Tag Archives: reliability

How Kia gets it right, and Hyundai gets it wrong.

I’ve been driving A LOT these days for my new job—which means I get several hours a day on the road watching cars go by, getting stuck in traffic jams, and finding time to dissect automotive design and styling trends.  It’s a great way to pass the time in a traffic jams! I find myself comparing competing brands side by side as they are stuck in traffic.

What has struck me lately is how 2 brands which are owned by the same parent company have such different philosophies and ideas about how to infiltrate the modern markets of the world.  Kia has hired Peter Schreyer for their design team, which is a huge accomplishment.  Hyundai has Phil Zak, who used to be at GM.

Hyundais are overstyled, overdone, and just frankly ugly from most angles.  I’m not quite sure how Hyundai has captured more market gains in the US market—-considering they are (in general) more expensive, uglier, and have worse interiors than Kias do.  “Hyundai” is also one of the worst names in the auto business, sort of reminding me of how in electronics there is a company called Sanyo which sort of vaguely sounds like Sony.  Hyundai to Honda.  “Kia” on the other hand, doesn’t evoke such weird connections, however through years of budget brand image—has its own share of problems.

But either way, both brands are winning new customers by the day in the US market.  What is shocking to me is how if you didn’t tell me prices, market share, etc….and just showed me the pictures—–i would 1000% think that Kia is the brand that is succeeding much more.  Such is not the case, however.

IEDEI TIP: don’t buy a Hyundai.  they hurt my eyes when i’m stuck in traffic.

Comparisons of designs which are on the same Hyundai/Kia platform:

Kia Forte Koup:

Hyundai Veloster:

Kia Forte Sedan:

Kia Optima:

Hyundai Sonata:

Kia Optima interior:

Hyundai Sonata interior:

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a tribute to a fantastic car. my TT.

TOMORROW, i am picking up my new car.  After driving my 2001 Audi TT every single day as my daily driver for the last 8 years of my life, I am adding another car to my garage.  The TT now has 115k+ miles on it, miles that have been filled with life, moving, adventure, love, stress, happiness, sadness, soul, nostalgia, future, hope, satisfaction, worry, and time.  We forget how much we experience in our automobiles—and it is a special thing.  In the last 8 years I have owned the TT, i have lived in 8 different apartments.  The TT felt like more of a stable ‘home’ to me in my time of transitions.  When i got the TT in 2003, I was a medical student living in Chicago—-struggling to find my future, struggling to cope with my own stresses, unmarried, and to be honest; pretty lonely.  I have taken the TT to all settings of life, from the backroads of Brooklyn through forests in Vermonts to the sweeping race track turns of Road America.   I rarely get attached to material objects, and I rarely hold onto things more for a couple of years—-but the TT is an exception to my rules.   There isn’t a week that goes by where people don’t stop me to ask questions about the car,  every commute is accompanied by glances, staring, and admiration.  The car is still gorgeous, and unique in terms of iconic design in the modern era of plagiarism.  Most of all, every time i come home after a hard day at work—i park the car in my apartment building’s garage, lock the door, and always glance back at it in admiration of it.

My opinion of the car?  To me, the MK1 (first generation) Audi TT is one of the all-time iconic coupes.  Prior to purchasing it, i dreamt and fascinating about the car quite intensely.  Prior to owning it, I had never felt such attachment to a shape, a design, or any automobile.  In the 21st century—where cars are now churned out to be mass produced profit counters—-the TT represented a creative hurrah by duplicating the gorgeous concept car design into a production reality.  The interior of the TT is by all accounts one of the most expensive interiors ever put into a non-exotic production vehicle.   The humble beginnings off a shortened MK4 Golf chassis are nothing to be ashamed of—as the structure was reinforced, shortened, and optimized for the TT specifically.  The 1.8T engine which was placed in my 225’s bay is a uniquely reinforced engine which is like no other Audi or VW engine produced from that time.  Double intercooled, K04 (big) turbo, and beefed up internals, heads, hoses, and structures.  Easy to modify (my car is estimated at about 275hp after tuning), and easy to love driving—-adding a few simple modifications to the suspension (Koni shocks/Neuspeed springs/Neuspeed 22 inch sway bar) really make the car a total joy to drive.  I have timed my 0-60 runs between 5.0 to 5.5 seconds consistently. A borla exhaust has added a deep rumble, and the lightweight 18″ SSR Type C wheels have reduced the unsprung weight and increased the agility in handling.   The TT always puts a smile on my face, and I love the car more now than i did 8 years ago.  I have often joked with my wife that I would like to keep the TT for many many years—-and to be that old grandad who keeps a beautiful german coupe locked away in the garage—–it is looking more and more that this will be the case (hopefully!).

So long story short, I am keeping the TT tomorrow, and adding another family member. The TT will now become my ‘weekend fun car’.  This is the beginning of the “IEDEI Auto Harem”!  More details on the new car tomorrow—-but for right now I will just say that the new car is practical, handsome, very nicely appointed, and very fun to drive.  I look forward to revealing it tomorrow!

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IEDEI car shopping. Review #2


Where to begin with the 2011 Mitsubishi Evo X.  Firstly I don’t want to like this car as I think Evos in the past have all been vulgar and the stylistic equivalent of a thong on an donkey—-HOWEVER in my quest to find a new AWD daily driver, I decided to be fair and test one of the most reputable performance sedans on the market today.  Originally I first went to Subaru dealerships, only to find that Subaru dealerships are completely devoid of any stock when it comes to WRX STIs—-attributed primarily to the Japan tsunami disaster.  Mitsubishi on the other hand, is supposed to also be devoid of these cars; however as i’ve gathered they don’t exactly fly out of the showroom.  These are very ‘niche’ cars with a very niche audience; and an audience which mostly cannot afford a $35k+ car brand new.  I am guessing there are plenty of kids checking Auto Trader regularly trying to find the first Evo X which gets offered for less than $20 grand, as their lives’ ambitions would be met…..and now i know why.

Styling

In “MR” spec, which is the upscale, luxury-ized version of the car without the massive rear spoiler—i think the Evo X actually looks decent.  Those fender flares remind me of its rally heritage, and in dark colours like Black—-the unnecessary body parts, lips, and spoilers really get hidden behind the overall view of the car.  It is not a bad looking car, however not exactly inspiring as a design either.  I’ve always looked at the Evo X as sort of the Mitsubishi designers looking at a bunch of Alfa 159 photos, then getting very drunk, falling asleep, and waking up to find strange sketches they had done in a notepad—-and then deciding “yeah let’s do it!”.  So it looks like a drunk Alfa Romeo which exploded into an ebay Audi bodykit.  But whatever, nobody buys an Evo to become a beauty queen princess…

(the car was dusty)

Interior

The interior was obviously designed by the same group of drunkards who designed the exterior, however again things are not as bad as they seem!  The quality and fit/finish were surprisingly not terrible, and I felt that some thought was put into the cockpit of the car.  The Recaro leather and alcantara (!) seats were absolutely fantastic in every way—-cradling me like a child that had been gently floated away into a river by war torn parents in the Moghul Empire.  The MR was accompanied by a dual clutch SST gearbox which had the auto-type shifter with paddles attached to the stalk of the steering wheel.  It really wasn’t a bad place to be—and in some ways I would argue that I preferred being in the Evo X over the BMW 335i i reviewed last week.   There was a sense of purpose and of direction—even through the haphazard display of drunkenness.

Driving. 

Let me just get it out of the way first, that this car is phenomenal to drive.  Yes I found the SST gearbox to be a bit frustrating as the paddles were on the stalk instead of the steering wheel, and yes the gearbox kept shifting into auto-mode when i wanted it in manual-mode—-but when it all works, it was definitely one of the nicest dual-clutch systems i’ve ever driven.  The handling on the Evo X might be the best handling I’ve felt on a car since I drove a Lotus Elise several years ago when I was living in Chicago.  The steering is incredibly direct (especially for a 4-door sedan), and the alertness by which it gets down the road really is a wonderful thing.  This car feels properly alive and doesn’t suffer from that lay-down-relax-oh-wait-accelerator-has-been-pressed-please-pay-attention feeling that I have personally felt on so many ‘upscale’ european performance saloons.  You can gather that this was made for just driving, and not for any other reason.  It just so happens that it can comfortably seat 4 people (not so comfortably, 5), and that it has some trunk room (not much, due to the gigantic subwoofer occupying 15% of the trunk).  The ride is stiff and communicative, and over bumps there is a harshness which may backfire if this car were to be a ‘family car’. The brakes (Brembo) are also superb, as expected.   If I have to make any complaints about the performance, it is that there is plenty of turbo lag when one is in the wrong gear.  I found myself in 3rd through a turn, put my foot down—and felt virtually nothing until the boost range kicked in.  That could be kind of annoying around the city, however nothing substantial enough to cause riots in the street about.   As a track car that can be driven every day—-i don’t know if there is a better car around at the moment.  I would love to drive one of these on the track, because I have a feeling passing all the little souped up german coupes would be a riot in this drunk looking 4-door japanese mess! Then again, Evo drivers have been doing this for ages on the track….so i should have known this was going to be a great car to drive.

Overall.

I love the Evo X.  It is one of the best cars i’ve ever driven.  Obviously I could never get myself to buy one.  Why?  I am not really sure. You can call me superficial, but I do hold high regard for styling issues in automobiles.  I am a great believer in the art of the automobile, and have created a full blog devoted to the art of the automobile.  That being said, there is a nasty, uncouth side of me which is kicking and screaming inside my head saying “buy the Evo!!! buy the Evo!!!” and i’ve been trying to tell it to shut up since i drove it.  The Evo X isn’t as cheap as you may expect—–the price for the car I tested was $42k+.  That is firmly within BMW and Audi-land—-but i dare you to find me another $42k somewhat-practical sedan that can do anywhere near what the Evo X can do.   I think for the right person, there would really be no substitute for this car—somebody who doesn’t care about fuel economy (it averages 17-20mpg), insurance (sky high), ride comfort (feels like the 3rd stage of a rally), and practicality (the trunk is filled with a subwoofer, battery, and coolant fluid).  I would recommend you go and drive one though—it is a fascinating car.

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IEDEI Car Shopping. Review #1.

Yes that’s right IEDEI is shopping for a car!  It has been 8 years since I last went ‘real’ car shopping, and how I have missed it.  Yes you have to deal with misinformed salespeople, plenty of fluff, weird business tactics, temptations on the used car lots, and pricing shock after adding a couple of choice options—-however I, for one, believe that car shopping should be the next big thing sporting event.

I want to give the TT a break and I will be keeping it.  I have had the TT for 8 years now and the car now has 115k miles.  It has done its job and I want it to relax and stay as my “fun car”.  My wife and I have plans to ‘expand the family’ in the next year or so, as well as my new job which is why I am shopping cars.

So you would think that car shopping for me would be quite easy—-as I would just head over to the nearest Audi dealer and buy up the whole facking place——however I do have budget constraints, and I do have a very open mind when it comes to buying.  The last time I went car shopping, I drove many, many cars and the whole experience was very satisfying.   That being said, my choice last time was MUCH easier because a long story short—-i was obsessed with the TT.   This time? YES there is a top contender, however it is not an obsession—-just a top contender.  More about that car at a later time.

So today I drove a 2011 BMW 335i X-drive (why can’t they just call it iX or Xi like they used to? weirdos…)

Styling

As a child, i grew up wanting an E30 M3.  As an adult, I find modern BMW styling to be more boring than watching a baby elephant drool into a lake.   I didn’t feel exactly compelled by the dated design of the aging 3-series sedan (E90), however I felt the car met several key preferences I have in a long distance commuter family sedan (AWD capabilities, sporting performance, solid, small size, preferably german).  The front of the car has sort of a “japanese” look to it—-i don’t find it very interesting, in fact i find it very scattered and haphazard.  Too many shapes with incoherence.  The rear end is far better than the front, but seems a bit “scrunched” together.  The side profile was nice, sometimes…The sculpted hood is overstyled, like a monster’s face in a cheap horror film—-and overall, the looks just don’t work for me.  There isn’t much classic about this E90.

Interior

Amongst the things I evaluate cars for, interior is amongst the highest of importance.  Why? Because as a driver, the interior is really THE interface for us when spending time with the car.  The TT has quite simply one of the finest interiors of any production car in the past 50 years—-it was also one of the most expensive production interiors and it shows.  On the downside, this has given me a very high standard to evaluate other cars’ interiors with.   In the 80s/90s, BMW had it all going right—with minimalist, functional interiors which got the job done and had bags of integrity.  In specific, i’m going to point out that terrible rubber piece located above the steering wheel like a sideways clitoris connecting the dash cluster area to the top base of the wheel.  What was that!?   The seats were pretty lousy as well—-you can see the lack of good bolster on the sides….the leather felt thick and grainy like it was taken from a dinosaur….worst of all, things felt cheaper than they should feel.  I also found the “double bubble” navigation screen area to be very awkward, although it did keep the display in level with the driver’s vision.  The MMI/iDrive system was actually pretty nice, much nicer than any of the Audis I have used with similar features.  The gauge cluster was well made and one of the high points of the interior, with one of the low points being the controls and handles on the door–which were woefully planned and placed.   All in all, a very schizophrenic interior, not a particular nice place to be.

Backseat room was very nice, and i was surprised by how much room there was for a compact sedan—-trunk size was not as nice as i’ve seen in the C-Class and the A4.

Driving.

Having driven a fair number of modern BMWs in my life—I do know one thing: that they are often much better to drive than you think they will be based on other criteria.  This was true today as well.  The engine is a 300hp Turbocharged 3.0L straight-6.  A couple of things surprised me about this engine: (A) there isn’t much turbo lag, and (B) it sounds pretty decent.  The power is instant and with a surge of turbocharged boost.  To me, this is the essence of BMW, as we often forget that BMW originally launched the first mass produced turbocharged automobile to the mass market in 1974 with the BMW 2002 Turbo. 

They didn’t have any manual transmission cars to drive, so I drove one with a ‘Steptronic” automatic transmission.  It is very dissappointing that BMW does not offer a dual-clutch optional gearbox in their non-M car lineup.  The Steptronic did not have paddle shifters, and to be honest the gearbox was slow and a bit cumbersome to use.  I felt better driving the car in fully automatic mode rather than “pseudo-manual”.  The brakes were excellent and felt good under hard braking and panic stops.

The steering is one of the major high points on most BMWs, and it felt pretty good on the 335i.  It felt accurate and communicative like a bullet fired by a sniper. Coming from a small coupe, i thought the car did feel large—however most family size sedans would feel that way.   The 335i did feel agile though, and was most definitely able to handle aggressive steering exercises with relative ease and composure.  Fortunately i had a sales person who urged me to test the car hard, which i did.  Since the 335i is RWD all the time, until it detects slip—-the car handles great in everyday normal driving—with the steering free from powertrain expenditure.

All in all, the driving experience was a good one.  The car feels solid as any BMW should, and it feels alive like a lizard who is being chased by a cat.  The car instills a sense of confidence in it as any good german car should, and I give credit to BMW for mass producing their mainstream compact executive sedan without comprimising the driving characteristics which have made them desirable.

Overall.

I like the BMW 335i “x-drive” for what it is; a solid german sedan with all-weather capabilities and RWD useability.  Do i think it is something special? NO.  Do i think it is overpriced? YES.  I sat with the salesperson and equipped the car with a ‘sports package’, leather (why in the world is leather optional on this!?), heated seats, and a couple other small things—–and the price of the car was $48k+.  Would i pay $48k for this car? NO.  Then the truth hit me—the lease price they were offering me on the car was WAY less than the finance price on the car—-together with the facts the dealer was telling me about 90% of their customer base leasing their BMWs over buying it—the car suddenly made a lot more sense.  That being said, 335i is a very good car, lacking the attention to detail which would make it special.  You can tell that this car is built for one reason; for corporate leases for corporate people climbing the ladder who want to aim for a 5-series the next time, and a 7-series after that.  I have friends who have leased 3-series sedans repeatedly one after another—-and this really does seem like the dynamic BMW are aiming for.  That’s what the car is made for.  I walked away with a little more respect for the car after driving it, however I walked away not wanting it as well.

NEXT TIME FOR REVIEW: 2011 Mitsubishi Evolution 10

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IEDEI vs. Toyota Prius (Part 3)

toyota-new-2010-prius-hybrid-photo-03

Continuing the trend of IEDEI attempting to destroy the virulent grip that the Toyota Prion….err..Prius has on our american society; this video blends perfectly to showcase the WORST car in the world——the Toyota Prius.  Our good friend Jeremy Clarkson is gonna show you ’round…

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IEDEI vs. Toyota Prius (Round 1)

toyota_prius

I’m really hoping some of you reach this blog, while researching information about the Toyota Prius.  If you were googling for reliability, pricing, consumer reviews, problems, troubleshooting, whatever.

Let’s start by stating the obvious; the Toyota Prius is a TERRIBLE TERRIBLE car.  It is SLOW, it is severely UGLY, it handles like feces, and it quite simply lacks any character.  The car is all hype, and for the several thousands upon thousands of minions who were too dim to actually bother trying to find a proper car and instead ended up with a Prius; think about what this car says about you.

Why bother dressing in a suit to go to work in a Prius?  You’ve already told the world you don’t give a crap what you look like; which is exactly why you’ve rolled into the work parking lot driving a misproportioned wedge.

tdi_logo

You wanted economy……OHHHHHHH.  So why have you not picked up a hugely efficient new Diesel which runs clean without spilling Nickel into the environment like the cancerous Prius seems to do.  Audi, VW, and BMW are all making solid diesel cars at the moment.  You can’t afford an Audi or BMW? Fine…..then drive over to the VW dealership and get a Rabbit (Golf in 2010) or Jetta TDI.  You’ll pull a solid 40-50mpg everywhere you go—and it won’t take you 15 years to get to 60mph.  More than that though, your friends will like you a little bit more, and the grass on your lawn will STILL be growing greener than ever.

Saving a few $$$ is not worth making an ass out of yourself.  The truth of the matter is; people hate seeing a Toyota Prius in front of them on the freeway, or getting stuck behind one in the city is generally worse than getting stuck behind a bus. Occasionally, you’ll see a minion of a human driving a Prius really really really fast (which is generally 40-50mph….fast for a Prion…err..Prius) and doing all sorts of weird maneuvers trying to draw attention to their strange little car.  Sometimes I wonder if these people think they are driving a Toyota Racing Development (TRD) tuned sports car?  Do they KNOW how slow and underperforming of a car they are actually driving?

You are NOT making the world a better place by buying a Prius.   You’re just making yourself look like a twit.

If I had extra money lying around, I would buy a Prius—-to have it junked and crushed for kicks!

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…and the most unreliable brand is: MINI!

I used to love the MINI, thought it was a great car for a great price.  As time has moved on—i’ve become more and more weary of them; maybe because there are so many of them on the road and maybe because they’ve started to simply look dated and boring now.  Once in a while, i encounter a tricked up version on the street which looks pretty sweet.  But the run-of-the-mill Mini Cooper really is a slow and boring car.

What makes all of this worse? The MINI brand is clearly the most unreliable brand sold in the US at the moment, according to JD Power’s annuall assessment of brand reliability.

So all the hype….BMW backing….and the Mini’s reliability SUCKS.  Nice one, Mini……Another reason never to buy one…

JDPower_Ranking.jpg

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