$1,000,000 Dream

Calling all car geeks! This post is for you.

Last week I was having a discussion with a friend that every car enthusiast in the world has had at one point or another in their lifetime, probably multiple times. The gist of our discussion went like this, you’re given 1 million dollars and you have to spend it on 5 cars, what do you buy? There are thousands of different possibilities to this questions and the fact of the matter is, they’re all right, as it’s purely based on personal choice.

But I thought I would extend the discussion, have a little fun and make post out of it. Before I go into my selections there are a few ground rules that we need to cover:

  • Whatever you don’t spend, you lose.
  • These would be the only 5 cars that you would be allowed to drive. This is important, mostly for people that live in cold climates, as you may not want to pick 5 super cars and have to end up driving one during a snow storm.
  • Taxes are exempt from vehicle pricing estimates.
  • Only current year stock manufacturer vehicles are eligible.

Here are my 5 selections:

My first choice was easy and was made without any hesitation. Although Ferrari decided to turbocharge this model, I still believe it is the epitome of a super car. A mid-engined 3.9-litre, twin turbo V8 pushing out 661 hp. That’s sounds like a whole lot of fun to me. Not to mention it’s a Ferrari and is absolutely beautiful.

1- Ferrari 488 GTB  – Approximate price: $275,000

My second choice was just about as easy as the first. Porsche has been working on making the 911 better and better for over 50 years. It is a timeless everyday super car and no car collection is complete without it. I’ve chosen an all-wheel drive version because it would allow me to drive it year round with confidence. Nothing looks cooler than a 911 4s in the snow with a roof rack!

2- Porsche 911 4S – Approximate price: $150,000

My third choice took some reflection. I figured I needed an SUV. There is no substitute for ground clearance when the snow is a few feet deep. I also tend to enjoy driving off the beaten path from time to time. For some reason, I’ve always had an interest in the Ford Raptor, yes, I know, it’s a pick-up truck, but it’s awesome, unfortunately there isn’t a current model available. The 2017 Raptor will only be available this fall. Disqualified. Now, what SUV looks at home next to a Ferrari and a Porsche? In my opinion there are three options, first, the Bentley Bentayga, but it’s so ugly that I had to discard it. Second, the Mercedes G63 AMG, I’ve always loved this truck, so much power, so capable, but for some reason, I find it’s a little too much Rodeo Drive and not enough muddy back road drive. Finally, our winner, the Range Rover. Not the sport version that can be seen on every street corner these days, but the real one, the big boy. It’s supercharged, it’s fast and it can go anywhere. I just need to hire my own mechanic, but that’s in the details.

3- Range Rover Supercharged – Approximate price: $120,000

My fourth and fifth choices are interlinked as it was becoming a numbers game. I felt I needed to add a daily driver that looked great, had power, all-wheel drive, space and wouldn’t look like a scrub next to the other cars. I also wanted something special, a car that you may only see on the roads once in your lifetime.

My first combination was an Audi S6 and a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. I love the F12, it’s beautiful and has a monster v12 in the front, but due to it’s unbelievably high price tag, I would be forced to downgrade with my daily driver. The Audi S6 is a fast and capable sedan, but lacks some of the space that I would get from my other option. My second combination was a Mercedes E63 AMG wagon and an Aston Martin Vanquish. The E63 checks all the boxes and does it with an exhaust note that Pavarotti would be proud of, plus it’s a wagon! The Vanquish is just about as beautiful as the F12 but just doesn’t have the same ”wow” factor. Than again, nothing does compared to a Ferrari, but I do already have one in the garage.

After much deliberation, I selected the Mercedes and the Aston Martin. I figured I’d be spending the most time in the Mercedes, so it’s best I make it the first priority.

4- Mercedes E63 AMG Wagon – Approximate price: $125,000

5- Aston Martin Vanquish – Approximate price: $310,000

honestdrive.com Mercedes e63 amg wagon.png
Mercedes E63 AMG Wagon

I’m really interested in knowing what you think about my 5 choices and even more, what your 5 would be? Don’t be shy, chime in!

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Lane Etiquette

Lane etiquette is something I feel quite strongly about and feel that many accidents could be avoided if people respected a few simple unwritten rules. No one is perfect on the road and there are always exceptions to these rules, but being conscious of them can go a long way.

Two lane highways are simple and I feel that most drivers understand how they work. The right lane is for driving and the left lane is for passing. Of course, certain high volume traffic situations lead to both lanes being fairly crowded, in this case, you should be in the lane which best matches your cruising speed. If that happens to be the left and faster traffic approaches to the rear you should move to the right lane when it’s safe to do so in order to let them pass.

Highways with three lanes is where things get complicated for many drivers. I’ve spoken to a few and this is what many of them thought and really what I see on a daily basis: the right lane is for merging, the middle lane for driving and the left lane for passing. This is incorrect. I will now explain the correct way to travel on a three-lane highway in moderate to high volume traffic situations.

The on-ramp or acceleration lane is of course for accelerating, in order for drivers to merge into the right lane at a speed that matches the flow of traffic.

The right lane is usually the slowest lane, if you’re on a slow cruise and it happens to be Sunday afternoon, this is probably the correct lane for you. If you like to travel slightly under or at the speed limit this is usually also the best lane to be in. It is the simplest and safest. You are only exposed on one side, you are the farthest from oncoming traffic and you can’t be passed on the right, we will see why that’s important later on. When in this lane and approaching an acceleration lane, check for approaching vehicles, if there happens to be one and you can safely move to the middle lane, do so. If the middle lane is too crowded, remain in your lane and let the merging vehicle make the decision to either speed up or slow down. He yields to you.

The middle lane is the most complicated and misunderstood lane. Traffic in this lane should be moving faster than the traffic on the right. If you are in the middle lane and someone approaches you from the rear at a higher speed and the right lane is clear, you should move over. Most drivers in the middle lane believe that it is always up to the faster approaching vehicle to pass them on the left. This is only true if the right lane is too crowded to make a safe lane change. When slow moving drivers stay in the middle lane, it has the effect of bogging down traffic as faster drivers accumulate behind them and try to pass on either side.

Also, on most three-lane highways, trucks are not allowed to be in the left lane, which means if you are being tailed by a truck, you should move over, the reason he isn’t passing you in the left lane and is blinding you with his lights is because he isn’t allowed to. The middle lane is also the most dangerous, as you are exposed on both sides and more people tend to cut in and out of this lane.

Finally, the left lane is for traffic moving the fastest. If you are driving at speed and approaching a slower vehicle in this lane, do not pass them on the right. The correct thing to do is to slow down and wait behind them until they make a proper lane change. Most highway accidents happen when faster vehicles move to pass on the right while the slower vehicle makes a simultaneous lane change.

This whole post comes down to two things, it’s very simple, yield to faster moving traffic and never pass on the right.

Sync 3

Sync 3 is Ford’s new infotainment system, replacing the previous MyFord Touch system. It’s currently available on 2016 Ford Escapes and Fiestas when properly equipped. It will be available on all 2017 models.The outgoing system doesn’t generally fare well in reviews. From my experience it was slow, struggled in cold weather and it had its share of glitches, sometimes the Bluetooth connectivity wasn’t working and the entire system had to be reset in order to get it going again. The user experience wasn’t very intuitive and took some time to get used to. That being said, my 2013 Ford Escape was my first car that even had an infotainment system, so all in all, I was quite happy with it.

Now on to the new system, visually it’s more refined and the graphic user interface is much improved. The system’s functionality is where it has really grown. It is much faster, with zero wait time once you make a selection. The user experience is simpler, and functions much like a smartphone with pinch-to-zoom and swipe capability.

Sync 3 also has Siri recognition, so if you’re an Apple user, it enables you to use voice commands in order to send text messages and keep your eyes on the road. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are expected to be enabled in a system update coming in the second trimester of 2016. Most manufacturers already have this integrated into their system, but better late than never I guess.

There are however a few areas where it loses points, these issues aren’t huge problems, but nevertheless, I have to mention them.

The system features AppLink, it lets you use certain apps on your smartphone directly through the car’s interface. Unfortunately, there are currently very few apps that are compatible and most are music related apps. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t have a data plan on my phone that allows me to stream music all day, so it’s basically useless. Adding insult to injury, the second Apple CarPlay gets integrated, AppLink will become obsolete.

Also, and this one really grinds my gears, I get in the car, start it up, hit the voice command button to make a phone call, put the car in reverse and back out of the parking spot. Unfortunately, the system can’t handle backing up and making a phone call at the same time, so the call gets cut. Once the person has answered you’re okay to reverse, however, up until that point, even if it’s ringing, the call will cut out.

My final thoughts, Sync 3 is the best infotainment system I’ve ever had, but that isn’t saying much…

Situation Report 1: 2016 Ford Escape

I’ve now been driving my new 2016 Ford Escape for a little over 2-months now. Over that period of time, I’ve completed 10,658 kilometers or 6,623 miles.

As previously mentioned, my 2013 Ford Escape was equipped with the top of the line 2.0 Ecoboost engine, however, this time around I opted for 1.6 Ecoboost engine in order to save on fuel costs. With the 2.0 Ecoboost my fuel efficiency numbers were 11.5 L / 100 km or around 20.5 mpg. So far, with the 1.6 Ecoboost I’ve been doing 9.7 L / 100 km or around 26.1 mpg. A few things to note, every kilometer was done on winter tires (Toyo Observe GSi5), so naturally due to the more aggressive tread pattern, and therefore increased friction with the road, the car will consume more fuel. Also, when traffic permits, I usually travel on the highway at around 115 km/h or around 71 mph and I’ve noticed an unbelievable difference between the fuel consumption at that speed and when traveling anywhere between 90 km/h and 100 km/h. On cruise control at 90 km/h or around 55 mph the car will hold steady at about 6.0 L / 100 km or around 39.2 mpg. The larger 2.0 Ecoboost showed very little difference in fuel consumption at these different speeds. This is something to keep in mind depending on how fast you like to drive.

Now on to the power, there is no way around it, the car is slow. From 0 to 50 km/h it’s actually not bad, however, 70 to 100 km/h is painfully slow. That being said, I was spoiled with the 2.0 Ecoboost. So it’s all a matter of perspective, if you’re used to driving a normal small SUV or sedan that comes with a normally aspirated (non-turbo) engine which would usually range from 1.5 to 2.5 liters, you will be fine with the 1.6 Ecoboost. As for me, I’ve yet to determine if the the drop in fuel consumption, which so far isn’t all that much is worth the drop in power.

Finally, I’ve noticed that when I’m doing frequent accelerations, like when I’m doing a lot of city driving for example, I’ll often notice a burnt smell, very similar to what a burnt clutch would smell like. I’ll keep an eye on this and ask around next time I take the car in for an oil change.

Thankfully, there is nothing else to report on. In a future post, I’ll be writing about the Escape’s most notable update on the 2016 model, the Sync 3 system.

 

 

Shopping for Tires?

In an earlier post I mentioned how the tires of the Ford Escape could be quite expensive because on their size. I used the numbers 235 / 55 / 17 to describe them. But what do these numbers really mean?

They are all rather simple once you break them down and the next time you go shopping for tires you will know what the clerk behind the counter is talking about. Here goes!

Let’s start with the first number, 235. This number describes the width of the tire. It is calculated in millimeters, so this means the Ford Escape’s tires are 235 millimeters wide. The wider the tire, the more rubber on the pavement and hence the more grip you will have. This is why supercars have wider tires, along with other features, it allows them to corner much faster without losing control.

But wide tires aren’t necessarily all good. For instance, a wider tire will not perform as well in the snow, as it has to push through more snow and will spin out more easily. Also, the wider the tire, the more expensive they will be.

The second number is definitely the most misunderstood. You might know that it designates the height of the tire’s sidewall, but what you may not know is that it’s actually a percentage, a percentage of the tires width. Again, if we take the numbers above as an example, the Ford Escape’s sidewall is 55% of it’s width of 235. So the side wall should measure 129.25 millimeters.

Tires with a smaller sidewall are commonly known as low-profile tires, they are usually found on supercars, they provide various handling benefits, but because there is less rubber between the road and wheel or rim, they make a much harsher ride. Opting for a higher sidewall will give you a more comfortable ride. Spend an hour driving a Ferrari and you can expect to have a numb backside!

Finally, the third number is the diameter of the rim. This number is measured in inches. Expect to pay more for the tires and the rims as this number gets bigger.

Hopefully this brief explanation will help you next time you in need for a new set.

2016 Honda Civic Recall

The new 10th-generation 2016 Honda Civic may be a head turner compared to previous models, however it looks like it’s already getting bad press.

Honda has issued a stop-sale and safety-recall notice for 2016 Civics equipped with its base engine, the 2.0 four-cylinder, due to a manufacturing inconsistency that could cause engine damage or failure.

The recall is due to potentially missing or misplaced piston pin snap rings that may cause the engine to stall or fail all together. I’m no mechanic, but I did a little research, and it doesn’t seem like something you would want to go without for a very long time. Hopefully current owners get their recall letters in the mail as soon as possible.

This is a big misstep for a manufacturer known for its engine reliability. It may be true what they say about not buying the first model of a new generation. What do you think?

Sources: Car and Driver, Autoblog

Picture: Honda

Montreal International Auto Show

 

I decided to go to the Auto Show this year. It had been a few years since my last visit and I wanted to see what was new. Even though most manufacturers are present at the Montreal Auto Show, it isn’t a very important event within the international car community. Very rarely do we get new reveals and manufacturers don’t necessarily display their full lineups. You need to travel to Detroit or Geneva for the big shows.

Like most enthusiasts, I love gawking at the supercars: machines that are about pushing the boundaries of what people think is possible. We were particularly blessed in that department this year with cars such as: the Ferrari LaFerrari, a million-dollar hybrid hyper car that can hit 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds; the Pagani Huayra, a car with an interior design that belongs in a museum; the Ferrari 488 GTB, Ferrari’s newest mid-engine beauty; the Lamborghini Aventador SV (the SV stands for superveloce, enough said), and finally the Porsche GT3 RS, a lightweight track-bred version of the regular 911. Sorry, I got a little carried away there… back to reality.

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Lamborghini Aventador SV

There are really only two reasons to go to a car show. The first reason is if you’re like me and just being around cars gets your blood pumping and your face smiling. You get to sit in different new cars, play with their buttons, and check out all their features.

The second is of course for someone who is actually in the market for a new car and is looking to narrow down the field. There is really is no better place to analyze and dissect the specifications and features of different cars, go back and forth, sit in every seat, see which one is the most comfortable and, hopefully, by the time you leave, have it down to two or three models to then go test drive.

So, if you find yourself in the first or second group, go for it! If you aren’t, then, unfortunately, I feel this event has turned into a cash grab for everyone involved and just isn’t worth it.

Here are a few interesting things that stood out:

  • It is impossible to look proper while getting in or out of a BMW i8. Pants not optional for women.
  • Fact: the Nissan Juke has less trunk space than a Ford Fiesta, almost five cubic feet less.
  • On a more personal note, I can’t stand the people who walk around with a camera in hand taking quick snaps of almost every car without really appreciating what’s in front of them.

Appreciate the art people!