Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Volkswagen Tiguan Review

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vw tiguan 2016

 

Specs:

  • Engine Option 1: 1.4 L TSI 122 PS (90 kW) / petrol
  • Engine Option 2: 1.4 L TSI 150 PS (110 kW) / petrol
  • Engine Option 3: 2.0 L TSI 170 PS (125 kW) / petrol
  • Engine Option 4: 2.0 L TSI 200 PS (147 kW) / petrol
  • Engine Option 5: 2.0 L TDI  110 PS (81 kW) / diesel
  • Engine Option 6: 2.0 L TDI 140 PS (103 kW) / diesel
  • Engine Option 7: 2.0 L TDI 170 PS (125 kW) / diesel
  • Curb Weight: 1,544 kg
  • Size: L 4,432 mm x W 1,809 mm x H 1,666 mm

The Good

We know, the Touareg seems a bit too big for your taste, not to mention the price, which is out of your budget. However, you want a new SUV and it must be a Volkswagen. How about the all new Touareg? Sounds good, right?

The latest generation of this medium SUV was recently introduced and, at a first look, it seems to be one of the most attractive Volkswagens we’ve seen lately. It has a redesigned front, with new headlights and a grille with chrome accents, creating a really nice overall aspect.

However, the biggest changes, compared with the previous generations, are inside, as the improved cabin practicality and layout are top notch. There’s plenty of interior space, while the new dash, now driver oriented, has quite some interesting shapes and angles, being made from solid, quality materials.

The driving position is comfortable, mostly thanks to the new seats, with 14-way adjustment and some really cool storage trays under the bases. Overall, the interior is comfortable, stylish and ergonomic. 9/10, we’d say.

Finally, one important aspect we need to talk about is the Tiguan’s off-road abilities. Yes, we’re talking about a medium-sized SUV here, but this fellow performs surprisingly well. It even has a dedicated off-road mode, able to re-meter the throttle response,  or make the DSG keep lower rations or loosen the stability control.

Oh, and opt for a DSG model! It’s an improved model, with better throttle response!

The Bad

Driving the new Tiguan for the first time might leave you with mixed feelings about the handling. It’s equipped with a progressive electric steering, which gets more ‘tougher’ as you speed up, while the suspension…well, things can get a bit tricky if you opt for low-profile tires and 20-inch rims. It comes with a decent insulation from road noise, but this can change if you take a ride on coarse chip surfaces, with some ‘sporty’ looking rubbers.

Another aspect that we don’t like is the heads-up display. Don’t get us wrong, the technology itself is awesome, but it seems that Volkswagen forgot about installing the display on the Tiguan at first and, when they remembered about it, they only had some cheap plastic around the factory. And yeah, they used it. The flip-up panel looks fragile, but after some time, you can get used to it.

Wrap-up

We like the new Tiguan and we’d pick it hands down over competitors like the Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage or Ford Kuga. It has a starting price of $24,995 for the 2.0L TSI model, with a 6-speed automatic transmission, but the best deal is definitely the 2.0 L TDI unit (170 PS). All in all, it’s a hard to beat car, considering the humongous list of options you get even for the base model, the look and especially the interior.

What others say

www.caranddriver.com: “While comfortable, well built, and distinctively styled, the Tiguan is short on interior space and high on price, making it a hard sell.”

www.edmunds.com: “If you want your compact crossover to be a rewarding driving machine, the Volkswagen Tiguan should hit the spot. It’s not the newest or most spacious vehicle in its class, but it counters with confident, eager turbocharged power and an unusually composed driving feel.”

Toyota Camry Review

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toyota camry

 

Specs:

  • JDM Engine Option 1: 2.0L Valvematic
  • JDM Engine Option 2: 2.5 L Dual VVT-i
  • JDM Engine Option 3: 3.5 Dual VVT-I
  • Curb Weight: 1,460 kg
  • Size: L 4,850 mm x W 1825 mm x H 1480 mm

The Good

The Toyota Camry is probably one of the best-selling Toyotas in the United States and one of the most least popular in Europe. In Japan we would say semi decent, but not that far from Europe. And it’s easy to see why the market is like this…

First of all, it is a saloon class car which can accommodate 5 people and their luggage with ease. It comes in 3 trim levels, in which the base model is actually pretty good when it comes to safety and technology.

Engine-wise you can only choose from a range of 3 petrol models with only one that is truly worth having. Yes, we are referring to the very well-engineered 3.5 Dual VVT-I with about 250 BHP.  The bad part is that if you live in Europe or Japan, you would have to pay very huge taxes for this engine, whereas in some of the states from USA you don’t. We’re not saying that the other engines are bad, it’s just that they lack the power to pull around the Camrys weight.

The ride quality is very good. You get a sensation on how it would be to float on a cloud. Soft suspension was always one of Toyota’s biggest pluses.

The 2016/2017 Camry looks actually good, pretty good, especially the 2017 edition that is coming up.

 The Bad

The car lacks feel. You don’t feel anything in the car. You don’t feel when it accelerates, you don’t feel the steering wheel, because it is very numb, you don’t feel the brakes and shortly you will see why this car is one of the most sold Toyotas in the US.

Fuel consumption is pretty bad to be honest. The 2.0 L and the 2.5 l can get around 7.5 L / 100 km if you are very careful with the throttle, but the 3.5 L can go over 10L/ 100 km with ease.

Braking is not bad, it’s terrible. You really don’t get any feel when pushing the brake pedal and it seems that you really have to floor it to get some response from it. It actually gets very annoying very quickly.

The interior is a bit boring, as you get to play with the latest technologies that come with this class of cars, but a lot of owners had complained about some of the trim starting to squeak.

Another aspect drivers complain about is the sound quality of the stereo. We are really disappointed with Toyota on this one. Interior and sound quality were always good, even on the cheapest Japanese cars.

It really doesn’t compete with its other Japanese and European rivals.

 Conclusion

In this section we would like to summarize why the Camry is perfect only for the United States: because it’s more of a straight line cruiser. Fuel consumption isn’t really a big concern in the United States and the roads are mostly straight and wide, so you don’t really need perfect handling and brakes.

Its starting price, with the 2.0L engine, is around 24.000 USD and in all honesty, it isn’t really cheap, but you get a 5-year warranty and excellent Toyota service. It’s a commodity car, something that takes you from A to B without any worries.

What others say

http://www.caranddriver.com/ – “Proof that good enough sells.”

http://www.carsguide.com.au/ – “It’s one thing to be a victim of your own success, another thing entirely to be a victim of how you became successful”

Suzuki Cappuccino Review

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suzuki cappucino

 

Specs:

  • JDM Engine Option: 7 L DOHC I3
  • Fuel Consumption: 5 L / 100 km
  • Curb Weight: 725 – 750kg
  • Size: L 3,295 mm x W 1,395 mm x H 1,185 mm

 The Good

At a first glance you would say “oh, another Kei car from Suzuki”, but this one is different. It’s different because this one is one of our favorites. Also, the best words to describe this car would be “baby Mx-5”.

This two-seater, with a detachable hardtop, has a lot of similarities with the God like Mazda Mx-5 and, from some points of view, it’s even better. For example, the weight. It weighs 725kg! That really is crazy light for a roadster. The latest version received Suzuki’s’ 0.7 L K6A 3 piston DOHC turbo engine. This little engine just loves to rev and that blow off sound is amazing. And hen we say it loves to rev we mean that you can easily take it over 9.000 rpm.

This is possible because the engine was built with a forged crank, conrods and an iron block. Most owners choose to remap the ECU and increase the turbine pressure to up 1.0 bar, raising the BHP from 64 to 85. Some have gone even further with bigger injectors and a a larger intercooler, to run even more boost. The result? A whopping 120 to 140 bhp. This packed together with 725 kg is a result for a very quick car.

It has 50/50 weight distribution, a feature than even today modern roadsters struggle to achieve. Very decent brake disc all around, and the newer models came with speed sensitive electric power steering, but most fans and owners felt like this wasn’t really needed. We would actually say that no power steering would be a better option for this little racer, because you receive more input through the wheel. Don’t even dare to opt for an automatic transmission, though. Changing gears in the Cappuccino is like shaking hands with an old friend.

This being said, an automatic is very hard to find, because around 80% of the cars were made with a manual transmission.

The Bad

The only bad thing about this car is that Suzuki never truly realized its potential and they haven’t released a modern version of it. Suzuki teased us with some concept cars, but they had never put it into production.

Another problem is that when it comes to Europe, Suzuki only sold them in Britain for the last 2 years of production. This being said, it means that there are no left-handed versions of it.  After some research, it seems that there is at least one left handed conversion done by a fan.

Most of the problems have been reported by the British owners. The roof wasn’t really a match for hard rain, something that is quite frequent in Britain. Because these cars are starting to become rare, owners are asking for quite a high price. Sometimes even double than a very well sorted MX-5. Oh, and we must mention that trunk space is almost fully taken up by the roof.

Conclusion

The Cappuccino is a car that we would love to own. The fact that is a smaller Mx-5 and even rarer than the Miata makes this not our favorite Kei car, but one of our favorite Japanese cars.

What others say

Classics.honestjohn.co.uk – “Cute-Looking roadster with an eager, high-revving turbocharged engine”

http://www.rac.co.uk/ – “The limited numbers that reached these shores, the critical acclaim and the sheer infectiousness of its personality make the Cappuccino difficult to resist.”

BMW Z3 M Review

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bmw z3 m

 

Specs:

  • Engine Option 1: 1.8 L M43B18 I4
  • Engine Option 2: 1.9 L M44B19 I4
  • Engine Option 3: 2.0 L M52B20 T I6
  • Engine Option 4: 2.2 L M54B22 I6
  • Engine Option 5: 2.8 L M52B28 I6
  • Engine Option 6: 2.8 L M52TUB28 I6
  • Engine Option 7: 3.2 L S52B32 I6 (USA only)
  • Engine Option 8: 3.2 L S50B32 I6 (non-USA)
  • Engine Option 9: 2.5 L M52TUB25 I6
  • Engine Option 10: 2.5 L M54B25 I6
  • Engine Option 11: 3.0 L M54B30 I6
  • Engine Option 12: 3.2 L S54B32 I6
  • Curb Weight: 1,160 kg – 1,350 kg
  • Size: L 4,026 mm x W 1740 mm x H 1280 mm

The Good

Back in 1996, BMW wanted to come with an answer to Mazda’s insanely popular Miata. Thus, the Z3 was born! The problem is that even until this day, not many manufacturers managed to come close to the perfect specifications of the Miata, but this little BMW has something specific for it, the M version.

The story behind the regular Z3 isn’t all that interesting. In general, no matter what version we’re talking about, you can say that it’s a basic roadster. Well built, looks good, handles well, trunk space a problem like always and a very simple interior.

But the M Coupe has a very interesting story. It was created by a few BMW Engineers that stayed after work. They thought that if they would fit the E46 M3 engine into this tiny and stiff roadster body, then something magical will happen. And yes it did, thus the M3 Coupe was born.

With a few modifications to the suspension and brakes, and a fixed roof for extra stiffness, this car turned out to be better than the MX 5.  It has a very impressive 100 – 0 km /h in under 3 seconds, acceleration is on par with the M3 E46, but only because the higher ups at BMW decided to detune the engine to about 315 bhp and gave it longer gear ratios, otherwise it would’ve been faster than the M3.

For the other models, one the best engines that you can choose is the M54B30. At 2.9 L, this is the largest M54 engine and with a decent power of 230 bhp and it can be your budget Z3 M Coupe. Also, you can enjoy the wind in your hair, as all of the non-M versions have a foldable roof.

The Bad

It’s very hard to find a good condition BMW Z3 on the second hand market, especially the M version. Currently, the prices are starting to go up for the M Coupe because its considered a future classic in the BMW range.

Also, always check the Vanos system for all the BMW models. Its problems can range from cheap to very expensive.

The Z stands for Zukunft, which means Future in German. However, the only problem is that the Z3 was discontinued in 2002 and has been replaced with the Z4, which, in our opinion, doesn’t look as good and it is a little heavier.

We don’t really like the excess of chrome used in the interior. It probably looked OK back in the mid 90s, but today it looks a bit tacky. Otherwise, the interior is pleasant, simple and well made, typical for a mid 90s BMW.

Although we praised the brakes for their stopping power, they could use a little more feel.

Conclusion

The Z3 is a very nice car. Overall, is well made and if you go for the engines we specified, you will have a blast on any Sunday drive. Or any drive in general, come to think about it.

What others say

http://www.edmunds.com/ – “The Z3’s romance with the public proved to be long-lasting

http://www.caranddriver.com/ – “In the Sohio whoop-de-dos, the M roadster exhibited go-kart responsiveness. The driver sits way back near the rear axle for nearly perfect weight distribution, so there’s a sense of swinging the nose into turns.

Suzuki Kei Review

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suzuki kei

 

Specs:

  • JDM Engine Option 1: 657cc F6A I3 Petrol Engine
  • JDM Engine Option 2: 658cc K6A I3 Petrol Engine
  • Curb Weight: 820 kg (with all options)
  • Size: L 3,395 mm x W 1,475 mm x H 1545 mm

The Good

One of our favorite kei cars from Japan, this little Suzuki is a very good example of Japanese know-how when it comes to small cars. It is also called the Mazda Laputa and related to the Suzuki Alto, another little fun car we are going to talk about.

It comes with a very small selection of engines, only 2 petrol engines, and you even can choose to get 4-wheel drive. In our opinion, it is best to go for the 2-wheel drive if you are going to use this car only in the city, and it doesn’t even matter what engine version you choose because of the lightness of the car. If you really want to go with the 4-wheel drive version, we would recommend the K6A, because of the torque it comes with.

One thing that we discovered with this car is that for its height it is actually pretty nimble, this being the effect of the very fast steering rack that has been fitted with.

When it comes to fuel consumption, it’s economical, with around 4,5 – 5 L / 100 km. We do have to say that Suzuki really knows to make a fuel efficient kei car.

The interior of the Suzuki Kei was actually quite a surprise. The quality of the materials used were really good and we would go and say that they are high quality. We really had never seen something like this in a Japanese kei car. There is room for four people with ease and the ride quality is very good. There was something we were expecting when going faster in the car and that was wind noise. Because of the height and the shape, you would assume that the noise caused by wind would be a problem, but it wasn’t.

Since the Suzuki Kei has stopped production in 2009, it means that the only one you can get one is opting for a used model. The prices vary quite a bit, but for a maximum of $5000, you can find an ’09 version fully loaded, in top notch condition.

The Bad

The first bad we managed to spot at this car was when we first enter id. The AC is not a standard, so if you want the full package with 4wd, AC, automatic and the K6A engine, then the price can get a bit higher.

We said that you can seat four people with ease. This is true, but their luggage will probably have to stay home, because the space for this is very poor

Finally, the clunky automatic jitters too much in the city and it’s not really worth checking out.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Suzuki Kei is another wonderful kei car that we would like to own. We would disregard some of the bad parts because of the class this car is in, but some of them are there to stay. We think that the kei class will also be a standard in the future for the overpopulated cities around the world.

What others say

  • http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/ – “Another wonderful car from the pioneers of the kei-car.”
  • http://www.sbtjapan.com/ – “It was inherited some of the features from previous successful models and because the automaker looks a bit like a miniature crossover.”

Toyota Prius (4th Gen) Review

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4th gen prius

 

Specs:

JDM Engine Option: 1.8 L 2ZR-FXE I4 (gasoline hybrid)

Curb Weight: 1395 Kg

Size: L 4540 mm x W 1760 mm x H 1490 mm

 The Good

The Toyota Prius has reached its fourth generation as the production of the latest model started in December 2015. Being the first mass produced full hybrid vehicle, the Prius is perfectly depicting that if you come first, you don’t necessarily need to be good. This is a bit of an exaggeration with this year’s model, but for the first generations this truly how we felt.

Like all the previous generations, it was one of the cleanest vehicles that money can buy, as you didn’t have to stop and recharge for 20 hours after 30 km.

We do have to say that we really like the look of this new generation. The front slightly reminds you of the Lexus LFA and the back just screams modern.

Interior-wise, it is very spacious, but really isn’t all that comfortable. The front seats are decent, while the rear ones are hard.  However, the good thing is that you are surrounded by technology, which in our book isa big plus.

Space is another thing that the Prius handles well. There is room for four people with ease and the trunk is also generous. Fun fact, there’s also a touring version, with slightly bigger trunk space, if the standard version doesn’t suit your needs.

Compared to the older generations, this one handles better, but not by much. As for the overall comfort, the Prius never disappointed.

The transfer from the engine to battery and vice versa is smooth and you almost don’t feel it.

Transmission is only automatic and, to be fair, it is pretty good. Gear changing is smooth and you’ll hear almost no engine noise during cruising.

The Bad

You might be thinking that because it’s a hybrid vehicle that reached its fourth generation you will get less than 3.5 L / 100 km. Well … you don’t. This is actually a thing that bugs us from the first generation. Toyota always advertises a better consumption and it turns up to be a bit different. It really doesn’t matter how economical you drive, as you will always have a worse figure than Toyota advertised. The very best that we managed was 5.6 L / 100 km.

Also, you might be thinking that Toyota, a company with a lot of experience with hybrid vehicles and even some full electric ones, has mastered regenerative braking. Sadly, the Prius doesn’t come with this. Brakes are decent, but lack a little feel to them.

Steering is sharper, compared to the old generation, but could still use some work regarding input.

Under hard acceleration, the engine gets a bit noisy and it seems that it takes forever to reach 100 km/h. It’s been clocked at around 10.5 to 11 seconds to 10 km/h. OK …for the category that this vehicle is in this really shouldn’t be a fault. Compared to the other generations, though, it’s way better, but we would have liked it to have a bit more punch.

It is a tad bit on the expensive side. The base price is around 25,500 $.

Conclusion

Personally, we wouldn’t buy the Prius. It looks OK, it’s comfortable and you do get a lot of gadgets, but in the end it’s not that economical and that is great. And for the base price you can get a decently spec’d diesel Ford Focus, which is way more economical.

What others say

http://www.consumerreports.org/ – We think the Prius Three trim level we purchased with the optional Advanced Technology package hits the sweet spot.

http://www.thecarconnection.com/ – The 2016 Toyota Prius has moved much closer to driving like a regular car, while maintaining the highest fuel economy of any car without a plug; that should attract new buyers—if they can overlook the styling.

Toyota 86 Review

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toyota 86

 

Specs:

  • JDM Engine Option: 0L 4U-GSE / FA20 H4
  • Fuel Consumption:
  • Curb Weight: 1,190 – 1298 kg
  • Size: L 4,240 mm x W  1,775 mm x H 1,285 mm

 The Good 

The successor to the legendary AE86 had very big shoes to fill. Luckily, it does it quite well.  Its very beautiful design first saw the sunlight on January 2012, in the Gunma Area, Japan. One general thing that we loved about the 86 is that even though it’s a modern sports car with ESP and electric power steering, it feels very analog. When you drive it, you feel it comes a bit alive and the roar from the exhaust does nothing more the amplify this feeling.

Weight balance is 53% in the front and 47% in the rear. Because the engine is a boxer unit, this means that it sits lower, giving the car a low center of gravity.

This awesome engine churns out about 200 bhp. Not a particularly high figure, but more than enough to enjoy the Toyota 86 to its max capacity. The engine is a joint venture between Subaru and Toyota, using the boxer design and Toyota’s D-4S injection system.

Regarding the transmission, our personal opinion would be to go for the manual as it is and feels more of a driver’s car, but we’re not saying that there is anything wrong with the automatic version. Actually, it has quite an interesting system because it uses a traditional torque converter and with the help of some software magic it has the response of a dual clutch system.

Brakes are above average for the car, having six pot 355mm front and four pot 345mm in the rear, for the TRD edition.

The interior has a very nice overall look, reminding us a bit of the RX-8. You have a big tachometer in front of you and we must give Toyota bonus points for the GTR-style switches on the center console.

The Bad

The general bad thing for this car is that Toyota fitted Prius-like tires on it, so if you deactivate all the driving aid systems, then the car will have the tendency to oversteer and kick its tail out. Honestly, we don’t consider this as a really bad thing, as you can always buy wider and better tires, but it’s best to be warned if you feel brave.

Because it’s a joint venture car, it means that it has more names and badges. It’s also called Subaru BR-Z and it was used to be called Scion FR-S in the United States. However, because Scion doesn’t exist anymore, it went through a rebranding in August 2016. The good thing is that aside from slight front bumper modifications, the cars don’t suffer changes in the mechanics and electrics department.

The mileage isn’t really exactly what Toyota specifies in the brochure. They say you can get about 6L /100 km mixed, but not even when driving carefully, you won’t see the 86 go under 7.5 l / 100 km.

We aren’t very keen on the design of the rear lights for the pre-facelift model either. They have that clear chrome Lexus look on the, but at the moment we are just nitpicking. Still, the facelifted version corrects this.

 Conclusion

In conclusion, the 86 is a very good drivers’ car. It feels amazing behind the wheel, the seating position is excellent, the noise is good, the power is decent and for a starting price of around $28,900, we can say that it’s fairly priced.

What others say

http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/ – “Competitive prices, brilliant handling, accurate steering”
http://www.whatcar.com/ – “A sharp handling sports coupe that’s well worth considering if you plan to do track days in your car.”
http://www.topgear.com/ – “The simplest and most exciting Toyota in years is also a real pleasure to drive”

Audi TT Review

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audi tt

 

Specs:

  • Engine Option: 2.0 TFSI Petrol, 2.0 TDI Diesel
  • Fuel Consumption: 4.2 L / 100 km (Lowest)
  • Curb Weight: 1,250 kg
  • Size: L 4,177 mm x W 1,966 mm x H 1353 mm

 The Good

The first generation of the Audi TT was one of the most understated cars from Audi’s range. Today we are talking about the third generation, which, in our opinion is almost perfect, no matter which model you choose.

Because it’s based on VW’s MQB platform, you would think that it would come with a wide selection of engines, but you can only choose from two petrol and one diesel model.

The petrol version is the 2.0 TFSI with 230 HP or 310 HP (TTS model). They both come with All Wheel Drive, while when it comes to the transmission, you can choose the manual version or the godly S-Tronic Dual Clutch System.

Sadly, for the diesel you can only get the 2.0 TDI with 184 HP, front wheel drive and manual drive. Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with this, because this version also feels wonderful to drive.

The S-Tronic gearbox is very good, very fast and very smooth. It goes up and down through the gears faster than you can imagine and, because it’s a double clutch, you won’t feel it changing. We were surprised by both the sport and full auto settings for the gearbox. The automatic version is like a mind reader and changes perfectly up and down, especially around town, where most auto gearboxes struggle. VW really managed to knock it out of the park with the DSG and S-Tronic system.

All versions are very engaging to drive and this is due mostly to the light body (around 1,250 kg) and the suspension system. Turn off the driving assistance systems and you can see what we are talking about. The steering provides very good feedback from the road surface. Body roll is minimal and the ride quality is not at all compromised.

The diesel version has been clocked at around 4.2 L / 100 km, which, honestly, is better than most middle class hybrids.

The most powerful version, with the Quattro system and S-Tronic gearbox, can hit 100 km/h in around 4.6 s. That is seriously quick and can give way more expensive cars a run for their money.

The interior of the car is a very pleasant place to be. Everything is where it should be and the buttons have a very pleasant feel. The big surprise comes when you realize that the dials have been fully replaced by LED screens.

The Bad

The most expensive version is around $52.500. The cheapest is about $38.000, but you will need to add some options. So it’s a bit pricey.

The rear seats are just for fun. They serve no functionality whatsoever. You can’t even fit a small child in the back. It would have been a better idea to just remove them and create more luggage space, because this is another big minus for this car.

If you choose to go with larger wheels, then the ride becomes very firm.

The C pillar is huge and you do have sometimes problems when trying to reverse.

Conclusion

To sum up, the TT is a great car. Fun to drive, safe, good looking and there is a new RS version coming.  If you have the money for it, there’s no need to have second thoughts.   

What others say

http://www.caranddriver.com/ – “The new TT looks to its past to move forward.”

http://www.whatcar.com/ – “The Audi TT is brilliant to drive and effortless to live with – it’s one of the best coupes ever made.”

Toyota Supra Review

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4th gen toyota supra

 

Specs:

  • JDM Engine Option 1: 2,997 cc 2JZ-GE I6
  • JDM Engine Option 2: 2,997 cc 2JZ-GE I6 Twin Turbo
  • Fuel Consumption: 8 l / 100km
  • Curb Weight: 1,510 kg non turbo and 1,570 kg turbo
  • Size: L 4,510 mm x W 1,811 mm x H 1,275 mm

The Good:

We have to admit that when we wrote the engine name and “twin turbo”, we got the chills. What more can you want? This car is basically the dream of anyone who was born in the 90’s and is a petrolhead. This together with the Fast and Furious movies and the Need for Speed Series of games makes this beautiful Japanese creation one of the most desirable cars in the world.

Most people, when they hear the word Supra they almost immediately think about the JZA80 model, but the first Supra appeared in 1981 and it was originally named ‘Celica Supra’. Throughout the years the model suffered minor changes, but in 1993 Toyota decided that the Supra will be the type of car to head one on one with European and American high performance machines.

The most powerful model had 326 bhp and it was a Europe exclusive.  With a 0 – 100 km/h in as low as 4.6 seconds and a very good price back then, the Supra was the obvious choice. Handling-wise, it’s not that great. It is a heavy bruiser and you do get a bit of understeer when you try to flip it hard into a corner. This is however very insignificant today, as with a good suspension and the right settings the Supra can become a track monster.

But let’s not beat around the bush. The main reason people buy the car now is because of that 2JZ Twin Turbo Engine. It’s built to last. It can withstand twice the power with very few changes and together with the manual transmission it makes this an analog masterpiece. You would think that a car that is this heavy and with over 300bhp automatically has a heavy clutch, but it’s actually very well weighted.

The Bad:

Because it’s an old and popular Japanese car you rarely find one that is in stock condition, as most of the ones you find on the market are generally tuned up even to 1000+ bhp. I’m not saying that this necessarily a bad thing, but this means that the stock ones are very expensive now.

The automatic is actually good, but because this is an over 14-year-old car it means that it’s not the best and they are known to fail a lot. Most people would prefer a Supra with a manual transmission, it’s obvious. If you search on eBay or even through car auctions you would be amazed to see that the manual version can be around 30 to 50% more expensive than the automatic.

Finally, the brakes are not bad, but in our opinion Toyota could have done a little bit better.

Conclusion:

For us the Toyota Supra JZA80 is the absolute icon of 90’s Japanese motoring. A period when cars were over engineered to a point that they are still very much good to go 20 years down the line. The Supra can be admired from any angle because its form is just right and when you look at it, it’s like having relieved all the good parts of your childhood in an instant.

What others say

www.roadandtrack.com: “The final Supra wasn’t a sports car. It was 3285 pounds of co-branding and moist-palm imagination. This is the car that WON. This is the car that survived the first movie.”

www.edmunds.com: “Though not currently in production, the Toyota Supra remains one of Toyota’s most popular models with performance enthusiasts.”

Suzuki Wagon R Review

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suzuki_wagon_r_211

 

Specs:

  • JDM Engine Option 1: 600cc Petrol
  • JDM Engine Option 2: 1000cc K10B 12V I3 Petrol
  • JDM Engine Option 3: 1200, 1300 K12A cc Petrol Engine
  • Fuel Consumption: 3.5 lt / 100 km (fifth generation)
  • Curb Weight: 825 Kg (1,819 lb)
  • Size: L 3,520 mm x W 1,475 mm x H 1,660 mm

The Good

The Suzuki Wagon R will always be the type of car that will make you question size. All Kei cars are like this and, considering that this Japan-favorite is currently at its fifth generation, then Suzuki must be doing something right.

This model is manufactured all over the world, but under different names.  For example, in India it goes by the name of Maruti, in Indonesia it’s Karimun, Pak Suzuki in Pakistan, while in Hungary it keeps the original Suzuki name.

The newest version comes with a hybrid system, featuring regenerative breaking, resulting a very low fuel consumption. As a side note, the fifth generation can go as low as 3.5 l / 100 km in the city. This and the interior size are the major pluses of this car. Loads of head room, decent amount of equipment for the base model, but horrendous luggage space. However. this problem was solved with the Wagon R – Wide. Another thing that we found impressive is the low power electric AC unit, connected to the batteries, meaning that even with it turned on you won’t see a significant increase in fuel consumption.

Moving on to the transmission type, you can choose a CVT Automatic or a normal manual. If you had read some of our other reviews you probably already know our opinion on CVT. Like always, it’s clunky, doesn’t revmatch correctly and takes forever to change gear. To make your life easy, always choose the manual version. It’s weird that the automatic is so annoying when the manual transmission on all Suzukis are very good.

Another positive point is that it will never let you down, because it’a Suzuki Most of the people who have owned the car, including older generations, had never complained about engine failure, faulty electronics or bad gearboxes.

The Bad

Sadly, the advantages of the kei car are nothing if we consider the disadvantages.

It’s ugly. We’re sorry to say this, but no generation of the car looks good. The Wagon R – Wide version is not a Kei class car and because of this you will have to pay extra taxes in Japan.

It has a tall center of gravity and even though it comes with ESP and stability control, it always feels wobbly in the corners. The steering wheel has no special feeling, but the visibility is decent, mostly because of that tall driving position.

Conclusion

If you ask us, we would choose the normal version of this car so that is remains in the kei class. It is a very good city car because you get extremely low fuel consumption, it is very spacious and the taxes for the kei cars are very low. However, in our opinion, the bad things that we have presented are a bit problematic, but if you would live in Japan you would quickly see why this car is very popular there.

What other say

www.parkers.co.uk: “This Wagon R+ is curvier and less van-like than before, but retains the practicality that’s won it a niche following.”

www.rac.co.uk: “The Suzuki Wagon R+ is a car that makes a good deal more sense after you’ve used it for a while. The amount of space inside, the no-nonsense mechanicals and the low running costs make it a very practical urban scoot that’s not averse to the longer journey.”

Toyota RAV4 Review

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toyota tav4

 

Specs:

  • JDM Engine Option 1: 2.0L 3ZR- FAE (Petrol)
  • JDM Engine Option 2: 2.2L 2AD-FTV I4 (Diesel)
  • JDM Engine Option 3: 2.2L 2AD-FHV I4 (Diesel)
  • JDM Engine Option 4: 2.5L 2AR-FE I4 (Petrol)
  • JDM Engine Option 4: 2.5L 2AR-FxE I4 (Petrol/Electric)
  • Fuel Consumption: 7 – 8 l / 100 km
  • Curb Weight: 1680 kg
  • Size: L 4,570 mm x W 1,845 mm x H 1,705 mm

 The Good

Saying that we were expecting something amazing from the new RAV4 would be a lie. But however, this being the fourth generation, it means that Toyota is doing something right with it. However, the truth is simpler than you can imagine.

Like the Avensis and the Auris, the RAV4 is for people that don’t care too much about the cars they buy. They are reliable, well built, come with very good warranty, great fuel consumption and a good ride quality.

The RAV4 actually looks pretty good in our opinion. It looks a lot better, compared with the older generations and really has a modern exterior design. The interior is just like any other consumer Toyota car: very well built with good quality materials, everything being exactly where you expect it to be.

Surprisingly, on this generation you can opt for two-wheel drive. It’s actually a nice touch from Toyota, because more than 70% of RAV4s will never see true off-roading in their lives. If you decide to go for the all-wheel drive system though, you will be quite surprised when you will notice that you have access to an  electronic wizardry that can help you overcome slightly challenging terrain situations.

The engine options are few, but the RAV4 is one of the first Toyotas in which it doesn’t really matter what engine you choose, as they are all very good. Hint: if you really want the all-wheel drive system, choose the 2.5 diesel or petrol. You will thank us later.

The ride quality is good, but the steering lacks feel. It’s not bad, but the road input is not what we were expecting.

The transmission is very good and the manual gearbox feels pretty good. Just stay away from the automatic CVT version.

The starting price for a RAV4 can be around $26.000, which, in our opinion, is decent.

The Bad

The automatic gearbox is just horrible and everyone should stay away from it. It’s clunky, unpredictable on how it will downshift or upshift and if you plan to go on a bit off-roading…just forget it.

Regarding the overall driving experience, we think that it scores the lowest in its class. It gives horrible road input through the steering wheel.

There is also a hybrid version, which really didn’t impress us all that much. The power delivery feels very strange and very clunky. The system is something similar like on the last generation Prius, but it doesn’t work as good. Also the fuel consumption on the hybrid system isn’t all that impressive.

This 4th gen Toyota TAV4 was exactly what we were expecting. It’s a decent SUV with good quality, decent options, and a 5-year warranty. Like a taller Auris.

Conclusion

The RAV4 is a good car, don’t get us wrong, as we are sure that it has a very large fan base that can sustain this info. However, for us, because driving pleasure is always a good thing, it was easily beaten by the Ford Kuga. That’s an SUV that we would love to take home.

What others say

http://www.topgear.com/ – The new Toyota RAV4 is not exciting or stylish but it is sensible and reliable. For some, that’ll do”

http://www.whatcar.com/ – “A decent SUV, but there are other rivals that are better to drive and offer more for your money.”

Volkswagen Touareg Review

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vw touareg 2016

 

Specs:

  • Engine Option 1: 3.6 V6 FSI Blue Motion Technology / 280 PS / Petrol
  • Engine Option 2: 3.0 V6 TSI / 290 PS / Petrol
  • Engine Option 3: 3.0 V6 TSI Hybrid / 333 PS / Petrol/Electric
  • Engine Option 4: V6 TDI BlueMotion Technology / 204 – 245 PS / Diesel
  • Engine Option 5: V8 TDI / 340 PS / Diesel
  • Fuel Consumption: Starting with 9.7 liters / 100 km
  • Curb Weight: 2231 Kg (4919 lb)
  • Size: L 4795,5 mm x W 1,940 mm x H 1,732 mm

The Good

If you’re after a good and well built SUV, a Volkswagen Touareg will always be a great choice. If we ignore the latest Dieselgate scandal, the German manufacturer makes some of the best cars money can buy, selling very well all over the world.

Due to its size, the Touareg won’t go unnoticed, not to mention that the size also makes it a very safe and easy to handle car. Also, despite the above mentioned emissions scandal, the 3-liter V6 TDI engine, with a smooth eight-speed automatic, is by far the best choice. It offers a more than enough amount of torque, but remains surprisingly quiet.

When opting for an SUV, it’s pretty obvious that you’re looking for a spacious car. Well, the VW Touareg is excellent from this point of view. It offers both head and leg space, not to mention the comfortable driving position. Also, the cargo capacity is more than enough as well, allowing you to pack everything you need and go for a long holiday.

The Bad

For the past two generations, Volkswagen used us with some very good looking exterior designs and the Touareg is no exception. However, things change a bit when we take a look at the interior. The layout is familiar, being very similar to the one used at previous models, with all the dials and gauges in the same places. Otherwise, we can say it’s very smart, with a lot of digitized functions and the four-wheel and climate controls located very conveniently.

Another aspect we noticed and seemed far from being perfect is how the Touareg acts on off-road. Sure, it has an electronic differential lock with teams with the 4Motion system, as well as the ability to lift with 300mm, thanks to the air suspension, but it doesn’t seem made for this. Anyway, you don’t buy a Touareg to take it off-road.

Finally, we must admit it: this car is expensive. With a starting price of $67,990, the mid-spec V6 TDI model can be a bit over $80,000, making it not-so-accessible for everybody.

Conclusion

Yes, it does have its minuses and it’s pricey, but we’re big fans of the Volkswagen Touareg, especially in the 3.0 V6 TDI / eight-speed automatic configuration. Around the city it can be very fun to drive, delivering a 7.4L/100 km combined fuel consumption, which in our book, for a 2000kg + car is more than just decent.

Besides this, it’s definitely a comfortable car, with great interior space and a high-end infotainment system, being perfect for long trips. Oh, and it looks great – it’s one of the best looking SUVs of the moment, if you ask us – so if you have the money for it, don’t hesitate for a moment.

What others say

www.caranddriver.com: “The name sounds odd, but the Touareg offers a comfortable ride and spirited performance—something we all can understand. Its 3.6-liter V-6 makes 280 hp and is mated to an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. The Touareg is large, comfortable, and solid—plus it’s equally at home both on and off the pavement.”

www.edmunds.com: “The 2016 Volkswagen Touareg is an impressive midsize luxury SUV with strong engines, a refined nature and stout towing capability. Its high price and/or non-luxury badge may be a tough pill to swallow, however.”

Toyota Ractis Review

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2007_toyota_ractis

Specs

  • JDM Engine Option 1 : 1.33 L NR-FE Petrol
  • JDM Engine Option 2: 1.4 L ND-TV D-4D turbo diesel
  • JDM Engine Option 3: 1.5 L 1NZ-FE
  • Fuel Consumption: 5 lt/100 km
  • Curb Weight: 1,395–1,475 kg (3,075–3,252 lb)
  • Size : L 3,995mm x  W 1,695mm x H 1,705mm

The Good

If you are living in Europa, you haven’t probably heard of the Toyota Ractis by name, not to mention actually seeing it. The first generation of this little car was only produced for the Japanese market and sold at the Toyopet Store, while the second generation was introduced to the world at the Paris Motor Show, back in 2010, under the name of Toyota Verso-S or Space Verso.

When it was launched, the car had the shortest overall length of any mini MPV in Europe.  The “Live” base version comes with a lot of options as standard and it really doesn’t matter what engine size or type you choose, as you get a decent amount of power in most cases. If you ask us, we would go for the 1,4 L D-4D Diesel Engine 90 bhp, mostly because of the legendary D-4D reliability and fuel consumption.

One major good thing about this car is the way it looks, compared to the first generation, as it comes with way more appealing look. Another big plus of the Toyota Ractis is the total amount of space it provides, being able to carry 4 people and all their luggage quite nicely.

Toyota’s automatic CVT transmission is probably one of the best options out there and has a maturity of over 25 years, so you know it won’t be as clunky as the ones used by its direct competitors.

The Bad:

Sadly, if you live in Europe and if you opt to go with the diesel, you can only choose the 6 speed manual gearbox. Also, another thing that makes us hate Japan is the existence of a Subaru rebadged version of the Toyota Ractis, called Trezia. And yes, there’s an STi version of it as well.

Ok, enough about the “regional” problems of this car, let’s talk about the quirks. Fuel consumption is a bit higher than what Toyota states, as most people got about 25% more than the official value. Even though it is said that the CVT transmission is generally better than its rivals, this is far from being completely true. Keeping it short, it’s a pretty weird automatic gearbox. Because the CVT has no fixed gear ratios it makes the engine sound like a mobility scooter, but this can be just a matter of personal taste.

Also, because the front of the car is very hard to see, parking in tight space can be a bit difficult.

Steering is also a little numb but hey, most of the “non sporty” Toyotas are like this, built to offer as much comfort as possible and nothing else.

Conclusion:

Generally speaking, the Toyota Ractis is a good car that offers a lot of leg space and head room. For a family of 4 that loves to travel a lot and pack a lot of luggage it can be an excellent choice, offering just enough for a comfortable ride. There are a few minor quirks with it but for the price and quality, we think it’s ahead of its competitors in the mini MPV category.

What others say

www.treehugger.com: “Please make it a global car!”

www.toyotareales.com: “With excellent features, is is of the best cars of the subcompact in the world and you should consider the purchase of this car, if like a car for your family.”

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