Archive for review

Quick car review – 2010 Audi A4 Avant 2.0TDi

Posted in General opinions with tags , on 30/04/2014 by Alexander

Audi A4 AvantThere are more of these Audis on the roads in the country where I live than you can shake a stick at. A sign of quality or badge-snobbery uber alles?

Pros
– That engine. It’s not hard to fathom why the 2.0 TDi equips everything from VW Golfs to Audi A5s, because it’s a sublime piece of engineering. It’s the best of both worlds, with very economical performance in town (thanks to Stop-Start tech) to blistering motorway behaviour thanks to that superb 6-speed manual gearbox.
– The inside was above-par, with a lot of quality materials, fit, finish and design. Though very good, I wouldn’t go so far as to say it crowns Audi the king of interior design like a lot of motoring journalists insist on doing.

Cons
– The harshness of it all. Between the rock-hard seats and the rock-hard suspension, the ride was unbearable after a while. I spent a week in agony from the constant stupid jolting and shuddering I was subjected to in that f**king car. Every passenger I had in the Audi complained about the ride without me asking them, even my daughter. It was awful. I was pining for my old Volvo the whole time I drove the Audi.
– The equipment. Air-con and Bluetooth phone calls. That’s it. No USB input. No cruise control. No streaming. No heated mirrors. For a car that’s premium-branded and that expensive, it’s unacceptable. But then again, as I said with the Polo, it’s a very normal German thing, but what makes me scratch my head is just how willing most people are to be thrifted for a Teutonic product.
– The absurdly stupid user-interface. What a load of s**t. Where to start? Trip information is browsed via a button (obscured by the steering wheel) on the right stalk that has “RESET” written next to it. “RESET”?! How is anyone supposed to guess what it does?! This was also a problem in the Polo, hence my reference to stupid VAG-group interfaces. Then the trip computer itself has way too many options, where you scroll through what seems a never-ending combinations of display options. The central swivel wheel is counter-intuitive, since what most people think is the direction in which to turn the knob to go up goes down and vice versa. The high-beams lock when pushing the stalk away from you, not towards you as in every other car. The steering wheel had those pathetic finnicky scroll wheels where I had to guess what they did. What’s wrong with buttons? Rubbish.

In conclusion: One thing that puzzled me about this car was how ready everyone was to pardon its many faults just because it was an Audi. And we’re talking about people who have never ridden in an Audi, they’re just seduced by the badge. When I told them the ride was bone-shatteringly s**t, they’d reply “But it’s a good car, though.” If I had a Citroen and I’d say how excellent it was, I’d get a bunch of sarky comments on reliability.
I didn’t mention anything regarding the car’s looks because I’ve talked about them before. Audis aren’t that bad-looking, the problem is they’re such a common site and all so similar to every other Audi in the range that it ruins any sort of aesthetic impact any of them may have.
In sum, it’s an OK car whose main appeal is to be flashy while it does no more than equivalent offerings. Just isn’t worth the huge price tag unless status is everything to you.

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Quick car review – 2013 VW Polo 1.2TDi

Posted in General opinions with tags , on 29/04/2014 by Alexander

VW PoloThe mighty Polo, one of the most popular choices of supermini anywhere in Europe. I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting that much, since many of the cars motoring journalists pick as brilliant and have strong sales are usually underwhelming. Not the Polo, though. It delivers.

Pros
– Lovely materials and sense of robustness. Everything really felt nice, though the centre stack with the fake plastic aluminium was a bit of a let-down.
– Comfort and refinement. Nice and quiet with little noise from the diesel engine up-front.
– I loved that fake floor in the boot. Storage in the front was good too. It was all very practical and well-thought out.
– The engine, though not powerful at all, was as frugal as expected and smooth for a diesel. Suits the car like a glove.
– The looks. Not just good-looking for a German car, or good-looking for a super-mini, it’s good-looking full-stop. Little details like that 3D effect in the rear lights really set it off. I honestly think it looks even better than the Audi A1, which is essentially the same car but more expensive.

Cons
– The equipment. Dear Lord, there are discount cupboards sitting on IKEA shelves more generously equipped than this. No USB input, no cruise control, no air-con, not even a fag-lighter. That’s one of the problem with the Germans: anything resembling luxury is a pricey option. An equivalent entry-level Japanese or French car has oodles more features.
– The f**king stupid VAG-group user interface. I’ll explain in the next post.

I was chuffed with the VW Polo. There really wasn’t much not to like about it. However, that not much to like about it would be a deal-breaker for me personally. The Spartan equipment is just too hard a smack in the face when I could get a similarly-priced yet far, far better equipped and equally refined car like a Citroen C3 or Renault Clio. A real pity, since it’s a lovely thing.

Quick car review – 2013 Nissan Qashqai 1.6dCi

Posted in General opinions with tags , on 28/04/2014 by Alexander

Nissan QashqaiAt last I found out why the Qashqai is such as sales success. Sort of.

Pros
– Between the comfort, the interior space and the brilliant glass roof, the Qashqai was a nice place to be while driving. but with one enormous letdown, which I’ll get to later.
– I’ve mentioned it once and I’ll mention it again: comfort. This car ironed out all crap road features like a Citroen, and that’s fantastic in a day and age where it seems everyone goes for “sportiness” even though they’re actually never going to go properly fast nor have the faintest idea of what makes a car fun to drive.
– The engine wasn’t bad either. Nice and responsive yet frugal for a big car.

Cons
– The interior design & trim. Oh God. How can this car be so awful inside and yet be so popular? It doesn’t matter how good a car looks on the outside, it’s the innards you’re going to have to look at for the length of your ownership of said car. The Qashqai central instrument display showing trip info was so basic and low-res it looked like its graphics were from a mid-70′s Magnavox console. The instant consumption figures are in line with Renault’s, which is a stupid horizontal bar with no numeric info that makes the driver guess what the actual mpg number is. The centre screen with the sat-nav is so small, laggy and low resolution it would’ve looked wrong on a run-of-the-mill cellphone ten years ago. Then there’s other stuff like the buttons on the steering wheel. It’s nice to see they haven’t gone for the Peugeot route and made some of them invisible, but they’re located on the lower half of the wheel, meaning you have to both look down away from the road and move your hands to a weird position to press them. The whole interior design, stuff like vents and door handles, all lack flair and purpose, as if the designers couldn’t be bothered.

An excellent offering from Nissan, bar it’s terrible interior. If you get past how crap the innards are, it’s a top-notch choice of car.

Quick car review – 2013 Toyota Auris 1.4 D-4D

Posted in General opinions with tags , on 27/04/2014 by Alexander

Toyota AurisI didn’t have enough time to properly try this car out and test all of it’s features, so don’t hate me if I miss the mark here and there. Still, I had enough time enough time to reach some definite conclusions, as some things are so apparent they can’t be denied.

Pros
– Nice and comfortable and easy to drive.
– Good fit and finish, with a cosy feel behind the wheel.
– Pleasant and punchy diesel engine. It was a 1.4 like the Peugeot, but it felt like it pulled better. Didn’t have much time to test economy unfortunately.

Cons
– That styling. Ugh. I tried in my mind’s eye to fathom a way, an angle, anything to see this car as anything other than ugly. I failed. I don’t understand how anyone can look on all those odd angles and protruding lights and say “Mmm, that’s a properly good-looking car.”
– The dash layout. All wrong and stupid. Even the clock was hard to find. The central screen was awkwardly angled and hard to read. It also displayed information stupidly, and I couldn’t find my instant fuel consumption or a fuel average. Terrible.

All in all, it’s not a bad car, far from it. I just get the impression it’s made for people who want a means of transport and no fuss, not for someone who likes to drive and appreciates their choice.

Quick car review – 2013 Peugeot 208 1.4 HDi

Posted in General opinions with tags , on 26/04/2014 by Alexander

I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to drive some different cars since November, so I decided to write about what I thought of them. Bear in mind these weren’t chosen in any way by me, they were randomly “thrown my way” so to speak. I’ll be spouting out what I think of them in the next few posts, and we begin with the 2013 Peugeot 208 1.4 hDi.

Peugeot 208I’ve had a lot of time behind the wheel of this particular car. I wasn’t expecting much from it as it was an entry-level super-mini, but I have to admit I was surprised by the little French car.

Pros
– Extremely well-equipped for such a basic car. Cruise control, air-con, usb input and Bluetooth phone & streaming in a cheap, entry-level supermini. Outstanding.
– Great little engine. You’ll struggle at any speed above 100km/h (60mph), but to highlight that as a negative is missing the point. It’s a small, frugal engine for moderate use, and it delivers. It gets impressive mileage especially out on country roads (I got 3.1l/100km or 90mpg once, and without trying much). Yes, it’s gutless and useless for overtaking anything except tractors, but if you’re looking for performance, you’d never look here in the first place.
– Pleasant inner design. Not superbly finished, but practical and well-thought in terms of storage. Though not functionality, but we’ll get to that later.

Cons
– Refinement is pretty bad. Lots of engine noise, and any rough surface will make you hear every single little pebble that strikes the inside of the wheel arches. Lots of other outside noises also get in through the cracks in the doors and boot.
– The f**king touchscreen. I’ve harped on before on how bloody dangerous touchscreens are, and it seems to be worsening. Trip computer and all audio options are touchscreen-only, which means changing a radio station is risky in this car. And by the way, the radio is switched on whenever you start the car up, even if you were listening to USB or Bluetooth-streamed music before.
– Other stupid interface options. Cruise control is a stalk behind the wheel you can’t see while driving, which means you have to have studied the instructions before using it. Not cool. Then the buttons on the steering wheel are hard to fathom and finnicky, because they’re stupid scroll wheels that are so sensitive you end up jumping 3 tracks instead of one. The instrument binnacle is partially obscured by the steering wheel in my driving position, and Peugeot think it’s a good idea to waste display space both an analogue and digital speedometer. Why? Are drivers deemed to stupid to read speed from just one of those options?

In conclusion, it’s definitely a solid offering from Peugeot, but let down by it’s lack of refinement and stupid touchscreen.