Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ye olde Kia Sportage

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2019 at 11:08 am

The last time I drove of these I’d just hopped out of a Jag XF.

An agricultural Diesel engine and power sapping auto failed to impress.

Several years later a 6 speed manual hire car seems somewhat better, even if the one I booked was supposed to be the new shape version.

What can I say? Comfy seats. Certainly not  a hint of sportiness- but quite a likeable barge.

There are loads on the roads of Ireland, a land where badge snobbery seems to be non existent.

Would I buy one? Not really – but a petrol version new shape would be tempting.



Driving the New Fiat Teapot

In Uncategorized on December 22, 2017 at 12:59 pm

IMG_7686Many years ago when money was short and unused holidays were plentiful I used to work for Hertz car rentals in Croydon.

I was paid for doing what I loved, driving.

Dropping off a Merc here, or ragging an Escort to the next drop off.

Honestly the car washing and hoovering were no problem.

We even had a team spirit, and did our best to get cars turned out on time.

Back in those distant days Fiat launched the ugly and unreliable Fiat Tipo.

In the rental trade we called them “Tea Pots”.

So when Sam needed wheels for Christmas I was delighted to get a chance to drive the reincarnated machine.

First impressions as a passenger were not favourable.

Every little imperfection in the road surface can be felt in the cabin.

The plastics are hard, and the tiny TomTom Sat Nav looks like an insult.

Outside things aren’t any better.

The designers picked the worst looking car in the class (BMW 1 Series) and decided to make it worse.

Now that we’ve had the machine for a few days I’m getting over my reservations.

The six speed manual gearbox is super slick, and unlike most old Fiat’s of my youth there’s no graunching as you select second.

As a mid range “Lounge” the 1.4 Tipo has loads of extras, and once it’s got into a high gear commendably little engine noise.

The steering has two settings, but I can’t see how to select the out of town mode. The City setting is light, and doesn’t give much feedback.

Just imagine for a moment that you’re trying to raise a young family on a tight income.  Now the TeaPot starts to make sense.

The one we are driving costs about £16,000 and has a 3 year warranty, big boot, and bags of legroom in the back.


It also sips fuel at about 40 mpg or better.

If you could suss out the TomTom, it would help you get to your destination.  It also has a DAB radio for 6 Music fans like myself.  Why it even sounds good with CLASSIC FM selected.

For the money I’m not sure there are many better cars, although I’d be swayed by either a better warranty from a Korean brand or big discount from Fiat.

My last observation.

It’s fiddly to wash.  There are too many contrived swathes, and recesses.

This car reminded me of my how easily I once washed my IMG_7683BMW 335i Se convertible.  All the smooth lines made it both pretty, and easy to clean.

Excessive detail only goes to spoil a car.


2016 BMW 320D Touring E D Sport

In BMW, Uncategorized on January 28, 2017 at 1:05 pm


Here it is, the 2016 BMW 320 D Efficient Dynamics, which was given to me on a  one month loan yesterday morning.

It certainly looks prettier than my dowdy 2014 320 Touring which has left my stable with over 107,000 miles on the clock.

The diamond cut alloys look the bees knees, and inside the car featured the Sports Seats that I skipped on my last company car.


So what has two and a half years of development done to the venerable rep mobile?

The back end now has a different auto boot release switch (I never did discover why mine had two buttons and only one function), and the inside sported  slightly more detailed “Business” sat nav read-out.

Theoretically I should have thought the manual gearbox would serve up a greater sense of driver involvement, but in truth I found the stick shift better than the “launch edition” I tried several years back.

The old 320 notchiness has gone, but in truth any high mileage driver like me isn’t going to enjoy tooling around the South East with an extra pedal to push every few minutes.

Having settled into the “new” car I was surprised to get an urgent phone call.

My one month tenure was curtailed before the end of the day, BMW Head Office wanted this particular machine back.

I wondered what I’d get instead.

Lifeless Chinese Hatch

In MG, Uncategorized on March 11, 2016 at 9:37 pm

waves 2The wonky number plate says it all.

You’re looking at 1.5 litre MG3.

I had this as my wheels for one day whilst I was on the Isle of Man for a day.

I’d asked for the smallest hatch that was available at the rental desk.

The lady behind the desk offered me a red one or a blue one!

After getting up shortly after 5:00am I wasn’t the least interested in the colour.

Moments later I loaded my clobber inside and tried to made myself comfortable.

Within a few moments I marvelled at the “naffness” of these little Chinese hatches.

Annoying foibles?

A sun visor which utterly useless if the sun isn’t directly in front of you.

A nasty fiddly little switch to pop open the fuel cap.

The bluetooth which I simply could not pair with my phone.

Later on I began to lament the lack of an inbuilt Sat Nav.

Every time I tried to select 6th gear I was reminded that this is only available as a 5 speed machine.

The raw figures quoted suggest this is a reasonably brisk little city hatch.

The truth is it feels desperately asthmatic, and I’d be staggered if any have ever made it to sixty in just over 10 seconds.

After I’d made all my calls I decided to trace the TT roads, with a chance of going fast (there are no speed limits on the remote stretches).

Despite my best efforts I couldn’t top 75mph on the straightest of roads.

Although I did exploit the well sorted chassis as I chased a Honda S2000.

By the way the average MPG for the day was barely over 30!

VERDICT: 2 out of 5 – best suited to those who haven’t changed cars since the Morris Minor 1000 went out of production.waves 3




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.




Us and Them

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2014 at 6:35 pm

ForewarnedA Peugeot 208 Diesel Rental Car.

Look at that again.


Many years ago I was so broke I used to work in my holidays at Hertz Car Rentals.

Here I learnt that the truth about the Car Rental business.

Our company motto was “at Hertz we try harder”.

What were they trying?

In my experience we had too many customers, too few parking spaces, and too little time to carry out each multi-point check.

I was taught to distrust the customer.

If at all possible we would do the absolute minimum to make the car look neat and tidy.

The horrifying truth about car hire is this, Joe Public IS OUT TO PULL A FAST ONE.

I was working before digital cameras were invented, and we handed the cars over in a dark underground car park.

Indeed knocked and dented cars were returned into similarly lit surroundings at the end of each day.

The number of knocks and scrapes would surpass your biggest guess, folk are often in an unknown area, in an unknown car and bumps happen.

Years later I was accused of causing the virtual write off on a hire car I returned after hours.

Pity the pour soul who had no driving licence and was caught on a video camera playback smashing the car up not once, but twice without even possessing a licence!

So here I am today in Glasgow with a fee of over £90 to hire a baby Peugeot.

Three months ago i was paying £24 a day for a huge Hyundai i40 estate.

Mainstream rental companies probably have high overheads, but it wasn’t surprising to find my car difficult to inspect covered in rain drops on a grey day.

TBH I wasn’t sure were the damage was so I took photos.

Good job, the guy on the returns desk tried to charge me for a ding on the front wheel arch.

I had proof that it was like that when I arrived.


Glad I was forearmed.

The car?

Uncomfortable, shocking design, huge blind spots from the B Pillars, incomprehensible stereo, squeaky clutch pedal.

No wonder Peugeot have sold out to Chinese investors.

The exterior looks great, everything else is just plain awful.





Uh oh

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2014 at 12:20 am

IMG_00000851Yesterday for what seemed like the first time in weeks it stopped raining.

So we decided to set out on foot and enjoy the countryside.

After an hour dodging puddles we began the last 200 yards back to our home.

To our surprise someone had lit a bonfire.

The prevailing wind swept billows of smoke across the road.

Several motorists will have had a nasty surprise.

Just 50 yards up the road a speed trap was in operation.

It’s only used occasionally, and most folk do 40 plus in this 30 zone.

The speeding motorists hadn’t a chance.

Thankfully I was only doing 3 miles an hour, well under the appropriate limit.

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.


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.