Saturday, August 26, 2017

Weird Phobias that do exist!

File:Sunset 2007-1.jpg
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."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Devon tries again with the Smart Fortwo

(Photo provided by Devon M) 

The Smart Fortwo is the smallest car you can buy in the U.S. The last time I test drove the car it was just very short and I really didn't get the chance to test the car and get the real potential of the vehicle. This time however I was given the Smart Fortwo as a lender car for half a day and was able to really explore and see what this car was all about. What is it like to drive a car smaller than a golf-kart? Well let's find out. 

On the road: The Smart Fortwo only comes with one engine and that's a Mitusbishi sourced 1-liter three-cylinder with 70hp. This won't wow the power hungry and surely won't wow the econo crowd either. One thing for sure about this engine is that it has enough oomph to keep this little car going. On the highway it didn't feel out of its element which was actually quite shocking. The only thing I wished was the horrible semi-automatic gearbox went away. A proper manual gearbox or even an automatic gearbox would've been more suitable. The Smart Fortwo I was given was the Brabus edition which had the funky alloy wheels and firmer suspension. The Fortwo already has a firm suspension and is quite uncomfortable due to the ultra short wheelbase. Adding a sports suspension just made things a lot worst, but at least it grabbed onto corners better than the previous version which felt like a pogo stick going to tip over. 

While in stop and go traffic the brakes also take some getting used to. If you don't push too hard the car doesn't feel like it's going to come to a complete stop. You'll have to give a firm push on the brake pedal to feel anything happen. This is an uneasy feeling for me personally because often I felt like I was going to literally roll the car forward. Eventually as you drive the car you'll get used to this.

Behind the wheel: The steering wheel is fixed and the driving position is obviously raised for better visibility. This is quite annoying because I found myself sitting closer to the steering wheel than I liked. The interior feels very airy and roomy, two passengers could sit inside without feeling like they are sitting on each other's laps. The passenger seat is pushed back from the driver's seat which is both a good and bad thing. If you are on a date and want to put your arm around that special someone you could potentially punch the person in the face. The instrumental panel is clearly labeled and easy to read. The dashboard has a no-nonsense layout and is easy to navigate. The seats were trimmed in a special leather and were quite comfortbale to sit in for long journeys. Visibility alround is very good, and this is only due to the fact that you are basically surrounded by the entire car. You could literally reach from one end with one hand and the windshield with the other. 

Overall: This is obviously a niche vehicle and it does haev its audience. Some people won't like it because it's deemed too small. While others will enjoy the easy to park size, the charming interior and the ability to grab more atteniton than a BMW. It's a great car and for what it is, it serves it's purpose well. Now if only Smart gave a proper gearbox and brakes. The Smart would be a better car to drive overall.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Devon test drives a BMW X3 (Used)

2011 BMW X3 (F25) xDrive28i wagon (2011-11-18) 01.jpg

The BMW X3 was considered pointless when it was first released in 2006. Now it has created a whole new segment that includes rivals from Audi, Mercedes and Volvo. This new segment is proving to be popular with American buyers, but does it prove it's worth considering over a conventional well purposed wagon? 

Performance: There are two engines available for the X3. The familiar 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 240hp and a 3-liter turbocharged six-cylinder producing 300hp. Picking between the two depends on your tastes. Our favorite is the 2-liter turbo which is the cheapest of the two and is the more sensible choice. It blends fuel economy and performance well without having to pay the premium of the six-cylinder. 

On the road: The X3 we've had came equipped with dynamic handling package. This sharpened the steering and handling. It's an optional package that is well worth the premium. This seems to be a common trait with BMWs however, we have yet to test drive one with standard suspension. Ride comfort is firm but not uncomfortable with excellent body control. The engines are quiet and smooth even when pushed hard. There's no manual gearbox like the previous generation. This may not seem like a bad thing because the manual gearbox wasn't impressive in the previous generation. 

Behind the wheel: The front seats are comfortable and offer plenty of support for drivers of all shapes and sizes. The dashboard has a minimalistic approach in design. It's easy to navigate and all the controls are clearly labeled and easy to read. The iDrive controller has been vastly improved with much simple and easy to use menus. Rear passenger space is comfortable for two, a third person may not feel as comfortable due to the large transmission tunnel. Boot space is generous as well with the rear seat in place. Fold them down and the space increases considerably for added versatility. 

Equipment: The Standard X3 comes with stop/start technology, leatherette upholstery and automatic climate control. Top of the range X3 comes with Xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lamps. 18-inch alloy wheels and a power tailgate system. You'll have to pay a rear view camera, heated front seats and variable sport steering with performance control. 

Buying & owning: The X3 is competitively priced among its rivals. You'll have to stay clear of the options list if you want your X3 to be within reasonable price levels. The Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60 are both able to cater to drivers in the same levels as the X3 but both don't offer the fun to drive factors as the X3. Then again we have yet to test drive the X3 or any BMW with standard suspension. 

Reliability & Safety: The X3 cabin materials feel upscale and long lasting. Much attention was put into the fit and finish. It may not be as classy as the Audi Q5, but it is a vast improvement over the previous generation. Reliability should be good as BMW has been vastly improving their reliability over the years. Front and side curtain airbags come standard across the range. ESP, anti-lock-brakes come standard as well as X-drive all-wheel-drive system. Deadlocks and anti-theft deterrent system comes standard to keep theft away. 

The BMW X3 is a great choice among it's keen rivals Volvo XC60 and Audi Q5. It's quite fun to drive and vastly improved over previous generation. Both engines offer plenty of oomph and the refinement is improved as well. We have yet to test drive a BMW with standard suspension and the options send the price to X5 levels. If you can ignore these few downsides the X3 is a great vehicle that's worth considering if its rivals don't tickle your fancy. 

Devon's Pick: The X3 xDrive28i is the pick of the range. The 2-liter turbo engine is all the engine you'll really need. There is plenty of pace for both city and highway driving. It may seem like the watered down version of the X3 but it makes the most sense financially. If you stay clear of the options list you'll get a decently priced X3 that's worth an extra look. 

Likes: Optional variable damper control makes the X3 more fun to drive. Quality and cabin materials are vastly improved. 

Dislikes: Options send price to X5 entry level. Large rear tunnel limits space for three. We've yet to test drive any BMW with standard suspension. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

(Used) Devon test drives an Audi Allroad

Photo provided by Devon M 

If you take an Audi A4 raise the suspension slightly and throw on plastic body panels. You get the Audi Allroad, it's designed to compete with the Volvo XC70 and Subaru Outback. With standard Quattro all-wheel-drive and a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, can Audi give a justifiable reason to buy a Allroad over a luxury crossover? 

Performance: The Allroad only comes with a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 211hp. Only transmission available is an eight speed automatic gearbox. Which does a good job of helping the engine feel more powerful than the numbers suggest. Pace around town is decent and on the highway there's good punch thanks to the extra torque. 

Ride & handling: Even though the Allroad has a raised driving position for mild off-roading. The downside is that the Allroad is that there's a bit more body roll than the A4 Avant on which its based on. The ride comfort is also a bit of a let down, there's a bit too much thump over poor road surfaces and the steering is overly light with little feedback. 

Refinement: The Allroad is quiet and smooth at highway speeds. There's a bit of wind noise, but it can be easily drained out with the radio. Suspension and road noise are also well supressed. 

Behind the wheel: There's a wide range of adjustments for the driver's seat and steering wheel. The instrumental panel is easy to navigate and visibility is great thanks to large glass area. 

Space & Practicality: There's enough space for four adults and their luggage. Headroom and legroom and plenty and the boot is a good size as well. The rear seats fold down to add more space, but they don't fold completely flat. 

Equipment: The base trim of the Allroad comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, Audi Concert radio, panorama glass roof and leather surfaced seats. Mid-range trim adds Xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights, power tailgate, three-zone climate control and heated front seats. Top of the range trim adds navigation system, keyless start, Audi side assist blind spot dection warning and a upgraded sound system. 

Buying & Owning: The Allroad comes with a hefty price tag which is similar to the Volvo XC70. Even though the Subaru Outback is much cheaper to buy, it doesn't have the styling appeal of the Audi Allroad. Gas mileage a combined 23 miles to the gallon which is decent for a wagon that has all-wheel-drive and weighs near 4,000lbs. Resale value should be good as with all Audis. 

Reliability & Quality: The interior quality is excellent for its class. All the materials feel upscale and the overall impression is superb. Audi hasn't really enjoyed the best reliability record in the past, but from what we've seen in recent years. The question still remains over the longterm reliability of the mechanicals and electronics. 

Security & Safety: The Allroad comes with lots of safety equipment, including six airbags and stability control. Rear side airbags are optional. Deadlocks and an alarmn are fitted as stanard to guard against theft. 

The Allroad is a nice wagon with plenty of luxury features galore. The engine is decent for the task, and fuel economy is respectable. However the bigger question remains. Why Audi didn't offer the A6 Allroad instead of the A4 based Allroad. The price tag would've been a little more justifiable and overall packaging would've been more convincing seeing that the Volvo XC70 and Subaru Outback are both larger vehicles with more space. However, if you want a splash of style, wagon practicality and desire the Audi Quattro all-wheel-drive, the Audi Allroad is the perfect car that blends all three very well.

Devon's Pick: Premium Plus adds Xenon headlamps which look better on the Allroad than the halogen headlamps that come standard on the base trim. Plus it feels like an alround better deal than both the base trim and top of the range. 

Likes: Stylish exterior with luxurious interior, spacious room for four adults with a decent sized boot. Turbo engine has more pep than the figures suggest. 

Dislikes: Priced rather steeply, steering is overly light. Reliability record is still iffy. Doesn't offer adjustable suspension like previous Allroad. Based on A4 platform rather than A6 to make it a real competitor towards the Volvo XC70. 

"It was twenty years ago today"

The Beatles --Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Remastered)
It was more than forty-three years ago today when “Sgt. Pepper” took the world by storm, eventually becoming the most important album release ever--unsurpassed in concept, sound, songwriting and studio technology, put together by one of the greatest rock groups of all time. When it was first released on June 1, 1967, it kicked off what was considered the “Summer of Love.” With vivid tracks that were about non-violence and an extreme push towards peace and love, “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band” is a concept album that sort of takes a wild turn into its own world. The eponymous first track starts off with a live audience then kicks into gear with Paul McCartney playing the electric guitar eventually giving way to their alter-ego band. “Billy Shears” (also known as Ringo Starr) lends his vocals to "With a Little Help from My Friends.” This song is a somewhat entertaining listen, but it comes off rather boring and a little basic in song structure. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was the song that still, to this day, causes controversy. Many people believe it was inspired by a popular drug in the sixties called LSD. Also if the song is initialed, you'll spell 'LSD'. Although John Lennon has said many times this song isn't about LSD, people to this day believe it to be true. However the song is still amazing whether inspired by drugs or not. The whole structure of the song is very ahead of its time. Giving a vivid picture of a child's imagination put into a very musically complex song. “Good Morning, Good Morning” is one of those songs that is usually ignored and it is often considered a throw-away song, with loud horn section and overly loud brass. The song doesn't come off pretentious more like a loud wake up call. The album sums up with “A Day in the Life”; one of the best on the album. It starts off with a slow yet steady beat, but mid way into the song the beat sort of rises and gets louder and louder. Sort of like an innocent dream turning into a nightmare. The sound then fades away and goes into Paul's vocals. Originally his part of the song was supposed to be for another song, but it was ultimately included in this song. It does sound somewhat out of place here, but when listening to it, it does make sense. With much ties to the legendary “Paul is Dead” hoax that caused everyone to back mask much of their music. This lasted until a special interview was conducted that proved Paul really wasn't dead. “Sgt. Pepper” (Remastered) brings the sound quality to a new, more exceptional standard. Each song is clear and the vocals and instruments can be heard more clearly than ever. These few tweaks have made an album released nearly forty-three years ago sound just as good as its first release in 1967. That kind of achievement is not very easy to obtain.

Devon M

Devon does tribute to 9-3 Viggen

The 9-3 Viggen was the hottest and fastest 9-3 you could buy in Saab's line-up. It started off with a 2.3-liter high-output turbocharged four-cylinder which pumped out 225hp and 252lb-ft torque. Later it was pumped up to 230hp and 258lb-ft torque. This was one of the last of the Saab vehicles that really did leave a special place in my heart.

On the road: The 9-3 Viggen I was able to get my hands on had a 2.3-liter high-output turbocharged four-cylinder producing 230hp and 258lb-ft torque. All this power was sent through a five-speed manual that was slick shifting at times. The engine felt smooth and urgent when you put your foot down, but often times you'll want to grab the steering wheel with both hands. The front wheels felt like they were searching for traction and the chassis often felt overwhelmed by the amount of power the engine produced. This sent a huge amount of torque steer to the front wheels before the ESP kicked in and helped keep things under control. If the 9-3 Viggen would've been a rear wheel drive car, the torque steer would've been to a minimal. But then again its all part of the charm. It's one of those cars you can just take to a race track and have a hoot with, and drive it home and feel comfortable. The suspension was firm but not overly firm where it left you feeling beat up after driving a few miles on patchy surfaces.

From behind the wheel: Everything in the 9-3 cabin feels logically laid out. All the controls are easy to navigate and everything is within reach of the driver's hand. The instrumental panel and the way its designed has a sort of cockpit feel to it. The ignition switch is tucked away neatly between the front seats as well as the power window switches and power door lock switch. It was one of those designs you either hated or loved. Most people loved it because it really did make Saab different from other cars.

Practicality: One of the best things about the 9-3 Viggen is the amounts of space and practicality it offered. There is plenty of cargo space in the boot, and the rear seats can accommodate two adults and one child, or three kids. The front seats offered plenty of support and visibility all round is very good. Saab has always been known to incorporate practicality in their vehicles, with a splash of sport.

The 9-3 Viggen is a rare find and is worth the look. This is one of the last of the Saab vehicles that really did gain cult status among fans before Saab started chasing BMW and discontinued the iconic hatchback for a more mainstream sedan. One thing for sure though is there is no other car like a Saab, and even if Saab isn't in production anymore. Saab will always be the company that started the turbo craze and the whole left field illogical thinking. Ingenious safety features and some of the best turbo engines you can ever drive. Saab is and will always be a great company. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

(Used) Devon test drives a Toyota Corolla

File:2014 Toyota Corolla S in Ontario, Canada.jpg

Toyota has never been known for building fun to drive vehicles. The Corolla is no exception to this. Although you can get a sporty looking S-trim. There really isn't much fun behind the wheel. With stiff competition from Honda and Kia, will Toyota be able to keep up? Or is this another case of old dog - old tricks?

Likes: Excellent fit and finish, fuel economy, smooth ride comfort.

Dislikes: Dull driving experience, base trim feels rather stingy on features.

Performance: There's only one engine available for the Corolla, and that's a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 138hp. It offers a good amount of pace around town and on the motorway. Fuel economy is also good too. Power hungry may want to look elsewhere, as there's no powerful engine options to match the sporty looks of the S trim.

Ride & Handling: The Corolla feels solid and comfortable when driven gently. Handling isn't sporty, and doesn't encourage you to drive aggressively. The suspension is set more towards comfort rather than agility. So there's bodyroll in turns, but its far from annoying.

Refinement: The Corolla has excellent refinement on the motorway. There's very little wind and road noise. You'll enjoy how smooth and quiet the ride comfort is. The engine operates smoothly, and is quiet at most speeds.

Behind the wheel: The dashboard has a no nonsense layout. Everything feels logically placed and user friendly. The seats adjust for both reach and height. The controls are easy to use and the quality feels rock solid.

Space & Practicality: There's enough room for five adults in the Corolla. There's plenty of head and legroom for both front and rear passengers. There's plenty of boot space as well. The rear seats fold down 60/40 for additional space.

Equipment: The Corolla is priced well among its rivals, but the base trim level loses out on central locking and power windows. You'll have to step up to the higher trims to get features that should be standard across the range. There are rivals that offer them for less than the Corolla.

Buying & Owning: The Corolla holds its value well, so your investments are well secured. The base trim doesn't feel like much of a value, and the sporty looking S trim doesn't feel as sporty as its looks suggest. However, your fuel bill will be low and build quality will be excellent.

Quality & Reliability: All the plastics used feel long lasting. There's a sense of durability behind the interior quality. Reliability should be excellent, as the Corolla has been rated high by its owners in the JD Power survey.

Safety & Security: All Corollas come with an array of safety features standard. ESP, ABS and side curtian airbags come standard across the range. An engine immobiliser comes standard across the range, but you'll have to step up to the higher trims to get deadlocks.

The Corolla has rock solid reliability and feels very well built. It's dependable and offers excellent fuel economy. For those seeking something that's fun to drive may want to venture else where. But for the few that want a car that's aimed at quality and dependability, the Corolla is the car for you.