Thursday, 28 March 2013

Scooby Doo, Where Are You?

You're not in Britain, that's for sure.  Back in December, Top Gear had the story that Subaru were, due to dwindling sales, ceasing the sale of the WRX boy-racer special in the UK.  To mark this passing, the February edition of Top Gear Magazine had an interesting potted history of the model including its many forms dating back into the last century when it was better known as The Impreza.

Your average boy-racer who wanted a rally-inspired 4WD saloon always had two choices, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo or the Subaru Impreza.  They were always very evenly matched so it became more a brand loyalty issue or just a case of going by the looks.

Not being a boy-racer, I never really considered either car but I did think that some of the Imprezas (like the one Richard Hammond took to find the source of The Nile) were very visually challenging.

Today, Autoguide have the unveiling of a new WRX Concept at the New York Motor Show - a foretaste of a car we won't be seeing on British roads until the importers catch on.
Autoguide claim it looks quite Jaguar-ish but I can see quite a bit of this car in it...
Quite an evolution.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Testing Times

My car passed its MOT Test on Tuesday.

It wouldn't have done so today.

The test wasn't due to expire until April 8th.  It's a good job I always put it in early because the rules changed yesterday.

Thanks for warning us about that, Ministry of Transport!!

There has been bugger-all publicity about this from what I have seen and heard.  A letter with the road-tax reminder wouldn't have gone amiss.

Even the press haven't been that bothered - The Telegraph were the only one I spotted who had a story on it.  They quote the AA's patrolman of the year who tells us, “If you’ve been happily ignoring a warning light because it’s not part of the MOT, these changes mean your car could now be on the MOT scrap heap or you’ll need to fork out on expensive repairs.”

Basically, the test is a lot tougher now including airbags, onboard sensors and other items that reflect how cars themselves have advanced technologically over the years.

On a personal note, I found out last Autumn that the rules were going to change although I didn't know when that change was going to happen.

Like Penny from The Big Bang Theory, my wife has been driving around for ages with this sight in front of her:
At the time, her MOT tester told us that we wouldn't fail for that light but it would be a failure 12 months down the line.

When Penny's car broke down and Sheldon pointed out that he'd warned her about the check engine light months before, her reply was quite logical:

"The light was just fine, it is still blinking away.  It's the stupid engine that stopped working."

My car has the opposite problem - a light that doesn't come on when it should.  The interior courtesy lights don't come on when you open the front, passenger door.

Doesn't sound like a big deal does it?

But it also means that the dashboard warning light that the door is open also doesn't come on.

Still, I have a year to get it sorted.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Doing the Board-Walk

The 13th seems to have been unlucky for these two chaps.
The first is Charles Morgan of the Morgan Car Company. The second is Henrik Fisker, late of the Fisker Car Company. Not to be confused with Fusker:
James May's late cat.

Both these men have stood down as boss of the company that bears their name. Morgan's story is in Autocar here while Fisker's is in Autoguide here.

Both stories cite differences between the boss and the Board but while Fisker is leaving altogether, Morgan will be staying on. Nick Baker, sales manager at the Morgan Motor Company, said, "Charles will remain the figurehead of Morgan. His role is now to focus on opening doors and creating the market." Market Creator sounds a better job title than Doorman and although he is described as "the figurehead of Morgan", Autocar have called him "The face of Morgan".

They seem to be implying he is cross-eyed:
(Which he isn't)

Monday, 11 March 2013


Next time you're on one of these... might be able to buy one of these...
This short story from Bloomberg states that a Chinese Airline, Spring Airlines, plans to start selling Chinese cars as early as next month.

“We wanted to start in-flight sales a few years ago, and decided cars are suitable for our passengers,” said spokesman Zhang Wu’An. “Car sales are very popular in Shanghai and our passengers can have time during their flight to study details of the models available.

Car sales on flights will initially be available on flights from Shanghai and could be introduced to other flights", Zhang said. "Flight attendants will be trained on the car details, while passengers may be eligible for discounts", he said.

They would need to be - in my experience, anything bought on a plane costs a lot more than anything bought on the ground. Here's a Thomson in-flight menu. £3.80 (approx €4.30 or $5.70) for a SMALL can of Bud!

They don't claim to know which cars they would be selling but they have stated that they will be a Chinese brand, hence my picture of a Chery QQ but now that MG and Volvo are both owned by the Chinese, who knows?

Maybe the idea will spread.

Ryanair could do it.

But you'd have to pay extra for the wheels and engine.

And the car you bought would always take you miles away from your destination.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly...and The Beautiful and the Blobby

All, and when I say "All", I Mean "ALL" of the car press today are going on about the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.  The show opens on Thursday in, of all places, Geneva.

But they've let the press in already.

Very much as I'd love to be there with them, I cannot be for various reasons including work commitments, family commitments, finances, logistics and the fact that I'm not a real journalist.

So I have to pick apart what they are all reporting.

Let's start with the good. That would be The Mitsubishi CE-MiEV.
This is the much-better follow-up to the i-MiEV.  Autocar cover it here.  It is an electric car with better range and recharging times than the i-MiEV but still not as good as the Silex Power Chreos.
Most importantly, though, it doesn't look stupid like the i-MiEV - actually, I think it looks a lot like a Prius.  But not as good looking as Mitsubishi's other offering at the show, the GR-HEV:

A futuristic- looking  hybrid pick-up with a one-tonne payload.
OK, so that's the "good", evironmentally friendly and all that, now for the "bad".  I don't mean "bad" as in "not good", I mean "bad" in the Michael Jackson way.
Now, I don't mean "Michael Jackson way" as in the dodgy allegations that saw him in Court, I mean the "Michael Jackson way" as in the 1987 album he called "Bad".
Now that's clarified, I expected the "baddest" car at Geneva to be the McLaren P1 but it seems to have had the headlines taken off it by the Rolls-Royce Wraith. 

Here's one of Autoguide's stories on it. It is described as the most powerful Rolls ever. I'd say it would be a bit of a Bentley-worrier. They claim it's in a different price-bracket but I think it's a lot more attractive and should appeal to the Cheshire set - it's only the suicide-doors that I don't like. It also has a neat headlining inside which looks like a starry sky at night. It has been done before but will give that "out in a cabriolet on a warm Summer's evening" feeling that everyone loves so much.
Don't they?
Oh well, even so, it does look appealing.
Which brings me neatly round to...

Not sure what the man in the photo is doing.  That thing is a Toyota i-Road.  It's an electric three-wheeler, two-seater much in the vein of the Renault Twizy.  And the glass doors means it shares a problem with the Twizy in that people will be able to see you driving it.  I've read a few reviews of the Twizy being tested in the UK and each time the reviewer has commented about derogatory remarks being shouted at him.  Now I can't possibly condone such action. 
But I can well understand it.
Now to "the beautiful".  When I read this article in about the ItalDesign Giugiaro Parcour concept, I immediately thought of  the Silex Power Chreos in as much as it is a pretty, computer-generated car:
However, if this is vapour-ware, it is very solid because here are some people having a good, close look at it...
I think it is gorgeous and very reminiscent of the supercars of my childhood in the '70s.
That was a time when ItalDesign were doing their only other work that I am aware of - ie, the squaring off of the Morris Marina to produce the Morris Ital:
Also, the peak time for Ford to be producing the Escort.  I keep thinking they've started again because I keep seeing stories about this car at Geneva:
It's the Ford EcoSport - which looks like "Escort" when you're flicking through car stories.  This car looks nothing like an Escort, though. It looks like a tall Ford Kuga - the Ford Kuga it will be replacing as opposed to the bigger "World Car" Ford Kuga that seems to have replaced the outgoing Ford Kuga here in The UK.  Confusing eh?
So, in summary, that's the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.  You don't need to go now.