Our "own" car reviews

Eye-Q

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Hamburg, Autobahnland
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None anymore...
My god it's ugly from behind, that astonishes me every time I see one of those - how can a designer put out such a design, a board of deciders say "yes, that's good looking" and people actually like/buy such an abomination?
 

Lastsoul

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Jul 9, 2005
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Finland
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MX5, 406 Coup?, 106 Rallye, Porsche 924, X300 Six
It's growing on me. I'm not sure why, but I want to like it more and I generally dislike Audis.

And hey, by any standards it's a beauty compared to 5-series GT.
 

AiR

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Suecia
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Bulgogi Knedliky 1.6 GDI (Hyundai i30)
The arse is beautiful.
 

NooDle

Ik ben niet alleen lekker met kaas!
Joined
Jul 20, 2005
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9,652
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Belgium
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VW eGolf, Hyundai Kona 1.0
With the A7 in Norway the entry model is actually the 2.8 V6. An equivalent TDI costs more than 100k NOK more. :blink:
That is insane. In diesel loving Belgium, you can have a 2.8 petrol for 50k, and a 3.0 TDI for 53k?
99% of people would get the diesel, since the stuff costs 30ish % less than petrol, and uses lots less fuel too.

And I agree, that arse is one of the best looking ones on the market today. I especially like the LED brakelights.
 

watto

Unloved and lacking a title
Joined
Jun 13, 2005
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6,003
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Melbourne, Australia
Car(s)
2013 Holden Cruze SRi Series 2
I've got this Saturday in a Ford G6E(So Hertz tells me, that "Or Similar" clause could catch me out...).

Will be a mixture of highway, country and twisty roads... About 500km over the day, should give me a bit of basis to chuck something up here on Sunday... Wanted to grab a V8 Caprice from Avis but they have a 150km/day limit on "prestige" models. Booooooooooooo.
 

AiR

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Suecia
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Bulgogi Knedliky 1.6 GDI (Hyundai i30)
That is insane.
It's Norway, an average GDP of $84500 per person and year means everything is expensive. Cars in particular as they have no domestic auto production to protect. There is worse, there's Denmark.
 

MXM

I paid for this title
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In the last few days I had a strong desire to replace my E34 with a W126 merc. I'm not a wordsmith, but let me try and explain my motivation.

I bought the E34 when I was in a desperate need for any car that works and works reliably. I bought it because it satisfied the needs, not because I wanted E34. And now I'm getting tired of it, because it's not focused enough. It's too slow and soft to be sporty, and it's too hard and badly equipped to be a cruiser. It has "compromise" written all over it.

What I ideally want in a car is not some specific feature, it's not the sportiness or comfort or practicality, it's overall experience. With my Caterham it's far more than light weight and handling. It's the concept itself, the history of the car, and even the fact that I've bolted most parts to this car myself. Part of the appeal is even the impracticality of the thing, the bucket seats, the strapping in procedure, the need to use ear protection and special shoes. It sets the mood right, reminds you it's not just transportation. I love it for its drawbacks and I love it for its strengths.

W126, although in a very different way is also quite focused. It was always the S-merc in my view. It has a whiff of classic Mercedes, but new enough to have reliable, daily-usable tech. Of course, this a car has to be equipped with as much toys as possible: power everything, leather, A/C, slushbox, etc. What I expect is the Mercedes luxury experience (of 20 years back :p). Something completely opposite to the 7, but I hope you see what I mean. I was in the W126 search-mode for 3 days now, before I finally decided to go and test drive one. Not as a potential purchase but as a taste of W126.

This is the car I located nearby. A 300SE, 1988, powered and heated leather seats (although Jupix tells me it's not real leather?), but manual windows, mirrors and no A/C. So not good for me, but it has just the right engine (M103) and was advertised as being in excellent condition.



Well.. It's not rusty, I give you that. But it's not excellent. The windshield has a crack, some quick fixes in various spots, and a pretty large dent in the right rear door:



It's very obvious IRL, not on the picture. Inside it was OK, but still visibly worn in few places



It did have an A/C button on the dash, but.. there was no compressor under the hood. Weird :)



A typical finnish salesman car in "excellent condition" then... But anyway, I came here for a test drive, not to buy it, so I got the keys and set on. My first impression after settling in is not great. The car feels old, not classic and not very luxury either. The seat is just terrible... I almost forgot how water-bed like the old Merc seats are, but this was ridiculous. I was almost tipping over to the sides, it was so soft. If they are all like that, I would be very very disappointed. I expected little lateral support in a car, but come on, this is supposed to be like a couch, not like a rocking chair!

The 3L engine is great for this car. It's not exceedingly powerful, but it still makes the acceleration feel effortless, which is just what I was looking for. All the bigger engines are V8s, which would introduce other problems, like higher consumption, taxes, insurance, service costs, so the big I6 is optimal. I liked it, which I wouldn't say about the transmission. I can't say if it's the problem of this one, or my general dislike of automatics, but it doesn't make you feel like you're in control. The hesitation after pressing the throttle is just a bit too long, I find myself anticipating this effect and trying to correct it, which is not relaxing, and not what I want. Throttle response is in fact one of my biggest vices with the E34 (on low revs) and it is just so much more pronounced in this W126 with this auto box. It's a shame, I can't imagine this car with a manual, it's just wrong. Doesn't fit my ideal scenario.

What can I say about it overall... The car certainly left me a bit disappointed. It doesn't drive like I imagined, nor does it feel like I imagined. It feels old instead of classic, and heavy instead of luxurious. And that seat is just such an annoyance, it ruins the whatever remaining handling feel of the car. I would probably enjoy being driven in this car far more than driving it.

The impression I got from this car, is very similar to the one when I test drove the W124 just before switching to BMW. I'm willing to accept that both that and this car were not the prime examples, but I'm afraid the overall feel of the car will not be dramatically different even in a good W126. It's a shame. I like the way it looks inside and out, and I really wanted to like it, but it seems I can't accept the drawbacks of the overly soft feel and lazy box.

I'm switching my focus back to E28 now. It's a car I like for very different reasons, but it's also a car which I haven't yet driven. Handling requirements will be way higher, and if that disappoints me... then I just don't know. Maybe another E34 (ugh) with much higher specs, or maybe a 190E (not giving up on Mercs entirely yet). And when everything else fails, there's always E30...

Oh, and in the middle of the test drive I ran out of gas. The fuel light was not on until I did :) Even after refilling it took like 10 minutes before the car ran somewhat smoothly, it kept stalling all the time. I'm afraid the fuel system is not all fine, or it's full of dirt.
 

Lastsoul

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Excellent review and I really agree what you said about car being focused. The thing I like about BMWs normally is that they know how to make a comfortable car, but still give you some idea about what's happening. They know what information should be filtered out and what is necessary for the driver in a comfy car.

Mercs I've driven have so far left me feeling terrified because the lack of feel makes me worried about what's happening and is the car going to make the next turn at all.
 

MacGuffin

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Excellent review and I really agree what you said about car being focused. The thing I like about BMWs normally is that they know how to make a comfortable car, but still give you some idea about what's happening. They know what information should be filtered out and what is necessary for the driver in a comfy car.

Mercs I've driven have so far left me feeling terrified because the lack of feel makes me worried about what's happening and is the car going to make the next turn at all.
You cannot have driven any of the more current Mercs then (although I agree with you somewhat concerning the current and previous E-Class).

The current E-Class Coup?, however, is something I prefer over the BMW 3-series. And the current S-Class with the Active Body Control is in a league of its own. It even filters out crosswinds.
 
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Jupix

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Jupix tells me it's not real leather?
Yes, it's MB-Tex, a kind of Vinyl used by Mercedes to imitate real leather seats for less money.

Sadly, I fear you may have stumbled on a lemon. Well, not stumbled. Because it's very difficult to find a W126 that's been properly taken care of in the sub-5000 euro price range, so it's almost a certainty that stuff on it will be broken.

A W126 that has been properly maintained will feel tight, silent, comfortable, predictable, smooth and trustworthy. Nothing on it will be broken or function in a way that's below your expectations. It was the best Mercedes ever when it was made and I don't think the Mercedes of the 1980s is known for making crap cars.

I suggest you save the decision of whether you want a W126 for when you drive an example that functions properly. Look for one in the 7-10 grand price range if that's what it takes. And a V8 model if that's what it takes. But test drive one that is in better condition, or admit that it's the car you drove that sucks, not the W126 as a model.

Also, like I said earlier, the car you drove featured one of the oldest and most basic seats you could get. The only thing worse would be fabric. To improve that part of the experience you should look for a 89-> model with the facelifted interior (better seats) and preferably the orthopaedic package specced. It's also likely that the seat in the car you drove was collapsed.

Merc seats aren't the best money can buy (I hear SAAB seats are better for example) but the seats in my sec are miles better than the ones in my mom's W201.

You might wanna drive up here and have a go in my sec, it's got both the facelift seats and orthopaedic package.
 
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Jupix

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In addition to the adjustable lumbar support, the orthopaedic seats are shaped differently to the ordinary ones. Though it wears, that more supportive shape does not break.
 

Lastsoul

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You cannot have driven any of the more current Mercs then (although I agree with you somewhat concerning the current and previous E-Class).

The current E-Class Coup?, however, is something I prefer over the BMW 3-series. And the current S-Class with the Active Body Control is in a league of its own. It even filters out crosswinds.
I've driven W211 E320 CDI T Avantgarde and pre-facelift W204 C200K. E-class had about 190 000km and while it looked good, I'm not so sure if it had been taken good care of. There was no sign of abuse, but I have to admit that I don't want to make my opinion about W211 based on that car. The main problem I had, as with the C-class later, was the steering.

The W204 was a '09 demonstrator at local Merc shop with around 3000km on the odo so that should have given pretty good experience. It just left me totally cold. It wasn't good to drive nor was it comfortable enough to be allowed to feel distant to drive. Especially on the highway I noticed I had to constantly concentrate on the steering. It certainly kept going straight, but with such a lightly self centering steering I found it hard to trust the car. And If I've to constantly think about steerint the car, it certainly can't be a relaxing to drive, which is something I'd imagine Merc is supposed to be. I'm sure I'm gonna get raped by this comment: my 406 with 300k km feels way more secure at speed than that C-class did.

I drove similarly specced E90 320i couple of days later and it felt like driving ten years newer car. If the C-class felt like it had a suspension just to attach the wheels and absorb some bumps, then the 3er felt like now the engineers had found ways to use the suspension as a device to make the car handle. Steering was precise with natural feel. If I closed my eyes I still knew the car was going straight, if the road went kaboom and car moved a bit to the left, I felt it. Engine pulled smoothly to 7000rpm unlike the Merc engine with lots of torque but a bit harsh nature on the higher revs etc. As always, both cars would give much better impression with proper spec: power everything, fine leather and decent engine, but this is Finland: 16" alloys, fabric seats, power-windows only and 4-cyl engine, so I've to review the car with these specs. The E-class was loaded because I drove it in Germany.

Sorry if my comments sound so negative, but the thing is, I'd love to like Mercs. I have a huge respect for the company: all the history, inventions, utterly amazing models from 50s and 60s, bulletproof reputation of W123, W124 and W126 etc. I even love the looks of the current E-class sedan and adore the coupe. And by far the most comfortable ride I've ever gotten was in a W221 S-class. And I spent one year in Stuttgart so of course I'd like to be a bit proud of the stuff they make there. Well, Porsche certainly makes themselves easy to be proud of with things like 911 RS 4.0... :)

I know I need more experience, maybe a week with a solid car to get used to the steering which is my main concern. Maybe if I get used to that I'll start to appreciate the rest of the package, which I know I'll like. The problem only is that on the seat of a BMW (which I've never owned or driven regularly) I feel almost immediately at home, so I don't feel any need to get used to Merc. But I'll promise I'll try :)
 

public

Has been known to shou emousshiöns
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Causticity
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S203 M271 and a ton of crap
I went to look at a 1986 Porsche 944 yesterday. Advertised for 7900 euro, it looked pretty clean and well-kept in the dealer pictures. It wasn't.

Well, it was clean as they had buffed and polished the paint well; the interior was also very clean. Looking at the car, I could see a soft dent in the hood, along with some bubbles in the passenger side front wing's bottom. The car had been resprayed at some point, it was done well as I could only tell from a seal under the tanklid that had red overspray on it. The edges of the sunroof had some micro bubbles under it; the windshield was scraped due to a dodgy wiper at some point and the lower edge of the screen had no plastic trim to cover it. Little things... The tires, while on very pretty and wide BBS gold crosspokes, were the cheapest variety and mismatched. They had a lot of tire dressing on them, but were still Tigar in the front and Roadstone in the back.

I got handed the keys and was told "You have to lift the door a bit when opening it, it won't open properly otherwise." Sure. I sat in and closed the door; the door closed with a resonating clank like there were marbles inside it. The car started up fine, but had a weird uneven idle despite having been driven earlier today, since it was outside. All the gauges' dials hunted a bit. I'm thinking whoever had done the cambelt job (recently) hadn't timed the balancer shafts correctly; the engine felt off the cue all the time. I pulled out of the spot carefully, and noticed the steering was ridiculously heavy and the front tires chafed. Crap. According to MXM, these are a pain in the ass with the power steering out of order.

Negotiating the traffic so I could get to the highway, the car felt like complete ass. Everything seemed to be clunky, loose and rub together; everything resonated and felt badly screwed together (probably like some of the later owners of the car, hur hur). The gearchange was loose and unconvincing (MXM tells me it's a 944 trait due to the rear-mounted gearbox). I'm quite sure a good 944 shouldn't feel like this, I was expecting Audi 100 C3 levels of well-executed solidity. Of course, a sports car should have a level of uncomfort, to have some edge to it, but this just felt like it had been in pieces and somebody had skipped the instructions. The odometer also seemed to be jammed at 175k and change, the ad for the car had a guesstimate of 197 000. Great. The logbook also run out of markings in 1988, even if there were a bunch of receipts in the folder, along with the import documents from 2008.

In the end I just drove it for a couple of minutes on the highway, turned back and returned the car. It felt a little bit like the Pontiac; but unlike that, it wasn't going to break down on me. I just wanted my hands off the Porsche as it was such a mongrel that it would suck off all the want I have for 944:s, and I wouldn't want that. (It's good I didn't drive the DeLorean, this is probably how it would have felt.)

Before driving the car, I had had the dealer look at the Sapporo. "Rust-free, has working A/C, two new sets of tires on alloys", I told him and after talking to a colleaque I was offered 2500 euro as a trade-in for the Porsche. Great deal in the sense that it would count for all the fixes I've had done on it, but since the 944 was so obviously overpriced for what it was, that counts for nothing. Seriously, the 2.8 Camaro that felt Soviet-built felt more solid than this. I politely said "I'll have to think about it" and left. No lie, it will take a couple of good examples to get this shed off my mind.
 

Hbriz

Ballroom Blitz
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Jun 25, 2009
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Wollongong, Australia
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'07 Megane dCi
We finally had some nice weather today, and I had nothing to do, so I decided to hit the local typical dodgy used car dealers to have a geeze. This is going to be long, so bear with me.

There's something quite intriguing about these places. Most of them look like they haven't changed anything, including their inventory, since the mid-90s. They reek of a bygone era, a time when you were allowed to smoke indoors and men wore excessive amounts of cheap cologne. Used car dealers such as these are the only place where timber wall panelling and shag pile carpet is still in fashion. After five minutes there, you'll be spending weeks trying to get the smell of dashboard polish off your skin.

The first yard I visited, however, did not have the typically dodgy vibe that usually radiates from these places. Instantly one car caught my eye - a 1993 Holden Commodore. There was nothing special about it at all. It was the basic Executive model, and it was white. It sat on steel wheels with their original plastic covers, the first clue as to why this car was truly impressive.



The sticker on the windscreen was also indicative. One owner. I have never seen a cleaner VR Commodore. Every panel was straight, with the exception of a small dent on the roof where a tree branch may have fell on it by the looks of it. The white paint still gleamed after 18 years of service, and the interior was similarly impressive. Not a mark within it. The only issue was that the interior door handles had yellowed from their early 90s light grey. It done 220,000km with it's only owner, being serviced on time every time by the local Holden dealer. The 3800 engine ran smoothly, too. This one was only $3000, which, considering the condition, was quite a bargain.

Certainly more of a bargain than the green EB Falcon GLi (with ABS!) sitting on the same lot (you can see it behind the Commodore in the photo). This one was a 1992 model, and had done 190,000km. I wasn't impressed. Where the Commodore was flawless, the Falcon was covered in scratches and some more serious dents, the exposed metal of some beginning to rust. The plastic wheel covers were kerbed in places and yellowed. Inside, the carpet had staining unseen in the Commodore, and the lid of the centre console was missing. I normally like the old fashioned honesty of the EA/EB/ED Falcon, but this one had lived a hard life. Where the Commodore was pampered, the Falcon was beaten, and it showed.

One of the surprises of the day was also found here. A 1996 Nissan Maxima 3.0 V6 with 220,000km on the clock. For $5,000, it was very well equipped, and the interior was a nice place to sit despite the fake wood, and it had stood the test of time well. Again, not as impressive was another Falcon. A gold coloured 2000 AU Forte, the fleet special base model, with a bullbar and 180,000km. It wasn't a bad car at all. Certainly it presented itself well. What didn't was the price -$5000 for an AU Mk1 Forte. In beige. With a bullbar. No thanks.

If cheap was what you were after, for $1500 you could take home a 1997 Mitsubishi Magna Altera LS V6 automatic. With 260,000km and paint that appeared to be exposed to the violent anger of one thousand suns, it wasn't a good looking car. The interior smelt of god knows what, and somehow the plastic interior trim had gone from black to orange in places. While the price was excellent, the car wasn't.

Saying goodbye to my new mate John, I moved on to the next dealer on this strip. Immediately that used car vibe was back. From outside the gates, you could tell this was a place that applied the dashboard polish with a trowel. I mentally prepared myself for the greasy, brown-suited man who would inevitably come and tell me about the amazing features of a Daewoo Nubira wagon sitting out the front. First impressions were not good. Everything was hideously overpriced. A Commodore in worse condition than the one I saw earlier had $6995 on the window, and a $9000 E36 318i were immediately obvious rip offs. Up the back, I found this lots bargain basement. Three cars lined up, each suiting my brief for the day. An EF Fairmont wagon, another similar Commodore, and an EL Falcon sedan. The Commodore was first off the list. For $2000, this car was falling apart. The Fairmont, while providing a nice nostalgic feel of the Falcon wagon my parents used to own, was a stupidly expensive $5000. The third car, a 1998 Falcon GLi, struck a chord. 330,000km and $3000. The dealer seemed eager to do a deal on this one. "As traded" was the term he coined for the missing interior trim and saggy uphoulstery. When I alerted him that the drivers seat would not slide back or forwards, he promised to "look into it" for me. As it stood, a beaten EL with a seat stuck in the too-short position was not ideal, so I moved on.

And oh deary, deary me. The next place was immediately apparent as just about the dodgiest operation this side of the NSW police force in the 1970s. This lot would not look out of place as the setting for a crime TV show. Sitting out the front was a Ford Probe, the first one I've seen in years, with a hideous body kit. Moving right along, I saw something that may be of interest to a certain Finnish FGer.



This Magna had only travelled 120,000km, apparently. If that was true I will eat its windscreen wipers. If it were true, it must have belonged to a tribe of overexcited chimpanzees, as the interior was falling to pieces. The fact that the dealer didn't seem to bother to clean it at all didn't help. There were crumbs of questionable origin in every crack and orifice. Regardless of the price, and the blue velour seats that were perhaps too comfortable, this car is nothing that would make a Sapporo the slightest bit jealous.

I couldn't help but notice the R33 Skyline sitting next to it.



For $7000, it was worth a look. And a look is all it will get. The chavtastic Skyline probably belonged to a drug dealer with a penchant for stickers advertising audio systems, as he had put several in different places in the interior. This grey import automatic also featured lovely alloy-look pedal covers, chrome windscreen wipers and chrome eyelids on the headlights. If you like things that scream dodgy, this R33 is for you.

The Skyline and the Probe were not the only carbage on the lot. A Vectra B had been badge-carbaged with whatever the owners could find, including an RS badge off a Focus and several of those ridiculous transformer badges. It also smelt like it had spent most of its life in a lake. I couldn't get out of there quickly enough, it felt like I was probably being watched by detectives in surrounding tall buildings.

Despite their doubtable credibility, I love these used car lots. If you want to get to the underbelly of a town, to experience the true grittiness and sleazyness of a city, there is no better place to visit. Plus, if you miss the 90s, the untouched historical feel of these places does bring on a certain nostalgia.
 
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