Thursday, May 05, 2005

Car window shopping

I accuse ladies of wasting time window shopping, but hey, its the same here...

this is not going to be a "if i had 100k to spend on a car" kind of question... its just that I'd like to compare these rather varied large saloon cars and see which I'd prefer more.

The cars in mind:
Subaru Legacy B4 2.0i/2.0GT
Volvo S60 2.0T
Ford Mondeo 2.5V6
Honda Integra GSR
(Nissan Sunny B14 1.5A as reference)

There's no logic or common sense in my selection. I just feel like comparing these models because they catch my eye.

The first 3 cars are large sedans of relatively similar size and one can expect high levels of interior space and refinement. The GSR, of course, is my cult favourite grand-tourer coupe (after the demise of the B18C generation of 4-door Integras), which is what you should get if by the time you can afford a car you still don't have kids...

In the engine compartment, the 2.0GT kicks ass full-time with a cool twin-turbocharged 260PS and 343Nm torque. It's the highest speced amongst the contenders here so expect fuel consumption to follow suit. The other turbocharged baby is the low-pressure 2.0T with 180bhp and 240Nm while the 2.0i sports 180PS with 196Nm and the 2.5V6 a respectable 170bhp and 220Nm. The GSR clocks in at 160bhp and 191Nm. (1.5A= 105bhp,135Nm)

The Subaru models boast boxer-4 engines while the Volvo is an inline-5, and the sister Ford is a V6. The GSR is a classic inline-4 just like my old 1.5A. Of course, they all have the latest bangs and whistles in engine tech like variable valve timing and so on..., but it seems the 2.0i has to run on a very high compression ratio of 11.5 in order to achieve it (must buy higher octane petrol). There's no replacement for displacement and the V6 would be my pick if not for the fact that the money saved on its cheaper sticker price would be lost on higher road tax as its 500cc more than the rest here. The Volvo's low-pressure turbo seems interesting enough, sufficient torque to get things moving and yet not as much fuel consumption as the mad twin-turbo. Factor in the tax savings and it starts to look better...

But why can't we just be contented with the 105bhp? Well, for starters the old 1.5A is only 1020kg whereas the large saloons featured here are at least 1.4 tonnes... so it'll definately get sluggish if you don't have enough power and torque. If you factor in the weight the fact that the GSR is only slightly lower at 160bhp and yet its about 1.2 tonnes you'd realise its the coupe that still has the best power-to-weight ratio...

As for the automatic gearboxes (the sad reality of a traffic-jamed city), they're all 5-speed autos except for the 2.0i which is a shame considering that it would have been a worthwhile package with its an all-wheel-drive, which surely is a huge plus for cornering. The rest of the sedans are front-drivers.

It would have been nice to have cruise control, as well as a sunroof, and maybe xenon lights and the only nick-nack accessory I'd really want is tinted windows to keep out the heat. I would expect cars of such spec to come with alloys too.

So, what would I choose? The GSR unless someone else violently objects. Then it'll most likely be the Volvo S60 2.0T, which at least has a lower road tax and yet sufficient torque for a heavy body and together with an efficient 5-spd auto.

(1500cc=$870, 2000cc=$1500/yr, 2500cc=$2300/yr) Boy, pure money wasted for no other purpose than for government tax? Even the increased fuel consumption isn't going to cost that much more... No wonder everyone's driving cars with huge heavy bodies mated to special low-cc engines designed for Singapore... the result being sluggishly underpowered heavy cars which egoistic owners who compensate by stepping very very hard on the accelerator all day to make up for the lower cc... hence increasing petrol bills (which, btw, increases tax revenue too because 50% of the price of petrol is pure govt tax once again)

We really need to get rid of this really ridiculous system of taxation. It's totally lame and without basis. It undermines the quality of our cars and wastes a lot of petrol. It promotes wear and tear, but I know most drivers don't care because they change car every 3 years and don't care about the long term condition of their cars, just sell or scrap, which is a terrible mentality exacerbated by the scrap rebate system which was of course introduced by themselves in the first place for purposes of taxation.

Argh! To be born a car lover here is a curse! ARgh!!!

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