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Showing posts from May, 2011

Car Lust x2: Autocar Compares 1-Series M & Cayman R

I have previously mentioned my affection for both BMW's 1-Series, and Porsche's Cayman. The 1-Series M and Cayman R are the most focused examples of each respective vehicle, and the UK's Autocar has just posted a brief video comparison of the two machines. Given that my hypothetical ideal garage contains both a 1-Series coupe (admittedly a 135i) and a Cayman (S or R would do just fine), I couldn't resist re-posting this video here. I won't give too much away, but it comes as no surprise that as these cars are far from identical, each has its certain strengths and weaknesses. Click through the jump to watch the 4-minute video.

Ask HCWD: Mini Moke = Ideal First Car?

Dear HCWD,

I am a young uni student starting out in life and I am looking to buy my first car. I have always been attracted to the Mini Moke, and was thinking that this would make the perfect minimalist city runabout while being cheap to run, with the added benifit of standing out from the swarms of bland-boxes that hog our roads. Would this be a good car for me?

Regards, Idealistic Youngster

Dear Idealistic Youngster,

I appreciate the attraction you have to these vehicles. They are certainly unique, and are a refreshing contrast to the overweight and over-equipped cars of today. I understand that a car purchase need not be entirely rational and I would be the first to confess to allowing a little emotion into the car buying process. Having said that, allowing my emotions to get involved in the car buying process has not necessarily served me very well (see my Saab 9000CS review), and I supsect that in this case you may not be fully apreciating this vehicle's shortcomings.

Great Ocean Road & Otways Trip: Part One

The Great Ocean Road, running along Victoria's Surf Coast, is arguably the state's most famous stretch of road. Combining stunning ocean scenery with a seemingly endless series of twists and turns, with many stretches of the road cut into the side of spectacular cliff-faces, the road is certainly like no other in Australia. And yet, in my seven years of driving since passing my learner's permit test I had not yet driven the Great Ocean Road. And so earlier this year, when memories of 2010 were still fresh in my mind, I set off with my Focus to drive the GOR for the first time.

Things I Like About My Ford Focus: A Decent Manual Gearbox

If given the choice I would choose a good manual transmission over an automatic any day. I like to drive, and I like to be involved in the driving experience, and there is nothing quite like the connection between driver and drivetrain that can be had only with a proper manual gearbox. The five-speed in my Focus is a seriously decent cog-box, particularly given that it resides in what is primarily a budget hatchback. The shift action is slick and precise, and the throw is short. Its ratios seem perfectly matched to the 2.0 litre engine. An added bonus of a manual is superior fuel economy over a traditional automatic, although even the rise of more efficient twin-clutch autos fails to sway my preference.

Car Lust: Porsche Cayman S Black Edition

In my ideal garage, sitting alongside my daily-driven BMW 135i would be a Porsche Cayman S. Offering the purity of a mid-engined rear drive two seater sports car, the Cayman S has an appeal that to me that its front-enginged competitors simply cannot offer. Although to me part of attraction of the Cayman S is a degree of less-is-more philosophy, the recent announcement of the release of the Cayman S Black Edition sporting more power and more features than the standard S still caught my attention.

Posthumus Review: 1994 Saab 9000CS

(This one may not actually be dead, but it is certainly dead to me, and so it qualifies for a Posthumus Review)
Despite nearly two months having passed since the unfortunate demise of my Peugeot 405 Mi16, I was definitely on the rebound when I bought my next set of wheels. From the sporty French emotion of the Peugeot I went to the clinically Swedish practicality (with a hint of European style, of course) of the Saab 9000CS. Instead of a five-speed manual mated to a rev-happy four mounted on go-kart-tight suspension, I now had a (relatively) heavy wallowing barge driven by an asthmatic 2.3L four and a clunky four-speed auto. But the old Saab was not without its perks. Its rear hatch provided easy access for transporting bikes and other assorted luggage with the seats folded flat. The heated front seats were a delight on cold winter mornings, and to my (possibly strange) tastes the fake woodgrain dash was a nice touch of class. The heated side mirrors and headlamp wipers were more of a …

Toyota FT-86: The Affordable Driver's Car?

I have written previously about Why I Idolise Rear-Wheel-Drive, and it seems that Toyota (and strangely enough its development partner Subaru) agrees that a true driver's car should be driven by the rear wheels. Shown in its latest concept form at this year's Geneva Motor Show, the FT-86 might just be the perfect affordable sports car. The latest concept is reportedly quite close to the production model, and is a refreshing return to reality from the boy racer version that I was lucky enough to view in the flesh at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney last October. I have followed the FT-86 since its first concept form, but it was only when Toyota's European division released production specifications this week that the reality of this car hit me: here is a real-sports car for the masses, a refreshing addition to a global new car fleet dominated by bland-mobiles and econoboxes. The production version of the FT-86 will sport a 2.0 litre naturally aspirated boxe…