All posts by Lucius

Test Drive: Nissan Teana 250XL, Another Look

It’s pretty weird to be giving the Nissan Teana a go when Angelo has already driven it a while back and he has done quite an exhaustive review of the car. However, since Nissan has been kind enough to give another PinoyAutoBlogger another go at its flagship luxury sedan, I’m more than happy to give my two cents worth on the Teana.

Power

The unit’s still the same 250XL unit that Angelo drove a while back. The car packs a 2.5L V6 engine under the hood and the engine is mated to a CVT transmission. Power is sent to the front wheels. The engine supposedly produces 182 hp which means that should theoretically be more than enough but the sheer size and weight of the Teana makes the car seem wanting at times.

Literature pegs the 0 to 100 kph sprint time at 9.6 seconds which is, by 2.5L V6 standards, is quite slow. And 182 hp from a 2.5L engine seems to do the displacement quite the injustice. It also seems to have a problem getting off off the line which I presume is no thanks to the max torque being accessible at the 4,000 rpm rev area.

In normal driving mode, the engine seems to produce power in lumps and you have to rev past 2,000 rpm to get any decent response. The CVT transmission seems to temper how the power is put on the road. With all those ponies to tap, I was expected some torque steer but there was none. The gear changes were sublime enough but this is expected of any modern automatic transmission these days.

Only when pressing the Sport button (which is basically the overdrive switch), does the Teana comes alive. This allows the engine to rev happily past 3,000 allowing the car to really start tapping those ponies to work. Pretty handy when overtaking other vehicles or simply just getting up to speed.

Continue reading Test Drive: Nissan Teana 250XL, Another Look

Not speed but driving style

The MMDA has been hell bent on arresting each and every speedster driving along Commonwealth Avenue and I don’t fully agree with them on how to make the “killer highway” safer. Speeding, they say, is a textbook case of reckless driving. Again, I don’t agree.

Sure, almost all of the collisions on Commonwealth involves idiotic and reckless drivers but to focus solely on speeding as a manifestation of recklessness is unfair to drivers who can speed up responsibly.

If you can stay within your lane and allow for the proper stopping distance needed between you and the vehicle up front, you can definitely safely drive even at speeds in excess of 100 kph. If every driver out there can do this, then there’s really no real problem upping the speed limit.

Besides, modern cars can safely go beyond that speed and have way better stopping power and shorter stopping distances since the old highway codes and manuals were written.

The real problem is that most of the other drivers with whom you share the load are idiots with kamikaze driving styles. The MMDA should just focus their attention on these idiots.

I say that the MMDA should focus their efforts not (solely) on speeding but on jerks who have erratic or truly reckless driving styles. Drivers who do not yield for right of way. Drivers who change lanes abruptly and not using signal lights. Motorcyclists who weave through traffic. PUV drivers who can’t stay within their designated lanes.

Thing is, given their equipment and capability, catching speeding vehicles through their speed guns is probably the MMDA’s most profitable venture to date. At Php 1,200 per pop, they are bound to make millions in a week at their claimed rate of apprehension.


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Is casa maintenance worth it?

With my next PMS (preventive maintenance service) coming up, I’m beginning to think whether or not having the car “casa” (or dealership service) maintained is the most economical way of owning a car. If you’re driving a five-year old car or older, the quick answer will be no. Casa maintenance won’t be worth it. But for cars under warranty, should you risk it?

Let’s face it. Casa maintenance usually costs higher since they charge for each and every work and you have no choice between repair or replace since casa, and you’d be stuck with genuine parts too.

Here’s an interesting take on choosing between dealer service or other car shops. Summarized are the factors to consider:

  • Cost – Casa maintenance will (almost) always be higher both in parts and service charges.
  • Warranty Conditions – Warranties are usually voided when you have the car maintained elsewhere. Is it practical to waive  three-year protection to save thousands of pesos?
  • Quality of Work – Dealerships usually have trained personnel and the proper equipment to diagnose your car though this isn’t a guarantee that the dealership will do a fine job with the car.
  • Speed of Work – Dealerships take their time in keeping your car while in service.

Aside from the warranty, all indications point to having the car maintained elsewhere. However, if you decide to do so while the car is under warranty, weigh the risks of the major parts of the car (the engine and transmission) giving out and the savings you’d get on having your car maintained some place else. Me? I think I’m sticking with the casa until my warranty expires.

Your thoughts?

MMDA posts pictures of speeding violators

After more than a hundred years of independence, it would have been comforting to know that have made steps towards civilization. Not really. Despite all the “developments” we see here there and elsewhere, it seems like someone from the government with a “brilliant idea” would throw us back a couple of hundred years back.

In previous news, Commonwealth Avenue, the death highway,  got a speed limit of 60 kph. And they did that after some government bigwig got killed by a rampaging bus. Never mind if it ever occurred to government officials that maybe it’s not the speed. Maybe it’s idiots on the road that’s more of a threat.

They say that the speed limit has made Commonwealth safer. But in a road with a billion lanes, 60 kph in modern day motoring is slow. A trip that used to take ten minutes when you can at least go at 70 or 80 kph just got longer. And in Metro conditions, minutes count especially once you deal with the other clogged arteries of Quezon City. Speed doesn’t kill. Suddenly coming to a halt is what gets you. Or some other idiot on the road. Both, I guess.

Continue reading MMDA posts pictures of speeding violators

Review: Hyundai i10 1.2 AT

I started writing this review a year ago but never really finished it. Shame, really. Laziness and procrastination aside, I decided to put off a review of a car straight out of the casa and be blinded by the new-car blinkers. A year ago, after being all too anxious about replacing my old clunker, I decided to go against conventional financial wisdom and get a car loan for a new car.

With a meager budget, the only cars that fit my finances were the Hyundai i10 and Getz and the Suzuki Celerio and all that’s cheaper (like the Suzuki Alto and the Chery). Wanting a compromise of a hint of creature comforts and performance, I decided to go with the i10.

The i10 was first introduced locally with a 1.1L GL (MT and AT) and a 1.2 GLS (MT and AT) variants. Seems pretty redundant since Hyundai still had a small car offering in the Getz. Now, there’s a new i10 but it’s basically the same machine underneath aside from revisions in the front and back ends with new lights and bumpers. A rear spoiler seems to come standard on the 1.2L as well and they seem consistent with Hyundai’s aggressive design language.

Since it’s been almost a year since I drove it off the dealership lot, I’ll focus more on how it is as a car to own. I haven’t really done hardcore power tests and since it’s my car, I won’t even dare try to give it the full beans. Not that I haven’t tried having some fun in it.

Continue reading Review: Hyundai i10 1.2 AT

No space for the light right foot

Now in these times, I am quite glad that I drive a small car with an engine capacity just a glass more than a liter bottle. But it being an automatic, it still is quite a challenge to get its fuel consumption above 9 km/l. I’ve been doing a bit of fuel-saving experiments recently especially since a gallon of premium gasoline has risen to more than 50 bucks a liter yet again.

You see you burn fuel by building up speed when you brake you simply convert all of that energy to heat. Not to mention wear out your brake pads. This is why quick cycles of acceleration and braking of city driving results in higher fuel consumption.

So what I’ve been trying to do is to brake less. I simply gauge how much speed I need to get to a point (say a speed bump) and only accelerate as much. It does take quite a lot of concentration since you need to feather your throttle just right. I tried doing this for a week and had pretty good results. Quick math gave me 10 km/l.

Too bad, driving around Metro Manila means you have to deal with some pretty impatient bastards who think that driving at 40 kph in a residential area is already too slow. So in that week alone, probably I was honked at scores of times, shouted at five times and flipped a couple of times.

Pretty irritating stuff just to get a kilometer more from a liter. Worth it?

Cars depreciate!

I’m in the market for a new(er) car these days but with the slew of Ondoyed vehicles, you can’t be too sure which ones in the second-hand market safe(r) to buy. I might violate my personal finance rule of never buying a brand new car since the depreciation alone in the first year is devastating.

I just find it funny that many cars posted online don’t seem to bear the rightful price for the vehicle. Why is it that an 18-year old two-door Civic still sells for Php 160k to 200k. I’ve seen ’93 Corollas still sell for 150k while their fair depreciated value would only be around 80k, perhaps 100k tops if it’s still well-maintained and bears low-mileage for its age.

Some would cite the number of modifications they’ve done to the car as the reason for the high pricing. Sure, modifications do cost money. An engine swap alone can set one back as much as 60k. However, modified cars, unless they’re modded by experts and if the owner keeps meticulous records, are migraines waiting to happen than prize catches.

You might be lucky if you find someone selling his modded car that’s only been used for “pang-porma” but chances are, the owner would probably have redlined it once or twice. As far as my experience goes, it’s always better to go with an all-stock car.

Still, it’s a challenge to find a second-hand car that’s been pretty well-maintained by the previous owner. I just can’t believe the prices that many sellers still set for their cars. I refuse to believe that cars have stopped depreciating since three years ago. Cars depreciate, you know.

How about a Filipino F1 team?

Malaysia F1And there goes the Formula One season. Hamilton sucked. The FIA was bollocks. Massa nearly died. Schumi nearly made a comeback. Button won. I guess that’s pretty much it.

For all our talent of making “sawsaw” to just about everything, I think motorsports is one area we haven’t really made any efforts in associating ourselves to. Formula One is just the largest motorsport in the whole world. We’ve been fielding athletes in the Olympics, so why aren’t we doing the same for F1? Malaysia is fielding a Formula One team next season and they’re practically in the same time zone as us.

Well, it’s easy to tell why we can’t. It’s not like we don’t like Formula 1 here. It’s a big hobby for people to watch it in the same way they might play games or watch football. It’s just that there are clearly other factors that prevent it from happening.

One easy reason is that we really don’t have an automaking industry to speak of. Sure we make a hell of a lot of jeepneys and I know many people abroad envy that we have areas like Banawe and Evangelista to cater to tuners. But a homegrown automaker that invests on world-class research and development, production, and sales and marketing? None that I can think of. (Anyone knows if FMC is back on its feet or if A-Toys has finally got a crack at it?)

One of the biggest motivations for automakers to field teams is to make it a proving ground for car technology. Some would settle for the publicity the sport brings to the brand. Even with those perks, big names like Honda and BMW have quit F1. Toyota has been mulling quitting too. And these are established automakers that surely have enjoyed such perks. Unless we can find ways to slap on aerodynamics and KERS on owner-type jeeps to sell more of them…

So what about Malaysia? Well, even though Malaysia is part of the ASEAN (of which we are also part), the country is home to Proton which happens to own British sports car maker Lotus. Lotus currently makes few of the best-handling cars in the world (the Elise, Exige and Evora). Oh and they have Petronas too.

It requires a lot of resources to field an F1 team and Malaysia’s got the balls, the funds, the technical know-how, and the driving talent to support Lotus’ participation. Too bad, as Pinoys, we sure have bigger balls than any other nation and I’m sure we can find talent out there (given the number of un-Christian motorists out there), but not too much on the other stuff.

Given our economic outlook, spending at least $65 million on developing speedy cars for just one year is just plain indecent. And there’s other expenses like for travel, publicity, and the team. Mind you that the better F1 drivers get nearly as much as Manny Pacquiao’s net worth (which took him years to build) in just a year.

And the list can go on.

Sure we’ve got fellow Pinoys who are participating in other forms of motorsport in the region but nothing that comes close to something big as F1. And I’m positive we haven’t even participated in WRC, GT races, or even Le Mans.

I just hope to see a Filipino in F1 in my lifetime.

Un-Christian motoring

Christian MotoringI’ve done some pretty wicked things in my younger driving days like driving (quite) fast and in few occasions, even forcibly powersliding a four-door family saloon going downhill from Antipolo or Baguio to poor effect.

These days, I just don’t feel the need for speed whenever I’m out on public roads any more. I feel it’s just too unsafe and too immature to do those things on congested metro roads. I now follow a driving philosophy that I share with Top Gear’s James May – Christian motoring.

It’s simple really – try to be generally pleasant on the road. And no, I’m not trying to be a Jesus freak here. It doesn’t really include having a rosary draped on your rear-view mirror or having a Sto. Nino statue glued on your dash. More of the ethics than the organized religion.

Anyway, a few pros for being a Christian motorist is that you’re generally safer since following rules means you’re driving at prescribed safe speeds and yielding to people means less accidents. And pedestrians appreciate you.

The thing is, even with a population of 80% Catholic, we have the most un-Christian motorists in the whole world. Let me point out some of the un-Christian motoring habits by our fellow Pinoys. (Feel free to add some more in the comments.)

  • Speeding and driving recklessly
  • Overtaking aggressively (even in yellow or double yellow lanes)
  • Not yielding to drivers’ and pedestrians’ with right of way
  • Not letting other drivers change lanes even if given proper signals
  • Swerving and excessively changing lanes (singit nang singit)
  • Asserting right of way (complete with flashing headlamps)
  • Convoys (Yes, this applies to you, politicos!)
  • Stealing parking spaces or one-upping people for one
  • Parking at reserved spaces
  • Double-parking
  • Blocking people’s driveways
  • Honking at pedestrians
  • Honking at law-abiding motorists
  • Spraying pedestrians with rain water driving over puddles
  • Revving their siento-bente (tunog siento, takbo bente) tailpipes even in quiet neighborhoods
  • Turning their souped-up sound systems all the way up
  • Catching up with drivers and threatening them

Too bad for us, Christian motorists since not doing all of these things make us doormats to those who do. And this basically is the con to being a virtuous driver. And it doesn’t really help if “Christian” also implies turning the other cheek. But who ever does? The philosphy only calls for being generally pleasant and not be a driving martyr. Now, if only I can find a way to send these un-Christian motorists to driving hell.

Contesting MMDA traffic violation tickets

MMDA deploys an army of blue-clad so-called traffic enforcers all over the metro and I hate them as much as I hate their “MMDA Labs You” tarpaulin banners which is a lot.

Motorists like me have learned to steer clear of these boys in blue. They seem to serve absolutely no other purpose than to hand out tickets to motorists erring or not. And they only seem to be around when the number coding scheme is in effect or during merienda time, otherwise they magically disappear.

Given our history of red tape, one of the most irritating things that a driver can experience on the road is to be apprehended by traffic cops and enforcers. For one, some of their charges are oftentimes absurd interpretations of traffic laws. As for MMDA traffic enforcers, I had more than one nasty encounter with them.

Here’s one instance. I was driving in one of the crazier areas of Quezon City (somewhere in the south triangle) and since I am not too familiar with the area and forgot my city atlas (a must-have for motorists) so I decided to pull over (carefully, signal lights and all) and ask one of them. I haven’t even rolled down my window when he whipped out his ticket book and started writing stuff on it. With my window down, I was then greeted with a smug, “Ser, lisensya niyo.”

It already took great humility in part as a manly man to ask for directions and the fellow returns my courtesy with a traffic ticket. In the days of old, I would have contented myself slapping that person’s face with my gloves and challenge him to a duel. But then again, those were the days of horse and buggy and traffic enforcers would’ve been more than pointless.

It’s a good thing that these MMDA boys get more than befuddled by a stream of polysyllabic words in English that he simply waved me off. And I never even got directions. Had I not been lucky that day, I would’ve gotten a juicy ticket. Rather than incovenience myself with contesting tickets with their so-called Traffic Adjudication Board, I would’ve paid. Because here’s what you have to go through to contest a citation:

  1. File a written complaint with the TAB
  2. Secure verification and clearance from data division to clear you from existing tickets
  3. Hearing officer schedules hearing and both motorist and enforcer are summoned
  4. Both parties are heard in the hearing
  5. Protest to be decided through resolution
  6. Head of TAB reviews and approves the resolution
  7. If citation is upheld, motorist deals with the fine/sanction

Here’s a video to boot.

It’s nice to see that there’s a venue to contest such charges but easily that’s at least a couple of workdays lost if you decide to go through with it. And time is more than a luxury for the working Filipino. I have yet to meet someone who has gone through the process and succeeded.

On another instance, I got a ticket for “illegal parking.” Know that pink line along sidewalks? Apparently, they’d slap you with a violation even if only an inch of your bumper encroaches the pretty pink line. That time, there was no reasoning with the enforcer since the ticket was just left pinned under my windshield wiper. I just dropped by a Metrobank branch and paid the ticket. I just kept the payment stub and a photocopy for future reference.

Anyway, my point is, if there’s one thing that these enforcers should do is to direct traffic first, watch out for violators second. But I guess that’s why Mr. Fernando elected to call them “enforcers” and not “aides”.

Tough lab.