It seems to me that to a point, we're going backwards. All sorts of wasted knowledge and experience in our heads not made public unless someone happens to ask the right question. Doing a search in titles for 'Review' in Motors comes up with a horribly low number of threads.
So, for those of you who are budding Clarksons, I suggest that we set up a thread, coincidently, this thread, to write about the cars that you've had experience with. Either ones you own, or you rented for a week on holiday, or just borrowed from the father-in-law when your own car was in the shop.
I'll kick off with two I posted on another forum, and add a couple to bump over time.
So, to start off.. a Toyota.
So here I am, in Reno. There's strange white stuff all over the ground here. Bizarre. Oh well.
Renting from Alamo. Booked a mid-size, the example given was a Pontiac G6. I pay no attention to the key I'm given, but am told the car is parked in stall "K2"
Over I go. The car in the stall seems kindof small, so I check the sign. K2. I get closer.
"You've got to be kidding"
It's a Prius. Sure enough, the key fob says 'Toyota'. Oh well. Throw the bags in the back seat, and in I get.
For a smallish car, it's relatively efficient with space. Even with the driver's seat all the way back, there's plenty of room for back-seat passengers. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of there being no room for the driver. Last car I drove which was this cramped was a Fiesta. Nothing for it, but to lean the seat-back back a bit, to provide arm length. I had a try at raising the steering wheel, but it turned out to have been in the highest position. I can only assume it is designed to be easily driven by particularly short women, and tall men were not expected to drive this vehicle. Boot space looked promising initially, until closer investigation revealed the floor to be some 5" higher than it needed to be, as near as I can tell. There's a gap under the floor, between it and the tools for the spare tyre, and I think the spare tyre is under the tools. And I believe it's not a full-size either. My convertible has more boot space than this thing. I'm sure you could theoretically slide stuff under the false floor, but I've not found a practical way of doing it yet (Particularly if it slides around when in motion). Seems to be an ample amount of storage compartments, and four cupholders.
For the first time in a car, I was befuddled. The key was absolutely tiny, and I couldn't find the socket to put it into. There was, however, a large rectangular slot which I figured out the key fob itself fits into. I guess the small conventional key is an emergency backup, but there's no manual in the car. So, put it in, and realise that it can't be turned.
OK. I've seen cars like the S2000 with an 'Ignition' or 'Start' button. It's not on the centre console, nowhere near the key slot... Hmm. There's one here labelled 'Power'. I push that once. A few lights come on, but there's no obvious effect otherwise. Light blinks. I push it again, and the 'Power' light stops blinking, more lights come on, and I think the car's started. Absolutely quiet. Engine may not even be on. The dashboard is a bizarre LED thing about two feet behind the steering wheel. In order to make it readable, it appears to have a magnifying lens placed in front of it, which isn't perfectly focused and frankly, looks weird.
Next thing to do is to plug in my GPS. Try to find the cigarette lighter. It doesn't appear to be in any of the normal places. Then it hits me: The Prius doesn't have a cigarette lighter. Obviously anyone who buys a Prius is not going to be someone who would pollute themselves or the environment with cigarette smoke. Who'd need a cigarette lighter? I did, eventually, find a single socket (sans lighter) mounted forward under the dais on the passenger side, but really, you need more than one.
I note that the driver's mirror is folded in the 'parked' position. Being unable to find the 'unfold' button, I figured it was probably automatic, and would unfold once I got going. So, put it in gear.
That's the gearstick? That little knob with about an inch of movement way up on the dash? Push it into "R" and it immediately popped back out. Try again, with the same result. Eventually I notice that about a meter in front of me, the "R" light has lit up and stayed lit up. Apply accelerator, and... hooray! We're moving. Wing mirror's staying folded in though, maybe it unfolds when going forwards? Look in rear view mirror.... OK. What genius decided that putting a horizontal bar/spoiler right in the middle of your field of vision was a good idea? The rear window is huge, but because of the angle and this spoiler, you can see squat out of it. I turn on the display screen to see the power transfer between battery, motor, engine, and wheels.
Move that pathetic little knob into "D", and it pops out again. I'm starting to figure it out now, though, so forwards I go with more confidence that the car will do what I want it to. Wing mirror is still folded in, though. Then it hits me. It's not an automatic wing mirror. I roll down the window in the sub-freezing temperature, and push the mirror into position.
This should have been a warning to me that not all is high-speed and modern in this car. Four miles later, a guy flashing his lights at me at an intersection informs me that there's no automatic light sensor to turn on the headlights. My two-year-old Audi has one. Heck, my six-year-old Chevrolet has one. Any car I've rented in the last few years has had one. What's with Toyota? Granted, I had thought it seemed rather dark out there, but I had written that off to being blinded by the insanely bright (Even at min brightness) screen showing the power transfers. I eventually turned it off.
As I was going, I had a brief sample of the road-going abilities. Do not buy a Prius if you like acceleration. I know the Hybrid Civic does 0-60 faster than the regular Civic, but Prius' acceleration is... well, frankly, it seems lethargic. (I've just googled the times, and it seems lethargic because, well, it is lethargic). Do not overtake trucks on two-lane-roads without plenty of breathing space, trust me. I also find the lack of a rev counter to be annoying. Granted, it's of slightly less utility with a hybrid, but in any circumstances that I'm particularly interested in the revs, I'll have the hammer down and the engine running anyway.
Engine noise at low/slow speed is astonishingly low, but sadly, I wish I could say the same about the road noise. Even cruising at 30mph seems to be about as loud inside the car as a conventional car. At freeway speeds, the engine roars along, so there's obviously no benefit there.
I'm driving 90 minutes each way tomorrow, I should get a good feel for the car's abilities on a cruise. I'll let you know, but so far, I hate this car, and have seen nothing to recommend it. (Yes, I know about the fuel consumption, but other Hybrids and diesels aren't far off it)
Well, after another four hours behind the wheel, mainly cruising at 60mph or better, I can say that the Prius has not grown on me at all.
I will give it credit for being apparently well built. I heard nary a rattle nor a squeak out of the furnishings. We're not talking Audi luxury here, but what they have provided appears to be put together properly, everything seems to fit, no mis-aligned or loose panels or any such thing.
That, however, is all the credit I'm going to give it.
Allow me to list some items which are wrong with this car:
The bumpers are wrong, the headlights are wrong, the engine is wrong, the dash is wrong, the ignition system is wrong, the steering wheel is wrong, the seats are wrong, the cupholders a wrong, the electrics are wrong, the electronics are wrong, the roadwheels are wrong, the transmission is wrong, the roof is wrong, the boot is wrong, and I'm not too keen on the tail-lights.
I don't like it. And I doubt it would make a jump over an open drawbridge to make me like it.
Road noise remained higher than I would have expected, but those small little wheels and the odd suspension system which somehow combines roll with non-pliance magnifies every bump on the road. The cupholders, whatever they're designed to hold, are not designed to hold the average McDonald's cup or soft drink can. The way there's a small jolt when the transmission goes from petrol to electric to regenerative drive, which it does often, is also annoying. Also susprising was the lack of a 3.5mm jack in the radio, I was pretty sure that sort of thing was standard these days, particularly amongst small Japanese cars. I mean, hell, the Toyota Aygo has one.
As much of my journey was on two-lane road, travelled by HGVs, there was opportunity to truly analyse the mind-blowing power of this vehicle. Fortunately, the roads in Nevada tend to be long and straight, so I could see oncoming traffic a long way off. There's much wailing and screaming from the engine, it revs to a good high rate, I guess, but ultimately, it's a 4-banger trying to move a ton vehicle. Even with the boost from the electric motor helping it out, acceleration is poor, whilst that 18-wheeler is long.
The seat didn't get any more comfortable either. If I'm in a particularly small car, I like to be able to move my legs around a little bit for circulation. Except my knee bashes against the gear selector if I try to lift it up. I also was not amused when, in the parking lot, the ignition system decided to go on strike. The vehicle simply refused to release the parking brake or go into gear, while the LED on the power button glowed a warning red. It is entirely possible there's a simple reason for this, and that it's in the manual, but it certainly isn't intuitive, with no indicators to say if even the engine has decided to turn over, or that there is any other problem. All you know is that the car won't move. I ended up resorting to randomly pushing buttons and moving levers before the thing decided to comply. It did it again to me when I filled up on gas before turning it in. On the intuitive note, this is also the only car so far in which I have been unable to get the cruise control or rear window wipers to work. It's probably simple and in the manual, but it's not obvious.
If you're, oh, six foot tall or shorter, and you're looking for a good short-range runabout, you can probably do a lot worse. You could probably do better as well, but anyway. Even at that, you would not want it to be your exclusive car, unless you have no idea what a proper car is like and don't know any better for long-distance rides.
2008 Fiat Panda.
I'm not ordinarily a huge fan of small cars. At 6'5 (As near to 2m as makes no difference, to European types, since this is a Euro-specific car) I have encountered a couple into which I physically cannot fit behind the driver's seat. Thus that was strike 1 against the Panda when I discovered that was the vehicle I would be getting at the rental place. Strike 2 was that I hadn't had the most awe-inspiring experience renting out an earlier version of the thing a number of years ago. Not that it was a particularly bad car, it seemed to do what it said on the tin, but it was not well suited for my frame, driving it was not a particular pleasure (Particularly gear shifts, that I can recall), and it was definitely short on some creature comforts such as door panelling. Just pure metal. Granted, the Ferrari F40 doesn't have interior panelling either, but at least that's a car designed to be as light and fast as possible. Can't quite say that for the Panda. But I digress.
In the back of my mind, though, was the repeated commentary by the Top Gear lads that the Panda is a recommended car. (James May even owns one). Hmm.
So, first impressions were mediocre. It's by no means a pretty car, but neither does it delve to the depths that Fiat has proven itself capable of. (Anyone who has seen the previous style of the Fiat Multipla knows what I'm taking about, not that the current version is much better). Part of it is the fact that though it is a very short car in length, as many of the current European crop are, it is also quite tall, taller than most. Results in a very odd shape. Very little of the Fiat is the boot. A single full-sized suitcase can fit in it, standing vertically, and you might get a backpack in there too. The rear seat does fold forward, but surprisingly was a single piece, not the split 1/3-2/3 one would ordinarily expect. Disappointing.
That said, the very small boot, combined with the small hood, does result in a quite acceptable crew compartment. It's a proper five-door four-seater, not a 2+2, and with the front seats all the way back, the guys in the back have as much, if not more legroom than those in an Audi A4, my yardstick since I own one. Then again, the front seat still isn't quite as good as an A4, but it is quite acceptable. I was able to sit in it for a couple of hours at a time without great discomfort: Quite a plus for a small car in my view. There is a housing well for the driveshaft to the rear wheels, but it doesn't go up as far into the compartment as one ordinarily expects. This is possibly a result of the car being higher than most, the small engine may be lower than most, or may simply be a fact that as the car is small with small wheels, it doesn't need a particularly thick or high driveshaft. Of course, it's a front-wheel-drive car, only the 4x4 version uses a driveshaft. Interestingly, in this version, as a 4x4, it is subject to 'gas-guzzler' taxes in some places like the UK, which is ridiculous. It probably still drinks less fuel than a Honda Jazz or Ford Fiesta.
The interior is not something which will take your breath away either, but in fairness, it's a damned sight better than the old Panda. You start to realise just what this car is supposed to do: It's a cheap, reliable form of practical transportation in the city. Not really designed for long-distance runs, not really designed to be the cutting edge of luxury. Does exactly what it says on the tin, as it were. As a result, 'snazzy' things like electric wing mirrors are not present: Do it manually. There is no 'speed sensor' to tell the power steering if it wants to be heavy for motorways, or light for cities. Instead, there's a button to push. The rear windows are raised and lowered with... shock... handles. (Downside, the rear windows only retract down about 2/3 of the way). Neither does it try to be anything it is not. It doesn't have fake wood panelling or imitation leather. No chrome or pretend aluminium. The air vents are very functional, but obviously cheap. Moving the switch from 'reirculated air' to 'outside air' results in a very loud clunking sound as valves move. You can hear trip switches clicking when the windshield wipers on a slow setting decide it's time to move. It doesn't try to say 'I'm an upmarket car' at all. I can appreciate that. No arm rest, interestingly, and the handbrake is down low so it's actually a car conducive to 'parking.' (i.e. making out with the girlfriend). Couple of cupholders and a cigarette lighter. My car also came with a CD-player/radio, the sound quality was fair enough. A nice touch was that the wipers automatically slowed down when the car was stationary. Saves on wiper wear.
On the road, it's not bad either. The gear lever is mounted well forward, on the lower part of the dash, but because it's such a small car, there's no difficulty in reaching it, indeed, it's almost natural. Shifting was not the muscle-wrenching ordeal of the previous Panda. Road noise is pretty low, and the ride isn't bad either. That said, this is not a car which will ever rival the Mini as a rally car. The downside to its height is that it is very top-heavy; hitting corners, even some on the motorway which were tighter than most, left me very concerned that I was going to roll over, if I didn't understeer first. No torque steer that I noticed, but then the engine isn't that big. Then again, the gear ratio is low enough that you have a viable chance of fighting for position in Italian traffic. (Just how Italians manage to correlate their relaxed pace of life with their utterly impatient manner of driving is beyond me). The downsides here are that at the higher gear ratios, getting up to the higher motorway speeds takes a while, you won't want to be overtaking many people on two-lane roads, and even then the cruise speed is at a fairly high amount of RPMs. This is not a car for playing Aygo Football in. The fuel tank was not far off 32 litres, pretty small. Then again, I don't see where they could have put a bigger one, and the small engine doesn't gulp it down either. Brakes were pretty good.
As an aside, I should also point out that I have discovered it takes knocks quite well. After a rear-ending by an Audi A2 in traffic, it came out with barely a scratch, whilst the Audi came out a bit dented.
I don't know if I could wholeheartedly recommend the Panda, but I certainly won't say too much against it if you live in a city and don't do any intercity travelling in the car. I don't see why anyone would pay the money for a Smart ForFour instead of the Panda, for example. Then again, I have not driven the Panda's competitors.
2007 BMW 535d
I suppose the best compliment I can pay to the 535d is that normally when I have a car for 6 - 12 months I get bored and start sniffing around at others, but with this thats not happening. The car pretty much has it all for me. This model is the LCI (mid 2007) which means some minor changes and a slight increase in power to just over 280bhp I think, different gear level.. The torque is the most intoxicating - it just feels that no matter what speed you are doing if you floor it, it will just take off again and before you know it you would be in licence losing territory.
Mine is Titanium Silver - I had a carbon black 520d before this and compared to that the Silver is a doddle to keep clean (or at least it hides it better). The car has Xenons, sun protection glass at rear, black leather, standard 18" M Sport wheels, AUX input.
The ride is fairly comfortable although on secondary roads can be a little stiff. Its worse for passengers, at least thats what I'm told.
In terms of space its grand, although I tend to have the front seat all the way back as I am quite tall which means its a little tight behind me. The boot is quite large.
As for niggles - I suppose possibly the run flats (endless threads on those). The standard alloys are tough to keep clean. I'm on the old tax system so that means around €1450 I think. Depreciation!!
Fuel Consumption - I do prob 60% motorway / 40% heavy city driving. I get around 8.3 - 8.6 ltr/100km (around 33-35mpg). That would be reasonably aggressive driving
2001 Chevrolet Camaro.
Pretty much everything I have said in the Prius is reversed in this car.
This is old-school Detroit cutting edge technology at its finest.
It's certainly a tasty looker, there are uglier cars on the road. Gives a good sense of aggressive purpose.
First impressions are moderate. There is ample room in the driver's seat for my long legs, though the back seats are more like cushioned cargo shelves. Literally cushions, in the event of a water landing, they can be removed. I have no idea how they will work as a flotation device, however. The passenger's seat suffers a slight legroom problem as there is a bulge in the floor designed for some sort of blower housing in the larger-engined models. It doesn't affect the length of legroom, but does take up space if one wishes to move one's legs around a bit.
Build quality is anything but Japanese or European. It doesn't have the European luxury, and the fit of the interior parts is absolutely atrocious. There are big gaps, and 'steps' where one interior panel meets another. The outside is a lot better, but prone to damage: I've seen more than one Camaro (my own included) with the panel directly in front of the door bulged out at the bottom as a result of bottoming or a misplaced jack. Similarly, the electrical control buttons seem cheap. Well, Chevvies have to have their costs kept down, I guess. The gearstick is about as cheap as they come. A long metal shaft with a pool ball stuck on the end, wrapped in leather.
The boot is a particularly odd shape. There is a deep well, but it's only a foot wide, with the rest of the boot higher up, presumably to clear the axle, though it does strike me as being perhaps a bit higher than it needs to be. Still it's big enough to take a full duffle bag. With the interior cover down, road noise is surprisingly reduced. It's easily removable should you need to carry more. Indeed, you would be surprised as to just how much you can cram into this car: When returning from Ft Knox, I had three duffle bags worth of stuff, my computer (including 19" CRT), a rifle case, a sports bag or two, and I still could see out the rear view mirror. That said, the C pillars (there are no Bs) are very large, and there's quite a blind spot over your left shoulder. Then again, your windows are very large. On the downside, the doors are also very large: Anticipate a lot of swing room when perpendicular-parked in order to allow you to squeeze out.
I've not had any issues with the electrics as yet. The CD/Radio system works well, with appropriate buttons to be found on the steering wheel: I rarely ever touch the stereo. They did see fit to provide both a cigarette lighter and an additional power socket. Four cupholders are provided.
Thus far, the vehicle has not been a poster child for Chevrolet build quality. Indeed, it's almost polluted me to the point that I won't buy Chevrolet again. Almost. I've had issues with the transmission, the axle bearings, the handbrake won't auto-tighten like it should, and simply changing the battery and cable was a horrendous experience which took most of the day and a couple of trips to the shops for parts and tools.
So, given everything that's wrong with this car.... I still love it.
The GM 3.8l V6 is a classic. It just gives the impression that it will run for ever, (and online reviews seem to corroborate this), and it still cranks out 200hp. Turn off the traction control, and this is more than enough to break grip with the tarmac on a mildly damp surface. If it's totally dry, and your turn is hard enough, you can still have fun by pulling up on the handbrake, allowing the tail to start to slide, then flooring the accelerator. Once you've started your oversteer, the car is very easy to collect and control until you've had your fun or reached the end of the turn. I spent a solid fifteen minutes killing the clutch and handbrake on the Bonneville Salt Flats, having a whale of a time. Got the car up to 125 or so, fully loaded with cargo. I seem to get about 27mpg, quite acceptable.
Long term comfort is quite good, I had no discomfort after my cross-country trip from Kentucky to California, and the sound system was good enough to vibrate the mirrors on the outside. Road noise is acceptable. I've never had the screens put in place under the T-roof, I like to be able to see the trees/sky/Highway Patrol Aircraft above me. T-roofs rock!
Overall... Well, I don't think the replacement for this car will be the 09 Camaro, but if your 17-year-old son in America is looking for a car, a second-hand one of these really isn't all that bad a choice for him. Parts are common and cheap, and as mentioned, the engine is not likely to be an issue. Sure, a Corolla would probably be more practical, and cheaper in the long run, but would he really thank you for that?!
1989 Ford Fiesta.
As part of the hatchback wars, Ford's offering has been going strong since the 1970s. The 1989 Five-door was the more practical of the two offerings, coming with easy access to all seats, and offering in my case 1.1 litres of grunt.
Much maligned are Ford cars, Found On Road Dead, Fuel Once, Repair Daily, that sort of thing, but in credit to Ford, this car took everything I threw at it, and came out smiling. Granted, we didn't throw as much at it as the Top Gear Toyota Hilux, but even when other, larger, cars ran into it, it would come out the better of the two. Over its 15-year-service life, the vehicle only wore out one clutch. Indeed, after it had been retired in favour of a Hyundai, when the Hyundai died it was the Ford that hadn't been started in over two years which we used to go collect people.
Unlike many of the small hatchbacks, I could fit into the Fiesta. It wasn't pretty, with the knees straddling the wheel, but this was better than the Nissan or Opel counterparts into which I physically could not enter. Fit and finish was reasonable, although certainly not the bleeding edge. Hand-crank windows, no central locking.
Handling wasn't bad. The car was very prone to understeer, but it's far safer than oversteer. Sadly, whatever horsepower that 1.1 was putting out wasn't the greatest, and long grades on the motorway would see the speed slowly decrease as you climbed. Eventually you would have dropped down to a gear with which the engine would allow you to maintain the speed, but that would result in travelling about 20mph slower than everyone else. Gear changes were rough, but acceptable.
Interior space wasn't bad: Even with the seat all the way back, there was reasonable room for back seat drivers. The boot would take a suitcase, and of course the rear seats could fold forward if they had to.
It was sad to see her go...
99 Vw Golf Mk4 Comfortline 1.4 petrol 66k miles.
Well the first problem i had with it was the timing belt snapped. For those who don't know the timing belt can snap anything after 42k. People generally leave these until 60,000 miles odd, but mine had never been replaced (it came with a full service history). So at 66,000 (time and wear) coupled together and it snapped. I had to take it apart, 6 valve's had bent and other than that not much else damaged had occured. At the same time the head had to be skimmed, a new gasket etc. etc. All in all i think it came to about €700 euro excluding any labour and including the timing belt kit and a service.
The car now drinks oil, which is a known problem with this engine. It's not a huge draw on me (although it was when i first found out the car had not one drop of oil and i was on a beach. Fasted i've ever run to a shop). I've a bit of obsessive compulsive disorder so the little things annoy me. The clutch creaks when it's depressed. And the car has to be going very slow until it will go into first. It sometime's won't go into reverse, but engaging first gear for a split second normally sorts this out. The breaks screach the whole time, which is something i haven't bothered to sort out. The clip on my armrest cover broke very easily, and although cheap to replace i still haven't replaced it. At the moment, my back passenger door will not open, and the driver's side back door is tempormental (of course won't open at the worst of times.) The central locking open's the doors, but won't lock them from the drivers side. So i've to go to the passenger side to lock them. Again, apparently it's another common problem.
When it's freezing out, since the lack of remote central locking, it's very hard to open the doors (as the lock is frozen.)
The starter motor give's an awful squeel of late as well.
I love driving it, although it does lack in a bit of power. (Expected from such engine). The comfortline seats + armrest are an absolue must. They are very, very comfortable. It will do about 60 mph in 3rd gear, and speed wise it has done 110mph with 17" alloy wheels. It's very comfortable, on long journey's etc. I haven't a clue mpg wise as i bought the car out of pure love for them, and i drive it alot so it's no odds to me what mpg i'm getting.
After 5,000 miles of driving it, i'm happy with it. I love the look of the car, and they subtle modifications i have added. They are very easy modify with OEM parts. Ie. GTI bits etc. etc.
Great looking car, very, very comfortable to drive.
Sought after car, so should have an easy resale.
All of the above mentioned, (the timing belt isn't a problem or fault of the car. Purely human error.)
On another note, i recently bought a 00 MK4 Golf 1.4 petrol as a project car to fix up and sell on.
When i bought it, it had no nct and wasn't revving past 4-5 thousand rpm. This was due to the fact that the timing belt had slipped two teeth. A new timing belt sorted this.
I put on new back brake pads, which was a very easy process. The drivers side window regulator was gone, and the passenger side was going very slowly. So typically i just replaced the drivers side. This was riveted on, and when drilled out, i just bolted on the new mechanism. The starter motor again was squeeling, so i got this fixed. The cat needed to be replaced so that was done.(since selling the back box has gone, replaced by the new owner.) Other than that there were not many other problems. And it passed the nct no bother. I would be willing to share any costs of parts etc. over pm.
So, a verdict. 5 stars Good, 1 min.
Cost to run ***
2007 Chrysler Abrams.
Technically now produced by GD after a buyout, but originally introduced by Chrysler, at any rate.
Even though this is the fourth generation of this model, you would hardly know it to look at it. It retains with very little change the same lines as the earlier first generation, and is all but identical externally to the 1990 generation.
Getting into the drivers' seat can be difficult if you are of corpulent build, and unfortunately legroom is restricted. People over 6'2" are going to have some difficulty, though I did find myself able to squeeze in, with resulting problems of being a little heavy on the pedals. Once in, however, the driver's comfort is unparalleled by any other vehicle I've been in. Falling asleep can be a particular hazard.
Advertised as carrying the driver and three passengers, this is quite true with no provision made for additional persons: Four seats are all you get. Though it would theoretically be possible to seat persons on the flat outside, it is ill-advised in all but emergency situations. There is ample room for luggage, each person can bring two large bags and thensome. The passenger seats themselves are basic, and the two on the right are best described as 'cramped'
Creature comforts are limited. The heater has two settings, off and furnace, there is no air conditioning, and there are no cupholders. The sound system does have the facility to plug in your iPod or other such electronic device, but unfortunately there are no power outlets in the vehicle. Due to a design flaw, you have to step outside in order to hook into the power circuits. It is fitted with a CB-style radio system for communication with other road users. Satnav is available as an optional extra, and mounts in a pre-designated spot on the right side.
Driving controls are simple enough to understand. A simple 'start' button spins up the engine, and the gear lever is self-explanatory. Though there are only two pedals, be warned that one of them is not the accelerator: They're the brake, and parking brake, acceleration is obtained by twisting the handlebars, just like your average motorcycle. Although the dash controls are of an unusual configuration (headlights are a toggle switch, for example), they are all very clearly marked in writing for that 'Easy to find in an emergency' convenience. All the expected dials are present, speedometer, rev counter, and so on, plus ample warning lights. The headlights are kindof weak, but this is countered by the additional night-vision systems which will pick up a rabbit a mile ahead of you on the road.
Despite the high (1,500) horsepower engine, acceleration is nothing to write home about due to the rather low horsepower to weight ratio. My chevrolet has over 100hp/ton, but this has a mere 22hp/ton. Torque, however, is outstanding, and it will have no problems pulling the average camper trailer or boat, no matter how big, on the heavy-duty hitch provided as standard. With the ability to turn on the spot, however, parallel parking is a breeze.
The grip, on the other hand, is astounding. Particularly impressive is braking, as the vehicle will go from 30mph to zero in ten feet, even without ABS. This can be a problem as seat belts are not provided and this can cause injury to passengers if they are not braced in anticipation. Roadhandling is very good, and it is quite possible to weave through traffic at 45mph. Unfortunately, visibility for the driver is much less good, restricted to the front, coupled with a lack of mirrors, so the driver is dependant on assistance from the passengers. Of course, should you actually hit someone, so what? The vehicles' permanent all-track-drive also provides excellent cross-country abilities, should you feel inclined in that direction.
The ride is very comfortable, even on the worst-maintained of roads. At higher speeds, road noise is, however, atrocious. At low speeds, however, the vehicle is very quiet, and you may find yourself wishing that Chrysler had thought to incorporate a horn to get the oblivious out of your way.
It is apparent that Chrysler spared a thought for passenger safety, complete with a continuously monitored automated fire detection and suppression system, with both manual backups and portable hand extinguishers if required. There are, however, no airbags fitted, and there is a notable lack of crumple zones.
En-route entertainment, in addition to the aforementioned iPod hookup, is provided by the German cannon and Belgian machineguns. Hours of fun can be had with these, though one should be cautioned that their use is frowned upon in some jurisdictions.
Build quality is adequate. It certainly does the job, though one can occasionally see rusting bolts or excess grease. The systems are also prone to leaking. All panels seem to be seamlessly welded, however. Sadly, however, the vehicle really drops down in the world of practicality. It's a little big for most driveways, and though one rarely ever finds oneself hampered by traffic, the fuel bills at about four gallons to the mile are such that only the more affluent person can use it as a daily driver. Then again, at a drive-away cost of about 4.2 million dollars, before extras like ammunition or survivability upgrades, only the most affluent can really afford to buy it in the first place so filling up the 500 gallon fuel tank won't be much of an issue.
Recommended for small families or survivalists with a few select friends.
99 Vw Polo 6n 1.0 petrol 5 dr
Bought this as a first car. Black in colour, 105,000 miles on it. No nct.
With this, it was supposed to serve one purpose, A to B and to get me onto the car ladder. It didn't have power steering, central locking or any creature comfort for that matter. It was on 15" wheels, and was riding very high, could do a bit of off roading in it. The clutch was on it's last legs, timing belt hadn't been done since 60,000 miles ish.
So beside's all this, it flew through the nct (Only needing two back shocks which came to 80euro + labour). I did not have one single problem with this car, not one. I didn't do the timing belt on it, but apparently this is a very easy job. When i sold it, i more than doubled my money.
The car itself was imported from England, 11 months after being first registered. The paint on the bonnet had lots of little white spots on it, whether is was down to bad paint day one, or it had been badly resprayed i don't know. I got the resprayed at the cost of 100 euro (one of the worst spray jobs i've ever seen, even after the third attempt)
The car itself was practical. It hadn't got anything to go wrong. Central locking couldn't fail as there was none. Although i can't reccomend buying a car without it as it can be very annoying. The same with the lack of power steering, i had muscle's for the 4 months of ownership.
The car didn't handle, as expected with a car of it's caliber, and was as slow as could be. I think it managed to do 85 going down hill with a good gust behind it.
Seats weren't very comfortable, but they did the job. I'm not overly tall, just short of 6 foot i'd say, and there wasn't a whole lot of room behind me, but anytime there was someone behind me there knee's were in my back.
The car itself i would reccomend as a first time car only, something to keep you going. Trouble free motoring, and a very easy resale. Mine was a bit of a hard sale due to the lack of power steering, but i sold one through the job after three days i think, with power steering.
So all in all, a miser on juice, not an ounce of trouble, parts very cheap and an easy resale. So for the category it would fit into i would give it 4/5 (loosing 1 because of the lack of power steering and central locking). Here's a pic of her offroad
2005 Audi S4 Cabrio.
Probably more money than I should have spent on a car, but by God it's a nice one. Given the moniker of "The Cosset" by Household 6 as the interior is so good. This should not be a surprise, it's what Audis are famous for.
Bottom line up front: Extremely capable car, if not quite all that much fun.
The interior is already mentioned. There are storage spaces galore, and two power sockets. Being the top of the 4s, the various 'style options' are all standard. I went with the (real) wood trim. Most people go with the carbon fibre option being an S-car, but I went for 'class'. The 4 being at the bottom end of Audi's scale, all the absolute latest and greatest gizmos were not at the time standard. The DVD SatNav was a $2K option, which on a car which costs as much as it does is rather a travesty. I ended up getting a Garmin iQue for $500, and it fits in my pocket. Parking assist wasn't even an option, neither was bluetooth, though they were available in the A6 and A8 cars. Bose radio is good though. A Flappy-paddle gearbox was another $1.5K option, so I went with the manual. That said, the six-speed transmission is very light and smooth.
Clarkson called the 4.2l V8 a 'masterpiece', and it's very hard to disagree with him. It cranks out one more horse than the BMW M3's engine (of the time), and does it without the raucous screaming. You know when you hit the torque band, the car shoots off at about 2,100 rpm. It means you're a little slow off the line as it takes a second or two to get to a speed that the RPMs get high enough, but at about five and a half seconds to 60, 'slow' is relative. Once at speed (i.e. overtaking), it's a breeze, and the exhaust makes a wonderful note as you do it. Top speed is limited to 155mph, by my calculations if you take the limiter off, you'll redline at about 180.
The downside is the handling. Like all the S cars, all four wheels are driven. This makes the car a little heavy, and thus it won't win a drag race against an M3 or an Evo. Worse, it's a little prone to understeer: You just can't really get the tail out on an S4, which means that though it gets around all the corners at startling speed, it isn't that much fun to do it. On the plus side, if the road's a bit wet, the Audi's got it made. Kentucky had some horrid snow over the winter, the S4 took it with no fuss, whilst traditional two-wheel-drive cars were slipping. Grip is excellent, aided with stability control if you leave it on.
Another downside, surprisingly for the cost of the car, has been QA. My glove compartment door fell off. I also had a problem with the convertible top and an airbag firing sensor. Of course, everything was repaired under warranty with no fuss. I will say that I have had no problems with any of the dealers I've been to so far, something I cannot say for BMW, and I'm told Mercedes isn't all that great either. Speaking of the convertible top, other than that small problem fixed with a subsequent redesign (which they sewed in the same day), it's proven very quiet and capable. The wind deflector also is quite functional and easy to fold up once you figure it out. When the top is folded into the boot you still have enough room for a full sized suitcase. The rear seats do not fold down, but there's a pass-through for skis or a rifle or whatever long thing you want to put in it behind/through the rear seat centre arm rest.
Even nearly three years later, I'm still finding little touches on the car which make one realise that they put a lot of thought into it. Any time I've had to change a wheel before (and they give you a full-sized spare, by the way, making the size of the boot with the roof down even more remarkable), it's been a bit of an effort, trying to get the thing hooked on the five bolts. Not so in this case, it's one central nub and the wheels are very light, so no difficulty at all. Somewhere near Omaha a tail light bulb went out. I know this because it told me my left rear was out as soon as it happened. So I detoured into the Omaha dealer, and had the bulb replaced (under warranty) in about ten minutes.
Overall the experience has been that I would have absolutely no qualms with buying another Audi. My bank balance might, mind.
Only problem is that I don't wash it enough. The driver's seat is not as whiteish as it used to be.