Ask a Car Nut - Part Deux


Both Fair And Balanced
Jan 29, 2003
USA #1
This is a continuation of a thread started in the OT forum:

I finally found a fitting reason to resurrect it in the Tavern.

I left my heart in the streets of San Francisco, as well as the nearby hills and mountains, when I moved from the SF Bay area nearly 20 years ago. And now Ken Block has now reminded me how epic some of the streets and highways actually are for any car nut.

Link to video.

I particularly like the part with using Travis Pastrana on a bike as a cone. I can't believe he got the city of San Francisco to block off such huge portions of the city so he could film it, even though I'm sure it was done in sections.

Here are some of Ken's previous "Gymkhana" clips:

Link to video.

Link to video.
How is that Fiat now available in the US? Looked pretty pricy to me for the size of the car. How good of a car is it?
The Fiat 500? Why shouldn't it be available in the US? It doesn't seem to be all that unreasonably priced to me compared to similar cars like the Mini, and the reviews I've seen have all been quite favorable.

Here is the Fiat 500 Abarth at Michigan International Speedway, as part of a recent Autoweek article on 7 cars priced at less than $30K, where they directly compared it with the Mini Cooper S:

2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

BASE PRICE: $22,700
DRIVETRAIN: 1.4-liter, 160-hp, 170-lb-ft turbocharged I4; FWD, five-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT: 2,512 lb
0-60 MPH: 7.32 sec (AW)
QUARTER-MILE: 15.94 sec (AW)
60-0 MPH: 137.32 ft (AW)
FUEL ECONOMY (EPA/AW): 31/21.7 mpg

2012 Mini Cooper S Coupe

BASE PRICE: $25,300
DRIVETRAIN: 1.6-liter, 181-hp, 177-lb-ft (192 lb-ft with overboost) turbocharged I4; FWD, six-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT: 2,679 lb
0-60 MPH: 7.16 sec (AW)
QUARTER-MILE: 15.67 sec (AW)
60-0 MPH: 125.83 ft (AW)
FUEL ECONOMY (EPA/AW): 30/23.6 mpg
That is quite good performance for $22.7K, even though I would likely pick the Mini Cooper S at $25.3K myself. But this is the first year of production for the Fiat. They will likely bump up the horsepower in the future.
Sorry Form, not a question, but I thought you may be interested to know that tomorrow I'm borrowing from work one of these in a 6speed manual to drive a 350km round trip with a mate to go to the footy. Lots of hills and bends to put it through it's paces too. Should be an awesome Sunday
Wow. Awesome. How about taking some photos and posting them? Where do you work that you can borrow such a great ride?
I'm a total Luddite. No digital camera, no smart phone and even if I did I'd struggle to work out how to post them.

The dealership I work at is multi-franchise and one of the franchises is HSV. I manage the far less exciting Hyundai department. I asked the boss and he was happy to oblige.

5 years ago I worked for Holden and got to pick a new HSV every 5000km as my company car. Now I live 5 minutes from work and a company car is not cost effective (fringe benefits tax and I would forgo a car allowance instead).

I currently drive a very sad, very boring 2000 model Mitsubishi Magna station wagon with 200,000km. Such is life. But there is a perverse pleasure in driving a car that owes you next to nothing.

EDIT...... Now I know what I'm gonna do when Contra's camera arrives
That is sad. You can buy a digital camera for $30. Or if you have a laptop, you can get a USB video cam for even less than that.
Depends on what the camera comes from. Often a memory card is sold separately. Ask the store clerk.
Can I chime in Form?

Assuming we are talking second hand and possibly over 6 or 7 years old and thus "cheap" , I'd say the painfully dull Toyota Corolla is the reigning champion.

Ultra reliable, parts are a breeze to find and mechanics love them.
Yes, that would be an excellent choice. And being a car sales manager certainly gives you enough expertise to chime in whenever you wish in this thread. But the opinions of any car nut are more than welcome. Many people have already done so.

What about a new car?
The market is pretty well flooded now with high-mpg cars. Virtually every car vendor offers something that would fit that description so it really depends on what type of car you want. As far as four-door sedans are concerned, the Toyota Prius would be a good place to start looking. So would the Honda Civic Hybrid.

Here is a good website that offers some nice choices in every category of vehicle:

Speaking of which, Toyota and Subaru recently set the sports car market on its ear with the new Scion FR-S and the more upscale equipped Subaru BRZ. The Scion sells for an average of $25.6K, which is incredible given how much sports car you get for the money:

The manual version has been set by the EPA at 22/30 mpg.

Link to video.
Why do you guys do MPG, when a better metric is Gallons per 100km, which is what most other countries use, except they use litres instead, since the second metric is linear and yet the first metric is exponential?
At least it isn't furlongs per cubic inch. But I don't understand what you mean by exponential. There are 3.78541 liters per gallon.

The reason it is expressed in miles per gallon is because just about everybody knows the capacity of their gas tanks in gallons from filling up their cars. So they can multiply the two numbers and figure out how far they can typically get on one tank.
For example, imagine two cars that get 14 mpg and 17 mpg. Most of us look at them and say they’re both unacceptable. However, consider two cars that register 33 mpg and 50 mpg. Who among us would not clamor for the 50 mpg car, believing it to be far more fuel efficient than the 33? The fact is that in both pairs of examples, the car with the higher figure saves 1 full gallon of fuel on a 100-mile trip. Going from a 14 mpg car to a 17 saves exactly as much fuel (and carbon) as going from a 33 to a 50.
Why do you guys do MPG, when a better metric is Gallons per 100km, which is what most other countries use, except they use litres instead, since the second metric is linear and yet the first metric is exponential?

I don't know why. It's what I'm used to. When I lived in Europe I started to get a feel for the liters/100km system. It didn't take long at all.

I really wish the us would join the civilized world and go metric!

Thanks for posting that paragraph about the comparison - I had never really grasped it before :goodjob:
The same is true for any reciprocal relationship. But at least now I understand your point.
Here's the photos from rugbyLEAGUEfan's road trip:

Spoiler :

Is that you wearing the hoodie? Is that safe to do in Australia? :p

If so, I love your driving style. Both hands firmly grasping the wheel at the 9-3 position in anticipation of a sudden tire blowout or emergency maneuver to avoid a small child.

I also like how you carefully removed the license number and identifying info from the engine shot.

Seriously, that is a great looking car. It must have been a ton of fun to drive. Did you get a chance to wring it out on any twisty sections of pavement?

But that appears to be the biggest sunshade I have ever seen. Or does the angle of the photo just make it look overly large?
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