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Miserable Review: 2014 Seat Leon 1.6 Diesel.


This is the first time I’ve ever embarked upon a car review while I’ve been in an absolutely foul mood. Usually you’re plied with goodies and refreshments and then handed the keys by a beaming member of a manufacturer press relations team. They then send you out on either a well chosen set of lightly trafficked roads, a private circuit or maybe a proving ground, and usually you’ve allocatedyourself enough time to build some kind of meaningful relationship with the review subject.

This review, however, started out with me being two and a half hours away from an appointment, in a city separated from me by 120 miles of near-stationary traffic.

So it all starts rather badly, and that’s not just the writing.

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Used Car Reviews – 2001 Peugeot 206 GTi

Photo 17.10.2014 13.03.35

As an owner of a Peugeot 205, the 206 has always interested me ever since I got my little Pug. I’ve only ever driven a 206 Roland Garros – a posh special edition – and that was when the car was new a decade ago, so I haven’t had a clear comparison to how they stack up next to each other. As this black example of a cheap 206 GTi popped up for sale, I wanted to go over and have a look. Could it capture some of the 205 feel, or would it be an unjust comparison to begin with?

The initial problem with the 206 is that it isn’t a 205. Thing is, no other car than a 205 is a 205. The first two numbers and the “GTi” add-on mean the 206 GTi travels on dangerous ground. Peugeot couldn’t really replace the 205, so they brought in the 106 as a smaller, somewhat overlapping replacement and kept making the 205 as long as it was in any way viable. The 106 grew old and uncompetitive, so another replacement had to be ushered in, and about that time Peugeot’s design language and general demeanour had grown up to favour the more ballooned and stretched look, just like the 307 that followed the ’90s 306. That is an another can of worms that eventually led to the all-face, no-trousers 407, but it’s fairly obvious they couldn’t keep making the 205-306-405 set forever. You know they tried.

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Used Car Reviews: 1998 Skoda Felicia Combi


We need a wagon. It seems. Despite it being just the two of us, there apparently needs to be a vehicle in the household that can hold a full length mirror, or a ladder, or anything that’s long enough not to fit in the 205. As we moved house this month, the 205 accommodated a ridiculous amount of stuff and thiiiingggsss but there are length limits to its cargo capacity. “You have the Saab, don’t you?” I hear you ask. That’s correct, but it remains tucked under a protective cover in a garage on the outskirts of town, as I don’t want to rust it out during this Salton Sea Season. And it being a thirsty car for weekend trips at heart, it’s not going to endure the daily traffic light beating the 518i and 205 have been subjected to.

Enter a bewildering array of used cars currently on sale in this town, whittling away the ones with a mileage too high to my taste. Initially I checked out a 650 euro Citroën Xantia wagon with 265k, but as it was dirty as a doormat and had Citroën Xantia Rear Quarter Mudtrap Acne™ coming through, peppering the flank even much worse than the Activa, I didn’t even bother to take any pictures despite taking it for a short drive. The white Tempra remains on sale, too, priced at double its worth.

And as I had taken some shots of a Skoda Felicia some time earlier, I was reasonably eager to see this one-owner example for sale nearby. I hadn’t driven one of these, so it was an omission I needed to rectify.

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Used Car Review: 2007 Ford Escape XLT


Through circumstances too unimportant to go into, I’ve come to have a family member’s 2007 Ford Escape at my disposal for several weeks. So, I’ve recently been giving the Town Cow a rest and — for the most part — enjoying my time behind the wheel of Ford’s mini-ute.

The Escape is not a model most car enthusiasts would get excited about, and I initially was not expecting much. To this particular Escape’s advantage, it is a fully-optioned XLT, with the 3.0L V6, all-wheel drive, sunroof and leather seats. The extra options do help it feel slightly upscale, although it’s still not what you’d call luxurious.

This was the final model year prior to the Escape’s 2008 refresh, and outside this one contrasts its Orange Crush Pearl paint with the first generation’s rubbery-looking gray body cladding. It is starting to look dated, but it is not unattractive.

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Used Car Reviews – 1995 Fiat Tempra STW: Solution, Temporary Wagon?


It seems I’m dealing with themes of loss and alienation recently. No, it’s nothing of a too-personal matter, or something to do with the well-being of anyone human: no, we’re on a perfectly machine-related level here. My last posts dabbled with the logistics of selling my daily driver and coping with it: as of last night, I’m rendered laptopless. Laptop-less, not lap-topless. This here thing I’m using is my GF’s MBP, and I have to remain SFW.

The current understanding is that for some reason my HD is out of touch, floating inside the aluminum Apple shell and completely unreachable. I took my ailing MBP to the reseller where I got it, and it’s up to the warranty to bring it back to me none the worse for wear. Of course, some of my photo work is at stake since despite taking back-up measures with all my previous Apple products, this one had to survive on its own devices for slacktivistic reasons. But as 99% of my photos are already posted here, with a good bulk safely clouded over at Dropbox, I’m not super-bummed. Life happens, time to charge the camera and shoot more.

But this is only one of the current events closely related to change in my life. We’re also moving apartment in the near future, which means I could very well use a vehicle that would be capable of moving long, unwieldy objects like sofas and disassembled bookcases. Even if I already got my 205 back and it’s in rude fighting health, folding the rear seat won’t give me cavernous loadspace, no matter how box-shaped the car in fact is. Enter the wagon consideration, a first in my life. Enter the Fiat Tempura.

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Used Car Reviews – Forest Green 1986 Honda Accord on a forest stage


Way back when fuel was a mere one euro per litre – it’s at 1,6 right now – and I was a poor student, I used to daily drive a 1988 Nissan Bluebird. Pretty much the same thing as the Stanza sold in the States, it was a floaty, bargey, somewhat tired and rusty old thing, but one that was reasonably reliable and not thirsty for oil. One of the core competitors for the Bluebird was the 1986-released third generation Honda Accord, which blew everybody out of the water and made things difficult for every other Japanese carmaker, let alone the Americans. It deservedly became a big seller in its day, undoubtedly causing the Bluebird to be axed as it stood and replaced by a far more dynamic car, the Primera (G20 in American English)

Up until now, I hadn’t really driven one of these Accords with intent. I did move a friend’s super-rusty and super-tired, 50% Bondo Accord from one town to another around ten years ago, but it was so vague at that point I didn’t give it much thought. So, as another friend is now in that magical phase of Looking For a Reasonably-Priced Older Used Car (at this point, a heavenly light shines from above, an angel chorus can be heard and birds descend on his shoulders), I went to see this low-km example for sale in my town.

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Weekend Edition – 1996 Volkswagen Golf finds a new owner


In a couple recent posts, I’ve described the process of kicking tires with an AMC Rebel-owning friend. He desperately needed new wheels for the winter, as the matte black, deranged and generally weird AMC isn’t anyone’s idea for a commuter car. We tried out a number of Peugeots, but they didn’t seem to stand up for the job.

Finally, Mikko went for a 1996 Volkswagen Golf. Armed with my trusty camera, I went to take the car for an inspecting spin.

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Wagon Wednesday – 1996 BMW E36 328i Touring Executive


What we have here is a wagon to cherish. Belonging to a Dutch friend of mine, Michiel, it’s a 1996 BMW 328i wagon in black with Executive-spec leather and a manual gearshift. To his knowledge, there aren’t too many of its kind roaring the roads in his country, and it’s a good guess you would be hard pressed to find a doppelgänger in the States, too.

Having bought it rather affordably some time ago, Michiel is adamantly fixing it up to make it continuously just a little bit better. I was thrown the keys and told to go sample it myself on the twisty roads surrounding Altenahr, to see just how good it is.

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Test Drive ANNLimited – 2010 Nissan 370z Coupe

2010 Nissan 370z Coupe

I stopped at this particular Nissan dealership because they had a multiple 370Zs listed online as well an RX-8, so I figured I could get get two test drives in at one place. The salesman thought it was weird I was interested two cars with such a difference in price, but I told him I was still trying to get a feel for what I liked and was trying out all kinds of sporty cars for $25k or less. I had really wanted to try a 370z with a stick, but the manuals were all much newer and had super low miles (like under 5k) and way out of my price range, so unless someone was really serious about those cars they didn’t want to let anyone put any extra miles on them. To add to my disappointment, the RX-8 had an electrical issue, so I couldn’t take it out. Apparently it wasn’t super keen on starting, so if you stalled it you might get stuck and have a bad time. So I was left with the 370Z with an automatic and paddle shifters. This one also had the Touring package vs. the Sport package, although I’m not sure what the difference is.

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Test Drive ANNLimited – 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T R Spec

hyundai genesis coupe

I didn’t really do any research on the Genesis Coupe before I went to the Hyundai dealer, but a couple different friends suggested it and the dealership was convenient, so I stopped in. They only had 2 on the lot, one was an automatic and the other was an R-Spec with a manual, both turbo 4 cyl. The R-Spec comes with the sport tuned suspension, limited slip diff, and Brembo brakes.

The saleswoman I had was clueless but friendly. She went over everything really thoroughly with me “The powertrain warranty covers the engine AND transmission!” She didn’t know how to drive a stick, so we had to wait for someone to bring the car around. She was totally fine on the test drive, though. It turned out she thought I was like 22, and I thought she was like 22, but we were the same age and she was fun to talk to once we figured out we were both not newbies. 

This car seems like a good compromise for people who like fun little RWD cars but also want something that’s at least a little bit practical. There’s decent amount of trunk/hatchback space and the back seat would be usable for short distances. The car I drove had red leather seats, which I was a big fan of, being that I love colored interiors, particularly red.

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