Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Jeep’s Annual Accessories Fashion Show 2018

All Photos | Handout
With a new Wrangler now populating showrooms Jeep unveiled a host of new modified concepts at the 53rd annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. The nine-day-event is a way for Jeep owners to participate in challenging trail rides and for Jeep and Mopar to host a proverbial fashion show for all the available accessories one can install.

This year the companies focussed mainly on the new Wrangler with one Renegade added to the mix as well a very special classic. Here’s what they showed off:

Friday, September 15, 2017

Pointing Toward Magnetic Jeep | 2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk Review

Photo: Matthias Horst
Before I begin discussing the car pictured above these words. I must enlighten you on its context. Because what you see is a far cry from what was.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Finding its market | 2017 Acura RDX

Whenever I go with my parents anywhere we take my dad’s car, an Acura TSX. Inevitably when we arrive at our destination, my mom attempts to get out the car.

“You know how much I hate getting out of your car.” She’ll grumble my dad as she tries to hoist herself up from the low low seats. It’s a little amusing if I’m honest. The grumbling that is.

Now, my dad is a Honda faithful, as it’s the only brand that hasn’t burned him with a bad car. His last was a V-6 Accord which he adored for its power. And so seeing my poor mother try to get out of his car and hearing him long for his V6 days back it always gets me thinking, “why doesn’t my dad just get an Acura RDX?”

Certainly many other people have bought the RDX, because month after month it tops Acura’s sales charts. And it should, crossovers are all the rage now. You’d be weird not to buy one. And looking at the RDX it seems to check all the boxes.

The closest we got to a Jason sighting (Source: Acura)
The car was originally launched about 11 years ago for the 2007 model year. Back then crossovers were still a new concept in the automotive lexicon, if you can remember that. And the RDX came out with few competitors; Which was basically just the BMW X3. And you can tell that Acura didn’t know who really wanted these not-quite SUV not-quite cars. Because they aimed their first generation RDX at the wrong market. I recall reading about some fictional guy named “Jason”, who is a young active urbanite in a good paying profession and a little bit of sophistication. And so to appease him this new small luxury crossover came to market with Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive, a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and firm suspension. That, however, was all wrong.

And Acura quickly figured it out. So in 2013 they released a new model that appealed to a more mature crowd. And it’s the RDX I’m writing about here. The one I think my parents should consider. Because in many ways it’s perfect for them.

Source: Acura
My dad will certainly like the engine. One thing he misses in his TSX is a potent V6 engine. Which is exactly what the RDX has. It’s a 3.5 Litre and on the spec sheet it’s not all the notable. It produces 279 hp but doesn’t even have direct injection. But on the road it’s wonderful. It’s smooth, refined and yet quick enough to keep pace with some popular hot-hatches. 0-100 times are in the mid-sixes.

But unlike the hot-hatches the RDX doesn’t like being pushed. Around corners, I don’t expect much from a top heavy crossover like this. But in an attempt to test the limits on some switchbacks, the RDX squealed it’s tires in agony. It really didn’t like that.

Source: Acura
It’s a much more relaxed ride. The six-speed automatic wants to always shift to the highest gear possible as early as possible, even if you try controlling it yourself. The suspension muffles out all the bumps and potholes created after a horrible west coast winter. And the steering is nicely weighted and direct, while possessing a creamy quality. It’s just so much happier tootling around town and cruising on the highway.

And as for my mom? Well, if you avoid spending the extra money on the very strange and useless running boards, it’s very easy to get in and out of, you know. She actually smiled getting out of the RDX. As well, if you are a shorter person, you’ll really appreciate just how high the power front seats will go.

After taking it on a quick test drive my parents came back quite pleased. The way it drove, the practicality, the comfort and the features all appealed to them. So perfect! it’s my Dad’s next car. Well...

Source: Acura
There’s an Elephant in the driveway. And that’s the RDX itself. Okay, it’s not massive, but it is gray. And though I’d say that elephants are beautiful creatures. RDXs? not so much. It’s not ugly. There’s a strange paradox to the styling that I’ve been trying to wrap my head around. And that’s that it’s both plain and over styled. Lots of lines here and there. But they don’t really do anything to compliment the slightly bloated shape. Some people I showed it to compared it to a minivan.

And that’s the problem my dad has with it. “I can’t live with the looks.”

That’s tough, because the RDX has some other pluses to consider. Like value. When comparing it on price you find that even though the old Infiniti QX50 starts cheaper it’s ultra bare bones. Whereas the RDX comes standard with the AcuraWatch driver’s assistance package and even a power liftgate. All for around $44,000. Getting those features in any of the competitors you’d have to pay more than $50,000. Which incidentally is where the RDX maxes out before you add accessories.

After a week of driving the RDX I realized that Acura really figured out the demographic of people that would be interested in its luxury crossover. It’s absolutely perfect for anyone over 40. And that’s sort of where crossovers are heading to these days. It seems that all people wanted all this time is something that is higher off the ground and can handle a snow day or two. And they want no compromises to luxury, refinement or looks. Well, maybe that last one still needs to be addressed.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Where to Drift Cars in the Fraser Valley

Near where I live in the small town Chilliwack, there is actually a place where you can go drifting. Which is pretty sweet if you are into the sport. Because I can imagine it's hard to practice on public roads.

It was a great day checking out the event. And the guys that put on this event are awesome. Even if you don't want to do any drifting yourself, it's still fun to spectate and talk about cars with everyone who is there.

If you're in the area and want to know when the events are on. Check out their Facebook page.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

AutoCafe Webcast Ep1

This new segment on my YouTube channel is all about automotive news. Few people talk about what's going on in the industry, so I though I might try my hand at a simple webcast with a characterful group of friends to talk about cars.

In this episode we talk about Richard Hammond's latest crash, the Electric Car range record being broken, I rant about BMW's latest grocery getter (and nomenclature) as well as Jaguar's latest grocery getter.

I hope you enjoy it:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

2015 Ford Focus ST | Putting the rage in other drivers

The hot hatch world is about to get even hotter in the coming months when Ford lets their new Focus RS out of the cage. It’s a four-wheel-drive 350hp monster that promises to fulfill all young YouTube watchers' dreams of becoming the CEO of DC Shoes (who’s name I forgot). Tom or something…

It’s a significant step up from the Focus ST, which has been racing through our streets for a while now. And, depending how you look at it, is probably racy enough.

The hot hatch market doesn’t have the same pedigree here than in other parts of the world. Like England, where in the 90s, they were mostly stolen for joyriding and thus subject to sky high insurance premiums. It was there where Ford first turned the Escort into a fire breathing rally machine with its tail firmly in the pounce position.

My first hot hatch experience was in a MazdaSpeed 3. My abiding memory of it was that it was a torque steering psychopath trying to kill me. So when it came time to try its competitor the Focus ST I was a little scared.

The reality, however, is that it’s not very scary at all. Not that you can tell by looking at it. It’s draped in more aggressive looking bumpers and side skirts. And has a fantastic centre mounted tailpipe that looks like two hexagons joining together. And if you’re willing to pay an extra $1100 you can add some sick matte black racing stripes with complimentary glossy black painted rims.

It really makes the car look aggressive, and don’t be surprised if other drivers react more aggressively towards it. On the way home from a trip I squeezed into the left lane on the freeway (in a tight spot). The man behind me went ape: driving back past, shaking his fist, getting in front of me and slamming on the brakes. I have never encountered such an aggressive bit of road rage in my driving career. Though that may be because I own an old gold Honda Accord that’s virtually invisible.

I could have taken him. He just had an old Jeep Grand Cherokee. I meanwhile had a 252hp version of Ford’s 2.0 litre EcoBoost engine. With a 0 to 100km/h rating in the mid sixes, I could have left him in the dust. But I didn’t. I timidly hid behind a semi truck until he exited the freeway, shaking his fist some more.

The freeway isn’t really the place for the ST anyway. It has sporty Recaro seats, that ruin posture. They’re kind of like skinny jeans, too tight, and a little insulting, to those without a Recaro ass. And the gas tank is a little small. I consumed about 8.8 L/100km and that never got me farther than 500 km.

It’s on the back road twisties where this car really shines and surprises. I struggle with high-powered front wheel drive cars. It was a part of the torque-steer trauma from the MazdaSpeed 3. If you don’t know, torque steer is a phenomenon with front drive cars when too much power is going to wheels that can turn and they in turn turn on their own. It can be a handful. The Focus ST, however, controlled the torque steer really well.

And that helped make it drive even better on the normal road. It’s a very fun car to drive. Around corners, the torque vectoring system pulls the car towards the apex letting you push that little bit harder. Even better, though, is the traction control system. As I’m very risk averse I don’t like turning the traction control due to the limits of my driving skill. But the ST has a special sport mode. It helps prevent you from completely losing the car, while still allowing a bit of lift off oversteer tail wag. It’s very fun, and I’m actually sad I only discovered it on my last day of testing.

It really is a fantastic hot hatch. It has all the practicality of a conventional Ford Focus. But when you push it, it will push you. It can put a smile on your face and really that’s all you can ask for.

Starting at a $29,995 MSRP, it’s not exactly cheap. But compared to the other hot hatches on the market and even the more powerful and capable Focus RS, I’d say it’s worth it. Especially if you want to performance with your practicality. Just be careful not to annoy other drivers.

2015 Ford Focus ST

Price as tested (Base Price): $34,814 ($31,564) inc. Freight + PDI
Engine: 2.0 Litre Direct Injection Turbocharged 4-cylinder
Power: 252 hp (5,500 rpm)  Torque: 270 lb-ft (2500 rpm)
Transmission: 6 speed manual

Fuel Consumption NRCan (city|hwy|combined): 10.2 | 7.3 | 8.9  L/100km

Friday, October 30, 2015

5 Land Rover Discovery Sport Discoveries

The Glass roof is ginormous 
No other car has a glass ceiling quite as dramatic as the one fitted in the Discovery Sport. It really allows passengers to take in the full beauty of the mountains and buildings the car will drive past. However, it should be noted seeing out of the front windshield in cars fitted with the built in heater is less clear. The heating elements make the window seem dirty. Only get it if you desperately need the heat.