Archive for the 'errata' Category

my how you’ve grown

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Nearly two decades ago the Honda/Acura NSX shook up the performance car scene.

This year, the Nissan GT-R is said to be doing the same.

But could the two cars be any more different?

Looking at this picture I stumbled across on the web – is the NSX is too much like a Formula 1 car or is the GT-R is too much like an SUV?

new MINI suffers the effects of cost cutting

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

I’ve ranted before on my concerns with the new MINI based on what I’d seen in pictures and what I’d read regarding the engineering used.

Now that I’ve seen it in the flesh I’m even more concerned…

I must admit that it looks less awkward in person than in photos. But simply walking around and sitting in the car I noticed some serious flaws, especially when compared to the last version. All stem from BMW’s directive to make the next Cooper more profitable than the last one.

The last Cooper felt more like an old 911 than the current 911 – the feel of the switchgear, the door latches, even the fuel filler cap were tactile delights that hinted that the components were meant for looooong service lives.

Walking around the new Cooper you immediately notice a huge gap between the hood and the front wheel arch. Oops.

Unlatching that hood from the inside you appreciate the fact that the latch is relocated to the correct side but the feel of the pull convinces you you’ve broken something. Gritty is too kind a word. Lifting that hood you notice that the panel’s not just lighter, it’s downright frail in feel – if you don’t lift from the middle you can see the panel distort under its own weight. Imagine picking up a Dell laptop by the corner vis a vis an Apple Powerbook – such is the magnitude of the disparity. (A 91 Civic felt more robust!)

The fuel filler looks serious but when you touch it its lightweight plastic roots are too evident. People trading their old MINI for new will miss the way their old car was built at every fill-up.

The trunk latch, like the new X5’s, lacks the old models precise electric latch and soft touch button. Again the sound and feel is shamed by far cheaper cars. The Suzuki SX4 - a car that’s built far better than it need be – comes to mind.

Sitting inside the visibility isn’t what it was – the dash slightly higher and deeper. The speedometer’s larger size you’ll get used to but the way the climate controls move through their range of motion and the overstyled nature of the controls you won’t. Splitting the radio into two areas didn’t make sense in the 7 series and it doesn’t here either. Gimmicks like the downlighting that changes hues (but only matches the dash lighting on one setting) and toggle switches mounted overhead, aircraft style probably seemed like a good idea around the water cooler but should have been left in the trash can right next to it.

I’d have started the engine and taken it for a drive but didn’t want my disappointment with the above to cloud my judgement of the purportedly more refined – some might say aloof – feel.

More to come…

why MINI’s puffed up new Cooper leaves me deflated

Sunday, October 15th, 2006

The old Cooper struck a shockingly artful balance between the rawness of the original and the refinement of a BMW - even the supercharger’s whine mimicked the gear whine of the original.

In remaking the new Cooper, MINI had to do something and the new car will no doubt be an advance in many areas (particularly in having a lighter, aluminum blocked engine). But from a design and intent standpoint, certain things make it more pre to trend than its rather timeless predecessor. They are: Read the rest of this entry »

a little rough around the edges

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

UPDATE: Click here to download a short clip taken during the my drive…

Original post [08.28.06]: Acura recently decided to drop the RSX from their U.S. lineup, feeling it was too unrefined and raucous to be sold next to cars like the RL and MDX. So it surprised me today that I was relieved to return the keys to the RDX because it felt – well – unrefined.

Let me back up by saying this was a car I expected to love. On paper it has one of the world’s most advanced all wheel drive systems, a suspension based on the new Civic’s (a good thing) and loads of torque without resorting to a heavy V6. It has the industry’s best nav system with real time traffic data. It was benchmarked against BMW’s X3. I was sure I’d love it.

But I didn’t, and neither did the potential buyer I accompanied. And here’s why… Read the rest of this entry »

Acura’s A-Spec package for the TL - don’t drive home without it

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006
The A-SPEC’s performance enhancers involve more aggressive suspension tuning, as designed by Makoto Tamamura, the famed chassis engineer behind Acura’s NSX sports car…. the stock TL torque-steers upon corner exit and understeers severely when pushed hard into a corner. In A-SPEC form, both torque steer and understeer are dramatically reduced—we even experienced an occasional hint of oversteer on aggressive corner turn-in. Braking performance from the factory-installed Brembo four-piston disc brakes improves, too, thanks to reduced nosedive during hard stops and the stickier rubber. source: Motor Trend

(The package improves slalom times by nearly 4 miles per hour and increases lateral grip by .06g. We continue to suggest those in the market for a TL or TSX insist the A-spec suspension be installed before delivery).

Has ‘hybrid’ lost all meaning?

Saturday, October 8th, 2005

Like ‘SUV’, the term ‘hybrid’ has become a media buzzword that’s now being slapped on an increasing number of vehicles. While many deride SUVs as unsafe and inefficient, I can name cars that don’t handle as well and drink more fuel than – say – a Subaru Forester or BMW X3.

I recently drove the Lexus RX400h in the type of urban driving that the hybrid is supposed to be best at and averaged 18 miles per gallon, while Motor Trend’s Long Term test of a 2004 Chevy Silverado Hybrid resulted in an overall average of 14.8mpg.

Has ‘hybrid’ simply come to mean ‘less inefficient than it might have been’?