Archive for May, 2010

Toyota Prius 1.5 Hybrid 2008

Posted: May 30, 2010 by smokerspack in Hybrid
Tags: , ,

So you might have noticed recently that all of the big auto manufacturers have some kind of hybrid car on the go, or they have an all electric model. This kind of thing makes the environmental people very happy, John Gormley has a thing about ripping every last penny from our pockets because you HAVE to drive to work. He believes that you and me should get up at 5am and stand on a freezing cold platform waiting for a train that’s late, that might connect with a bus that’s over loaded and takes an hour to get anywhere, so we can get to work late. There is no part of public transport that can come near the car. There is also nothing Mr Gormley can do about it, let me explain.  It would cost the state so much to put our public transport system right we as a country would never recover, all the money this country had was put into road building for the last million years. All the EU funding built and then re-built the M50, the N7, N8 and just about any by-pass you care to mention, and now that there’s a little Green in the party we should abandon all these roads and get on a bike or worse a bus.

Here’s an example: say I work in Dublin but I live in Portlaoise, there are lots of Dublin workers living in Laois. I can drive just about anywhere on the west side of Dublin in near as makes no difference an Hour, remember now that’s door to door with a cup of coffee even. To use public transport I would need to get a train, bus and maybe a taxi. If I worked in that huge industrial estate Ballymount it would take hours to get to work, and the same again to get home. Here’s something else too, ever wonder why there’s so many car parks out near the airport? Here’s the answer, there’s no train station out there. We are one of the few countries in the civilised world who don’t have a rail link to our international airport. Mr Gormley, we don’t all live in a city. The price of housing drove most people away from cities, also Dublin is not the only city in the country. The way to help the country right now is to make motoring cheaper, lower the price of fuel thus allowing the petrol stations to make more profit, delivery people make more profit and both will generate more jobs. The car owner won’t need a second mortgage to keep the car on the road, the country will be a better place. A whopping 70% of what you pay at the pumps goes to the Government in some form of tax! That means on 1 litre of petrol at €1.34 per liter the Government take is 94c. That leaves 44c for the shop keeper to pay light, heat, wages, suppliers, upkeep and so on. Is it any wonder there are no petrol stations left who just sell fuel?

So over the hill with a trumpet comes the hybrid and electric cars. One using petrol and a battery sometimes the other running entirely from battery. But the Prius is what I’m dealing with here, it’s a well built car so long as you’re not accelerating through the nearest wall you’ll be fine. As far as I know all the fixes have been done within Toyota now so no fear there. I have to admit the silence when you push the start button is a little strange at first, and it’s no better when you pull away. This car is in the lowest tax category because there’s a little battery that works at low speed and then when you get frisky with the go pedal the 1.5 engine cuts in to help you pull away, granted it wouldn’t pull you out of bed in the morning but that’s ok because it’s an eco car it was never meant to be powerful. It’s an interesting feeling, but it soon wears off and just becomes a car. The readout on the dash telling you where the power is coming from is neat if a little distracting. I got about 45mpg in real world driving around town and that’s good, out on the motorway that got a little worse about 40mpg and that’s average, almost all the power is coming from the petrol engine when going anything above 40kph.

These kind of cars are bought by people who ran out to buy the iPad, the same people buy the iPhone. It’s not bought for any sensible reason, neither is it bought because of what it can do, it’s bought for that “shiny thing” appeal. It’s the latest thing, same as the electric cars that are just around the corner. They will fill a gap in the market, they are the latest gadget. Just the same as the iPad will go for the real world buyer, something else will come along and the iPad will wind up in a drawer gathering dust. For the Hybrid and full electric cars, they are just a stopgap for whats to come. I think it will be hydrogen cars that will save the world of motoring, after all it was cars that saved the horse. Right now there are many more economical cars to have than the Prius, any Diesel will beat it on motorways but none of them that shout at the world so loud saying “look at my car, it’s eco and I have an iPad too”.

Result: It’s an eco badge of a car with some cool toys, stick to the iPad, at the moment it’s cooler.

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Renault Scenic 1.5dci 2007

Posted: May 29, 2010 by smokerspack in MPV

There comes a point in every young persons life when they think about getting off the bicycle and turning to a car. Some of them if they are lucky get their own car to hoon around in, and make no mistake they hoon from time to time, the rest of them look at Daddy’s car and wonder how they go about asking for a loan of it.

Then comes the worst conundrum of modern Fatherhood, how do you tell your son or daughter that if they scratch the car they will be killed? Or do you just say, ok take it but be careful? Knowing that your first born will be burning out your clutch or shredding your tyres on every roundabout. Well read on because I have a solution to all your car loaning problems.

Get an MPV, even if you don’t need it. There’s no 18 year old out there who wants to be seen driving in an MPV, the disgrace would be just too much, so they will just leave your car alone and go joy riding or some other youthful pass time.

That neatly brings me to today’s car, the Scenic has been around for some time now. It was the car that started the MPV market, it’s always been a good mix of practical and big. It’s not the kind of car you buy willingly, you buy it because you can’t keep your loins in check and there’s not enough room in the hatchback anymore. The thing to remember here is that you don’t get more seats in most MPV’s, just the standard 5 but you do get a taller and slightly wider car. That’s great with small kids and car seats. Sure some of them have neat seats that you can pull out of the floor, but that just gives you 5 and a bit real seats. Those extra seats a usually lost under all the crap you cart around in the boot for the kids anyway, making them effectively useless . Speaking of boot space, there’s plenty in the Scenic, and it’s a square shape so the pram and stroller will fit no problem.

There are some problems with the outgoing model though, the fuel gauge is one. It’s an led type one which has some bars on it so it’s a bit hard to know exactly how much fuel you have left. I mean does one bar mean your nearly empty? The fit and finish is good in a French sort of way, these kind of cars are all treated very hard so expect to see some missing plastic covers. All Renaults were made to disintegrate but the Scenic seems hardy enough. Most French cars get some strange electrical problems, on my test drive I get stuck behind a Megane, every time he touched the brakes the indicators came on. But that’s French.

The 1.5ltr Diesel engine is good for all kinds of driving, it will get you where you want to go. It’s the same engine in most of what Nissan do, really anywhere you see 1.5dci it’s that engine. So there you have it, a nice car all round just get it checked over before you buy.

Can you believe it!

Posted: May 23, 2010 by smokerspack in Uncategorized

The guy was fine, in the words of Monthy Python, you lucky lucky b*****d

Seat Leon 1.6ltr 2006

Posted: May 23, 2010 by smokerspack in Hatchback, Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Seat Leon

I heard a new report that said “Nature has stopped us flying”. He was talking about the Icelandic volcano that’s been firing ash into the sky over most of Europe. Do you know what? Nature is doing what nature does, it’s growing through violence. The reason we are not flying places  is my pet hate; Health and Safety.

There is nothing like the little men that count the cost of something bad happening before it happens. Their soul job is to look at the possibility of something bad happening and they stop you doing it. It’s not that it will happen its that it might.

Do you know that little yellow sign that you see in supermarkets when the floor is being washed? Well that’s not really health and safety, that’s there because way back when someone was washing a floor and there was no warning sign. Once a person fell and got hurt there was a court case and the shop was put out of business because they didn’t tell the person the floor was wet. Thus began the ministry of the bleeding obvious, it didn’t take long for “contents hot” to appear on the cup of coffee that you just filled yourself and “contains Egg” to materialise on a box of eggs.

Seat don’t have a Health and Safety department, or at least in 2006 they didn’t. There are no warnings in the Leon except one sticker on the passenger side reminding you not to but a baby seat in the front. There are no warning bongs telling you about the car starting/stopping/lights/reverse or anything warning like. I think Seat believe the driver should know these things happen.

The car I drove is the first of the new model, it’s a 1.6ltr 102hp engine from an A3 which give decent enough fuel economy and performance. The 0 to 60 time is over 11 seconds and that’s slow, but for a hatchback car it’s fine. The model for the Irish market was called “Sport up”. That came with bucket seats, dual zone climate control, leather steering wheel and gear shift, 17″ alloys, ABS, Traction control, tyre pressure sensors, and the list goes on.

It looks sporty and handles very well, there’s a little under steer when your getting lairy. In making the Leon Seat had a good rummage around in the VW parts bin, almost all underpinnings come from a Golf which should make it reliable. At the time it went on sale in Ireland there was no 1.4 petrol version or indeed Cupra/FR so the price was pointed accordingly. The Sport up version was 25000 Euro which was good at the time, if you compare it to a Golf with the same kind of spec your going to pay 35000 and maybe more. Which is a bit much seeing as the Leon is a Golf in a different dress.

The Leon has all the bells and whistels, most of the good stuff from VW with a little Spanish madness. If your looking for a really good package in a second hand car you could do a lot worse than the Leon, there are no better buys at this kind of money. Stop thinking about the badge.

If your buying a newer one check that engine, the later ones have some problems when they stopped using the Audi engine. Stay away from the early 1.4ltr, get one with a turbo from 2008. The Diesel 1.9 is great as is the Cupra. The FR range is confusing and just isn’t the same as a full bore Cupra model.

As you might be able to tell I love the Leon, it does everything a car should, and looks good on the driveway. In fact I liked it so much I bought one.

Topgear in action

Posted: May 21, 2010 by smokerspack in Uncategorized

I just had to show you this, to say the folks are excited is an understatement. But I have to say I would be the the very same lol

Mitsubishi Colt

Posted: May 16, 2010 by smokerspack in Small Car

Not so long ago, well the 80’s, very nearly every car on the road was dreary. Think Renault 12 with a beige interior, or a Vauxhaull Viva slowly disintegrating while you drove along trying not to look like the Flintstones. These were gray days indeed, but there was always light at the end of the tunnel. There were some great 80’s cars, the Delorean, the Fiat Spider even the Golf was great. The thing was, none of them worked for very long. Most cars in the 80’s were broken just after you signed on the dotted line for the 5 year payment plan, so you had to push your car home so the neighbours could come see your new lawn ornament.

Fast forward into this decade and you’ll find things are a little different. You would be hard pressed to find a bad car now, anything from the last 10 or so years is probably still on the road and going strong. Can you imagine any of the 80’s cars still going after that long? Sure there are still problems with todays cars, look at Toyota owners driving around nervously waiting for their car to career into the nearest wall, they don’t even have mats in their cars anymore.

So what of the Mitsubishi Colt, where does this little car fit into the grand scheme of the 80’s reminisce? Well it reminded me that a car can be a bit basic and still do a job. Make no mistake this is a small car, it’s billed as a city car and the 1.1ltr three pot I drove was making a terrible noise at anything over 100kph. Now admittedly the car I drove was a 2009 model, there was lots of miles on the clock too.

What really made me think of the 80’s when I drove the colt was the dash. It was just a swash of gray plastic, it would have been from a Renault if it was off- beige. But the dash aside, it was comfortable with nice (gray) seats and a good driving position, I also like the driving position in the Smart Four Four which which the Colt shares it’s underpinnings. The radio was useless unless you wanted to hear Gerry Ryan (RIP), there didn’t seem to be any other channels that would tune on it. The gear shift was sharp and direct, but you needed to push the engine to get anywhere. Around town it would be fine but at anything like motorway speeds there was a constant drone of the engine that seemed to get louder as I turned up the radio.

Not a bad looking car, you’re not going to get anything other than a toddler in the back if you’re 6 foot or over, and forget getting that pram into the boot, nothing but a pushchair will fit. But there is one thing, you can completely remove the back seats making a very small van.

All in all it was an OK package, nice for the first time driver. But if you’re looking for that car you can park in the city and drive in the country there’s far better out there, the Fiat 500 for one. A little lacklustre then just like the 80’s, the best driver out of the line is the 1.5 turbo, much more refined but you won’t get one in Ireland they didn’t sell much here.

A Plucky 5/10

Hello world!

Posted: May 16, 2010 by smokerspack in Uncategorized

Welcome to the smokers pack web site. This site is dedicated to car reviews, we will be looking at both new and used cars. If you want a particular car reviewed just use the link on the right somewhere to email your request.

Thanks for stopping by