Friday, 11 January 2008

Should I take the green pill or the silver pill?

I asked this question a couple of weeks ago: the answer has become YES.

I'm having one of those nights where you go to bed at a sensible time, only to wake a couple of hours later. In this case lights out was 11.00 and I awoke around 12.30 wondering when the alarm was due to go off. My head's whizzing away, yet has that cotton-wool feel and various passages aren't free either, so I suspect the real culprit is a minor infection that's been lurking since Christmas.

Anyway, after all I said about Peugeots, silver cars and black interiors, it seems that is what we've replaced the 406 with. On Wednesday night Steve dropped off a 307 SW (basically the estate with moveable seats) and collected the old one. Guess I needed to stop worrying about externals.

So I've driven it to Banbury and back this evening to go shopping, and that's another part of the reason for not sleeping - the head won't stop analysing. 20 odd miles isn't really enough to know a car, but it *feels* like I already understand it pretty well. Compared to the 406 it feels quite a bit smaller, but with lighter, sharper handling: more tension and less smooth unruffledness. The bigger pug had a particularly good ride on bad roads and very relaxed neutral handling where this is sensitive, responsive and quicker, although not truly sporting with a bit too much body roll.

The comparison is interesting because I drove another 307 over the Christmas break. That had 43K on the clock, and was - I hope - the 90bhp version instead of the 110 like this. It felt so much like the 406 in a slightly smaller package that there was zero familiarisation needed. It was also sluggish feeling (compared to our 200,000 mile car). This one theoretically has the same power output as the older 2.0L 110 406, but feels more powerful as it doesn't run out of steam above 3200 revs like the older car. Gearing is the same with 70mph at around 2400rpm ish, and at speed it's a little quieter, as you might hope from a younger car. On tickover it's noticeably more dieselly sounding, but not unpleasantly so.

While typing this I popped the Beatles Revolver album in the drive (bought cheap at Tesco this evening). They really were hitting the pharmaceuticals for Yellow Submarine. Not being a Beatles fan I also never realised how much they've been ripped off by everyone from the Jam through Oasis and all the crappy Indie bands.

Back on topic, fuel economy should be pretty special - if we can keep our right feet light. Steve reckoned it was doing 65mpg on his journey up from Exeter at a steady 70mph. The 406 did around 40 to 45mpg mostly, and from tonights drive I reckon this'll be doing around 55mpg with normal use. Saving 20% of our fuel bill wouldn't do any harm at all.

Just a couple more comments. Modern car designs seem to be placing the windscreen further away from the occupants. In this car its a lot further forward than in the 406, and very similar to the beetle. I'm not sure how it'll be possible to wipe the screen on that car and it'll be a struggle to reach on this one. The roof line is also very high (like the beetle again) and with the panoramic roof (basically a large glass section that doesn't open, but instead is covered or concealed with an electric blind) it feels like there's a lot of space above your head. Outside it's OK for a silver car, with one of the more sparkly silvers available (VWs tend to be grey, even from new) and various other shiny bits. It'll dull down to inconspicuity after a couple of week road dirt covers everything.

So what's not to like? I'm struggling to find a seating position I like in the rather firm (less so than the BMW) seats, and the wheel/seat/pedals relationship needs some tweaking. I was spoiled with the 406, as it had one of the best seating arrangements I've found and was only really beaten by our old Citroen CX GTi. Wheel height needs tweaking, as there's nowhere comfy for the elbows. One more thing: this car has the least effective heating system I've come across in as long as I can remember. Maybe I'm doing something fundamentally wrong, but it only really became warm after winding the heater to max, turning up the fan speed and setting air on re-circulate only. The 406 had climate control that I never really cared about, but was really extremely effective with the cabin becoming warm within about 5 min of starting off. I'll reserve judgement on this until I've done more than one journey, but find it hard to believe this is real.

So for all those who wondered, now you know - probably way more than you wanted to.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Play nice - I will delete anything I don't want associated with this blog and I will delete anonymous comments.