Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surprised.

Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surprised.

Postby Swerve » Tue Feb 10, 2015 9:43 pm

..by.

We have 6 of my gf's family members visiting from overseas and needed to rent a car (seeing as the Audi and MR2 combine for 7 seats) for a day trip to a nature park.

We ended up with a Nissan Micra. I was impressed by the initial throttle response off the line. There was also plenty of head room, despite sitting higher than drivers in old model Rav 4s. Fuel economy was good, of course.

Everything else sucked. It's a cheap car but I would have thought a USB port for the stereo would be mandatory these days. Much worse was the performance once the car got away from the line. Turning on to a medium gradient hill, I wasn't able to get up to 80km/h. I suspect the guy begin me thought I was intentionally going slow to make a point about tailgating or something... Overall, 3/10. I cannot imagine this car with the even smaller engines they offer in Europe.

A few days later I was in possession of my brother's first gen X-Trail. I was disappointed to learn it was an auto. But the transmission actually feels pretty good. The highest praise I can give for an auto is that it feels unobtrusive, and the fact I am trying to recall any annoying instances, rather than suppress them, suggests it is a great box.

The X-Trail seems to be what I wish the XJ Cherokee was: small on the outside but with a spacious interior and boot, minimal understeer and predictable steering response, a feeling of solidity and from all indications handy for light off-road use.

Of the above points, the handling was the biggest surprise. We drove almost the entire Great Ocean Road, one of the world's best driver's routes, on Saturday. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit - the X-Trail never washed wide on hairpins or changed gears unexpectedly. A couple of times drivers in front were clearly annoyed that I was having no problems keeping up with them, despite their inability to stay within the lines around endless blind corners.

So there you go. One example of a Nissan dud and one example of an older Nissan gem. Has anyone else had a driving experience well above or below their preconception?
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby thewalrus » Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:19 am

I was unimpressed with the Fiat 500.

I knew going into not to expect great power. But I did anticipate something akin to the Mini Cooper. Down on power, but with a fantastic gear box and great handling and at least a little charm.

DIdn't find any of that. The clutch was vague and the shifter rubbery. It felt slow, even for its low hp. I test drove at night, and I found the headlights less than acceptible. Maneuverability of the car was OK - but that's just a function of size. Handling wasn't as good as I expected. It didn't feel nimble at low speeds (wallowy is maybe a better descriptor) and I wouldn't have had confidence in it at higher speeds.

A few caveats though - I drove my GTI there for the text drive. So some of the performance issues may have just been a function of an unfortunate comparison. And i was also dragging around two other people in the car - including a rather large saleswoman in the rear seat.


I was actually quite impressed with the Chrysler 200 I drove as a rental car a couple years ago.

Part of that was low expectations. But I also found it was a really great touring car. Smooth and quite powerful on the highway. Had to drive it through some slick weather, and it didn't lose a beat. Good handling around town, maneuverable, and easy to see out of. The biggest compliment I can give it was that it felt like a smaller car than it actually was. Lots of room in the trunk and the rear seats, and comfortable up front.

I'd never buy one for myself - but if someone was looking for a recommendation for a first car for a new driver who has to spend lots of time on the highway - I'd say it was a good choice.
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby Talon » Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:16 am

Impressed:

~2012 Hyundai Elantra. Really liked this car. Nice size: not too big but not too small. It was white and had a tan interior with black offsets. Looked really good (reminded me of my old Eclipse GST). And not that this is saying much, but the best paddle shifter I've driven. Most cars it seems that the paddles/button/stick-bump shifters are an afterthought and more aggravating than they're worth, but from what I can remember the ones in the Hyundai were pretty crisp and responsive.

~2012 Chrysler 200. Not too bad of a car. Nothing about it is amazing, but nothing about it sucks either. Cheap, plasticy interior but it has a nice stance and pretty sharp looking. I had one of these for a business trip and compared to some of the cars they give me it was a treat. I actually have one of them right now as well as my Subaru was hit and is currently in the body shop. :evil:

2014 Buick Regal. I didn't actually drive this one (another business trip) but man this thing was nice. Great looking interior and a really peppy turbo-4. If I were in the market and had the funds, I'd buy one of these. I'd take mine in a stick, AWD, and with the Brembos though.

Hated:

~2012 Volks Jetta. This thing was so slow it was almost scary to drive. When you push the gas all the way down, the pedal stops like you'd expect, but if you give it an extra push it pushes this button in the floor-board which kicks the car in gear a little. Still slower than hell and I hated it.

~2013 Mazda 5. Meh, it wasn't that bad but a four banger in a mini-mini-van. Blah... I think I was more pissed this is the car they gave me when I traveled for work once... I went by myself, why the fuck are you giving me this stupid mini-van thing? :x
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby thewalrus » Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:33 am

Talon wrote:Hated:

~2012 Volks Jetta. This thing was so slow it was almost scary to drive. When you push the gas all the way down, the pedal stops like you'd expect, but if you give it an extra push it pushes this button in the floor-board which kicks the car in gear a little. Still slower than hell and I hated it.


Haha, yeah, I think the Jetta is the last VW with the 2.Slow in it. I drove a 2012(isn) Jetta in LA. But it came with the 1.8T TSI engine, which adds about 60 hp. That was a wonderful car, and I loved driving it around LA. I'm thinking that they couldn't even offer the basic engine in a rent-a-car in LA because it'd be too risky to drive on those freeways.
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby Swerve » Wed Feb 11, 2015 11:05 am

I was pleasantly surprised with the Chevy Cruze I had in the US. Another good auto and the heated seats were amazing. It was good enough on the Tail of the Dragon to at least give me an idea of that road's qualities.
I can't even remember the exact model Kia I had in LA. Wanted a Grand Cherokee - didn't get one. The car was just average in all respects, but I really didn't like Avis or the guy working there. I usually end up going with Hertz and have had good experiences with them every time.
Which reminds me - I was pleasantly surprised by the Yaris' 3 pedal layout matching the MR2's. Really easy to heal-toe in my size 14s.
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby ConeDodger » Wed Feb 11, 2015 10:26 pm

Pleasantly surprised - Miata. I had very low expectations when I first sat behind the wheel of a miata, but it really did impress me on the track. Not a great everyday car though.

Dissapointed- MazdaSpeed3. Terrible powerband, massive torque steer, bouncy ride. Only saving grace is nice responsive steering when not on power.
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby Talon » Thu Feb 12, 2015 2:45 am

thewalrus wrote:
Talon wrote:Hated:

~2012 Volks Jetta. This thing was so slow it was almost scary to drive. When you push the gas all the way down, the pedal stops like you'd expect, but if you give it an extra push it pushes this button in the floor-board which kicks the car in gear a little. Still slower than hell and I hated it.


Haha, yeah, I think the Jetta is the last VW with the 2.Slow in it. I drove a 2012(isn) Jetta in LA. But it came with the 1.8T TSI engine, which adds about 60 hp. That was a wonderful car, and I loved driving it around LA. I'm thinking that they couldn't even offer the basic engine in a rent-a-car in LA because it'd be too risky to drive on those freeways.



Thing is, I didn't realize about the gas-pedal-button until day three or so. 115 hp. One fucking hundred and 15. WTF! I didn't realize they made cars in this day and age with that low power. I've always resented that stupid car.

Impressed:

Nissan Juke. Mom has one. Her WRX was giving her fits so she bought a Juke. Unfortunately, you can't get the AWD and 5-spd (must be FWD) so she opted for the CVT.... which I hate. But it's actually a really cool little car... thing. Almost like a car that's trying to be a crossover/SUV but got lost about half way in and in a market that offers very little in a driver's car (CRV, Rav4, Rogue) it stands out. The suspension provides great feedback and the steering is very precise... more so than her WRX. 1.6l turbo is a cool little motor, too.
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby Arthur Dent » Thu Feb 12, 2015 4:12 pm

Image

You guys don't know what slow is until you daily drive a 40+ year old Mercedes diesel. Here I am getting smoked by a VW van (yes we drag raced - no one else probably noticed :D )

It did handle surprisingly well however.

One car that surprised me was my old Nissan Micra. A shite box for sure but heck of a lot of fun. You drove it flat out everywhere. Rather like what an original Mini would be like.
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby 00ranger » Thu Feb 12, 2015 4:57 pm

Pleasantly surprised: 2014 Elantra, rented to drive from philly to Chicago. More fun to drive than expected and averaged around 40 mpg with the cruise set to 85-90, also had way more room in it than expected. Buick Encore, girlfriends new car, super comfortable, feels way more peppy than it should with only 130 horses under the hood and does well in snow. Only test drove it on a whim but we liked it way more than any of the other small SUVs we test drove.

Disappointed: Nissan Juke, test drove every trim available including the nismo. All were very nice but nowhere near as fun to drive as it should be for how it looks. Subaru XV Crosstrek, gf and I test drove all trims but all felt old for a lack of a better term. Seems like they could have started selling these 10 years ago and didn't update them once.
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby millertime » Fri Feb 13, 2015 4:59 am

Drove a base model Impreza today. AUTO. What a POS
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby Turbojett » Sat Feb 14, 2015 11:32 pm

I drive a Cobalt. My expectations and standards are pretty low. I can't really comment on the matter.
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby 1300zuk » Tue Feb 17, 2015 1:22 am

thewalrus wrote:I was unimpressed with the Fiat 500.

I knew going into not to expect great power. But I did anticipate something akin to the Mini Cooper. Down on power, but with a fantastic gear box and great handling and at least a little charm.

DIdn't find any of that. The clutch was vague and the shifter rubbery. It felt slow, even for its low hp. I test drove at night, and I found the headlights less than acceptible. Maneuverability of the car was OK - but that's just a function of size. Handling wasn't as good as I expected. It didn't feel nimble at low speeds (wallowy is maybe a better descriptor) and I wouldn't have had confidence in it at higher speeds.



They are considerably slower with a fat person in them. I had a 300+ lb co-worker that would occasionally ride in mine to lunch. But really the vehicle weight increased well over 10% with him in there.

Also,with my new job i've been fairly unimpressed with many of the Nissan vehicles. They really make Hyundai and Kia cars look better.
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby JaysonAych » Tue Feb 17, 2015 1:52 am

1300zuk wrote:
thewalrus wrote:I was unimpressed with the Fiat 500.

I knew going into not to expect great power. But I did anticipate something akin to the Mini Cooper. Down on power, but with a fantastic gear box and great handling and at least a little charm.

DIdn't find any of that. The clutch was vague and the shifter rubbery. It felt slow, even for its low hp. I test drove at night, and I found the headlights less than acceptible. Maneuverability of the car was OK - but that's just a function of size. Handling wasn't as good as I expected. It didn't feel nimble at low speeds (wallowy is maybe a better descriptor) and I wouldn't have had confidence in it at higher speeds.



They are considerably slower with a fat person in them. I had a 300+ lb co-worker that would occasionally ride in mine to lunch. But really the vehicle weight increased well over 10% with him in there.

Also,with my new job i've been fairly unimpressed with many of the Nissan vehicles. They really make Hyundai and Kia cars look better.


Nissans are just shit inside these days. They make even Chrysler look like interior design wizards.

For me, the most pleasantly surprised I was driving a car was a 2nd-gen Plymouth Grand Voyager that I drove about 15 years ago. My car had broken while delivering pizzas and my manager threw the keys to her minivan at me as I was the only driver on duty at the time. I expected that thing to be a big floaty dog, but it was actually peppy and pretty nimble for its size. Honorable mention goes to an old F-350 U-Haul I rented to haul some furniture. It drove a lot easier than I expected, and made me wonder why so many other people seem to have so much trouble getting those things to accelerate or steer.

Unpleasantly surprised? I don't know, I like driving different cars, even shitty ones. I guess the 4th-gen Trans Am a buddy of mine had was pretty disappointing, but that was largely because there was no possible way for my tiny ass to adjust the seat where I could see out of it. A similar-vintage Mustang that I drove a few weeks later was way more fun to drive and easier to get comfortable.
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby Swerve » Tue Feb 17, 2015 12:42 pm

You reminded me of the turbo diesel Mercedes van I moved house with. That thing was pretty sprightly and the interior was giant Merc.
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby sombrio » Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:58 am

I Have to say I'm pleasantly surprised by the 6th gen (98-02) Accord. My wife and I basically have two of them, a '01 Accord and a '98 Acura 2.3CL which is the same car in Acura coupe trim, and they're awesome cars. The two cars have a total of 353,000 miles between them, but they still get up and go every day. None of the electrical bullshit I had with my old VW and Audi. They're not fast, but they handle quick turns pretty well and are still a blast to drive on mountain roads and stuff. I really think the Honda 2.3 must be one of the best practical engines ever made. I'm almost embarrassed to say it sometimes, but I love my Hondas, they are just so damn reliable, easy to work on, and fun. :oops: Cheers!
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby thewalrus » Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:56 pm

sombrio wrote:I Have to say I'm pleasantly surprised by the 6th gen (98-02) Accord. My wife and I basically have two of them, a '01 Accord and a '98 Acura 2.3CL which is the same car in Acura coupe trim, and they're awesome cars. The two cars have a total of 353,000 miles between them, but they still get up and go every day. None of the electrical bullshit I had with my old VW and Audi. They're not fast, but they handle quick turns pretty well and are still a blast to drive on mountain roads and stuff. I really think the Honda 2.3 must be one of the best practical engines ever made. I'm almost embarrassed to say it sometimes, but I love my Hondas, they are just so damn reliable, easy to work on, and fun. :oops: Cheers!


Never driven one of those - but I recall hearing a lot of really positive things about that generation Accord's handling dynamics.

Congrats on the marriage too - seems like most of us old AF guys have tied the knot... never would have believed it 10 years ago.
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby Swerve » Mon Apr 13, 2015 1:22 pm

Drove a 2000 CLK55 yesterday. Not quite sure what to make of it. It didn't feel particularly quick on a freeway on ramp, but I have a suspicion you are simply insulated from the road. Much like an E39 540i I drove years ago. That car led me to buying the far more rewarding E36 328i, however the CLK was an entertaining combination of those cars, plus quicker than either.

It reminded me that about ten years ago I drove an original ML55. That thing was disappointing, with too much body roll in all directions.
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby thewalrus » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:29 pm

Thinking about this a little more - I was definitely unpleasantly surprised by how a 24 foot U-Haul drove.

That's not to say I was expecting anything great - but for something that's driven by amateurs, rented out by a professional organization that should ostensibly care about public welfare, and is constantly on the road.... I was expecting something even moderately safe. It wasn't. Brakes that barely worked. Wheel alignment out. A steering wheel where you had to turn it a quarter of a rotation before anything would start to happen. It was as if you had to think 15 seconds ahead about braking, turning, making emergency maneuvers, etc. Scary thought, and I avoid staying anywhere near UHauls when driving, now.
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby tut » Tue Apr 14, 2015 1:32 am

well, i have a few of them...

mostly surprised, well, the 2008 mazda 2 1.3. surprisingly good. for what it is.. a budget city car.. revs high enough and gets plenty of speeds, and handles like a madman. for a citycar.....


unpleasantly surprised, well, a dodge challenger... great fun for half an hour, chopping other cars and doing traffic light sprints, but once you actually have to drive one for more than 35 minutes, and you're built like me (tall ish) your back will hurt, and you won't have any good place to rest your elbow. also, i couldn't find an easy way to disable the ESP, so straight line skids were easy enough with the traction control disabled, but once you tried the circle work, it just went to shits...
also, a kia cee'd, well, if you drive one for over 1.5 hours, you (i) will have back issues for several days. and it's understeered like a mad person.
similarly with the chevrolet nubira.. drive it for 30 minutes, and i will have a blasting headache..



but the worst one was a holden commodore sv6. one of them new ones.... they look amazing, and stuff, but once i got behind the wheel of one, it just started annoying me, with all sorts of issues... not enough ground clearance for australian roads. the speedo plastic reflected the keychain, just where you need to see your speed, and the spoiler reflected the sun in the mirror straight into my eyes, and blinded me. from a driving point of view, well, apart from the "no-feel" steering, it wasn't too bad, but just the shitload of minor and little irritations bummed the shit out of me...

also, a holden/chevrolet cruze. it's too slow to get out of its own way, the floorpan is not at all waterproof, and it's an uncomfortable piece of crap....
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Re: Cars you've driven and been pleasant/unpleasantly surpri

Postby Swerve » Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:44 pm

Wally, you reminded me of being pleasantly surprised by the giant Mercedes van I rented to move. The extent of the giantness was mildly unpleasant because it was slightly too tall to fit into both the apartment car park we were moving from and the double garage of the house we were moving to. But that was a measurement error on my part.
In all other respects it was awesome. Nice interior and bizarrely quicker than the XR6 ute I had borrowed. Modern turbo diesels are impressive.

Tut, surprised you didn't like the Cruze.
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