Workaday vehicles of the Agency

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Re: Workaday vehicles of the Agency

Post by Alfisti on Wed 5 Oct 2011 - 6:11

Speaking of everyday cars, I handed back my rental Toyota Camry today... with no great amount of emotional trauma either I might add.



That said: I really can't find anything bad to say about it... it certainly wasn't the hateful box of misery I found the Yaris sedan to be (seriously, the only thing I wanted to do after getting in was to get out again: ASAP). That said, I can't find anything particularly interesting or standout to say either. Ok, so I still have no idea what the front wheels were doing, I couldn't see the corners to reverse park and didn't get along with the auto gearbox (but I've not yet been able to find a slushbox I could get along with... and that includes the rather nice ZF units in the Disco 4, BMWs and whatever Merc is using right now). However, once I got used to the extra bulk it was resonably easy to place on the road, it was resonably quiet and resonably comfortable. It didn't smell great inside but I'm not certain if that's a Toyota thing or a rental car thing...

...and lets be honest here: if you really want to blend in it'd be difficult to think of a less conspicuous car.

At the end of the day it's a good car to get people who don't like and have no interest in cars from A to B and, taking it from a design perspective rather than an enthusiasts perspective: the designers can be proud of that... because taking that step back is bloody difficult at times.

It's a perfectly competent appliance... hell, mine was even white like a washing machine.


Here endeth Alfisti's short car review about everyday vehicles.

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Re: Workaday vehicles of the Agency

Post by Kiskaloo on Wed 5 Oct 2011 - 8:09

Kara: "You should do a guest review on TGI, Monty!"

Monty:

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Re: Workaday vehicles of the Agency

Post by Professor Voodoo on Thu 6 Oct 2011 - 0:25

@Alfisti wrote:...and lets be honest here: if you really want to blend in it'd be difficult to think of a less conspicuous car.
Elio: That's why I tried to rent a beige one for our secret mission in Las Vegas...until the Minister went over my head and got a red Mustang convertible.

Minister Petris: Quiet, you.
That said: I really can't find anything bad to say about it...
Camrys are a rental fleet staple here in the US, I've driven way too many of them. The newest one I've sampled (a 2009) had a decent interior, and did well on the highway but the handling was atrocious...soft to the point of feeling wobbly & unstable.

Its direct competitor (here in the US at least) is the Ford Fusion, which did not have as convenient an interior (lots of switches in awkward places) but its handling and braking prowess blew the Camry out of the water. Seriously, the brakes on the Fusion were awesome.
it certainly wasn't the hateful box of misery I found the Yaris sedan to be
I sampled a Yaris hatchback in Aruba and found it well suited to the dusty, wind-swept island. On tight, undulating roads with unpredicatable traction it was small & light enough to toss around like a rally car. Had I driven it on the highway or in a large city my opinion might be different but mine was just the right thing for the task.

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Re: Workaday vehicles of the Agency

Post by Alfisti on Thu 6 Oct 2011 - 4:27

@Professor Voodoo wrote:Camrys are a rental fleet staple here in the US, I've driven way too many of them. The newest one I've sampled (a 2009) had a decent interior, and did well on the highway but the handling was atrocious...soft to the point of feeling wobbly & unstable...

Its direct competitor (here in the US at least) is the Ford Fusion, which did not have as convenient an interior (lots of switches in awkward places) but its handling and braking prowess blew the Camry out of the water. Seriously, the brakes on the Fusion were awesome.
To be honest I didn't really test the brakes out that much, my driving style doesn't tend to involve a lot of heavy breaking.

As to the ride and handling, I found the Camry not too bad. It was certainly no sports car and definately not what you'd call "chuckable" but it was competent. I think Australia might get a slightly different suspension tune to the US or other parts of the world. I know Kia does a specific setup for here so it wouldn't greatly suprise me if Toyota did as well. Generally as far as I know, Aussie cars tend to get a slightly firmer setup.

@Professor Voodoo wrote:I sampled a Yaris hatchback in Aruba and found it well suited to the dusty, wind-swept island. On tight, undulating roads with unpredicatable traction it was small & light enough to toss around like a rally car. Had I driven it on the highway or in a large city my opinion might be different but mine was just the right thing for the task.
Ah, that might be the difference then: I was using it to commute between Newcastle and Raymond Terrace (small down about half an hour's highway drive north). The highway manners weren't the only thing that bugged me though, I know the Camry doesn't have a particularly special interior, but it does a good job of hiding how cheap it is. The Yaris just felt cheap and nasty: hard plastics in all the wrong places and so on. Probably didn't help that it had a decidedly average auto-box in it either.

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Re: Workaday vehicles of the Agency

Post by tremec6speed on Tue 18 Oct 2011 - 1:04

Jean: Ok peoples now hear this: We just got a real deal on these old
surplus Soviet 4X4 vans! Presenting for every fratello: the UAZ-452!
All fratellos: Yikes!


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Re: Workaday vehicles of the Agency

Post by Kiskaloo on Tue 18 Oct 2011 - 7:46

Olga: "That brings back memories..."

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Re: Workaday vehicles of the Agency

Post by tremec6speed on Tue 18 Oct 2011 - 13:15

@Kiskaloo wrote:Olga: "That brings back memories..."
Alessandro: What, of warm cozy dates in the back of the van?
*pow!*
Olga: zhopa.... (a$$hole)

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Re: Workaday vehicles of the Agency

Post by Professor Voodoo on Tue 18 Oct 2011 - 18:29

@tremec6speed wrote:
@Kiskaloo wrote:Olga: "That brings back memories..."
Alessandro: What, of warm cozy dates in the back of the van?
*pow!*
Olga: zhopa.... (a$$hole)
Elio: I got chased by KGB agents driving one of those once.

Olga: Where?

Elio: Tatra mountains...I think it was near Zakopane in Poland. Eh...I was on ski's so I guess it was winter, 1983 or so.

Olga: Святое дерьмо! That was you? We almost got you!

Elio: You never even got close!

Ayden: (whispering) Grown-ups get even weirder when the get old, don't they?

Kara:

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Re: Workaday vehicles of the Agency

Post by tremec6speed on Wed 19 Oct 2011 - 1:45

@Professor Voodoo wrote:
@tremec6speed wrote:
@Kiskaloo wrote:Olga: "That brings back memories..."
Alessandro: What, of warm cozy dates in the back of the van?
*pow!*
Olga: zhopa.... (a$$hole)
Elio: I got chased by KGB agents driving one of those once.

Olga: Where?

Elio: Tatra mountains...I think it was near Zakopane in Poland. Eh...I was on ski's so I guess it was winter, 1983 or so.

Olga: Святое дерьмо! That was you? We almost got you!

Elio: You never even got close!

Ayden: (whispering) Grown-ups get even weirder when the get old, don't they?

Kara:

Ayden: *munch* *chomp* By the way, want a bite of my peanut butter and mustard sandwich?
Kara: NO

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Re: Workaday vehicles of the Agency

Post by Alfisti on Mon 2 Apr 2012 - 8:02

So, I'll likely be spending a fair amount of time in hire cars over the coming months. Each time I get something different, I'll write a few words around it... I dunno, maybe it'll be useful for those needing cheap rentals for their fratelli (or maybe this is just a way to satiate the bit of me which wishes it was a motoring journalist).

So, Alfisti Drives a Boggo Car: Hyundai i30.


The Hyundai i30 has been getting a good wrap from the motoring press, billed as the Korean company's first shot across the bows of the Japanese, so perhaps I set my expectations too high. Either way, my first encounter with the i30 was not a particularly happy one. To be fair I wasn't exactly in a good state of mind to meet my wheels for the next couple of days either: it had been a long week, it had been a long day and I'd just spent two and a half hours letting Virgin do what would have taken QantasLINK one and a bit. Being presented at 8 o'clock at night with a white hatchback which unlocked with a somewhat tinny "cher-chenk" did not do much to brighten the mood.

Still, the boot is reasonably roomy and it comes with a full-size spare, which is better than BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Nissan, Mitsubishi and any number of other manufacturers can manage. Pity the same can't really be said about the seats. They're not bad, but the fabric isn't that nice to the touch and, as with a lot of hatchbacks, give the distinct impression of sitting on the car rather than in it. Hard plastics abound in the cabin, but the interior is leaps ahead of the last Hyundai I drove (a Getz, which actually wasn't a bad little car) and the designers have done well putting soft-touch plastics where it really matters: across the top of the dash, window sills and the like.

The worst suprise of the evening however was reserved for twisting the ignition... seriously, on arriving home I actually popped the fuel filler the check that it said "unleaded" under there and not "diesel" it was that rough from cold, a sensation mimiced when it was put under load. The other reason I wanted to check is because of how strong the engine was off the lights: it pulls hard before throwing forward that other diesel trait of rapidly running out of revs. This was later found to be somewhat related to the throttle seemingly doing all it's work in the top two inches of its travel. What pressing it any further does is prod the senior gearbox imp with a big stick, waking it up to suggest you might want a lower gear. It then signs a form to pass onto its PA to stamp, proof read and then send via internal gearbox imp-mail to the worker-imps... who have a very good Union and are all on smoko so refuse to do anything untill the end of their break. They finally finish, scratch themselves, then push the lever to give you the next gear down, and if you try to hurry them along with a bigger prod they just slam the thing home so it changes with a massive jolt. Weirdly though, they do seem to enjoy going up gears, meaning the poor engine spends much or its time clattering along on the edge of a stall.

Seriously, if you can, get a manual.

Needless to say, after our first night together the i30 and I weren't really getting along: though the stero isn't bad and the aircon works well.

Saturday didn't see much thawing of the relationship. The ride isn't bad though, soaking up pot holes and road imperfections
quite well... though cats-eys and similar really sudden changes threw it
for a loop.

On sunday, because this is what our family does for kicks, my father and I decided to take it up our favored test route, which has seen everything from Camrys and Land Rovers to Elises and Super Sevens. My father is generally good for a second opinion (not to mention a far superior driver) and confirmed two things for me: the gearbox is awful, and the electric power-steering's weighting is just plain odd and transmits zero feel. The first indication the driver gets of the i30 being outside it's comfort zone is the soft squeal of tyres running wide, that said it feels suprisingly planted... so why does Dad look so uncomfortable? Genetically we're not good passengers but still.

Get to the end of the route, swap seats for the run back... Ok, I get it now. What we both agreed on: you get a better feeling for what the car's doing from the passenger seat than as the driver. Possibly not the safest way to arrange things, but it makes the driver feel comfortable and, for the i30's target demographic; they're probably not likely to be pushing the boundaries anyway. The brakes aren't bad either, progressive and easy to modulate: great for left-foot braking to balance the lazy torque-converter pickup.

A glance at the speedo also says we're doing about 80kph. To put that in perspective: The Elise starts to feel uncomfortable at 120kph, the 135i at about 110kph and the Alfetta at 90... so 80 ain't too bad for a shopping trolley. Frankly, ditch the auto and it could probably be a resonably fun little car.

Cue 4am.

Yeah, 4am... back on Virgin again with no fast check-in and because the plane's that much slower, despite leaving fifteen minutes earlier we'll still arrive in Gladstone five minutes after Qantas' 6:15am milk-run. That means, leaving time to refuel the car, 4am out of the house... at which point I really couldn't care less about acceleration or sharp steering or mid-corner adjustability: all I want to do is get from point A to point B with as little fuss as possible.

4am turns you into the Hyundai's target demographic.

Yes the interior's still not as cossetting as I'm used to, and the engine is still clattery from cold... but it warms up quickly to get the heater running and at the mild throttle openings I'm using buzzes along unobtrusively in the background. I still hate the gearbox mind, its slow shifts are still annoying and the lack of engine braking gives me one more thing I need to do. Arriving at the airport, Thrifty is just opening its doors and leaving the i30 behind there's no longing look back. That said, I'm not running away either.

Bottom line: the i30 is a perfectly competent shopping trolley, let down by an absolutely atrocious gearbox. I don't hate autos as much as I used to, and the properly modern ones make a lot of sense in croweded cities where what a car really needs to do is edge its way along in rush hour. Hyundai's four-speed here has put my opinion of them back a few notches: the 2012 update however gets their newly developed 6-speeder, I'll be curious to know what it's like. Would I reccomend it to a friend? Hmm, when it was new to someone not interested in cars? Probably... in manual guise... the same way I reccomended the Getz to a friend. Now? Not so much, it's starting to show its age, hence the coming update, and it needs it to be able to go in to bat against the Mazda 3, Ford Focus, Skoda Fabia, Toyota Carolla, Holden Cruze and any of the other denizens of the over-populated small car market. However, the desigers have done a damn good job of hitting their target demographic: any idiot can make a car luxurious and fast with enough money, it's an entirely different challenge to create a good product for a budget.

That's probably why I find cheap cars so fascinating.

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Re: Workaday vehicles of the Agency

Post by Alfisti on Thu 25 Jun 2015 - 1:52

Well, ladies and gentlemen of the SWA, say hello to the 159's new front-engine, rear-drive replacement...


...the hot version at least. I presume a more suitable "every day" variety for police and government work will be along in time.

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Re: Workaday vehicles of the Agency

Post by Kiskaloo on Thu 25 Jun 2015 - 9:27

Kara: "Shotgun!"

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Re: Workaday vehicles of the Agency

Post by MP5 on Thu 25 Jun 2015 - 21:12

Allison: Yes. Very yes.

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