Archive for April, 2015|Monthly archive page

One Box – Five Stars

In Uncategorized on April 21, 2015 at 9:58 pm

CharadeIn 2003 Clarkson was presenting Top Gear, and making a few pennies writing for The Times.

My teenage son spotted his report on the new Daihatsu Charade.

Days later we were at Pollitts of Exeter taking  test drive.  Minutes later we’d paid our deposit and sat back waiting for our new 53 Plate to arrive.

So what can I remember about our compact city car.

Good Points:

It had a fantastic 1.0 litre 3 cylinder engine, that sounded wonderful.

Typically the c ar would return between 48 -60 mpg.  The best ever was 62 mpg, and the worst (after we’d given the car to our son was 40mpg).

The doors opened to virtually 90 degrees, creating brilliant access to the rear.

The alloy wheels, and blue metallic paint(as shown) looked good.

It was ultra-reliable (apart from requiring new driveshafts under warranty) due to a supplier fault back in Japan.

It was only £6995 plus road-tax, but it still had air-con as standard (which wasn’t that common back then).

Not so Good Points:

Leaned like a 2CV on bendy roads.

Changed lanes without warning on windy motorways.

Small boot.

Only 4 seats.

In summary this machine was great fun to drive, and made my monthly business mileage claims very profitable.

My son took it on after we upgraded, and amazingly he got a fantastic trade in offer when he bought a Suzuki Swift a few years later.

Sadly the brand has since been dropped from the UK market because of unfavourable exchange rates.

Daihatsu Charade 1.0SL 5 Door – a true FIVE STAR car.





Surreal Tesla

In BMW on April 20, 2015 at 11:04 pm

Sleek TeslaAfter several months waiting my CEO has finally ditched his BMW.

Here’s his new “baby”.

The all American Tesla Model S.

My experience of American cars has been severely limited.

The old home brew mass market machine I’ve sampled was a gutless 2007 Pontiac G6.  It looked great, but most of the 240 horses allegedly under the bonnet seemed strangely absent.

So what about this new “Start Up” company’s first mainstream model?

Well let’s look at the company credentials.

They started with a subtly re-egineered uglified Lotus Elise based electric roadster.

That’s the one which kept failing on the Top Gear test track.

The one that hardly sold at all.

Around about the same time the drop dead gorgeous Fisker Karma was appearing on European roads.

Was the world ready for a milk float inspired Norfolk spin off?

No, it wasn’t.

The Tesla Roadster was quite good, but only suited show offs who needed an open topped two seater for the city.

So the omens are good for today’s road test.

Let’s start with the understated exterior.

Unlike the latest 3 and 4 series BMWs there are no unnecessary frills.

TBH it looks quite attractive.

And how about the interior?

Dashing Tesla

The giant i-Pad style console immediately grabs your attention, and a moment later you notice the seventies style formica woo-effect dash inlay.

The former looks great, the latter is incredibly out of place in this Guzzillion £ car.

So two seats didn’t cut the mustard, and Tesla have learnt their lesson.

The model S is a full 5 seater, with the option of two rearward facing kids seats in the boot.

Lift the hatch, and their’s plenty of room for a lanky dog, and a coiled up blue lead.


Presumably the “motor’s” up front?

Let’s check.

Tesla - under the bonnet


It looks like an oversize Porsche Boxster boot.

Somewhere there must be an engine?

Well, not really.  Just an electric motor, that gives this 2 wheel drive version a range of 400 kilometres.

How does it compare with a Renault Zoe?

I knew you weren’t thinking that, but that was my one and only EV experience.

That gave adequate performance in a Clio sized package.

The Tesla is (presumably) hindered by a huge 5 series sized body shell, and must make pretty slow progress.

Er, no.

It has monumental performance even in this base model.

This particular model hits 0-60 mph (or 0-100kph) in under 5 seconds.

That’s BMW 135 M Sport territory.

Whilst my ! series sounded awesome when I buried my right foot to the floor this machine emits nothing more than a little tyre roar.

Okay it tops out at 130 mph, but how often can you go that fast anyway?

Er, never.  Unless you live in Germany, or own your own race track.

This car is so good i came away wanting to jack in my job, and start up a new business.

The shove in the back when the throttle is depressed, the iPad controls and good looks really sucked me in.

There are issues, my CEO doesn’t like the task of plugging in every time he roles up for work,

However he does enjoy the low running costs and fabulous tech features.

My turn behind the wheel next time, I can’t wait!

Orac no plate