Archive | September, 2010

Prius vs Bluemotion

28 Sep

So I’ve just finished my first assignment for my university course. Apparently the Police have taken delivery of 94 Toyota Priuses (Pria?) to be used by members of their ‘Safer Neighbourhoods’ teams. In their press release, the Police claim that the Prius is “the most sustainable alternative to conventional means of transport”. Now I’m not sure if that is necessarily true. Jeremy Clarkson, he of the obtuse and retrogressive anti-environmentalist stance, has been vehement that the environmental impact of making the Prius outweighs its benefits on the environment, and he’s got a point. The car sources materials from all around the world and, in real world driving rarely returns a fuel economy better than 50mpg. I used to have an Audi A4 that could do that.
In contrast, I think that the best alternative that we currently have to conventional engines is…..the conventional engine. Specifically, I’m talking about the Volkswagen Bluemotion range. See, Volkswagen have used their heads and said “frankly, we feel hybrid technology is under-developed and we wouldn’t want to compromise our customers with something we don’t know enough about. So instead, we’re going to take our existing diesel engines, give them longer gearing and make them more aerodynamic and thereProxy-Connection: keep-alive
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2s your answer for now.” It’s so simple that it’s brilliant. Why use hybrid technology when it’s not optimal yet? There’s time for it to develop, but that doesn’t mean that we have to be driving it while the developing’s happening. And I think I’m right in saying that the Bluemotion range all rate over 60mpg combined. Now that’s what I call a solution!

Land Rover Freeloader

13 Sep

Like this, but maroon. And probably heavier.

So here’s a turn-up for the books, readers. After all my humming and ha-ing about buying some strange, executive, French, early 1990s auto-erotica (well not quite) my mum, bless her heart, has given (GIVEN!) me her 2003 Land Rover Freelander. My mum doesn’t drive a lot now that her school run days are behind her (until I start whacking out grandkids and force the little blighters upon her) and she lives in the middle of town and has access to another car, so has relinquished her car to me.

Now I will qualify some of this. I can’t deny the generosity of spirit that my mother, as is typical of her, has shown. But, Carficionado being Carficionado, I proposed to her that I perhaps traded this beastie in for something a little more frugal, which raised shrieks and howls from mother dearest, protesting that she loved her car and under no circumstances should I etc. etc. You’d have thought that if she loved it so much, she’d drive the damned thing every now and again. The problem is that back in 2003, when Carficionado was still largely ignorant in the ways of the world, my mum bought the car to replace her previous car, a SsangYong Musso (don’t say ANYTHING!). My mum is 5 foot and a little bit, and has a hangup about being high up in a car, hence the SsangYong and hence the Freelander. She was also feeling a little bit riche and so specced the Freelander to the highest heights of speccing. Thus integrated DVD player. Thus heated front seats. Thus 6 CD changer and Harmon/Kardon stereo. And thus 2.5 litre V6. Now I realise that in this blog I’ve banged on about loving Range Rovers with 3,9 litre V8s, so a meagre 2.5 V6 is surely childsplay. But honestly, the Freelander, with all its high-spec gubbins, weighs about the same as a house. It is vastly heavy and uses huge quantities of fuel to get anywhere. The fuel gauge moves like those pinball flickers. The engine is not really big enough to propel the car, and what it lacks in the torque that, say, a diesel Freelander would give you (or a V8), it makes up for in revving a lot when you ask it to move a tad faster. Bear in mind that Jaguar uses this engine in the X-Type. And it’s not even the top petrol engine in that range! So my four-day a week commute to studentdom could end up being exceedingly costly. Needless to say, I’m worried. Perhaps I’ll see if I can trade it for a Golf Bluemotion without my mum noticing….

Shoya Tomizawa

7 Sep

Just a sombre post today, to make everyone aware of the death of Shoya Tomizawa over the weekend. The 19 year-old was killed in the Moto2 support race at San Marino. Scott Redding, the young British rider who hit Tomizawa after the Japanese rider crashed in front of him, was said to be severely traumatised. Valentino Rossi, who rode in the main race and was later informed of Tomizawa’s death, said afterwards: “Shoya was very funny, always smiling and always had nice things to say to everyone. He was young with a great career ahead of him. We are all so sad.” Eskil Suter, the chief executive of Suter racing, Tomizawa’s team, said in a statement yesterday: “Shoya was more than a friend. He was like a family member. He was loved by everybody in the paddock and I am terribly sorry for his family and his team who suffered this tragic loss.”

Shoya Tomizawa 1990 - 2010

Stig! Revealed! Mayhem!

3 Sep

So anyone with an interest in cars probably has an interest in Top Gear and thus probably knows that the Stig has outed himself.  This has led to a bit of a media furore, after Ben Collins and his publisher HarperCollins (no relation), which is ultimately owned by Rupert Murdoch by the by, won the right to disclose his identity as the Stig. This victory, his publisher said, was “a victory for freedom of speech.” Oh yeah, it’s right up there in historical moments with the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door.

All in all, it seems to be a bit of a sour move on Ben Collins’ part, if you ask me. He was integral to both Top Gear the show and the magazine and must have worked closely with these people whom he’s presumably pissed off by revealing his indentity, else the BBC wouldn’t have bothered taking the thing to court. Obviously he’s had to stand by as Jeremy Clarkson’s sold book after book, Richard Hammond’s started narrating Takeshi’s Castle or whatever they’re calling it, and James May’s illustrating how the 20th Century happened via the medium of Lego. And he, perhaps rightly, wants a slice of that pie, which presumably he wouldn’t be able to get if he went to a TV executive and said “Hello, I’m Ben Collins, the slightly anonymous racing driver, may I have a television show and some of your money.” The guy could make millions, both off the book which will presumably be staring at you from the W.H. Smith’s bookshelves come Christmas time and the probable TV career that will follow. Perhaps on some dodgy backwater of Sky. Which is owned by Rupert Murdoch by the by. But still, there should be a level of decency surely. This whiffs of Max Clifford…..

Anyway, I haven’t read the autobiography, obviously, because no-one in the outside world has, so maybe it’s all done in the best possible taste. Still, I’m a blogger, so spouting my mouth off about stuff I haven’t done enough research into is my job, and it’s a job that I plan to uphold. Still, let’s talk cars next time.

The Ferrari 458… puns about fire

2 Sep

It's "flaming" brilliant

The new 458 is smoking hot……literally.

There, with that pun I have achieved the level of intellectual gravitas required to be an American journalist (also seen: “Ferrari 458 Italia lights my fire.” That doesn’t even make sense). Nevertheless, Ferrari have had to recall the fabulous new 458 Italia because it has the unfortunate habit of bursting into flames, which must alarm the owners who have just shelled out £170,000 for it. Galling images of beautiful Italian autoerotica sitting charred on the side of roads around the world are starting to flood in, causing a bit of a PR disaster for Ferrari, although one which their website, which still proudly shows a 458 pounding along a cypress-lined Italian road, fails to acknowledge. You can configure a California though. I’d have mine less ugly.

Apparently the fires have been caused by heat from the exhaust pipes causing the wheel arch fixings to sag, somehow causing the car to become a fireball. The boffins at Ferrari are currently fixing heat shields to the 1,200 cars that have been recalled. I suppose it’s better than Mercedes’ PR crisis when their A-Class was found to not be able to stand up very well on its own in the now-infamous “elk test”. Still, not ideal really. And believe me when I say, dear readers, that I for one will not be buying a 458 this year.

This car's on fire......literally! Sigh.