Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Toyota Harrier Wallpaper

Toyota Harrier WallpaperToyota Harrier Wallpaper

Toyota Harrier Car PictureToyota Harrier Car Picture

Toyota Harrier Car ImagesToyota Harrier Car Images

Monday, July 27, 2009

Driven: Rover 416

A (not so) polished performance...

They say you can’t polish a turd, but I’m here to tell you that’s wrong. Don’t for a moment assume I’m defending the gloriously crap Rover 400 you see in the photo above though, because it is indeed a turd; a vehemently malodorous pile of steaming excreta that should never have been allowed to leave Longbridge. What’s shocking is the fact I owned an MG ZS, based on this very model, and it was really rather good. While it wasn’t the last word in automotive evolution it was still a very credible competitor for something like the Ford Focus ST170. The Rover, on the other hand, isn’t.

While the MG changed direction with great alacrity and cornered flat (if a little too flat on occasions) the humble Rover is like steering a big boat in heavy seas... with a broken rudder. After a somewhat delayed response from the unbelievably woolly steering it wallows from side to side in a way I simply didn’t realise cars still did in the late ‘90s. The interior, meanwhile, looks like it was designed for the sort of people who list their remaining pleasures in life as comfy slacks and visits to the National Trust.

To be fair there is something approaching an upside in the form of the 1.6-litre K-Series powerplant. As a Caterham owner I would say that, but the truth is, even in the more sedate confines of the Rover, the engine performs surprisingly respectably. That really is it though. To compound the handling matters, the brakes are numb and overservoed, the clutch is vague, and the gearshift feels like stirring porridge with a stick of celery; it is a car of virtually no redeeming qualities.

So how did I end up here? Well, quite simply it’s a courtesy car given to me while the Focus is in for an MOT. I know what you’re thinking, but no, a hire car’s life really doesn’t excuse the state of the Rover. I expected to see at least 250,000 miles on the clock, but it’s covered a relatively sprightly 79,000, which makes it considerably less decrepit than the target market apparently was.

I’ve heard people from MG Rover going on about how much modification gone into morphing the Rover 45 into the MG ZS, but always assumed it was exaggerated; now I realise it was not. Just imagine what the same transformation could to do a car that was dynamically sound in the first place. Come back MG, all is forgiven.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

2009 Toyota Land Cruiser

2009 Toyota land cruiser Car Wallpaper2009 Toyota land cruiser Car Wallpaper

2009 Toyota land cruiser Interior2009 Toyota land cruiser Interior

2009 Toyota land cruiser Picture2009 Toyota land cruiser Picture

Thursday, July 23, 2009

2009 Toyota Alphard

2009 Toyota Alphard Wallpaper2009 Toyota Alphard Wallpaper

2009 Toyota Alphard Interior Dasboard2009 Toyota Alphard Interior Dasboard

2009 Toyota Alphard Interior Rear View2009 Toyota Alphard Interior Rear View

2009 Toyota Alphard Side View2009 Toyota Alphard Side View

2009 Toyota Alphard Rear View2009 Toyota Alphard Rear View

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

2009 Vauxhall VXR8 Bathurst Best Car Wallpaper

2009 Vauxhall VXR8 Bathurst Best Car2009 Vauxhall VXR8 Bathurst Best Car

2009 Vauxhall VXR8 Bathurst Engine2009 Vauxhall VXR8 Bathurst Engine

2009 Vauxhall VXR8 Bathurst Interior2009 Vauxhall VXR8 Bathurst Interior

2009 Vauxhall VXR8 Bathurst Rear View2009 Vauxhall VXR8 Bathurst Rear View

Fellowship of the ring

I don’t often bother with news type posts, but this one may well strike a chord with anyone who’s tried to arrange insurance for their own car on the ‘ring, for one simple reason: it’s virtually impossible to do. Despite internet mumblings to the contrary, most ordinary insurers are wise to the fact that a certain public toll road near Nurburg is more than it seems and won't cough up even if there's nothing in the policy schedule to say otherwise.

Now Nurburgmotorsport, a British owned company based at the ring, together with Allianz, is offering insurance for both drivers and motorcyclists tackling the Green Hell. Cover includes €10,000 of personal liability, rescue costs of €10,000 and, er, death cover of €30,000. There is, however, no compensation for stacking your own pride and joy, and the cost for one day and up to eight laps is a not-inconsiderable £99. In true Teutonic style the vehicle also has to undergo and engineer’s inspection at an approved local garage at additional cost and there’s a €300 excess to think about.

So does this represent good value for money? Well, peel back the details and it looks debatable; if you write off someone’s brand new F430 Scuderia in your accident (and at the ‘ring that’s more than possible) €10,000 is going to provide little comfort. However, there’s no getting round the fact that few companies even offer anything similar. It’s a credible first attempt, but what’s really tantalising here is the possibility it could open up the market for lower prices and greater cover in the future.

Monday, July 20, 2009

2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Best Car Images

2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Car Wallpaper2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Car Wallpaper

2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Interior Design2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Interior Design

2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Side View2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Side View

Friday, July 17, 2009

2010 Mazda 3 i-stop Best Images

2010 Mazda 3 i-stop Wallpaper2010 Mazda 3 i-stop Wallpaper

2010 Mazda 3 i-stop Interior Room2010 Mazda 3 i-stop Interior Room

2010 Mazda 3 i-stop Rear View2010 Mazda 3 i-stop Rear View

Thursday, July 16, 2009

2009 Citroen GTbyCITROEN Concept

2009 Citroen GTbyCITROEN Concept Front View2009 Citroen GTbyCITROEN Concept Front View

2009 Citroen GTbyCITROEN Concept Car Show2009 Citroen GTbyCITROEN Concept Car Show

2009 Citroen GTbyCITROEN Concept Rear View2009 Citroen GTbyCITROEN Concept Rear View

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2011 Maserati Gran Cabrio Best Car Wallpaper

2011 Maserati Gran Cabrio Car Picture2011 Maserati Gran Cabrio Car Picture

2011 Maserati Gran Cabrio Car Wallpaper2011 Maserati Gran Cabrio Car Wallpaper

2011 Maserati Gran Cabrio Rear View2011 Maserati Gran Cabrio Rear View

2009 Ford Focus Coupe Picture

2009 Ford Focus Coupe Wallpaper2009 Ford Focus Coupe Wallpaper

2009 Ford Focus Coupe Interior2009 Ford Focus Coupe Interior

2009 Ford Focus Coupe Rear2009 Ford Focus Coupe Rear

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tracks and tribulations

On a whim I decided to make a late booking for Evo's track evening at Bedford Autodrome last week. Little did I know driving round the track was only going to be half the experience.

Prepare to be shocked: I’m going to start with my verdict from the first significant trip out in the Caterham and it may come as something of a surprise. You see, it appears that the car’s natural habitat is not in fact the city, nor indeed the motorway.

In the first instance the clutch pedal – unlike its two perfectly spaced neighbours – seems like an unobtainable luxury, placed at the very edge of reach for your left foot. This is only part of the problem of course, because the effort required to actually engage it when you get there is enough to wear your leg muscles down to a quivering pulp over the course of 6 miles of roadworks. And should you escape the gridlock onto a faster stretch the buffeting from above and beside the screen causes any passing dust particles or insects to make an instant beeline for your cornea. Of course, your other senses are dulled already because ears have long since started to bleed on account of the 5,000rpm motorway cruise and your body is aching from the stiff suspension and the unpadded race seat.

In a perversely masochistic way it all sounds slightly romantic - being in a racing car for the road - and on an engaging B-road it undoubtedly would be. However, going up the M1 and then negotiating the longest, slowest stretch of road works I’ve ever seen towards Bedford and out the other side, almost forced me out of love with the new toy. But not quite.

The first foray on track came somewhat unexpectedly. Instead of running a couple of safety car laps after the session starts, like most venues do, at Bedford Autodrome the procession from the formation area (outside the actual circuit) to the pits takes the form of the sighting laps. Somehow I’d missed that part of the briefing and so I trundled off behind the other cars expecting a sedate trip, only to find myself doing what would have been a distinctly enthusiastic road pace around the circuit; seatbelt unbuckled, helmet lying on the passenger seat. As always seems to happen the first time you visit a particular track – especially in an unfamiliar car – even that felt rapid. How much quicker would I actually go during the session?

The answer turned out to be quite a lot, but not to start with. The South West circuit at Bedford Autodrome follows a fantastic course, with varied corners and a great range of straights. It is, however, almost completely featureless with no gradient change and few landmarks to position yourself, so the first few laps can be a bit shaky. Once I’d got a vague idea of where I was going it was time to up the pace a little and explore a bit more of the car’s capabilities.

At road speeds deliberate provocation is needed to make the Seven’s stubby rump step out of line and then it does so slowly and progressively. As you approach the limit of steady state cornering however, as opposed to simply practicing abject hooliganism, things start to happen a lot more quickly. It’s still easy to correct with the proverbial dab of oppo and there’s plenty of feedback, but it doesn’t offer a verbal warning, then a letter, and then finally a lazy, half-hearted transition to oversteer like the TVR did.

Still trying to find my bearings, I enlisted the help of one of MSV’s instructors. What followed was pleasingly unpatronising and enthusiastic tuition that largely consisted of him yelling what appeared to be “keep going, keep going, don’t brake yet!” over the wind noise. In between encouraging me to stop being such a big girl he showed me the correct lines, which weren’t always obvious. One such example came at the complex after the back straight where the technique was to take a lot of curb, putting two wheels clear off the tarmac and onto the surrounding concrete in places. It was rather brutal on the car and required careful positioning to avoid unsettling the balance, but boy did it work.

After that I headed back on track with a lot more confidence and rather better lines. Things were definitely starting to come together and I was also tuning in to the Caterham’s responses. Reigning in my entry speeds solved the turn-in oversteer and mid-corner understeer I’d previously experienced, replacing them with a delicate neutrality that would give way to a hint of slip on the exit. It all felt a lot more fluid and controlled, and it seemed to be paying off. In all honesty it appeared the only things that could keep up round the corners were other Sevens; even the 996 GT3 and KTM X-Bow on track seemed marginally slower in the tighter bends. It was a different matter on the straights where the Caterham’s brick-like aerodynamics took over, but it was still indicating a none-too-shabby 130mph on the back straight.

Alas, as is all too often the case things were coming to a halt just as I got the hang of it. The chequered flag fell just before 8pm and it was time to head for home. This turned out to be easier said than done as the ‘Caterham click’ starter motor issue had reared it’s ugly head again earlier on in the day and I’d been dependant on other people for push starts. Between the Evo crowd and a few other familiar faces I’d gained a pretty distinguished pit crew, but it appeared some of them actually had homes to go to. As a result I had to head off red faced and co-opt yet more unfortunate individuals to start it for the journey home, and that wasn’t the last of my troubles.

The bag tank on the Roadsport A doesn’t come with the luxury of a fuel sender, so I’d been relying on other people’s reported tank range all day. With the starter motor issue I didn’t want to head off to a fuel station and risk being stranded, but fortunately my sums said I should just get back. They were wrong. After another 45 minutes of utter misery on the A421 and A6 roadworks I headed onto the M1 only to come to a spluttering halt about 10 miles later. Bugger.

At this point it could be argued karma was about to intervene. I had a slight rant about the AA in my last post and I couldn’t help wondering if I’d grossly underestimated the readership of this blog as I sat on the side of the road waiting for over an hour in the darkness. To make matters worse, once the guy arrived with some fuel, he announced that their union had forbidden them to push start vehicles. After a certain amount of persuasion he agreed to tow start the car with a rope instead, and I was on my way.

As the cold night air tumbled over the windscreen and the engine screamed away (despite a relatively law abiding pace) the car’s touring limitations once again became apparent. However, as a track tool and a B-road toy the Seven offers performance and exhilaration to humble all but the most extreme sports cars. And, to be honest, I think I'm even starting to enjoy the masochism that dominates the rest of the proceedings.

Lead photo:Chris Rutter/Evo magazine

Monday, July 13, 2009

2010 Ford Escape Wallpaper

2010 Ford Escape Front View2010 Ford Escape Front View

2010 Ford Escape Interior2010 Ford Escape Interior

2010 Ford Escape Wallpaper2010 Ford Escape Wallpaper

Sunday, July 12, 2009

2010 Chevrolet Camaro Picture

2010 Chevrolet Camaro Yellow2010 Chevrolet Camaro Yellow

2010 Chevrolet Camaro Red2010 Chevrolet Camaro Red

2010 Chevrolet Camaro White2010 Chevrolet Camaro White

Ferrari F1 Wallpaper

Ferrari F1 PictureFerrari F1 Picture

Ferrari F1 ImagesFerrari F1 Images

Ferrari F1 WallpaperFerrari F1 Wallpaper

Saturday, July 11, 2009

2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Wallpaper2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Wallpaper

2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Interior2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Interior

2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Picture2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Picture

Friday, July 10, 2009

2011 Chevrolet Volt Wallpaper

2011 Chevrolet Volt Car Show2011 Chevrolet Volt Car Show

2011 Chevrolet Volt Car Dasboard2011 Chevrolet Volt Car Dasboard

2011 Chevrolet Volt Car Wallpaper2011 Chevrolet Volt Car Wallpaper

2010 Coda EV Images

2010 Coda EV Front View2010 Coda EV Front View

2011 BMW X1 Wallpaper2011 BMW X1 Wallpaper

2010 Coda EV Rear View2010 Coda EV Rear View