miércoles, 30 de marzo de 2011

Cadillac sighting, episode II a black BLS.

I saw what appeared to be a BLS last friday. I really can't tell because I was driving myself and didn't have the time to read the badge.

The BLS is probably the biggest failure Cadillac has had in Europe for the last ten years. Based on the Saab 93, it had everything to be a top seller. A well known brand, a fine product, diesel engines. However, it never became popular.

I think it was the style, a diminished version of the CTS, that really plagued the car. It never had personality of its own, and frankly, the CTS might be many things, but not beautiful. GM tried to improve sales by offering a station wagon derivative, but that was a bigger failure. The BSL saloon wasn't beautiful, but the BLS station wagon was dead ugly. No sense of proportions, no verve, no passion. Just boxy, as all Cadillacs these days.

GM dropped the small caddy a few years ago, when they got rid of Saab. Surprisingly, Saab seems to be fine these days, and GM hasn't given any good news for the last two years.

domingo, 27 de marzo de 2011

The 2011 F1 Championship

Once again, millions of people have been fooled by the same old story. We were told that overtaking manoeuvres would be commonplace this year. That the new rules would make races interesting, fun, exciting. None of this has happened. There has been some overtaking, but the race itself has been as fun as a train race.

My solution includes missiles, cars on fire and naked women, but everybody with common sense tells me that it wouldn't work, that it's some kind of wet day-dream. Ok, I admit it, but I also have some properly good ideas. Here they are:

I would change the engine rules altogether. Carmakers don't sell small V8 engines, so I would let everybody use the engine they want. Therefore, we could see a turbocharged in-line four from Renault vs a naturally aspired Ferrari V12. And it would be fine, because Renault sells small turbocharged engines and Ferrari sells big V12's. Engines should last just one weekend, as the gearbox. I know this would let engineers get well over 1500hp, but that's exactly the idea. With no traction control, these monsters would be harder to drive, and pilots would have a hell of a job just trying not to crash. As today, no refuelling allowed, so the more powerful the engine, the more gas in the tank, the slower the car at the beginning, but also the faster at the end of the race.

The other item that should be changed is tires. There should be at least, four tire manufacturers involved, and the best four teams from last season couldn't share tire manufacturer. This would make tire manufacturers and F1 teams work together, trying to make the best out of both of them.

Finally, scoring should go as follows: 10 points for the winner, 7 for the second, 6 for the third, and so on. Pole and fastest lap get another extra point. This would make top pilots go faster when they ruin their race, having something to fight for when they are in the middle of nowhere.

lunes, 21 de marzo de 2011

A reason not to buy the best car in the world

In my last post, I wrote that the best car money can buy is called Porsche Panamera Turbo. Hence, you would expect, that's the one I'd buy if I could. But the answer is no, I probably wouldn't. I'd get a Maserati Quattroporte.

I have my reasons, and I think I shall explain them. To begin with, we must be aware that we are talking about two-hundred-grand-a-piece cars. If you add some extras, that is, and you will, because there are some fancy ones, and some extras that should be standard.

I would respect anyone that spends two hundred thousand dollars on a car and expects perfection. For them, Porsche created the Panamera Turbo. However, perfection isn't everything. Perfection is sometimes boring, and here there is the girl example.

Two guys meet after a five year hiatus, and they talk about their fiancées. One guy says his is beautiful, has a college degree and good manners. He shows a picture of her and she is a Charlize Theron look-a-like. The other guy just says: mine is younger and has bigger boobs. He also shows a picture of her and she looks like a porn star.

Everybody agrees that the first guy made the right choice, but that the other one is probably having more fun. And more troubles, but no one cares about that.

It's the same story with the Panamera and the Quattroporte. I know the Quattroporte will get to 170 mph once, and then breakdown in some weird nuclear meltdown style that defies the laws of physics. But its louder, has a great style and all the pantomime a supercar needs. I don't care about reliability, I care about fun, sheer excitement, passion. So, given the choice, I would let my bank account take care about its flaws whenever they show up and spend my money on the Quattroporte.

sábado, 12 de marzo de 2011

The best car in the world

One of the most frequently asked question is which is the best car in the world. The main problem begins when we realize it's hard to tell why a car is better than another car, especially if both of them are good. I assume that the best car in the world has no major flaws, like unreliability, understeer or weird ergonomics that only fit to the designer's body. However, this just isn't enough so I've decided to make my own theory. I call it the 3G boxes for the perfect car.

There are three different categories the so-called best car in the world must excel, and all three of them have the G in their names, hence the 3G theory.

The first G stands for g-forces. The best car in the world is able to go to a track and race properly. Note that I didn't say it has to be a tarmac circuit. It can be any kind of racing facilities, but the car must be a winner's choice. So, whether it is a mud track or a GP circuit, the best car in the world is able to get there and humiliate its rivals.

The second G stands for GT. A GT is a car you can use on a daily basis, because it has the comfort features you need to live with it. This also means it must be reliable and that you can service it with no major difficulties.

The third and last G stands for g-strings. The best car in the world shows off. It attracts women and car enthusiasts alike. This means it has properly designed looks, personality -- if a car can have such a thing -- and charm.

Now that we know what we are looking for in the best car in the world, we can think about a few contenders. This is my top 3 and why I've chosen them against their competition.

  • Bronze medal: Nissan GT-R. Probably one of the most ignored supercars, it's got everything in the 3G list. Loud, fast, and hi-tech, it only lacks a name (read, it isn't called Porsche) to be on the top
  • Silver medal: Porsche Cayenne Turbo. The only mud-ready supercar in the world is so special it made it to second place.
  • Gold medal: Porsche Panamera Turbo. Ferrari-like performance, S-Klasse confort, GT-R-track ready. It's huge, but agile. It's elegant, but sporty. And if you think ménage-a-trois are for the poor ones, you can bring three people with you to perform a decadent, albeit fun, orgy.

sábado, 5 de marzo de 2011

A love affaire

I will admit it right away, I am in love with a baby. She's more than beautiful, she's gorgeous. She's got the looks, the passion, the verve, she's got everything to blow up my mind. She's going to be the muse in my wildest fantasies, she's going to star my wettest dreams. I know she's dangerous, that she will take away many men's hearts and only a few lucky ones will ever get inside her.

She's called Aventador, she's Lamborghini's last baby child. She's everything a Lambo should be. Loud, dangerous, useless, powerful, beautiful, mad, and most of all, wild. She is exactly what the Countach would be if it were still alive.

There were two cars that really got me in the 1980's, the Ferrari 288 GTO and the Lamborghini Countach Quattrovalvole. Ferrari thought the 288 GTO was too beautiful and replaced it with the ugly F40. Yes, I've just said the F40 is ugly, and F50 is also ugly, and so is the Enzo. Ferrari hasn't built any beautiful car since 1984, it's just that nobody has realised it but me.

Lambo, on the other hand, hasn't had so many errors. They haven't had many chances anyway, but the Diablo was a badass looking car, and that's more than enough for me. And so it was the Murcielago. Maybe the Gallardo doesn't look quite as good as it should, but that's the only exception. And now our lovely bat (read Murcielago) has flown away and the Aventador has come along. I admit the Sesto Elemento concept did have better looks, but when it comes to road legal cars, the Aventador is as good as a car can be.

There is just one that may disappoint you, as it will disappoint many others. There are quite a few more exotic cars out there. The Bugatti Veyron, for example, is more expensive, more powerful, has a higher top speed... everything. Probably there are Pagani Zondas with more power too. But I don't care the slightest bit. None of them is the last of their breed. None of them has a heritage to look for. When it comes to ancestors, only the Porsche 911 has a past like the Aventador. While I respect, and love, the 911, when it comes to pure passion my heart says Lambo.

miércoles, 2 de marzo de 2011

A nice mess in the car industry, the Audi A5 Sportback

A few years back, Audi decided it was time for a brand new entry luxury sedan. Named A4 for the third time, it was planned the sedan should have a baby child in coupe and cabriolet forms. The A5 was born.

We were told the A5 uses a shortened version of the A4 platform. However, Audi decided the A5 coupe was not enough and released the A5 Sportback, a 5 door version of the 3 door coupe. We were told the A5 Sportback uses a lengthened version of the A5 platform. Whether if that means it uses the same platform underneath the A4 or not, is still unknown.

Then there is pricing. The A5 coupe is more expensive than an equivalent A4, less expensive than the A5 cabrio and more expensive than the A5 Sportback. The Sportback is more expensive than the equivalent A4 sedan. There seems to be a little logic in it: the less practical it is, the more they charge you for it. Except for the A4 Avant, which is more practical than the sedan and more expensive.

This is what I think happened with all this mess in A4, A5, A5 Sportback: Audi had in mind that the A5 Sportback should be the A4 sedan, but they felt it was a little bit too risky, not enough mainstream. Then, they decided to use this crazy 4 door sedan coupe fashion the Mercedes CLS started to fix the idea. There would be a conventional A4, and the brilliant idea was released as the A5 Sportback.

So, the Audi A5 Sportback is the car Audi never dared to call A4 and now they charge you a 2 grand premium for it. No wonder why nobody is buying it.

martes, 1 de marzo de 2011

Cadillac sighting, episode one, a 2009 or 2010 black CTS

I saw a Cadillac last Friday, and I feel like I want to track down how many of these babies I see. I do already know they are extremely rare in Catalonia, especially outside Barcelona and suburbs, but I think it's worth checking.

If you ask anyone here what do they know about Cadillac, you'll get the right answer "American luxury car". Everybody knows Cadillac here, but no one seems to buy them. That's why I think GM has been absolutely wrong in Europe for the last twenty years or more.

Let's start with the model range. CTS and STS are quite good, but they lack diesel engines. The SRX has seen some mild success within soccer players, although it also lacks diesel engines. Finally, the top of the range Escalade is useless in our roads. It isn't fast, it doesn't handle, it can't go offroad, it doesn't fit in any car park. It doesn't even look good, or badass, or stylish.

Carmakers usually build their top of the range models not to sell them. Think of them like ads. You get into a showroom, and there is this spectacular car with lots of features and witchcraft engineering. That's the one you would like to buy, but you buy the car you need or can afford instead. That flagship was there to show you how powerful the company is, to make you think the car you are actually buying is just the first step. They give you something to dream about. Of course, they sell them from time to time, but the core business is on more mundane cars.

GM should stop importing the Escalade. This is step one. Step two is build some proper diesel engines. How come GM, the biggest car manufacturer until 2009, has never had diesel engines of their own? Opels and Vauxhalls use Fiat diesel engines. So did Saab when it was under the GM umbrella. No wonder why Toyota is #1 today. They have the guts to develop their own engines. Even a small company like Infiniti has diesel engines. And for good reason: in Europe, three out of four cars sold have a diesel engine as the main power source. If GM wants to get back to the top, diesel engines are a must.