Friday, 30 April 2010

Nissan Leaf

Leading, Environmentally-Friendly, Affordable, Family Car.

Some good news for the British car industry - it's going to be built in Sunderland (amongst other places Worldwide) Top speed about 90mph - range about 100 miles - although obviously not both at the same time. Cost estimated at about £20K to £25K which seems a bit bit steep for something that's going to struggle once you get out of town but then again, I suppose it's the City Centre user that this is aimed at. Although City-Centre people may have issues charging it from home, they don't tend to have drives to park their cars on and charging will take about 8 hours - which seems par for the course for current (ha! "current" geddit!?) electric vehicles. Feel sorry for our American cousins with their 110V supplies - it'll take them twice as long. I'm definately not too sure about the looks. The rear looks very strange - the relatively small wheels don't help...

As for the front, it took me a while to work out what that reminded me of.

And, then it came to me...

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

I saw an old lady driving a Smart Car today.

I don't know why that should be strange but it was. I suppose the Smart image is that of a young or middle-aged woman - you only see a bloke driving one if it belongs to a pizza company or estate agents.

The Smart is an ideal old-person's car though, it's small, economical, easy to climb into and better looking than a Perodua Kenari or Hyundai Atoz. It does only have two seats of course so I suppose that is where the Perodua and Hyundai would win out - similarly with the Vauxhall Agila/Suzuki Wagon-R - same car different badge. This has recently been reworked and there has been a big improvement...
Before...and after

This revamp will certainly bring younger drivers to the model - I don't know if it will put off any of the older ones though.

Anyway, here's a car that BMW are hoping will appeal to the female pensioner. It's called the Gran Coupe...

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Blacked Out Windows

City Stars Fined For Illegal Window Tints. Quite right too - not that £30 will have any impact on them. I've always wondered about blacked out windows - doesn't it just mean you've got an ugly family?

Eng-er-land Eng-er-land!

The England flags have started appearing on cars around here. It could be connected to St.George's Day yesterday but it's more likely a precursor to the World Cup. Although I will be cheering on England in South Africa, my car won't be sporting any such flags - not that I have any problem with people who do display them - it's a nice bit of patriotism.

I haven't yet received my first email (and I know there will be some) slagging off such people - the gist is usually that they are chavs and each flag signifies a motoring conviction or some sort of disability. I think these emails are probably started by the same sort of sad person who likes to start emails that have warnings that they say should be forwarded to as many people as possible - these emails always end up in my deleted folder.

My only problem is - I think these guys are going to win ->

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

BMW Zero-Series

Auto Express have reported this this week - a fiesta-sized BMW with front-wheel drive and a BMW badge. This is as opposed to the Mini Countryman which seems to be invading the same territory. Having said that, the Countryman is described as "Golf-sized", which ought to be bigger than "Fiesta-sized" unless they mean the Mark I Golf which was tiny (although not as tiny as the original Fiesta) This is getting confusing.

As for front-wheel drive, BMW have always resisted it in their BMW-badged cars, claiming that rear-wheel drive is better for handling and makes a car more of a "driver's car" - this may be true if you are Jensen Button but if you use the car to pootle about town, you're not going to appreciate doing tail-out slides around hairpin bends - in fact, RWD may just scare the wits out of you if you lose it on an icy roundabout in Swindon in January. A recent survey of 1-Series drivers showed that over half did not know that their car was rear-wheel drive - that has to irritate BMW but maybe shows why they have moved into front-wheel drive territory first with MINI and now with this.

I'm not generally a fan of BMWs, the X5 tends to be driven by complete idiots and the X6 just looks absoultely stupid when you see one in the flesh. I have to admit that the only BMW I've driven a sensible distance in was actually very pleasant to drive - and that was a six-year old 3-Series that had had a hard life. Also, the people who used to drive BMWs very badly on motorways have now moved into Audis so BMW may be able to claw back some reputation there.

Overall, I do like the look of the new Zero-Series - I suppose they couldn't call it the half-Series because that would just be daft. I'll give it 8/10 for looks but I won't be buying one - especially not at £16000.

Friday, 16 April 2010


Check this out!

Fortunately, it looks like no one was hurt.

It does look very much like Terry-Thomas and Eric Sykes must have sneaked into the pits beforehand.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

I Could Never Be A Driving Instructor...

...because I don't have an "L" in my name.

I also don't have the patience or reserve not to panic. I'm fine as a passenger but I know I wouldn't be able to cope if I was in charge from the passenger seat.

Incidentally, if you're wondering where this photo' came from, it's here.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Taken For a Ride

For quite a while now, probably since the demise of Reliant, it has been widely accepted that the largest British-owned car-maker was LTI who make the black cabs that grace our city streets. How irritating for them, you may think, that the Chinese manufacturer, Geely, who are very big in the rip-off of popular European cars market have produced this...

Although it's not quite as blatant as some of their earlier work...
Geely Mercedes anyone? Geely Roller?
How about a Geely Skoda, then?

The sad news here, though, is it isn't simply just a copy. This story from Autocar explains that Geely have actually bought out the parent company of LTI and shipped production to China leading to further job losses in Coventry and another nail in the coffin of the once-gigantic British car industry. I don't understand how this story seems to have slipped under the radar of so much of the motoring media, maybe it's something to do with the election but I'd have thought the Tory press would have picked up on it at least - if for no other reason than to print pictures of Geely fakes.

Like I did.

Looking at the pictures on the Autocar site, the Geely Taxi seems to be quite a bit smaller than the LTI cars making them more manoeurverable, manourverable, maneurverable, handy in town but with the capacity to take only four passengers rather than the usual five which, I imagine, would actually make them less popular with taxi-drivers and late-night parties of drunks wanting to get home.

OK, that's the end of the article, someone call me a cab.

"You Sir, are a cab."

Thank you and goodnight.

Monday, 5 April 2010


Probably not a fair fight this, because I only watched the highlights of the Grand Prix whereas I watched all of the first three rounds of the BTCC.

The Grand Prix actually had a bit of action at the start and it was good to see the Red Bull cars doing so well. Webber showed (once again) that he is not quite up to the pace of his team-mate so once Vettel passed him, there was a bit of a procession then to the finish line. I am very pleased that Vettel won, especially since I've gone off McLaren since Ron Dennis has spoken out in favour of the Tories. It was Schuey's turn to have mechanical problems this time and he was joined soon after by Alonso so that's left Massa leading the Championship for Ferrari.

Meanwhile, over at Thruxton, it was very good to see Fabrizio Giovanardi back after it looked like he wouldn't be competing although the current champion Colin Turkington was notable by his absence - it seems crazy that he couldn't get the sponsorship deals sorted when two other drivers, one of whom I'd never heard of, did manage it. The first race was slightly processional, but the second and third, maybe because ballast had been added, were much better. The second involved a "coming together" of old rivals Plato and Neal but I think they shocked everyone by being really nice about it and even joking before shaking hands. In the third race, Neal had another "coming together", this time with race-leader Rob Collard. It took them both out and since Rob is another who manages to have more than his fair share of "comings together", words were shared that were not so friendly. While there is definitely a place for the nice guys like Turk and Gio, the sport also definitely needs the passionate guys like Neal, Plato and Collard and, from the past, the likes of Muller and Cleland.

As I said, it was never going to be a fair fight, but I'd still put the BTCC on the top step of the podium any day.