Thursday, May 18, 2017

Pathological loves the VW Golf

There’s only one car that holds king of the hatchbacks and that’s the Volkswagen Golf.

Standard 1.8-liter turbo four-cylinder pumps out 170hp and may not sound like much to some but it really is the only engine you really need with this car. It’s quite flexible around town and offers plenty of oomph when you’re driving on the highway thanks to high torque at revs. You can choose between a five-speed manual gearbox and a six-speed auto gearbox. We’d suggest opting for the auto gearbox. While we do love manual gearboxes, this one just doesn’t feel up to par with the competition but it is not as bad as the one we tested in the Toyota IM. Steering feedback is what you’d expect it to be, and handling is slightly softer than the GTI but it is far from dull or uninspiring. We found ourselves enjoying zipping around town and the composure the Golf presented when driving on the highway. The engine is smooth at all rpm levels and doesn’t feel out of its depths like it does in let’s say the Passat. Road and wind noise are so well suppressed that you’d think that this were a far more expensive vehicle than it really is.

The interior feels upscale with classy feeling plastics used. The infotainment system isn’t as frustrating to use as the Honda Civic but the different menus can get distracting while on the go. The front seats offer plenty of support and space while the rear seat is roomy too, it’s actually much roomier than the exterior size would suggest. The boot space is really good too and for such a small car it actually feels more spacious than the Ford Focus. We love how the boot release is hidden behind the enormous VW badge.

Volkswagen cut the number of trim levels for 2017 to just two for the Golf and well both seem well kitted for the money. Standard S Trim gets heated side mirrors, Bluetooth audio streaming for you mobile device. Rearview camera system and 6.5-inch multi-media touch screen infotainment system. Wolfsburg Edition gets a panoramic sunroof, automatic headlights, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring system and keyless access with push button ignition system.

The Golf is hands down the best hatchback money can buy, if you find the engine lacking in power you can always get the GTI which has 210hp and 220hp from a 2-liter turbo four. Everyone else will love the Golf for its low running costs and roomy interior for such a small size. It really is all the car you’ll ever need. (Literally!)

Likes: Zippy turbo engine and low running costs, the boot space is generous for size and the overall interior is roomy. Simplified trim levels yet each trim level is stuffed with kit.

Dislikes: You can no longer option for Bi-xenon headlamps. We miss the SEL trim despite it being pricey.

Our pick: The Wolfsburg Edition comes with plenty of kit standard without being overpriced.

25 Weird Laws

In Victoria, only a qualified electrician is allowed to change a light bulb. It’s illegal to change it yourself unless you are a qualified electrician. If not you would have to pay a fine up to 10 Australian dollars.

In Milan, it is a legal requirement to smile at all the times, except during funerals or hospital visits. If you don’t, you have to pay a fine.

Winnie the pooh is banned from playgrounds in Tuszyn, in Poland. Because local authorities say Winnie is inappropriate for little children because Pooh is half naked.

In Coulaines, spitting was banned in 2009 to stop the spreading of swine flu.

In 2007, the Chinese government passed an absurd law, which stated that it’s illegal for the Tibetan monks to reincarnate without the government’s permission.

A popular law passed in England prohibits people to die in the House of Parliament. It is completely true and confirmed.

Eboli is a small town in Italy and kissing in a moving vehicle is banned here.

In Melbourne, Australia, vacuuming your house between 10 pm and 7 am during weekdays and 10 pm and 9 am during the weekends is against the law.

That’s not the only thing banned in Melbourne, it’s a place where men are banned from dressing up like a woman.

Driving a dirty car is against the law in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. You will have to face fine if you deny this law.

In Switzerland, flushing the toilet after 10 pm in an apartment building is illegal. The Swiss government considers it noise pollution.

In Canada, by law, one out of every five songs on the radio must be sung by a Canadian.

In Honolulu, Hawai, it is illegal to sing loudly after the sunset.

It is against the law not to walk your dog at least three times a day in Tornio, Italy.

Visitors of North Korea are not allowed to use North Korean currency and they are not allowed to enter into the city’s department stores.

A law passed in 2009 in Japan states that it is illegal to be fat. Yes, it is forbidden to be fat in Japan.

In Venice, it is illegal to feed the pigeons.

In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and requires the use of your toilet, you must let them enter.

In Singapore if you move around the house naked, without closing the blinds, you can be arrested.

Bear wrestling is illegal in Alabama.

In Oklahoma, you can be arrested for making ugly faces at a dog.

In Devon, Texas, it is against the law to make furniture while you are nude.

In Pennsylvania, it’s against the law to tie a dollar bill on a string on the ground and pull it away when someone tries to pick it up.

In Thailand, you can’t leave your house if you are not wearing underwear.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

[Updated] Volvo XC90

The new Volvo XC90 is the best of the best when it comes to luxury 4x4s. The Swedes really are back in town.

Volvo has added several new engine choices since the launch of the new XC90. T5 trim gets a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder pumping out 250hp. T6 trim gets the same 2-liter engine but a turbocharged and supercharged layout pumping out 315hp. While the range topping T8 Hybrid gets the same 2-liter turbocharged & supercharged layout but boosts output to 400hp. Pick of the range still remains with the T6 which we think is the best way to go with the XC90. The entry T5 is okay but it just doesn’t feel as refined as it should be and the T8 Hybrid is more on the steep side of the pricing, which does pay for itself in standard kit and low running costs.

Our tester car came equipped with air suspension and 20-inch alloys and the ride quality is actually good. Large bumps won’t even send shutters into the cabin. Handling is okay it won’t defy logic like a BMW X5 or Porsche Cayenne but it holds its own well. Steering is smooth and offers excellent feedback. Refinement is good in the XC90, when at relaxed speeds you can barely hear a peep out of the engine and road noise is virtually unheard of. There is a bit of wind noise around the side mirrors but it’s far from intrusive or annoying.

Volvo has the best seats in the auto industry hands down. These seats provide enough comfort for drivers of all sizes. The infotainment system is actually quite easy to use and of course you get a full nine-inch display which adds a bit of class to the overall look and feel. All the controls are within easy reach and your view forwards and backwards is good. Boot space is okay with the third row seat in place. Fold the third row seat down and you’ve got even more space, fold down both rows and you have so much space that you would need a transit van if you find the space lacking.

The third row seat is actually quite roomy for adults, even though most will only tolerate it for short journeys. The second row space is generous too, in fact this is one of the few seven-seat 4x4s we’ve ever driven where the balance between utility and people carrier is so good that we have to give it a standing ovation.

Momentum trim comes with Full-LED headlights, navigation system, panoramic sunroof and collision mitigation support for the front. R-design adds 20-inch alloys, R-design design ques. Inscription trim adds ventilated leather seats, linear walnut wood inlays, 12.3 digital instrument display. Range toping Excellence adds Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound System, beverage cooler/refrigerator and high-spec ventilation and massage function for front and rear seats.

We challenge you to find a BMW X5 or Porsche Cayenne with the same equipment for similar money and what you’ll find is all the reasons why the XC90 is the better buy. It may not have the resale value of both brands yet but this XC90 looks promising and we do predict that the value will hold very well. Running costs are similar to that of the BMW and Porsche and even though Volvo doesn’t offer a diesel engine it does however offer a plug-in hybrid option which makes it one of the of the cleanest seven-seat crossovers behind the Tesla Model-X.

Interior quality is superb and many of the plastics feel classy and upmarket; a far departure from the previous generation. Volvo has scored above-average in reliability and we do see this being a new trend for years to come. If Volvo had a middle name it would be safety and everything that you could ever possibly want in terms of safety kit Volvo has it. The most notable of these systems is the city braking which works at speeds up to 30mph, by slowing you down and bring you to a complete stop if the driver so happens to take his or her eyes off the road.

When you think of luxury 4x4s most will venture to the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne because well both are good in their own right. However, the XC90 is better than both in its own way. It may not be as sharp to drive or defy logic, but it is a comfortable cruiser with an outstanding interior and can really fit seven people aboard. Plus it is one of the most handsome looking 4x4s we have ever seen in a while. Volvo really did tick all the right buttons and play all the right notes with the new XC90. Hopefully the new looks and well equipped trim-levels will lure buyers in because passing one up without giving it a real gander is a real shame because this 4x4 is a gem.

Devon’s pick: T6 AWD R-design is where our money would go. It feels like you get a lot of car for your money and still somehow you undercut the X5 and you’re still way below what you would have to pay if you picked the Cayenne. It’s classy and stylish plus we just love those LED headlights.

Like: The XC90 is the most handsome 4x4 in the segment and that style carries inside too. Infotainment system is easy to use and those seats are the best. It can really fit seven people aboard and somehow manages to undercut the heavy hitters in kit and price.

Dislikes: The auto gearbox is a little sluggish to react. The T5 engine isn’t as refined as it should be.