Saturday, August 26, 2017

Weird Phobias that do exist!

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Venustraphobia: Also known as caligynephobia, this is the fear of beautiful women, and may be caused by low self-confidence or putting too much pressure on appearances.

Anthropophobia: This phobia literally refers to the fear of people but can also mean the fear of having company.

Aphephobia: This phobia causes people to feel afraid when touched.

Autodysomophobia: If you have a bad or "vile" odor, you may trigger someone who has autodysomophobia.

Deipnophobia: Dinner parties, dining and dinner conversation are all off limits for people who suffer from this phobia.

Nomophobia: This modern phobia affects people who are very afraid of losing cell phone contact.
Soteriophobia: Some seriously independent-minded individuals may have soteriophobia, or the fear of becoming dependent on someone else.

Sociophobia: Those who fear being judged by society suffer from sociophobia.

Gamophobia: It’s not just an excuse: some people actually have a valid fear of getting married.
Syngenesophobia: While there are certainly jokes about scary stepmothers or in-laws, this phobia refers to the fear of all relatives.

Ecclesiophobia: The fear of church and going to church is called ecclesiophobia.

Ornithophobia: The fear of birds — especially pigeons — is referred to as ornithophobia, and is actually a fairly common phobia.

Lutraphobia: While some people think they’re cute, others are afraid of otters.

Equinophobia: The fear of horses is also called equinophobia.

Zemmiphobia: It certainly sounds frightening: zemmiphobia is the fear of "the great mole rat."

Monday, August 21, 2017

We drive a Mini Hardtop 5-door

The Mini Hardtop 4-door is positioned to compete with the class leading Volkswagen Golf and Mazda 3. It surely does have a tough gig if it wants to lure those buyers away.

The standard 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder is our favorite engine option. It has the lowest running costs and is the most flexible base engine Mini has ever offered. The top of the range 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder in the Cooper S pumps out 189hp. We’ve driven the Cooper engine in the Hardtop 3-door but hadn’t had the opportunity to drive the Cooper S. Luckily for us we were able to test drive the Cooper S in the Hardtop 4-door and found it to be very joyous to drive. The turbo engine provides the flexibility that you’d desire from the Cooper S while the running costs remain within reason. Steering feedback is communicative and the suspension copes well with most bumps and imperfections. We wouldn’t bother with the standard suspension and just jump right into the sports suspension configuration. It may have a firmer ride but the handling is so fantastic that we can overlook the firmness. It’s not unbearable like some Mercedes AMG trims and it manages to out handle them as well.

The Cooper S is a hoot to drive and there is not a dull moment behind the wheel of this car. It’s not the vehicle for those who are not seeking to be different as the styling stands out in a crowded parking lot. At least the Mini is far more interesting than many small cars. The Countryman for the longest was the only way you could get a Mini with 5-doors. This Mini offers the five-door practicality but the rear seat isn’t even close to being as roomy as the Volkswagen Golf or Mazda 3. You’ll forgive it though because the driving dynamics are superb. The dash board is funky looking but the menus and controls are fiddly to use. We wouldn’t mind a more conventional looking dash, while it is distinct and we love distinct. The user friendly factors are not even there and it’s a little disappointing because we were hoping Mini would’ve had this all sorted out. The boot is okay in space.

Our tester car came equipped with technology package, six-speed auto gearbox and heated front seats. Keyless start, Bluetooth connectivity for your mobile device and a premium sound system were also added. The Cooper S had nearly $7k worth of extra kit added which pushed the price close to $34k before a $3k discount was applied. We know that Minis tend to hold their value as well as BMW but a small car with this price tag makes it a very expensive proposition.

The Mini Hardtop 4-door doesn’t seem like a logical choice unless you are buying this with your heart and not your head. We enjoyed driving it around and loved how fast it was. What we loathe is the fact that it costs an arm and a leg to get one that is considered desirable and also Mini tends to be very stingy with standard kit. You’ll want this because it’s different and we agree with your decision but we just think that there are better options out there that are cheaper and have better reliability record.

Likes: It’s a hoot to drive and won’t hurt the wallet thanks to low running costs. A conventional 5-door hatchback that’ s not a crossover. It’s the most distinct car on the road and has the highest residual value of any small car.

Dislikes: Mini reliability record is iffy. The interior while it is funky to look at is not very user friendly. The price skyrockets when you add on the options.

We test drive a Mercedes Tank

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The Mercedes G-class is proof that sometimes you can have more money than sense.

The G550 uses a 4-liter bi-turbo eight-cylinder pumping out 416hp, you can step up to a AMG G63 using a 5.5-liter bi-turbo eight-cylinder pumping out 563hp while the top of the range AMG G65 uses a 6-liter bi-turbo eight-cylinder pumping out 621hp. The G-class isn’t one of those Mercedes you’ll find a ton of on dealer lots. We were able to find the AMG G63 but the manager at the dealership turned us away as he only wanted buyers who were absolutely certain they were going to buy it to test drive it. The second dealership we tried also turned us away, even though we did state we were interested in buying, the G550 they had was already in the process of being sold. It became almost a chore trying to find one to test drive, but we did come across one dealer who was very eager to let us test drive the vehicle. In fact the G550 that we were given the keys to was the manager’s own personal vehicle. He didn’t seem to mind one bit and we managed to keep the G550 for two days.  We just had to keep our trips short and also paid extra close attention to literally everything we did because one scratch or ding would set us back a tremendous amount of money that neither of us would be able to pay.

We love the way the G550 looks but when it comes to driving it, that’s just a totally different story altogether! While the G550 isn’t a small thing, it feels very daunting to drive. The blind spots are massive and while we did get plenty of safety aids to help take the sting out of it, the steering wheel is just way too slow to react and it often feels overly light at low speeds. You could shimmy the steering wheel from one direction to the other and the vehicle will continue going straight. The only other vehicle that we tested with steering like this was in a Mitsubishi Mirage and that’s a sub-$15k hatchback. The saving grace for the G550 is the contagious engine note that made it so worth the cumbersomeness that you’ll have to deal with. We didn’t really do much venturing around town as we stayed in the suburbs and kept the trips to a minimum. We did want to venture downtown and see how well the G550 fit in but had to make do with the upscale suburbs and high-end grocery stores. We did get a lot of people staring at us, as if we were made of money. The one thing that we loathe about vehicles that stand out like the G-class is that even though you are just testing the car or renting it (in our case) people think that you have tons of money and want you to buy everything that they are selling. We know people who will buy this have to have the bank to afford it and keep it on the road, but that doesn’t mean we want to buy your whole wagon of cookies or donate to every charity!

Despite the rude treatment we received literally every place that we went, the G550 is such a comfortable feeling SUV which was a shocker to us since the platform is so old. The doors don’t make the typical thump sound to let you know that it’s of high-quality. It makes a very faint ‘dink’ sound as if the whole door is made out of aluminum or some light weight material. The driving position is pretty much straightforward, you won’t struggle to get comfortable at all, even though some will feel they are sitting on top of the car rather inside of it. The interior quality does feel up to par with Mercedes standards, we just wish that it had a little more flash. It seems as if Mercedes just updates it in a way to make it feel fresh, but the design is oh so familiar. It’s like they’ve changed nothing at all. The rear seat offers decent space for three, but you’ll have dirty pants every time you get in and out of the vehicle. The rear door has an awkward step in that makes it nearly impossible not to brush your pants or leg against the side of the vehicle. The tall yet boxy shape does give you plenty of headroom. You’d have to be over 6’7 to even complain about headroom in this thing. The boot opening is very awkward and the boot space in general isn’t really anything to brag about, not that anyone would be bragging about it because it’s most likely not going to be used for that purpose anyone. And if you do use it for that purpose you’re better off with a GLE AMG.

The G-class doesn’t really come with many options and the ones that are optional were ticked as standard on this tester car we had. The adjustable suspension comes in handy as you can switch the suspension to comfort mode and glide over all the bumps and imperfections on the road, we didn’t test drive it in sport mode as it felt rather foolish, especially since the G550 drinks gas like no tomorrow.

The G550 isn’t like any SUV on the road. We hadn’t had the chance to drive it off road or even on the light muddy fields. It’s pretty daunting to drive too considering that it really is smaller than the GLS and Cadillac Escalade ESV we’ve driven. The biggest problem with the G550 is that despite it being an older design with updates here and there, there really is no point to this vehicle. We know majority of those who buy this won’t even take it off-road where it was meant to be driven and very few will ever even drive on muddy fields. It seems like one of those cars you buy because you have the money to buy one and don’t care about how much you’ll have to pay in running costs. We certainly found the car to be just too daunting to drive, almost as if it were a chore rather than engaging or entertaining. Plus everyone everywhere thought we had deep pockets because after all this is a $125k plus vehicle. You either love it or loathe it. It was certainly met with mixed opinion. We returned it to the dealer and the dealer and the manager was willing to knock off almost $20k if we took it off his hands, but we couldn’t afford to keep gas in this thing, let alone the purchase price of it. We wanted to like the G550 as it is a special type of vehicle that not everyone can buy but money doesn’t buy tastes and the G-class is proof of that. It’s stylish but rubbish in everywhere else.

Likes: The eight-cylinder engines sound amazing. It’s designed for off-road use and has a luxurious interior. We love how the doors don’t make the typical ‘thump’ sound when closed.

Dislikes: It rubbish to drive anywhere that’s not off-road. The purchase price is just as high as the running costs and don’t get us started on the bling factor.

Devon test drives a BMW M4 Convertible

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Looking for that open air driving experience but prefer the badge to be BMW? Fret not because the M4 convertible is finally here.

BMW has ditched the screaming 4-liter eight-cylinder engine in the M3 for a 3-liter turbocharged six-cylinder which produces 425hp. Put your foot down and the M4 really does live up the M badge. It’s furiously fast yet easy to live with as a daily commuter car. The automatic transmission may have faster shift ratios but we’d still choose the manual any day.
On the road the M4 feels well composed and is eager to tackle any corner bend you toss at it. The front seats really do help keep you in place and the overall feel of the steering is pretty good, it does however lack the feedback we loved from the previous M3, but this really isn’t much of a deal breaker. Our M4 came equipped with the adaptive M suspension which is a very expensive option helps make the M4 drive the way it should but at this price point why is it optional and not standard?
The minimalistic approach to the cabin makes everything easy to navigate through without any complicated controls or dials. The iDrive interface is much easier to use. The front seats are superbly comfortable and have a neck warmer so you can drive with the top down on brisk spring and fall weather. There is plenty of room for two in the rear seat but as long as the passengers aren’t over six feet tall. The boot space shrinks with the top down and increases with the top up. This is due to the folding metal roof which does eat into precious cargo space.
Wanting to walk away with a decently kitted M4 is going to be a bit of a struggle. Even our tester car came ticked with nearly every option that was offered on its list. Pushing the price sky high, but these M vehicles aren’t just any ordinary vehicle. They are special vehicles and really do put a special kind of feeling inside when you drive them. Plus resale value will hold very well as with all BMW vehicles. The badge is what attracts people to them.
The M4 convertible is more of a cruiser type car. It’s wicked fast and can tackle corners perfectly, but you’ll have to pay for that option. Plus with the options added on this car can get crazily expensive very fast. But for those who crave the BMW badge and won’t settle for anything else this is the perfect car.
Likes: Wicked fast acceleration yet very easy to live with as a daily commuter car. Seats up to four and offers decent boot space with top up.
Dislikes: Add the options and watch the price jump sky high. We miss the hydraulic steering. Turbo six-cylinder doesn’t have the soundtrack of the previous eight-cylinder when revved hard.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Pathological falls in love with the Volvo V90 CC

What makes a Volvo a Crosscountry vehicle? Well, standard all-wheel-drive and a raised driving height. Don't forget the body cladding that gives them the rugged look, now on to a serious question? Would you pay near $70,000 just to own one?

The V90 CC comes with a 2-liter turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder pumping out only 315hp. It doesn't seem like much but you'll be surprised at how flexible the engine really feels. We haven't had the chance to test drive one fully laden but from what we've been able to experience the V90 CC doesn't feel out of its depth with this engine combo. However, we do wish that Volvo did chase after making this the best turbo four-cylinder they could possibly make. It just doesn't feel refined for a vehicle with such a hefty price tag.

It's a crossover and that's all you need to know. Dynamically you won't even come close to the X5 or Cayenne, but for what most buyers will use this for it's just enough. Steering feedback is okay it's nothing to brag about, but the ride comfort deserves all the praise. It's silky smooth and so quite inside that well, it's premium feeling like a Volvo should.

The quirky infotainment system is easy to use while on the go. We love the large screen and easy to use menus. The front seats are comfy and provide much support while the rear seats are best left for four passengers. You can fit three abreast but that's going to be pushing it because of the large transmission tunnel that eats up precious foot space.

The V90 CC only comes with one trim and it's a very well kitted trim at that. Blind Spot Monitoring System, Full-LED headlights, keyless start, and semi-autonomus drive system. You'll have to pay extra for some luxury features such as 4-zone climate control, heated rear seats and rear sun curtains on the rear side doors.

The fact that the V90 CC costs as much as it does makes you wonder if its really worth considering because both the V90 and XC90 are cheaper. You'll find yourself looking at Audi, BMW and Mercedes for the smoother six-cylinder engine options also. But, we strongly suggest short listing this vehicle because it really is worth the look.

Likes: Smooth engine with plenty of flexibility. It's comfy to drive and is very stylish. It's hard to not consider this when most of its options are much more pricey.

Dislikes: Most people (not everyone) won't associate luxury with a turbo four-cylinder. V90 and XC90 could deter people away.

Pathological isn't impressed with the Mercedes CLA

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Audi and Mercedes both are offering four-door sedans for buyers who can't afford the more expensive A4 and C-class offerings. The CLA is the stylish of the two and offers that Mercedes quality at a lower asking price. But does this mean that you get what you pay for with a cheap Mercedes?

Performance: The CLA only offers two engine choices. It's a no brainer here as to which engine is the pick of the range. The CLA250 which is the cheaper of the two offers a turbocharged four-cylinder producing 208hp. Top of the range CLA45 AMG offers the same turbocharged four-cylinder producing 375hp. Most buyers will pick the CLA250 because it's cheaper to buy and makes the most sense financially.

On the road: The CLA suspension is set up towards comfort which is fine if you desire a smooth ride. The car still shimmies around over rough surfaces. The sports suspension sharpens handling but the ride comfort is much firmer and produces a choppy ride over rough surfaces. The AMG is great fun but is much harder to live with. There is little wind noise at highway speeds, there is a lot of road noise on patchy road surfaces. Both engines are smooth in operation but the AMG has a contagious exhaust that makes it hard to drive casually.

Behind the wheel: The driving position is good for drivers of all sizes. With plenty of adjustments for both driver's seat and steering wheel. This is sadly where the positives end. Just like all other Mercedes, you have to operate many functions by scrolling through menus with a single control dial in the center console. The lay out isn't very user friendly and is just too distracting to fully operate while on the go. The swooping roofline means that rear visibility is poor. There's plenty of room in the front with so-so rear passenger space. You'll have to becareful not to bash your head when getting in the back of the CLA. The boot is fairly large but its shallow and makes loading bulky items tricky.

Equipment: The CLA250 comes with decent kit for the money. Although you'll have to pay extra for Bi-xenon headlamps and a sport package which makes the CLA look sportier. Attention Assist is standard as well as 17-inch alloy wheels, start/stop system and Bluetooth hands-free interface. Top of the range AMG offers unique AMG trim, all-wheel-drive system and Bi-Xenon headlamps.

Buying & owning: The CLA looks pricey compared to the A3 sedan. Many of the features you'll most likely want pushes the price higher. At least the running costs will be decent if you stick with the front-wheel-drive variant. Resale value should be strong too thanks to good looks and the legendary Mercedes badge.

Quality: Interior quality and materials used feel upscale but don't feel as classy as the A3. Plus there are some areas that feel cost cutting. What worries us even more is the fact that Mercedes continues to score low in reliability surveys even though they have improved dramatically over the years. It's still not as good as Audi and BMW.

Safety: 10 airbags come standard as well as Attention Assist which monitors drowsy drivers. Optional is Bi-xenon headlamps on the CLA250 as well as blind spot warning detection. Deadlocks and an imobiliser come standard to keep theft at bay.

The CLA is a great entry level luxury sedan for those who really want the Mercedes badge but can't afford the more expensive C-class. Even though it is a great car all round, it still makes us wonder is it really worth considering? There are many indirect rivals that offer more kit for similar money and there's the Audi A3 which offers a few extra bits standard for the same price tag. Unless love the looks and can over look the short comings of the CLA this is the car for you. Otherwise we suggest looking at the A3 and top of the range indirect rivals.

Likes: Stylish inside out. Smooth turbo engine. AMG is a total hoot to drive. Mercedes at a low price what's not to like?

Dislikes: You'll pay an arm and leg to get the features you'll most likely want. AMG version is expensive. Reliability is still iffy and there's too many better indirect rivals.

We drive a Maxima to the Max!

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Nissan has made a lot of radical claims with the new Maxima. The first one being that the Maxima is a proper sports sedan like it used to be in it’s glory days. Secondly, the Maxima is more fun to drive than any other sedan in this segment. Radical claims require radical proof. Hand over the keys!

There’s only one engine that can be had with the Maxima and that’s a 3.5-liter six-cylinder pumping out 300hp. You’ll either love the Maxima or loathe it. We certainly had mixed feelings about it. The Maxima isn’t a dull to drive car as it blends comfort and agility quite well for a large sedan, but what lets us down is how off-putting the steering feedback is. You’ll want to hammer through corners and the chassis is willing but the steering gives you very little feedback where it matters the most. It’s like the chassis and the steering are on two different channels. You never feel all that confident when you want to drive it spiritedly. The engine is quite lovely when revved hard though and while you can only get this car with a CVT (continuously variable gearbox) it doesn’t feel all that lethargic as some other CVTs we have driven. The only problem with it is that it feels like it robs you of those valuable revs and even when you drive it in manumatic mode it just doesn’t feel rewarding to drive. It’s like Nissan thought they turned up the volume on the sport and instead turned up the comfort and turned off the steering. Driving the Maxima around town is quite easy actually thanks to light steering and the smooth ride comfort is always welcome. The Maxima is light on its toes on the highway and when you aren’t driving like a hooligan it is a very tame sedan with more to like than you’d think.

The infotainment system feels pretty much straight forward in design. Everything is within reach of the driver’s hand and while we love the touch screen system, the different menus can get a little distracting. What we loathe the most is the fussy Bluetooth Connectivity. We often found ourselves constantly having to reconnect our mobile device and when we were using our GPS to find a certain location the system just booted us out completely. The front seats are comfortable though with plenty of support and those in the rear won’t feel too shortchanged on space but the slopping roofline does mean that taller passengers in the back won’t be too comfortable. The boot space is actually good too.

Our Maxima was the top of the range platinum trim which comes with premium leather seats, around view camera monitor, driver attention alert and climate controlled front seats. Also fitted to our Maxima was heated steering wheel, navigation system, memory setting for front seats and adaptive cruise control. Despite it having the deep discount, we personally wouldn’t bother with it. Our pick would go to either the S or SL trim. Both offer really good value and decent amount of kit without being overly expensive like our tester car and with those discounts those trims are even more appealing.

Nissan has claimed that the Maxima is the sportiest sedan in its segment and well we think that Nissan has made radical claims without the actual deliverance of the goods. The 3.5 engine is amazing and the chassis is willing, we just wish that the steering was more tuned to match the handling and the gearbox was more in tuned to the engine. It’s such a shame that the Maxima has these short comings because if those were retooled this would be one hell of a sedan to drive and own.

Likes: We love the way it looks and the interior is pretty well laid out. The 3.5 six-cylinder offers oodles of flexibility and it’s comfortable to drive when you’re not driving like a hooligan.

Dislikes: The CVT robs the Maxima of its sporting nature. The steering and chassis are on two different channels. Bluetooth connectivity was fussy and too fiddly to operate.