All 21 entries tagged Cars

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July 22, 2008

91.1 mpg in real life

On the 100 mile journey from Silverstone to his home in Surrey, along a lot of motorway and some large altitude changing country roads, Will managed a whopping 91.1mpg average in a VW Polo Bluemotion. A simple economical 1.4 litre turbo diesel engine in a small car means that it is under the magic 100gCO2 per km which means no congestion charging (and I think no road tax). It has skinny tyres, a slicker aerodynamic profile and long gear ratios. Frankly it whips the silly Toyota Prius. Our figure could actually have been even higher had we not got stuck in some of the usual M25 traffic. We had achieved 95mpg from the motorway journey before we hit the country roads.

91.1mpg in a VW Polo Bluemotion

The main tips are:

Get to 55mph and top gear as soon as possible. Keep it at 55mph. At all other speeds, be in the right gear for the speed you are travelling at.

Slipstream lorries - they cruise at around 55mph (avoid fast coaches) and they punch a nice hole in the air for you to tag along. Try following oil tankers as this will require a combination of both skill and bravery! We saw an average of about 120-130mpg behind a lorry. If you're worried, you can keep your left foot over the brake pedal just in case.

Allow the car to gently build up speed on downhill sections and keep it in the same position everywhere else.

Keep the a/c off and windows closed. This may require you to wear fewer clothes and drink cold water. You may only open windows when you are braking. Will particularly enjoyed the aero braking element of putting his hand out of the window. You may only use A/C to increase engine braking in cases you would have applied the brakes.

Carry speed through corners - this must be balanced with acceptable tyre wear, as tyres have very high embodied energies.

Acclerate Gently: only depress the accelerator enough for gentle progress.

By doing this, one 40 litre tank of fuel could have a range of 950 miles!! Maybe this could be used as a new government incentive to keep the kids driving slowly: cash payouts for high fuel economy?

Critical Stats:

Fuel Consumption Average: 91.1 mpg (imperial) or 3.10 litres per 100km
Peak Fuel Consumption: 182.0 mpg

Average Speed: 41 mph
Peak Speed: 67 mph

December 20, 2007

Race of Champions 2007

The Race of Champions always sounded like an awesome concept. Put the best drivers of different motorsport disciplines in one stadium and pitch them against each other in equal machinery to find out who is the best! The past few years it has been in the Stadt de France, and this year it came to Wembley. So naturally we had to go (plus a few of us were getting the shakes from motorsport withdrawal symptoms during the off season period).

(C) Nathaniel Ho 2007

One of the great things about it was the return of the legendary Michael Schumacher to "competitive racing." Historically I have always not liked him. I was always supporting the "other" person: Damon Hill, Mika Hakkinen, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso. But now with the legend absent, I started to appreciate him more - the dude's a hero. 

Most of us were the old Warwick Motorsport gang: JJ, AJ, Rich, John, Jen and I. We sat at the top tier on a crisp 3degC Sunday. My gosh was it cold all day. It was hovering about zero all day. I also thought Wembley was quite empty, but when you consider this is a motorsport event and it has filled up half the capacity, its not that bad.
(C) Nathaniel Ho 2007

In the Nations cup, we saw some great races.  I was rooting for Norway (Solberg brothers) but I was pretty sure Finland (Gronholm and Kovalainen) was going to win - especially when Gronholm seemed to be only driving his own Ford Focus WRC in almost every round! In the final Schumacher raced Kovalainen in the Punto S2000 Abarth. Schumacher stalled and lost a lot of time. Kovy managed to get up to the back of Schumacher to lap him. But Schumacher decided to drive flamboyantly sideways to stop him, but he got through. But eventually overall, the Finns were pipped to the title by Team Germany (Vettel and Schumacher). 

In the mid interval, we got some cups of warmth from the cafe whilst some very good stunts were being shown. The legendary Stig Blomqvist made an appearance in the original Audi Quattro, Priaulx drove his WTCC BMW 320i, Kristensen drove his Le Mans Audi R10 TDI, Coulthard drove his Red Bull Racing F1 car, Vettel drove his STR F1 car and Matthias Ekstrom made the most smoke in this Audi A4 DTM.

(C) Nathaniel Ho 2007

In the Champions of Champions races that followed we saw some fantastic races. The closest finish was Andy Priaulx vs. Heikki Kovalainen in the Aston Martin V8 Vantage N24's. They were neck and neck but Kovy over cooked it coming out of the last corner and overcorrected a slide and got into a tankslapper which made him cross the finishing line sideways before colliding backwards with the barrier. "Heikki you're a lunatic!" I shouted whilst the crowds cheered. By 6.45pm it was so cold we had square ice cubes around all our toes, and Mattias Ekstrom beat Schumacher 2-1. Schumacher was still amazingly setting all the fast laps in the day. It was great watching him slide the RoC buggy into the first corner on the inside track. After the podium presentation we all ran home to defrost!

July 10, 2007

British Grand Prix 2007

British GP 2007 - (C) Nathaniel Ho 2007 -  6

I wasn't originally planning on going to the British GP at all until John suggested it. John thought it would be a nice weekend out for the boys. We decided would get a ticket for Paul for his birthday (he's very greatful to all his contributors). Unfortunately, it wasn't the surprise I hoped it would be... and it was all my fault. I had totally lost track of who I could and could not tell, and I made the smooth move telling the birthday boy!

Me (to Paul): "...I was talking to Rich's friend yesterday, turns out he's a F1 fan too and I asked him if he wanted to come to the Grand Prix with us."
Paul: "Huh? What do you mean [going to the Grand Prix]?"
Me: [Expletives]

British GP 2007 - (C) Nathaniel Ho 2007 -  7


John and Paul went on Friday, to scout the best locations whilst watching Free Practice. We all stayed at Rich's house in Milton Keynes which meant we were very close to the circuit. We set ourselves down at Copse, a corner that I like a lot in a Stockholm syndrome way - it tried to kill me once before. We had contemplated getting a Kangaroo TV, but I thought the big TV right next to us would do just fine. Battling with the wire fence (and the back of people's heads) all weekend, I struggled to get decent pictures. One thing that always strikes you when you've not seen F1 cars in real life for a while is the noise! I'm sure the V10's used to be so powerful it felt like it was changing your heartbeat just from the sound waves.

Qualifying was quite good. I could make out what was going on quite well. Kimi's lap was good and I was surprised he came top despite his wiggle out of Luffield. That was bettered only by Hamilton who had smashed it with a 1min 19.997. The crowd just errupted in jubilation.

We tried to watch the GP2 qualifying after that but we just got bored. Thankfully there were many other things we could do. Like retail therapy: John got himself a nice orange Spyker cap. (Unfortunately, Christijan Albers doesn't drive for them anymore) and Rich got himself a McLaren cap but purposely made sure it wasn't Hamilton version (he thinks he's overhyped).

We popped down the the BMW Sauber Pit Lane Park, which was full of fun activities. Unfortunately we missed the donut making. John and Paul were lucky enough to see Mansell down there on Friday.

British GP 2007 - (C) Nathaniel Ho 2007 -  12


We did not want to get out of bed, but we made it there at 6.15am. There were a lot of people around, even the ice-cream vendors were open for business. Down at Copse we'd only managed to get the last row to set up our chairs. Then we all peeled off on walkabouts before the circus show started. As always there was the Red Arrows performance - spectacular aerobatics as usual.

The F1 race was good. Naturally we all expected (as opposed to 'hoped') Hamilton to win. Which unfortunately didn't happen. Kimi Raikkonen won, and once again I felt indifferent - only 12 months ago I would have loved it if he had won, but I dislike red cars more than I like Raikkonen. 

I have never ever seen so many people walk around in the same F1 T-shirt in the same way that football fans do. 100,000 people turned up on Sunday, and I'm sure you could say 50% of them were wearing Vodafone McLaren T-shirts. Amazing. But not as amazing as being able to leave the circuit directly after the race and not hit any traffic! Well done to the organisers. Hopefully Hamilton will win it next year.

British GP 2007 - (C) Nathaniel Ho 2007 -  10British GP 2007 - (C) Nathaniel Ho 2007 -  9


May 14, 2007

Diesel Mk II

Writing about web page

GTL diesel which is made from natural gas. Cleaner, higher cetane. Sounds like a possible solution to the energy supply problem far down the line if enough of it can be made to fuel the world. Too good to be true?

December 19, 2006

Michael Schumacher's Ferrari Career in Pictures

The Legendary Michael Schumacher Special Portfolio

*Warning: Despite Herr Schumacher being a legend. Anybody who used to love to hate him (such as me) may find excessive picture viewing quite sickening.*

December 13, 2006

La Vie sans La Voiture

Its been a few months since i’ve given up the car, I’ve got quite used to not having it, but my friends haven’t! After being lucky enough to have had one to use for the past 3 years, this year I’ve got a shortage of money, as well as the fact that I just didn’t use it enough to justify renewing the insurance on it. So my parents took away the beloved Volvo S40 which I’d done about 25k and Silverstone in. The definition of someone who uses a car is my flatmate Ivan. If he’s at the library, you’ll see it parked on lib road. If he’s in the union, its parked outside. He’s not lazy, its just that between the lib and union he went to leam and he’s prob off to Cov afterwards. He’ll drive to Birm and London on weekends. Now that’s better than having it sit in CP15 at all times gathering dust. Oh and at the end of term, he drives back to Switzerland.

The rail system has so far not been bad (in fact in London I pretty much only used the tube). I’ve got single tickets to and from London and to and from Newcastle this holiday for a tenner a piece. So i really can’t complain when its a tiny bit delayed. And you kinda expect delays anyway.

So to sum up. I haven’t missed the freedom a car brings, cos I never really used it that much. But I do miss the joy of driving a tiny bit. Bring on the cake tin steering wheel, the wooden spoon gear lever and heel-toeing on sardine tins!

October 05, 2006

Hamster Headlines

I’ve enjoyed the overhyped controversy about Richard “Hamster” Hammond’s jet-car crash. His picture and his Porsche 911 has now moved up on the Flat 159 Cool Wall to Sub-Zero cool for the sole reason he tried to kill himself a few weeks ago. Today BBC News has reported that Top Gear has resumed filming (as I fully expected to happen). All the malarky about the show being pulled was just created by some pathetic BBC newsroom reasearchers/employees, whose second most exciting thing that happened to them on the day of Hammond’s crash, was deciding whether to go for the vegetarian lunch option in the BBC canteen. Normality I guess has now resumed….

Unlike the hotwater and internet connection here in Heronbank.

September 19, 2006

Scooby Dooby Vroom!

Subaru Driving Experience

Today I went to Prestwold Park for a driving experience. They have a nice simple circuit and a few nice cars. The Astons and Lambos were gleaming under the bright morning sun. I was driving in the Subaru and Focus RS today. The first instructor took me round in the Focus RS for a reconaissance lap. Then I took over. Very nice car, power is great, poise was fantastic, and the grip was good.

Then I hopped straight into the Subaru Impreza WRX STi on slicks. The acceleration at first was savage but got acclimatised to the power very quickly though. My instructor Paul wasn’t one to hold people back! *Power down! Power down!* He was urging me at every oppourtunity to put the pedal to the metal and let the car do the work. I wasn’t used to letting the 4WD and differentials letting me put so much power down so early whilst exiting a tight corner. I didn’t have time to look at the speedo (or have time to figure out where the speedo was! lol), but most corners were 60mph+ and any short straights were easily 110mph+. Unfortunately, the brakes were jittering cos of some problem, but still stopped very well, making the car pitch very hard all the time.

I left the car oozing with the smell of hot brakes and rubber and with an andrenaline rush. My grade at the end of the day was a (dissapointing) 93 out of 100 (I blame the brakes). Lastly, thankyou to everyone who gave me this present – I didn’t think I was worth it. You’re all great. I had a lot of fun thankyou.

August 04, 2006

You Wanted Pictures: Goodwood 2006

Fiesta Rally Car
Camera: Canon EOS 350D
Lens: Canon EF–S 18–55mm f3.5–5.6
Filter: Skylight 1A
Date: 7th July 2006
Location: Rally Stage, Goodwood Manor
Focal Length: 49mm
Shutter: 1/50
Aperture: F/5.6
ISO: 100

Bowler Wildcat
Camera: Canon EOS 350D
Lens: Canon EF–S 18–55mm f3.5–5.6
Filter: Skylight 1A
Date: 7th July 2006
Location: Some random hill leading up to Rally Stage, Goodwood Manor
Focal Length: 55mm
Shutter: 1/800
Aperture: F/5.6
ISO: 400
Comments: Forgot to crank down ISO a notch

Cos I'm feeling generous

July 08, 2006

Goodwood Baby!

Yesterday I got up at the insane time of 5am (with other insane early commuters) to catch the bus and the 5.53am tube train from Angel to get to Loughton, where Rob picked me up in his Mondeo and we set off on the 100mile journey clockwise across Dartford to head towards Chichester and the Goodwood Manor.

Lord March is a legend. He has his own 1.16mile driveway which is good enough to be stage for racing, his own rally stage in the forest, and a buggerload of land for offroading. You wouldn't believe the amount of people who turned up on friday. It was more than you'd see on Sunday at a British GP!

So we met up with Rob's flatmate Paul R. and JJ, and eventually on the 100 hectares of land, we found Chris and Sian. Being my first time there I didn't know what to expect. But its definately better than any motor show as you get right up close to the action. I would upload some pictures if they weren't all 2MB jpegs - and if I wasn't using a mac. You walk around the paddock and get right up to close to the cars. Automotive pornography at its best: Old, new, Le Mans, Rallying, F1, everything is there. DBR9, Veyron, that new Maybach, all the 997 Porsche varieties, and in particular a "100 years of GP" stand which looked very impressive. There's also a road car section, where JJ and I decided to do the challenge of which coupe can we fit in properly. This involved one of us being squished and the other sitting in the front seat. Our scientific test had the following conclusions:

  • The new Audi TT was rubbish at 2+2, JJ couldn't even sit up straight, he had to tilt his neck in the back. Meanwhile I was sitting in the front with my knees IN the dashboard.
  • The Jaguar XK had the rear headroom, but legs were cramped back and in front.
  • The winner was the BMW M6, which easily allowed us to fit in happily. Our knees did not have to make contact with anypiece of the car at all. Plus 501BHP V10 is nice.

Talking about making contact, when we tried the Peugeot 407 coupe, I got in the back, and I'm thinking "this is ok" when JJ puts the driver's seat in the correct position and the electric seat keeps moving back until it ate my feet. ARGH! No jokes! The Peugeot lady who was sitting in the front passenger seat said the car was acting funny because it was low on power. Not funny. I honestly couldn't move. I was immobilised by this french lion who had munched my Reeboks. Luckily someone came only with the key to switch on the engine. Provide some power to release my feet. Then JJ and the Peugeot lady got chatting. I was just the extra in the car. And I discovered the problem of the Coupe – I was stuck. I had to sit in the conversation when I really wanted to leave.

Another highlight of the day was when it was pissing it down and we saught refuge in the BMW M5 safety car for the Formula BMW championship. The first thing we noticed was a panel of 3 switches on the dash that said "LED" "Headlamps" and "Roof". How cool was that? 5.0 V10, Heads–Up Display and flashing lights. We turned them on naturally so that Rob, Paul, Chris & Sian could spot which car we were in :D

To finish off our "Which car can we fit in properly" experiment, we decided to check out some 7 seaters since there was 6 of us. The Q7 we couldn't be bothered to properly test (although it was very nice inside). The Land Rover Discovery 3 easily fitted the 6 of us in, even with tall Paul in the back row (more space than the average coupe)!

Can we paint this (Land Rover) yellow and write "SCHOOL BUS" on the side?

Anyway, we didn't manage to get a ride in the Porsche Cayenne Turbos gunning it around a field. So we had to settle for a comfortable cruise around some rocky terrain in a horrifically expensive Toyota Landcruiser (£50k!!!) and a Nissan Navara. The off–road capabilities were very impressive! We then checked out the rally stage and paddock. Marcus Gronholm's Ford Focus WRC was around but I'm not sure if it was him driving. There were some nice vintage Rally cars like the original Audi Quattro, a cute Saab, Porsche 959 and Richard Burns' 2001 Subaru Impreza.

Anyway it got late and Rob and I left to sit in the Goodwood traffic and it took us an achingly long time to travel to Laura's house in Woking. 2hrs for 40miles. In fairness it was the fault of the GPS, as it convienently died because of the Surrey foliage cover, every time an important junction was coming up. This prompted me to rename GPS as Glorified Piece of Shit. Then we, with Will (making a party of 4), went for dinner, where we failed a buffet challenge, even with Mr Hoover (Will). That finished off a very nice day, and it was 11.30pm. Rob and I had been up since 5am, and he had to drive us back to North London! Poor Rob. And to make matters worse, the Mondeo's stereo was broken, so we had to use the radio on our phones! Just freezing cold air conditioning to keep him awake. Long and tiring, but worth it. Next time we'll stay over in Paul and JJ's town which is only 30mins from Goodwood manor.

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