Archive | February, 2014

BRZ – The Driver’s Drive

21 BRZ   The Driver’s DriveJointly developed by both Toyota and Subaru the BRZ/GT-86 siblings first saw the light of day as concepts in 2007 and finally appeared as fully formed twins in 2012. They look the same and cost the same. The model was conceived by Toyota. Their boss specified the need for a car that was built for pure driving pleasure that transcended current trends and his designers really came up with the goods. As it turned out – thanks to their rally heritage – the joint project was almost entirely designed and engineered by Subaru (although built by Toyota) and it is their version we are concentrating on here.

As stated, there is virtually no difference in these cars although there are a couple of styling tweaks that are virtually unnoticeable. Yet, in driving, which is where Motor Blogger makes the distinction, the BRZ is noticeably less tail happy. Knowing that their loyal customer base is accustomed to the characteristics of their symmetrical all wheel-drive system found in products like the Impreza and Forester, Subaru went and made the front suspension of their version slightly firmer. This increases the car’s tendency to understeer.

Consequently the rear-wheel drive BRZ behaves in a far more neutral manner when driven with anger around oue everyday highways. Pile into a corner and get too enthusiastic on the loud pedal and that nose will just slowly start washing out. It’s all very safe; very Subaru, in fact. The GT-86 is definitely more likely to throw the tail off line – fine if drifting is your style, but for most the more predictable BRZ might be preferable.

The driving experience is fantastically sporty. The BRZ has the lowest centre of gravity of any car on the market which aids such a sweet handling experience, thanks to the low-slung 2.0L Boxer engine which sits as far back and as low as possible in the engine bay for an almost perfect weight distribution of 53% in front and 47% in the rear.

The suspension is quite soft when compared to similarly priced hot hatches, which need rock hard suspension to counter the fact that they are basically regular hatchbacks that have been tuned up. The comfort is helped by the same tyres as used on the Toyota Prius. This is not an expensive car to run especially when you consider an average of 35mpg. Brilliant for a sports car.

The Subaru BRZ is uncomplicated, handles brilliantly and lets you explore the limits of grip without having to worry about sudden death in a hedgerow. It isn’t especially fast, it is priced at a bargain £25k and is the best driving car on the market. Take it out for a spin down Britain’s country roads and your eyes will be opened to what real driving is about.


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MB Drives The Morgan 3 Wheeler

In a crowded and busy motoring world where the emphasis is on lifestyle and connectivity it’s nice to get the opportunity to do a bit of old school motoring for once. This is why, during a visit to the Morgan Motor Company I had the chance to leap into the latest Morgan 3 Wheeler.

This is driving as it was seventy or eighty years ago. It transcends modern motoring. The 3 Wheeler is hand-built by craftsmen; it is small, impractical and draughty and the most fun you can have with your clothes on. It’s not even as if the 3 Wheeler is something new. When Karl Benz rolled out his first effort in 1885, it had three wheels. Since then of course there have been very many more across the years.

The latest 3 Wheeler however has received some revisions for the 21st Century. The chassis has been further developed to increase stiffness – this improves the handling. The steering has been modified to eliminate previously reported ‘bump steer’ – a tugging at the steering wheel when the front wheels travel up and down – all of which has improved the on-road stability.3w MB Drives The Morgan 3 Wheeler

At the top I mentioned that I ‘leapt’ into the cockpit. This is not technically true. It is a bit of a squeeze. The driver has to step into the car (there are no doors) and shuffle down behind the steering wheel. No doubt there is a knack to this, but for a new boy who could stand to lose a couple of  kilos it wasn’t easy.

Once installed though the seats are really very comfortable. The dashboard is simple and uncluttered and its centrepiece is a starter button with a flip-up cover. There’s something very special about that. The view out shows the wide track of the front wheels.

I manoeuvred easily out of the car park and took off up the road, elbow hanging nonchalantly over the side of the car on the leather panel as if I did this sort of thing every day. Now, anyone who has motored in an open-topped car knows all about the highs and lows of convertible driving. There’s all that fresh air and sky and then there’s the cold (this is winter after all) and the wind trying to pull off all your hair.

Yet none of Winter’s woes can get the big smile off your face. The engine – a 1,982cc V-twin petrol unit with a reliable Mazda five-speed manual gearbox and driving the rear-wheel by way of a toothed belt – has a purposeful growl but isn’t intrusive. Out on the road it was time to concentrate. The car handles well and steers accurately with no hint of instability. 80bhp will whisk the car up to 62mph is just 6.5 seconds and on up to 125 if you feel up to it. Enjoying the sensations of driving what is this car is all about.

If you ever find yourself in a position to drive one of these cars then grab it with both hands, whatever the weather. If you are fortunate enough to have a spare £31,000 or so (there is a wide range of options for customising to taste) and you could do with a second (or third) car that will bring you infinite driving pleasure, then invest in a Morgan 3 Wheeler now.

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Driving Through Floods.

Britain has experienced, if that’s the right word, the most rain in 248 years and it’s not showing any sign of stopping. This presents more and, for many, new challenges when driving on our soaked highways. Here’s some advice for dealing with any flooded roads drivers might find themselves encountering.

For starters and rather obviously, it is best to avoid flooded roads altogether. Basically, if a driver knows a road is at risk he shouldn’t go down it at all. Nevertheless, we must all prepare for the unexpected. Essentially, for most cars except massive 4×4’s, fifteen centimetres is about as much as the average car can manage.

The answer is to get out and check. The water will usually be most shallow on the crown of the road. If it is deep there then it will be deeper along the sides. Try to establish visual markers; the height of the water against traffic signs for example, or indeed, stranded vehicles. If in doubt, don’t.

When it comes to road speed through water then less is definitely more in safety terms. Enter the water at no more than four or five miles per hour. Tick-over in first gear may be faster than this so there’s a need to slip the clutch in order not to go too quickly. Keeping the engine revving prevents water sneakily entering via the exhaust pipe.

It is necessary to go this slowly because the car needs to push the water aside, creating a depression in front to prevent the engine sucking in water through its air intake. The faster you go the more the water is disturbed then a bow wave is created and there is more likelihood that the engine will flood. If there are other cars coming in the opposite direction then wait for a turn. Their actions could result in your engine becoming flooded.

Once through, gently apply the brakes to remove excess water from the pads. If the engine sounds odd then it might have swallowed some water. Driving a misfiring car could cause more damage. Stop immediately and seek help. Ideally of course, avoid driving altogether if your district is afflicted with floods; but if you must go out then try to remember these wise words.

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I Want a Car!


If every there was a sentence to strike fear into the hearts of parents everywhere it is that one. Children grow into young adults and the bank of Mum and Dad is expected to front up the hard cash needed to put their beloved offspring on the road. What’s worse is that it isn’t just the financial burden that’s the worry for the old folks, they also have to think about safety and running costs – possibly on a student budget.

There’s a lot to think about. Selecting the right car at the right price; one that has manageable expenses, is safe and reliable and crucially is the right price. Parents will, inevitably, especially worry about how a daughter might get on. They know what the boys want – that’s a no-brainer – but finding the right car that suit’s a female buyer may have an entirely different set of parameters.

And so the search commences. Virtually everyone trawls the ‘net these days. Even if it isn’t first choice for the parents, the kids will know their way around but it still remains a bit of a chore. That’s why it is great to know that there’s a new app on the market and it sums up the situation perfectly – I Want A Car.

This exciting new step into the world of cars is a buyers dream. No more having to go to this website or that website, no more trawling the reputations of the country’s sellers; all the facts are now in one place. It’s simple and intuitive to use and any first timer will have no problem using all the search options and the voice search functionality. Those more knowledgeable potential buyers can however cut straight to the point.

 I Want A Car gives the user the complete low-down. Even if the buyer hasn’t the first idea where to start or, indeed, what their ideal car is then this app has the answers, taking the old ways of searching for cars and consigning them to the dusty annals of internet history.

Once that ideal vehicle has been located it is time to contact the dealer. With this new app it’s the buyer that’s in the driving seat. He or she can choose when to contact the seller and whether, in the first instance, they want to remain anonymous. It’s just like sending a friend a text. With hassle-free communication and all the knowledge needed to make an informed decision this is the 21st Century solution to the age old problem of choosing the best car to buy – for all the family. All of a sudden the cry of ‘I want a car!’ isn’t such a problem after all.


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Front Wheel Drive Shock From BMW

In a move to enrage BMW purists everywhere the company has, for the first time, introduced front-wheel-drive into its model range. In order to do so, whilst retaining the sporty characteristics necessary in every one of its cars, it chose to start with a blank sheet of paper.

The result is a new, state-of-the-art, front-wheel-drive system on the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer that the twin customer demands of comfort and agility. The chassis has been newly developed, with a long wheelbase and wide track, reduced-friction steering system, a torsionally very stiff lightweight body with short overhangs, and a low centre of gravity.

With the optional electronically controlled dampers, the chassis characteristics can be adjusted to different driving situations with a choice of two different settings, making for even further improved ride comfort and driving dynamics. Optional Variable Sports Steering and the introduction of M Sport models from later in 2014 will add to the sporty handling and character of the car.

If FWD is a surprise, then how about three cylinder engines in the BMW canon? New lightweight turbocharged engines with three and four cylinders, a comprehensive package of BMW EfficientDynamics measures and the extensive connectivity provided by BMW ConnectedDrive are all elements in a driving experience that allows sporty performance and incredible efficiency.BMW1 Front Wheel Drive Shock From BMW

Practical shouldn’t mean prosaic: while the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is uniquely versatile it is also distinctively styled. From the low-rise double kidney grille, which is positioned lower than the headlights, a feature normally only found on BMW coupés, to the steeply raked windscreen and clearly defined and sculpted bonnet, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer has a low-slung, sporty appearance.

The tailgate, with its low sill and wide aperture, gives easy access to the load compartment, while vertical air-deflecting aeroblades on either side of the rear window along with a rear spoiler add style while contributing to impressive aerodynamic efficiency. The dynamic look is even carried over to the rear windscreen wiper, which at rest remains hidden inside the rear spoiler. The result is that the new BMW 218i Active Tourer has a drag coefficient of just 0.26.

Despite the compact exterior dimensions, the interior is light and surprisingly spacious, with comfortable seating for five people. A large glass area ensures the cabin is light and airy throughout – an effect further enhanced by the optional panoramic roof and by the A-pillar triangle window, both of which also improve all-round visibility. Driver and front passenger also enjoy a far higher seating position than in a saloon giving commanding all-round view as well as making it easier to get in and out. The new car will be on sale from September and will start at around £23k.

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It’s Official – Where You Live Matters

When it comes to driving standards that is. The sober and august body of public guardians known to us as the DVLA have said so, so it must be true. Their figures derive from 2012 results.

Yes, that’s right, people of Smethwick in the West Midlands, we are talking to you, or about you, depending. It seems that this rascally section of the populace had more drivers banned than any other part of mainland Britain. 0.77% of them to be precise.

And it’s no good you lot in West Bromwich, just up the road, looking all superior either – you are nearly as bad with 0.73% getting your licences revoked.  In in terms of actual population number that’s 191 people in West Brom against 160 in Smethwick who have taken reluctantly to public transport.

It seems like the DVLA has it in for the Midlands but, in fact, there are pockets of miscreants scattered about the country. The Welsh, for example, need not be all superior because in Merthyr Tydfil 163 drivers had their licences suspended. So it goes on around the country. How, for example, can 131 souls in Peterhead lose their right to drive? They will be presumably be let off come independence because the DVLA will be south of the border.

Overall, in 2012, 113,646 people were banned from driving on the mainland. Obviously that’s only a tiny fraction of the population but you get bet that many, many more fell foul of the many, many rules and regulations we are subjected to. Speed camera penalties run into the millions.

Recent experience has shown that driving standards are dropping and that the guilty parties come from all the age groups and both experienced and new drivers. The reason is clear. The lack of a police presence on our roads. The sight of a police motor is all that is needed for drivers to moderate their attitude.

Unfortunately there is too much reliance on machines to do the job, but machines can’t see the mobile phone (and tablet!) users, the eaters and drinkers and all the other daft things that some drivers get up to. These as much as speed are the cause of accidents but machines cannot make value judgements. The sad truth is that if we went back to the old ways of doing things, there would be even more disgruntled, banned drivers at the bus stops of Britain.

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Keep Calm, Carry On – And Buy A Car

Motor Blogger has no doubt that most people with at least half a brain could make a better job of running the economy than the present incumbent on the basis that they do at least have an understanding of what life is like on the ground floor of existence. Sadly though none of us are likely to get the chance, so there is nothing to be done about it. Instead of worrying then, why not treat yourself?

Buying a car is great. It’s a treat we don’t get very often, after all. They are expensive enough to merit some serious pondering before parting with your hard-earned cash, but generate enormous pleasure and satisfaction to the lucky new owners.

The problem is that most of us only have a finite amount of money to spend on what is, in effect, a luxury purchase. Should one push the boat out and go for a new car, or maybe cannily buy a used vehicle and save a bit? There are advantages to both.

Buying new means that the happy customer can have a car that is made to order, like a bespoke suit. Specifications can be fiddled with and colour combinations discussed. Options lists can be pored over to make the new car as unique as possible. The choice of fuel can be considered – conventional fuels or perhaps a hybrid or even an electric job. All avenues are open.

A new car hasn’t had any accidents, hasn’t been stolen and won’t require a check for outstanding finance. It will not have been fiddled about with and won’t have have signs of wear and no suspicious stains to ponder over. It will have a full length warranty and you will not have to trek across the land seeking your heart‘s desire. It will chock-full of the latest technology. All the connectivity you need is just a pencil tick away and the car will be as safe as the latest regulations require.

A new car will be more fuel efficient. It will be kinder to the environment. The Green brigade will nod with approval and your bank manager will be grateful for the variety of finance or lease agreements available. There is no doubt that a new car ticks all the boxes. But there‘s a downside. New cars depreciate. They lose the most value in the first couple of years of their life? Some cars will lose as much as forty percent of their value as soon as they leave the forecourt. This is an important consideration.

A used car might after all be preferable. For a start your money will go further. A more upmarket motor will be available for the same (or less) money than that new vehicle you covet. It might not have the very latest gadgets on board but it may well be better appointed for comfort and smoothness of ride.

For the most part a quality used car from a reputable source will already have lost most of that first hit of depreciation. Certainly there will be signs of use but a careful inspection and selection of cars with a full service history should show clearly that the vehicle is in good order. Remember, 30,000 miles on the clock is nothing these days.

It may well be that you can’t find exactly the car for you but the choice of used cars on the market at any one time should mean you could well come close to that ideal specification without too much trouble. These days the latest number plate only lasts six months so it all comes down to a personal decision. New or used? You pays your money….

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