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Archive for December, 2013|Monthly archive page

from A to B

In Hyundai, Skoda on December 28, 2013 at 7:47 pm

IMG_00000714There was a time when I’d willingly jump behind the wheel of any car.

I’d crave the intimate knowledge which you simply can’t get from the passenger seat.

I’m older now.

Some cars were only ever intended to offer the owner the ability to get from A to B.

Unless I’ve just hiked for a day on the Cornish Coast Path I have absolutely no desire to “just get from A to B”.

Although I’d have thought the previous generation VAG Skoda would serve up something a little more than this hum drum wagon.

IMG_00000715Look at the ingredients.

VAG parts, with all the essentials being donated by the MK6 Golf.

Roomy interior, decent warranty, and glowing reviews in most owner surveys.

So are we on to a winner?

If you simply want a set of “cheap” wheels then I guess the Octavia ticks all the boxes.

Until you’ve tried something a little more expensive from the more upwardly mobile brands.

To me this vehicle merely ticks the boxes, rather than tugging my emotions.

140 BHP and a 6 sped box may return 48 + mpg, and hit the sixty dash in under 10 seconds, but am I bovvered?

Not really.

Here’s where VAG fall short.

Everything feels unpleasant, from the inert steering wheel to the awkwardly shaped gear lever, yuk.

Then there’s the torquey engine.  It might do what it says on the tin, but does it need to sound like a Massey Ferguson at idle, or John Deere under acceleration?

The only aural plus I could detect was the lack of door mirror wind noise compared to the 2013 Octavia estate I drove recently.

IMG_00000716-2So in an effort to protect my ears I tried the easy to use radio.

TINNY on this model, and don’t be fooled by the big screen.  There’s no Sat Nav lurking inside.

What did I take away as a positive?

The seats seemed comfy, and it looks inoffensive.

One things for sure, I won’t be buying one.

My current i40 tourer feels far more refined.

The Curtain Falls

In Uncategorized on December 11, 2013 at 10:08 pm

IMG_9518Today Mark Webber started work with Porsche as they prepare to take on the might of Audi and Toyota in the 2014 World Endurance Championship.

In today’s pic I’m trying show the curtain fall on a successful F1 career.

On his day this guy was untouchable.

Then again his ultimate success was often thwarted by yet another German who’d happily force him off the track, or disobey team orders.

In my reckoning racing isn’t just about winning, it’s about character.

Stirling Moss is perhaps the greatest man never to become a Formula 1 World Champion, but he’s light years ahead of most if you add integrity to ability.

Then there’s Gilles Villeneuve.  Another man who combined ability and integrity, he deserved better but lost his life after being thrown from a fragile Ferrari.

I guess Mark comes third in my list of Formula 1 “Nearly Men”, and he’s had fun along the way and made a decent living.

He’s also flown the longest and highest of most current top drivers, if you never seen it check out the Le Mans You Tube video where things go wrong very quickly.

 

 

Boxster S Tiptronic

In Uncategorized on December 6, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Boxster a380

Funny how I dreamnt of owning a Porsche ever since I was about eleven years old.

Although maybe that’s not as funny as the fact that only second car I ever drove was a 356 at joint Ferrari and Porsche club meeting at Goodwood about 38 years ago.

If you read the mags, and soak the up the history there’s probably precious few marques that demand more respect.

And yet when the day came when I could afford to by a new Porsche I didn’t bother.

Was it because the car disappointed?

Not really.

It just seemed to offer very little that I didn’t get from my default choice (BMW), coupled with the fact that the dealer wouldn’t give me a good deal.

So I’ve never owned one of Stuggart’s finest.

But I have driven a few.

Here’s my friend’s old 3.2S Tiptronic.

It was nip and tuck between this and my old 335i convertible when it came to acceleration, but the car from Munich felt so much more well built it was incredible.

On these older Boxsters the manual override on the auto box was a naff button the sterring wheel, whereas the 3 series had far more satisfying flappy paddles.

But what of the Boxster?

Well it sounded great, cornered well, and had a superb ride quality.

S Bend nr Drum bridges

Maybe one day I’ll try a manual and be smitten, but I doubt it.

Rotary Flyer

In Uncategorized on December 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm

IMG_6188Here’s yours truly showing that he can still cut the mustard. Here I’m piling on opposite lock at 40 mph whilst driving down ProDrive’s super slippery steel road surface.

That’s enough about me and my car control.

What about the car?

Truth is the RX8 is a very special car.

I can’t think of any other 4 door car that really does make the grade as a sports car, anything else is a saloon.

What’s to like?

Well apart from the fact it’s eminently practical and really can carry 4 adults in comfort it also has those natty suicide doors at the back.

It looks good, and then there’s the rev hungry rotary engine.

TBH there’s a flip to this car’s motorsport developed motor.  Torque.  It doesn’t have any, even in the 231 bhp version.

The steering’s good, and I’m blowed if I can sense chassis flex caused by the lack of a central pillar between the doors.

IMG_6254

So how come I’ve never bought one?

I guess that’s down to me being lazy.

Drivers are encouraged to check, nee top up the oil on every other fuel stop.  I probably check my oil once a year, so the thought of fiddling with a dip-stick on a wet winter’s night just doesn’t appeal.

Then there’s the cheap red leather interior, and brittle plastic dashboard.

No matter how practical this wonderful enthusiast’s car might be the high emissions, road tax, and deplorable fuel consumption just kill my interest.

Not that I’m totally done with wankels!

I’ve a secret desire to one day own an early RX3, or maybe a Citroen Ami.  I loved my 652cc Citroen, but a decent rotary engine would have made it quite some Q car.

IMG_6243