Sunday, January 24, 2010

Handling and Dynamics

When looking for a car whether it be new or used, a test drive is a must. Even if you fear a salesperson may attempt to sell you that car on the day. You need time to think and most good salespeople will allow you to do that.

Why is test driving a car a must? Simply because it will give you an idea as to how the car drives, handles and feels on the road. Forgeting the features for the moment as every car these days is well equiped. How does it really feel on the road?
This is where handling and dynamics plays a big part as most people expect and want different things from their car. This is understandable as cars are a big purchase and cannot be taken lightly.
A cars handling and dynamics differ depending on alot of factors. Without getting into the technical side of how the suspension, brakes and other components effect it, most cars have settings that suite the image. For example the Peugeot 4007 is an SUV that can handle some light offroad work and will therefore have ride and handling to suite. So forget throwing it into corners!
On the same token a Peugeot RCZ or RenaultSport Megane will ride with more harshness on the average road as they are simply hot hatches that are built to drive around corners with some vigour. Dynamically they allow the drive to feel more of the road as well as enable more body control to assist in steering through corners.

The two above examples are two extremes of handling and dynamics. A happy medium is generally offered by all manufactures especially the higher volume brands. A car like the Ford Mondeo or Kia Cerato provide a much more comfortable ride and handling more suited to the average person. The Mondeo has some keen dynamics when driven harder giving the driver flatted handling due to the sports bias. While the Cerato simply does a great job of giving the driver a safe, comfortable ride to their destination.

But how would you know if you don't drive that car you may potentially purchase? Some people even say that most cars drive the same. While to a degree, all are similar at low speeds once above 60km/h the difference really starts to show.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fuel efficient driving

With mounting pressure on our pockets from fluctuating fuel prices, it's wise to have a closer look at how we all drive. This is not a lesson in how to decrease your impact on "global warming" as our impact is minimal. It's more about how to save money and have cleaner air around us.

Driving efficiently doesn't mean you need to buy a car with a smaller capacity engine either! You can keep your Ford Falcon or Toyota Aurion and still save some money at the pump.

Firstly and most importantly, pay attention and watch the road! As simple as this sounds it is critical. Not only will you most likely see a hazard ahead avoiding a potential accident, it can reduce braking time meaning coming off the accelerator earlier. By doing this, especially in large metropolitan areas like Sydney, the engine will spend less time under load and more time in its best economy range.
There will also be less brake wear on your car as a result!
Accelerating from a standing start in an orderly fashion most of the time will also help reduce consumption. If there is no need to have a traffic light GP then avoid it.

Tyre pressures should be checked every few fuel stops, or at least once every couple of weeks. The fuel efficiency of the car is improved when the tyres are at the right pressure. Check for what they should be in the owners manual, on one of the doors or the sill.

Check the boot/ hatch etc and see if you really need to carry that pram everywhere you go. Do all those CD's need to be in the glove box? Probably not.
As a guide, the above methods are a good way to save you some money. Should you buy a Toyota Prius or Ford Fiest ECOnetic? Possibly, if it suites you. However, there is also nothing better than some good old fashioned common sense as well.
Happy motoring.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

All new Kia Sorento

Now we're talking.

This is the latest and probably one of their Kia's best releases to date in Australia. On sampling this new car, one thing clearly strikes you every few minutes: This is a Kia?? This is no disrespect for the brand of course. It is more the fact that Kia have built small efficient new cars with a great warranty, it was hard to imagine they would come up with the something like the new Kia Sorento.

At first glance the styling screams of sophistication and class. It is so far removed from its predecessor in every way, it is more of a revolution than evolution!

The standard features list is extensive, probably far too long and boring to list here. Safety features are abundant and the diesel engine option is more than adequate.
One thing is for certain, most other competitors would cost somewhere around $15-20000 more for the same level of features. The Sorento has LED tail lamps and the Sorento Platinum has HID headlamps you would normally find in a European SUV. Such is the extent of its value. Coupled with a great warranty, 5yrs/Unlimited km, the choice must surely be narrowed down to a new Kia Sorento!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ford Fiesta ECOnetic

The much anticipated Fiesta ECOnetic has finally arrived. After a stellar performance in the Fuel Economy challenge in October where it averaged just over 3.0l/100km, there are high hopes the Fiesta ECOnetic will be the halo car for the Fiesta range. Highlighting the fuel economy benefits of the entire Fiesta range.

Powered by a fuel efficient 1.6l TDCi engine, the ECOnetic has enough pulling power (250Nm) to tackle all urban duties. It has the ability to accelerate briskly all the while sipping fuel at a very modest rate. One of the secrets is the it has a shift light indicating when the best time to change gears is. This enables the driver a good guide on how to best adjust their driving style to maximise the fuel economy benefits the Fiesta has.

At $24,990 Driveaway, the Fiesta ECOnetic is substancially less expensive than the hybrids out in the market place. The Toyota Prius is a great car and an example of how hybrids should be built, but is priced in the low to mid 40's. The Honda Civic Hybrid is another example of a great hybrid being available as a sedan and with automatic transmission.

Which ever way you look at it, the Fiesta is a great example of Ford's engineering and technology knowhow.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hyundai i30

Hyundai has long been seen as the budget car maker who was able to build cheap cars for the masses. It was very successful at it too with the Hyundai Excel. So much so that it did the unthinkable, it was the number one selling car on at least one month. It did so without the help of the fleets.

Fast forward to the present, and you have a vastly different company. While still proving new cars buyers great value with inexpensive cars like the Hyundai Getz, Hyundai now has alot more substance to their cars. Starting with the all new Hyundai Santa Fe launched in 2006, Hyundai began to turn itself into a we respected as well as feared car company. Fear so much in that the current Toyota CEO said that Hyundai is the car manufacturer he fears most.

Today, the all new Hyundai i30 has once again raised the bar and struck fear into its competitors. This car is very capable of doing the most basic of all tasks, with safety and piece of mind. Thoroughly obsorbant in its ride, it still manages to perform respectfully when driven hard as well. And lets face it, this is a 5 door hatch not a sports car.
It is a well equiped hatchback that has an iPod connection, Bluetooth, Air Conditioning, AntiLock Brakes (ABS) and power windows and mirrors. These are all a few of the many standard features in the i30. As you move up the model range, the features list grows substancially to provide a great value package.

Need more space? The i30CW is the right choice. It is one of the few wagons out there that is perfectly suited to work or family. It does this while being stylish at the same time remembering the i30 was designed in Europe.

The engines are also very competitive. The 2.0litre 4 cylinder petrol engine is power and returns good economy. Unlike most of its direct competitors, the i30 is available in a CRDi 1.6litre Diesel version as well. It is also the cheapest, and best value diesel passanger car you can buy in Australia. No one can compete and return the fuel savings like the Hyundai i30 for the money.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo

The Falcon XR6 Turbo has long been considered a performance bang for your buck since it's release in 2002. Starting with the BA, it blew away the competition with its Turbo urge and value for money.

It could do a 14sec quarter mile without much drama. Then you could drive it to work or take the family out for a drive and you wouldn't know its potency.

After a small visual and feature upgrade with the BA MkII Falcon including the 6 speed manual, the BF Falcon was released in 2005 with a host of visual and feature updates. The one that stood out most was the new 6 speed ZF Automatic transmission. The reason for this significance is that the 6 speed auto allowed the turbo charged 6 cylinder to engine to really exploit its torque and enhance acceleration even further. Sub-14sec quarter mile times were now a reality!

Fast forward to the FG Falcon XR6 Turbo. This car has once again set the bar very high amongst the competition! With a potent 270kw and 533Nm of torque, it has the abililty to launch the car into the low 13sec times down the strip. Now that's hauling!

Acceleration is simply a case of slightly straightening the ankle and the torque simply takes over and gets you to the speed limit without any fuss. Overtaking? No problems. In fact, the need to give the car full throttle acceleration in city traffic is almost unnecessary. It simply does not need it!

In terms of handling and braking the XR6 Turbo is very comfortable, while providing sure footed cornering and stopping for all applications in daily driving. Some spirited performance is always on tap as the car never feels unstable even in harder cornering with the right amount of chassis balance available.

On the inside, the seats are very comfortable and designed very much with comfort in mind as well as being gripy enough for the harder drivers.

The steering wheel feels great as does the feel. Everything also seems with in easy reach, especially the radio/CD and cruise control bottons located on the steering wheel. This has long been a Falcon advantage.

Fuel consumption is also a surprise. Ford claims 11.7/100km, but low 11 is certainly achievable even in city driving so long as there isn't much hard acceleration involved. On the highways, down to just over 7l/100km may even be achieved as proven at the fuel economy challenge in October.

So overall a very enticing package as a family car, a performance sedan and an executive cruiser.

Meaning, it is hard to beat.