Tag Archives: reviews

when Chris Harris became rubbish.

Such a shame, as 2 years ago I used to watch Chris Harris’ reviews on Drivers Republic and thought they were utterly brilliant.  Fast forward to his work with the current Drive channel on youtube—-and with each passing review, I find myself more bored, more annoyed, and frankly in view of tedious, self indulgent reviews which frankly go nowhere except gushing praise or annoyed disappointment.

(1) Chris Harris is exceedingly trying to be Jeremy Clarkson, and is failing miserably

(2) He takes 20 minutes (!!) to do this latest comparison.  Talk about tedious and overbloated.

(3) Anyone who thinks the M135s engine sound better than the RS3 turbo 5-cylinder is on MASSIVE amounts of something…..or has gone deaf…or is paid to say so.

(4) On the BMW payroll? he used to be…probably still is.

(5) He enjoys the sound of his own voice, far more than I certainly do.

(6) Repetitive luddite nonsense…and yet he still prefers a torque converter Automatic gearbox….utter rubbish!

These days, I think Automotive ‘journalism’ has become very cumbersome and quite frankly past-its-sell-date….then again, motoring culture itself is expired.  With every passing week I see new blogs and sites popping up—-all of which are the same stuff regurgitated through a big filter of bland.  Several months before dropping the car-centric IEDEI for a more creative version, I had become progressively disenchanted by ‘petrolhead culture’ and its neverending cliches, stereotypes, and superficiality.  Unfortunately, Chris Harris represents each one of those problems in a uniform package.  Will I watch Top Gear when it comes back? Yes.  Will I watch Chris Harris videos each Thursday? No.

Do i still love cars? Yes.  Do I want to be an active member of online motoring culture? No.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , ,

“Why The Leica M is so unique”

During my massive research spree prior to getting my M8, i spent several weeks reading forums, articles, and watching videos.  One of the most entertaining discoveries I made was a series of videos on YouTube by a lad named Kai Wong for DigitalRev.com.  Who would have thought that Jeremy Clarkson would have had a young bastard asian child!?  That’s pretty much what Kai Wong is—while most of the other camera reviews and videos are about as exciting as lifting the toilet seat up, Kai does something unique.  He instills his thrill and enthusiasm into cameras and photography in the same way that Jeremy Clarkson instills his enthusiasm into automobiles.

Since that time, I’ve found myself watching lots of DigitalRev videos hosted by Kai—not because I really want the cameras he is reviewing, but because I find the videos very entertaining.   Good on ya, Kai!  You may not be entirely original, but you’re doing a great job nonetheless.  (BTW, Kai also uses an M8 as one of his primary tools)

This is one of my favourite videos—which played a role (along with people like Drew from MotoringConBrio) in convincing me of the magical powers of rangefinder cameras.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

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:

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

IEDEI car shopping. Review #3

As many of you who regularly (or not regularly) check this blog know, I am indeed an Audiphile (i have come to terms with  my problem), however I have a great amount of respect and admiration for all marques of cars (besides Ferrari, of course).  It is inevitable, however, that during my car search I obviously explored the current Audi line to find out what fit into my criteria of selecting a new car.  The most obvious frontrunner for the task was the 2011 Audi S4.  A little over a year ago, I helped my mother decide on a 2010 Audi A4, which she has really enjoyed owning and I have enjoyed driving during my visits to my parents’ house.  Although I like the A4 quite a bit, I felt like i needed something a bit more active and less comfortable—with better handling and sharper characteristics.  That being said, i think the A4 is a wonderful car overall, and would make a great choice for most people—however i’m not sure i qualify as sane like most people.  The S4 squares directly against the BMW 335i I tested prior, and I was keen to find out whether it lived up to the hype I had created for it in my deranged, hyperactive brain.

Styling.

I think this is easily one of the most handsome and well executed Audi designs on the road—-with classic and timeless sedan features, as well as trademark features of current Audi styling including LED lighting and single large frame grille.  I do think the car is a little bit large from the outside, however the proportions sit well like a tall supermodel lying on a psychiatrist’s sofa.  For me, the ultimate cosmetic package on any Audi is the current Titanium Sport pkg, which my test car had.  Adding black single frame outline and darkened titanium and silver sport RS wheels really make the S4 stand out from its other siblings as well as from other cars on the road.  I absolutely love the RS wheels on this car, and I think these may be the best looking OEM wheels i’ve seen on any car.  I wasn’t a fan of the silver mirror housings (an S car feature) or the silver door sill treatment under the doors.  Overall though, a very slick package which really has a lot of presence and attitude.

Interior.


The interior of the S4 felt very much like the interior of the A4.  This car didn’t have a built-in navigation device, which was disappointing as it is one of the things I would really like in my next car.  The Silk Nappa seats were very comfortable and supportive; however I found the black/grey & white combination to really bling things up a bit too much.  I love leather seats, but not white ones! I would have also preferred the leather/alcantara combination rather to the all-leather ones.  As with most Audis, the materials used on the interior are first class, and I have yet to find another manufacturer which puts so much effort and detail into their interiors; it is part of the reason I am such an Audiphile.  That being said, I think there may be a bit too much silver going on in the dash, which adds a shininess I am not particularly fond of.  The dials had a very sporting touch though, and the ‘cockpit’ like surroundings really make the driver feel as if they are in control of what is going on.  The car I drove this particular day at the dual-clutch S-Tronic/DSG gearbox, which came with paddle shifters present on the back of the steering wheel with metal finish.  The steering wheel was leather wrapped and felt nice, if a bit light and not as heavy to hold as the older Audi steering wheels present on my car.  Back seat room was plentifull, and the trunk was quite vast.  All in all, a very nicely executed interior which earns its 4 rings.

Driving.

For me, this was the most important part of the S4 experience, as I expected a lot.  What I can tell you is that the S4 is fast—-as in hooker-being-chased-by-a-police-officer-through-a-seedy-motel-parking-lot fast.  0-60 felt instant (i’ve read between 4.4-4.9 seconds in various magazines), and the rate at which the supercharged 3.0L V6 gains speed at any speed really is remarkable.  The DSG gearbox is simply wicked in every way, it burps during upshifts, and blips during downshifts—-entertaining sounds coming from a highly entertaining gearbox.  The car felt sports car quick.  The handling was also to spec of a high performance and special german saloon—-as quick turns felt accurate, responsive, and very well balanced.  Huge amounts of grip, and vast amounts of confidence to the driver.  In terms of ability to gain speed and momentum, the S4 definitely trumps the Evo and the 335i in most respects.  Much of this comes down to the combination of the DSG and the supercharged V6.  The braking was excellent, as most Audis are—however the biggest improvement was in the quicker steering response as compared to previous generation S4s. They have changed the torque distribution to 60% to the rear wheels, which may have greatly influenced this positive change.  I think this felt overall like one of the better balanced Audi setups i’ve driven, and surely the data emerging that this 333hp S4 is as quick as the 414hp B7 RS4 in a track setting is evidence to that.  My biggest complaint about the driving experience, is that the exhaust was far too quiet (almost silent), and that the car is too refined.  It feels too well engineered, which made me feel slightly numb after driving it.  When I drove the Evo 10, i got out of the car wanting to get drunk and scream about how good it was to drive—-when I got out of the S4, I felt like drinking a glass of milk and turning on the news.  Overall though, it has the performance to match the good looks and the expectations.

Overall.

I really like the S4—i think it is a handsome package with a slick engine and a nicely trimmed outline.  The Titanium package makes it look very evil (in a good way) and the car has plenty of presence on the road. The price of the car I tested was $53k, and put the S4 out of my preferred price range.   Do i think it is worth that money? Yes i do.  Will I be paying that kind of money? No I won’t.  The S4 did not excite me in a visceral way—-and to me this served as evidence that a fast 0-60 time, my favourite marque,  and a pretty package are not enough to excite me about a car.  There are intangible qualities which makes people love cars, and for me at this time—this is not the car which suits my state-of-mind.

In terms of comparing with the 335i and the Evo; the S4 easily trumps the 335i in pretty much every way I an think of, besides price—–however it doesn’t fare as well against the Evo 10.  Why? The Evo 10 had a lot of passion in its engineering, passion one can feel—-and it went after a very simple goal: to create the best performance sedan possible on a budget.  The S4 tries to blend upscale luxury with effortless performance—-and it does it quite successfully, but i’m not sure If i’m as appreciative of that combination. I am looking for a car which I can easily drive plenty of freeway miles in day after day and then arrive home to Brooklyn, drive around Manhattan on the weekends, expand our family with, and to take to the airport and back—-as that car, this feels like too imposing of a package….maybe even too “mature” of a package.  So in summary: great car, but not for me.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , ,

Chris Harris on the Porsche 959 and Ferrari 288 GTO

Chris Harris is cool.  I generally enjoy his reviews.  This is a cool review of 2 cars which were ‘poster’ cars of the 80s…..the 959 interesting me much more….as the poster in my wall as a kid would testify…

Part 1:

Part 2:

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

IEDEI picks 5 future classic cars.

Everybody loves to speculate on which cars are gonna be “classics” in the future.  Who is gonna be at the 2045 Barrett-Jackson selling today’s easy-to-find car for $200,000?

Here are IEDEI’s picks from the year 2000 onwards

1. Mitsubishi Evo 9/Subaru WRX STI —- cheap to buy. cheap to run. quick to run.  have alot of character.  unique in their own weird way.  the ‘modern’, hi-tech muscle cars. very VERY difficult to find good original cars that were not riced up.

Subaru Impreza STi

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Evo

2. Pontiac GTO —- Sureshot classic. Didn’t sell well.  Lots of performance. Iconic name. Defunct brand and name.  Even I want one.

2004 Pontiac GTO

3. Audi TT MK1 —- car that changed automotive design.  iconic styling. offered supercar looks and feel for much much less money.  still looks just as striking as it did on launch.  rare in the usa.

2005-Audi-TT-Quattro-Sport

4. Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky —- More underrated products from GM.  no one bought any. weren’t the greatest performers, but offered amazing looks for around $25k, which is impossible to beat.  Pontiac and Saturn will both be gone within the next year, and these are gonna be VERY desirable among the nostalgic GM fanatics.

Pontiac Solstice

5. BMW Z4 Coupe —- An underrated BMW? who would have thought, since the majority of BMWs are so overrated.  Rare. Misunderstood.  M version is even cooler.  People are gonna line up for these after they are long gone.  BMW had finally made a COOL coupe.

bmw z4 coupe






Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: