Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Devon drives a baby Mercedes Sedan

File:Mercedes-Benz C 350 BlueEFFICIENCY Avantgarde Sport-Paket AMG (W 204, Facelift) – Frontansicht, 29. Oktober 2011, Düsseldorf.jpg

The Mercedes C-class brings legendary Mercedes quality and reputation to a lower more reachable price. This means that you won't have to pay more to get the legendary badge. But does a lower price mean a compromised package?

Performance: There's a handful of engines to choose from. The new base engine is a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 201hp. A 3-liter six-cylinder with 228hp is next in line. Mid-range 3.5-liter six-cylinder has 268hp and the top of the range AMG-tuned 6.3-liter eight-cylinder with 451hp. Pick of the bunch is 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 201hp. It offers good fuel economy, decent pace and a price tag that's hard to resist. If you want the all-wheel-drive you're limited to the 3-liter six-cylinder with 228hp.

Ride & Handling: It isn't as sharp to drive as a BMW 3-series. But one will enjoy the C-class adaptive suspension which automatically sets the suspension to react to each road conditions. If you put it in sport mode, or opt for a sports suspension. You'll be greeted by a firm ride that can be uncomfortable over some surfaces. The C-class feels respectable in handling and is agile enough to entertain most drivers.

Refinement: The C-class filters out noise really well. The four-cylinder emits a distinct grunt when pushed hard. You'll hear the turbo whirl when you're coasting. But this is far from intrusive and annoying. The newly revised automatic transmission feels smooth when upshifting and is very responsive.

Behind the wheel: The C-class has a chunky switchgear for the main heater and stereo functions. This whole design is to make the instrument panel less cluttered. However, the whole design will leave your eyes lingering away from the road a little longer than you'd desire. The driving position is excellent, with plenty of adjustments to get comfortable.

Space & Practicality: The C-class can carry four adults in comfort, a fifth person will be pushing it due to the large transmission tunnel which intrudes into foot space. There's a large boot, and plenty of head and legroom to go around. The optional panoramic sunroof is best avoided because it eats into headroom.

Equipment: Every C-class comes well equipped. You get the typical array of features you'd expect on a car at this price range. However, features like Xenon headlamps, heated front seats and keyless start are optional on some trim levels and standard on others. At this price you'd expect these features to be standard. All-wheel-drive isn't optional across the range either like the BMW 3-series.

Buying & Owning: The C-class isn't a cheap car to buy, but strong resale values help take the sting out of the purchase. The turbo four-cylinder has decent fuel economy so your fuel bill shouldn't be too bad. The AMG with its screaming V8 engine is a hoot to drive, but racks in high running costs.

Quality & Reliability: Mercedes has drastically improved in terms of quality over the years. The newly revised interior feels more upscale than the previous model years. All the plastics feel sturdy and long lasting in quality. JD Power surveys have been positive from customers of the C-class.

Safety & Security: Seven airbags come standard on every C-class. There's even an airbag that protects the driver's knee. There's stability control and optional 4-matic all-wheel-drive system. Deadlocks aren't fitted as standard as Mercedes are against them.

Likes: Fun to drive, spacious and refined on most models, screaming fast AMG V8 performance.

Dislikes: All-wheel-drive not offered on all trims, sport models have a firm ride, some features should be standard across the range.
The C-class offers a little something for everyone. It's not as sharp to drive as a 3-series and its not as stylish as a Audi A4. But you do get a classy sedan that's well equipped and very comfortable to drive on long journeys. It may not beat the 3-series, but it does offer an attractive proposition that's well worth considering.

Devon's Pick: C250 Sport offers a smooth turbo engine with a decent starting price. Though the equipment level isn't the greatest and you'll have to pay extra for few bits that should be standard.

Devon M

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Devon test drives a Scion with IQ

File:Toyota iQ 20090621 front.JPG

The Smart Fortwo isn't the smallest car that you can buy in the U.S. anymore. The Scion IQ is designed to compete with the Fortwo, but there's one thing the IQ can do that the Fortwo cannot. The Scion IQ can seat up to four people in theory. Being only so much larger than the Fortwo, can Scion lure customers away from larger more comfortable alternates.

Likes: Nimble around town, well equipped and easy to park.

Dislikes: Looks like a toy car, boot space doesn't exist if rear seats are in place. The stereo control is fiddly and the styling is rather dorky.

Performance: There's only one engine available for the IQ, that's a 1.33-liter four-cylinder with 98hp. Performance is spirited around town, but on the motorway you'll need to plan out overtaking other vehicles. Getting up to speed takes a little longer than you desire. But the IQ is much more peppier than the Fortwo.

Ride & Handling: The IQ is more comfortable to drive around town than the Fortwo. Thanks to an incredible turning circle and light controls. On faster roads, the IQ struggles to stay composed. There's a fair bit of body lean in bends and the front end runs out of grip quickly. The steering often feels vague and there's vulnerability to side winds. Making long journeys hard work.

Refinement: There's an incredible amount of refinement inside of the IQ. Although the door mirrors produce a bit of wind noise. Road noise is also very hushed. The CVT transmission makes the engine sound buzzy and thrashes when pushed hard.

Behind the wheel: The single stereo control on the steering wheel is very fiddly to operate. But it means the center console has extra space for the driver. However, comfort would be improved if the seat was height adjustbale and the wheel moved for reach as well. The heater is controlled via chunky buttons and dials.

Space & Practicality: The IQ in theory is a four-seater, but in reality there's only room for two passengers. The rear seat isn't big enough for kids and eats into the cargo space. So you'll have to choose between people space or cargo space. The boot is totally nonexistent with rear seats in place.

Equipment: The IQ offers plenty of kit for the money. You get six-speaker sound system, air-con, keyless entry and a cd-player. You'll have to pay extra for auto headlamps, fog lamps, rain sensing wipers and climate control.

Buying & Owning: The IQ is more expensive than the Fortwo, but the IQ is a more comfortable car to drive and live with. The transmission is smoother and the brakes are easier to modulate. However, the sheer size of the car may scare away some buyers. Residual values and resale values are unknown because the IQ isn't available in all states yet.

Quality & reliability: It's too soon to say how well the IQ will stand up in long term reliability. Most of the cars engineering is done by Toyota. So there's a piece of mind that you'll be buying a dependable vehicle.

Safety & Security: You get stability control, nine airbags including one that inflates across the rear screen in the event of a rear-end collision. Deadlocks and an integrated stereo makes life for thieves hard.

The IQ only strong points are its smooth transmission, good gas mileage and ease of use around town. However, like the Fortwo - the IQ isn't composed on faster roads. There really isn't much space for four passengers and many buyers will be scared away due to the small size of the car. However, if you desire a small car that's a little less crude than the Fortwo. The IQ is the perfect car for you.