Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Sunday Drive

You may be interested in this article if...

  1. You HATE your commute to work
  2. You are a new driver and/or owner of a car
  3. You live in a densely populated city
The Sunday drive is an old part of North American auto tradition. It is defined as a small trip in a car with no intended destination that is undergone for pleasure alone. This was very popular in the early '20s because in those days the car was used less out of necessity and more for leisure. It was a family activity, a romantic getaway, or even a chance to adventure places you've always wanted to. So much like the country that lifted it to fame, the auto mobile was full of opportunity. Henry ford himself was an early supporter of the Sunday drive for obvious reasons. However despite what the Sunday drive has meant to North Americans in years past it is quickly fading from our lives.

Economically minded individuals feel that the Sunday drive is a waste of time and gas - which has risen in price significantly over the past few decades from $0.40 per litre in 1979 to $1.09 per litre in 2011 - and would rather spend both elsewhere. Environmentalism and Social Activism have also become more popular among many modern young adults who feel that burning gas for the purpose of recreation is environmentally irresponsible and that using a privately owned vehicle over public transportation is socially irresponsible not to mention financially stressful. Furthermore, many dislike getting behind the wheel unless it is absolutely necessary because cars are associated with dreary office hours, sluggish or stressful commutes, and taxing trips to supermarkets. We use our cars everyday to perform mundane tasks and as a result a large number of North Americans feel that it is nothing more than an appliance to be purchased to fill needs and be as practical as possible. Almost half of Canadians feel this way about their cars and the numbers for the US are only slightly lower. America is the place where the auto mobile became famous and beloved by all, but has our love dwindled from newly wed passion to older couple frustration? Whatever the case, we could use some relationship counselling.

Although it may be crude to compare our relationships with autos to marriage, there is no doubting the similarity between our situation and those of couples in marriage counselling; both are slightly sensational and irrational, being difficult at times to feel positive about, but neither will consider something as serious as a divorce. Surrendering the auto mobile is something that just doesn't sit well with North Americans, and for good reason. The auto mobile represents a personal freedom that most North Americans feel passionate about protecting and serves as a right of passage for teenagers about to taste independence for the first time. The car is also an iconic representation of our personalities and identities. Additionally, It provides flexible and relatively reliable transportation that makes us feel in control of our lives. Lastly, they have been our loyal inanimate companions for over 100 years and take a well deserved place within our cultural heritage that would be painfully empty otherwise.

One day the auto mobile will be a thing of the past, but not today and certainly not tomorrow. We really are in this together and despite society's concerns about the shortcomings of our modern - and sometimes not so modern - cars they are all we have and instead of getting caught up in sensational talks about what's wrong with driving our cars we should spend a little more time getting caught up with what's right about driving our cars. Some of you may remember embarking on Sunday drives with your parents as a child that may have ended with ice cream, or pissed you off because you were torn away from MSN and facebook. But the fact remains that they certainly were afternoons that we will remember for a long time. More likely you remember how you felt when you first bought your car and fell in love with the freedom from your daily grind and the notion that you could simply drive off with the sun at your back if life became too stark. These memories and fantasies are no less appealing, and no more impossible than they were when we drove our cars off the lot. The fact of the matter is that we love our auto mobiles, we've just forgotten why, and Sunday is a great day to remember.

Although I don't aim to discourage anyone who is truly devoted to Environmental or Social activism, I do wish to encourage anyone who already owns a car to fully appreciate the benefits of recreational driving. Below is a list of tips for econo/enviro/socio minded individuals that help to unload some guilt from the Sunday drive so there is more room for fun. Some of these tips are also parts of the Sunday drive that make it so fun and relaxing to begin with.

Tips for driving with more environmentally responsibly:
-You've heard it 100 times before: take care of your car
-Keep the air pressure at the correct level to reduce rolling resistance ( under inflated tires drain 6% more fuel  than properly inflated tires at the same speed )
- Drive in the highest gear at the lowest speed without the engine struggling ( lower rpm means fewer explosions taking place burning less fuel and a high gear means that the energy netted from those explosions goes the farthest )
- Plan your route ( getting lost is fun but if you're worried about burning too much fuel on your trip plan a route that meets your fuel to fun ratio )

Tips for driving with more social responsibility:
- Bring your friends or family along with you or be brought along on someone else's drive
- Plan a social activity that you can do while out and about like a picnic or teaching a younger member of the group how to drive

Tips for driving with more Economic responsibility:
- Use websites like to find the cheapest gas en route
- Invite someone else along and use their car instead

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hyundai Veloster

You might be interested in this article if...
- You are a sports car type that needs excellent fuel economy to drive hard and guilt free
- You are environmentally concious but don't want to drive micro cars because they look goofy
- You have realised that you don't actually use your back seats often enough to store anything other than junk
- You are in the mood for a car loaded with standard niceties that is in a class by itself

Hyundai has been stepping up its already very competitive game in the small car market. First with the release of its next generation of Accent and Elantra which have been restyled with swooping smooth and sharp exterior panels. This bold look is continued and expanded on in its most recently released small car, the Veloster.

The Veloster is a new front wheel drive, micro compact car that has a unique number of doors. If you count the hatch you have four. There is a rear passenger door on the passenger side of the micro that opens independently of the front door to a wider than expected angle that allow passengers easy access to the rear seats. Although the rear seats are lacking in head room probably won't be used often by the type of person the car was intended for. Hyundai America CEO John Krafcik pointed out in an interview that the Veloster's asymmetric exterior compliments the asymmetric interior of all cars and tries to create areas of the vehicle that are designed for the people that would be using them, i.e the driver's door being longer so he can fit a suitcase or notebook in the back seat without needing another door and the passenger side of the car having an extra door to allow easier entry. Although the micro compact can't offer much practicality with its small dimensions what it lacks in practicality it surely makes up for in versatility, performance, style and standard niceties.

The economy sports car never looked as refined as it does today in the Veloster, which comes with a standard well engineered 1.6 litre in line 4 cylinder  DOHC engine with Continuously Variable Valve Timing mated to a 6 speed manual transmission and produces 138 HP and 123 lb-ft of torque. (A turbo version is on the way and will enhance everything that is good about this model) This standard model boasts 6.2 L/ 100km combined economy, which is only 0.3L more than the new Accent and 2.8L less than it's competitor the Scion tC. Although the Veloster doesn't boast the heart pumping excitement of its 180 HP competitor it's still fun to drive and comes with a suspension package that features MacPherson front struts and excellent stabilizer bars that make sure the driver isn't thrown around much while enjoying his 138HP.

The Veloster's style is so different that it is clear that it will only appeal to a niche market not unlike the Nissan Juke. With its aggressive face that flows into a sharp swooping body the Veloster holds a drag coefficient of 0.32. At the rear of the car there is a distinctive centered dual exhaust port that is usually only seen on more refined sports cars like those from Porsche. The Veloster also comes standard with 17 inch. alloy wheels and P215/45R17 tires to remind you that despite its economy it is a sports car. The micro's appearance can be further bolstered by adding the optional panoramic sunroof that continues all the way down to the hatch and gives it the unique styling that the production model offered during its d├ębut at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show.

From the moment you get into the Veloster via Remote Keyless entry the first thing you will notice is how much technology comes standard with the model. A high resolution 7 inch touch screen display is the centre piece of the standard infotainment system that plays AM/FM/XM satellite radio/CD/MP3 on the 6 speaker sound system. The 7 inch display can also be used in conjunction with the rear view Camera to assist in backing out and also with video playback and video gaming... while parked of course. There is an input jack for you ipod and a Bluetooth voice activated phone system comes standard as well. Cruise control and audio controls can be found within easy reach on the steering wheel. Moreover, the interior by itself is sporty and modern with appealing interior shapes. The driver's seat has height adjustment for drivers who feel they would be too big for the car, and heated seats are standard and compliment the standard air conditioning.

Many people consider the Veloster a modern incarnation of the Honda CR-X which Hyundai America's CEO John Krafcik confirms was one of the cars that inspired the focussed and precise engineering of the Veloster. However, critics don't feel that the Veloster is a deserving successor to the CR-X considering how much time has pasted and how it hardly improves the performance, handling, or efficiency that the CR-X brought to life years ago. The CR-X was lighter and nimbler and able to get the very most from its 1.6L engine, and it was surely an economy sports car for the ages, but the Veloster has more to consider today. For instance, safety has become a higher priority and so the Veloster comes equiped standard with Driver and Passenger front and side airbags along with side curtain airbags, Anti-lock Brakes, Electronic Brake Distribution, Brake assist, Vehicle Stability Control, Traction control, and BlueLink (Hyundai's equivalent of GM's onStar). Coupling this is the fact that auto mobile design has made safer frames for modern cars that channel energy more effectively away from occupants and the vehicle takes on substantial weight as a result. The Veloster also seats 4, the CR-X coupe seats 2.

But when all is said and done, the Veloster stands apart from its ancestors and competitors as something truly new. It is a car for a very specific type of individual: one that isn't interested in just a sporty tC or a classic and nimble CR-X, but for someone who appreciates the engineering that went into making the Veloster safe and spacious for a micro car that consumes just 6.2L/100km. It's for people that would rather pay 19, 000 for an efficient car with great standard features than nearly 26, 000 for a competitor with equally satisfying options. If you are this kind of person, the Hyundai Veloster is bond to please.