Tuesday, April 10, 2007

In The Garage

It's been a busy time; hence no blogging. One thing after another!

Some excitement on the not so distant horizon, will tell as it approaches (or I'll remain silent if it doesn't pan out!)...

Today marks episode one in an ongoing series called "In The Garage"- where I will post pics and occasional reviews of cars I am testing, driving or viewing.

Audi's TT- Turbo 2ltr 6spd Manual spent Easter with us. No eggs sadly, but unlike the mythical bunny, this is the real deal: handles like a dream, the engine is somewhat peaky (as an old two stroke rider I get it) and can get boggy if you don't take the whip to it. The brakes are fabulous; progressive, firm and the suspension/tyres combo is spot on. The driving position is kinda weird at first- very racy and there's plenty of adjustment there for those who like to fiddle (guilty, sir). I love the look of this thing; angry yet graceful.
NEIL MITCHELL: buy this damn thing.
Engine (when spinning about 4,000 RPM), the brakes, slick gearbox, the handling, the bad arse looks, the dash layout and colours. Best front wheel drive (ie notso torque steer-y) on the market.
Notso: Back seat is a joke. Rachel could not sit upright and Kat Riley banged her head as we went over a bump. The ride is too firm for most. Small odd shaped rear storage, price, front wheel drive. Rachel described the car as the sort "a guy buys when he leaves his wife". Apparently that's bad...

Oh there's a tough choice right there: Triumph Speed Triple vs Audi TT. I own the Trumpy and I can take her out anytime. I'll call her the wife. The Audi is the mistress and as a result, we had a wild weekend together.

Holden HSV Clubsport R8. The wild child is still wild, but now has some manners.
Previous versions of this long term stalwart of the HSV family did not have the outright kilowatt-ness of this one, but were far more brutal in handling, brakes and refinement. A triumph of brutality over refinement so to speak.
Thankfully, the VE models have not only received the makeover of the VE body, but the suspension and brakes that a 400Hp+ car should have. The V8 is still throaty under a firm pedal (methinks it's mainly induction not exhaust noise) and with the traction control on it's well mannered and sits flat and firm on sweepers and higher speed stuff.
With serious legroom for all passengers (the middle passenger seat is a middle child seat- not quite plush-o-rama) the HSV Clubsport is a big car but feels smaller thanks to lively handling and THAT engine.
Speaking of THAT engine, with the cruise control engaged at 100km/h and in 6th the fuel economy drops to around the 8-9ltrs/100kms. It's a moot point because as soon as you want to pass another vehicle or the road gets twisty, then you best not look at the instant fuel economy gauge coz the 8 pot screamer will be going at it like Oliver Reed on his way to a media commitment. HSV's line is "if you have $65k for a car, then you have $150/week for fuel" Maybe so.
Right on cobber: 6.0Ltrs of V8 goodness, legroom, THAT engine, firm handling, ergonomics (seat, wheel, pedals), the LS2 donk, muscular appearance, stereo is spanky loud. At $62K very keen price. Is not European.
Bugger orf: Clutch/gearbox can take some getting used to, scary with traction control off for amateurs, middle rear seat sad/small, no fold down seats- just small "hatch" (does not fit surfboard well!), annoying bogans want to talk to you every time you park it (not annoying for me- they are "my people"). Still not a European car. Likes a drink.

Saab Aero 9-3 Turbo Above we see wife and mother setting off "Thelma & Louise" style. I was in the backseat, so that was short lived.

If Rachel was choosing a car for Mitchell, N. then he'd be off in pretty much the same car he's getting rid of: a convertible Saab. This GM owned company are still banging away at their CAD desks producing refined versions of this oh-so recognisable body shape.
I found the turbo 2.8 in this one to be lively and I think in a "real" manual it would be of greater interest. The tiptronic gear option doesn't really liven things much; I think I'm just too old school for tiptronic perhaps? The handling is ok- finding a balance between sports handling and comfort can be a really difficult balancing act. Rachel and I are a good example- I like taut, sporty handling and Rachel regards cars that feel like that as "having something wrong with them". Horses, courses.
Of course at a tick under $100K one might expect a 'fun" button that hardens up the suspension, winds up the turbo boost and ditches the stability control, but perhaps it snows so much in Sweden that supplying such an option might result in 9-3s spinning into the fjords at an alarming rate.
The seats (heated up front, natch) all round are excellent- comfy, easy to set up and still leave room for those poor unfortunates in the back.. Leather can be a challenge in a convertible (especially in Oz). Not only does the UV attack leather like a Biggest Loser contestant attacks a hamburger, but they can get hot and sweaty- yes, yes, just like a like a Biggest Loser contestant.
I'm a boring old fart really, so I need to have a quick whine about the torque steering of a hi-po turbo front wheel drive and then shut up about it. Selah!
God: (Swedish for good. Talk about pretentious!) Convertible roof is firm, fast and real glass rear window, rear end is sexy-ish, refined all round package. Pleasant motor. My wifes likes it. (so might yours)
Svår: (as above but the opposite) Too pricey at $97+, Tiptronic is a waste of time. and... frankly... a bit boring to boot. Your wife will like it. And your mother. Probably your mother in law too. Sheesh!

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posted by thr at 2:58 pm


Blogger Elwood Don said...

All those cars and no Donny to take them for a spin. Bugger!

4/13/2007 2:32 am  

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