Lotus Exige Review

Lotus has a long history of producing competitive sports cars. Lotus used the Elise model to create the new Exige. The Exige sports a composite roof, aerodynamic alterations and a high revving petrol engine designed with performance in mind. Exige models have received many enhancements geared toward increasing the car’s performance and usability.

The car’s exterior design has under gone very few changes since the car’s original design. It boasts the same low stance, aerodynamic aids and the same curvy shape that make it quite unique. One change was the addition of LED rear lights, which not only look better but also give the car an obvious safety advantage. The car’s interior now has ProBax seats on all models. Designed specifically with posture and comfort in mind, and claim to improve posture, comfort and alertness. Cabin noise has successfully been reduced to a minimum, and the new pedal box reduces pedal travel and produces smoother responses. The new Elise and Exige are available with Sport or Touring packs. The Touring pack provides electric windows, black suede interior, carpet, sound insulation, and a CD/DAB tuner. The Super Touring pack provides twin airbags, more storage and leather trim. The Exige S model uses a supercharged version of the existing 1.8-litre petrol engine for extreme performance. The car is produced in limited numbers and comes with an extremely high price tag.

 Practicality

The Exige is an expensive car to purchase, but considering the amount of performance that the car delivers the price is fairly reasonable. Running costs will be reasonable as well, but insurance will definitely be on the high side. Driven conservatively the efficient 1.8-litre petrol engine can deliver decent fuel economy. Space is definitely limited in the Exige. The car only holds two passengers and provides adequate head and legroom for both passengers. Elbow room may be limited as well as cargo space. The boot may hold a bag or two but not much more. The simplicity of the cars controls and displays is refreshing. The basic controls are functional and easy to use. There isn’t anything complex or exagerated about the car’s controls. The cabin successfully minimizes engine noise, but other noise does filter in especially at higher speeds. The car was designed more for performance than comfort so this shouldn’t bother anyone too much. The seats are reasonably comfortable but may cause some discomfort on longer trips. Access to the Exige can be very limited. Narrow door apertures and low seating positions can limit access for some passengers. The car’s boot is small and has a small aperture. Accessing the boot is not difficult but finding something small enough to fit in the car’s boot may prove to be somewhat difficult. This is not the easiest car to park. Rearward vision is limited, and steering is heavy at low speeds making it somewhat of a challenge to park.

 Life Style

The Exige has terrific driver appeal. The car was designed to providea pleasing driving experience for enthusiastic drivers. The 1.8-litre engine has sharp throttle response, and provides very smooth acceleration. Above 6,500rpm however that the engine switches to the high lift camshaft and delivers an enthusiastic burst of acceleration. The steering is direct, and provides excellent feedback. This would definitely not meet the needs of a family as the primary car. The lack of space and practicality more than rule the Exige out as a family vehicle. It might be used as a second car to run the occasional errands, but since it is only a two-seater it may have a difficult time meeting the family’s needs as even a second vehicle. This is also not a car for novice drivers. Even if a newly licensed driver could afford the car and the insurance, the car is probably too powerful and the steering will require some experience. Not to mention the car provides poor rear visibility as well. The car provides a good quality build and uses quality materials in the cabin as well. Lotus has no problems when it comes to image both on and off the race track. The Exige is yet another testimony to the company’s credibility.

 Security and Safety

The Exige comes standard with an alarm including remote central locking, and an immobilizer. Anybody who is interested in the high desire of such a car may be interested in buying a tracking system. Although the Exige has many traits that provide much safety, such as great grip, acceleration and braking performance, other extras are also available such as traction control. Seeing as the car does not come standard with air bags buyers may want to add them as an option for the Exige, along with four point seat belts.

 The Finishing Touches

The DAB unit comes fitted with the Exige provides great sound quality and good station reception in either FM or DAB mode. However the size and placement of the system can make it difficult for the driver to operate. The touring pack comes with a suede finish to the dash board, which reduces reflections and gives the cabin a more classy touch. The rest of the interior surfaces are either silver or black in plastic or bare aluminum.

 Summary

The Exige is a dynamic performance car that can blow away even the best competitors. The car is clearly designed for performance but has successfully addressed many comfort issues and offers outstanding refinement. The car requires an experienced driver and delivers an exceptional performance.

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Suzuki Wagon R Review

The Suzuki Wagon R has a new exterior design; the car looks less like a van with softer curves. The Wagon R comes fairly well equipped and delivers the same practicality that made it so popular in previous models. The Wagon R is easy to drive and comes with only one engine choice. The car has a similar shape as some rival brands but delivers better performance. The car comes in 1.3 or 1.2 GL, with either five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The car’s engine can struggle when carrying a full load. Steering is light and the car is easy to maneuver through town or crowded mall parking lots, but the Wagon R struggles more at motorway speeds. The car can become tiresome to drive for lengthy periods on the motorway, but delivers an excellent ride while city driving. The car isn’t comfortable on longer journeys however, with road and wind noise becoming too intrusive at motorway speeds. The Wagon R’s seats are also only comfortable on shorter trips; they lack the support necessary to make them comfortable for longer periods.

 Practicality

The Wagon R is an inexpensive car to buy and own. The car delivers excellent fuel economy and enjoys low insurance rates. The car should prove to be reliable and delivers good value for the money. The car delivers enough space for all passengers. Due to the high roof head and legroom are good all-round. The boot is a decent size and is able to hold a good bit of shopping. The car’s controls and displays are straightforward but seem a little dated. The switchgear gives the cabin a more dated look than some rivals. Everything works and is easy to find. The car provides adequate comfort on short trips. Longer trips become uncomfortable due to unsupportive seats. Motorway travel can become tiring due to excessive wind and road noise. The car is easily accessible. The car’s doors open widely and provide excellent access to the car’s cabin. Once inside, passengers shouldn’t have any problems settling into the car’s seats. This is a simple car to park. Steering is light and the car is small and maneuverable. Visibility is good all-round and the car fits easily into even the smallest parking space.

 Life Style

The Wagon R is clearly not designed for performance, but it is an easy car to drive and park. The car offers a lot of practicality and makes a lot of sense in town. It’s small and economical to run. A very small family may be able to get away with using the Wagon R as a family vehicle for a while, but the car makes more sense as a second car to a family. The car provides adequate cabin space and the boot is a practical size when used as a second car. The Wagon R would also make an economical commuter car. The Wagon R would make an excellent first car. The car’s style may not appeal to younger drivers but the car makes sense. The car enjoys low insurance rates and good fuel economy. The car is easy to drive and easy to park, provides adequate cabin space and is affordably priced. Suzuki has really improved the levels of performance in the Wagon R. Outside, the exterior has received some much needed enhancements and modern touches, and inside the cabin boasts a practical look and feel. Cabin plastics are of a reasonable quality. Badge snobs will not give the car the time of day, but more practically minded buyers will appreciate what the Wagon R has to offer.

 Security and Safety

The car’s standard security features include remote central locking, deadlocks and an engine immobiliser. It’s a little disappointing that the car does not come standard fit with a security alarm. The car’s safety features include driver and passenger airbags, side impact beams and a strong bodyshell. This is a good level of standard safety for the Wagon R.

 The Finishing Touches

The car’s standard audio system includes a radio with four speakers. The unit provides good sound quality and helps to drown out outside noise. The car comes with electric mirrors, clear lens headlamps and upgraded upholstery. Special edition models include alloy wheels, front fog lamps, metallic paint and a body colour spoiler.

 Summary

The Wagon R offers a lot of practicality. The car comes with a decent level of standard equipment and offers good value for the money. The Wagon R also outperforms many of its competitors.

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Smart Roadster Review

The Smart Roadster isn’t your average Smart mini. Its suspension is much more sophisticated being geared more towards enthusiast driving than urban comfort. The engine puts out a whopping 80bhp which sounds pathetic until you come to realize that the car weighs a mere 709kg. The power supplied by the engine is enough to boast a 0-60 time of 10.7 seconds and a top speed of approximately 110mph. If you should opt for the 101bhp engine the top speed reaches 122mph. The engine sits to the rear of the driver optimizing cabin space.

 Practicality

The Smart Roadster is very inexpensive. It gets decent fuel economy and boasts low insurance rates, asking price, and maintenance costs. Although servicing charges are low, you won’t be spending much time in the garage as the mechanics of the Smart cars is always of high quality and respectable reliability. The cabin is very spacious, offering more useful space than that of competitors of larger class sizes. Head and legroom are plentiful though elbowroom can become a problem when trying to seat two larger occupants at one time. The passenger seat folds flat and has a cup holder on the back. The instrumentation is all functional as well as practical. The gauges are clearly labeled and in the driver’s line of sight. This reduces driving fatigue as searching for the speedometer and tachometer is unnecessary. The fascia is uncluttered and all the switchgear is easy to operate. The Smart Roadster provides both occupants with plenty of head and legroom to be comfortable. The seats are supportive but aren’t overly firm. Engine noise can be intrusive at times of hard acceleration, but with only three cylinders that is expected. Due to the fact the body roll has been greatly reduced and traction control gives the driver a sense of confidence when cornering, the Smart Roadster is able to speed through corners with ease. Getting into the Roadster can be a bit of a challenge for taller passengers. The seats are wide however, making it un-necessary to reach for the seat as you stoop into it. The foot well is wide and the large door apertures allow for unrestricted access. The boot is easy to load and unload, though heavy items may make this task slightly more difficult as it does sit low. This aside, the lid does open wide enough to allow for easier access. Parking the Roadster is easy even for the most inexperienced, due to its small dimensions, a tight turning circle, light and precise steering, good visibility, and light acceleration. Though with the hood up, Rear visibility is reduced but it shouldn’t be a problem.

Life Style

 The Smart Roadster is geared towards enthusiast driving. Suspension is tight and responsive, steering is speed sensitive, and the brakes will give the driver added confidence as they will bring the car to a stop quickly. The gauges are easy to read and the instrumentation is all reliable. This would be a terrible choice for a family vehicle that is unless it is a family of two. Should you want to try to make this car work as a second vehicle you must take into consideration that the boot is rather small for the oddments associated with family life. This would make a great first car it is inexpensive both to buy and maintain. It is reliable, not absurdly fast, boasts upgraded suspension and traction control, and its small size makes it easy to drive through busy city streets. The materials used in the cabin of the Smart Roadster are fine in quality, it is a shame the craftsmanship holding the materials together isn’t of the same quality. If taken care of the car’s interior will not pose any problems however.

 Security and Safety

The security features on the Smart Roadster are; a roll bar, crumple zones, Drive Lock (automatic activation of the central locking when driving), remote central locking and immobilizer. As far as safety is concerned the Smart Roadster boasts a roll bar, crumple zones, a crash sensor which will turn on hazard lights automatically, front airbags, seatbelt pretensioners, ABS, and skid control.

 Finishing Touches

The in-car entertainment consists of a CD/radio unit and two speakers that play clean and crisp, though they can be drowned out by the engine noise when traveling at motorway speeds. The interior comes in two colors choices, scribble red and scribble black. The exterior comes standard in black, shine yellow or spice red. As a cost option, the colors champagne remix, star blue or glance grey can be selected.

 Summary

The cost effectiveness of the Smart Roadster makes it very appealing to young drivers. It is sporty and small, but lacks the high insurance premiums of most sports cars. It is a great money-for-value car and will continue to be reliable after several years.

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Proton Savvy Review

The Savvy is Proton’s first introduction into the city car market. The Savvy is marketed more toward younger buyers and will be the company’s attempt to attract a different kind of buyer. The competition is stiff in this sector and budget brands have to be able to compete with more stylish brands.

Proton’s five-door Savvy is a traditional city car. Complete with compact dimensions, yet unique with a distinctive style. The Savvy features a centre exit exhaust and a chunky front end. The bright colours being offered will appeal to younger buyers and give the car a sense of fun. The five-door hatchback provides easy access to the rear seats and a practical boot. The Savvy offers front-wheel drive good handling and a decent ride. The car has been designed to maximize interior space while still maintaining its compact size. The car’s engine is loud. It has a lot of pep and is very efficient, but drivers will have to become accustomed to the constant engine noise that will probably increase as the car ages. The car’s gear shift is also not as smooth as you would expect. Most buyers will be interested in the Savvy because of its low asking price, but the car can be fun to drive and offers decent steering that is responsive and has a good feel. The car’s suspension does a decent job as well and contributes to the pleasantness of the ride.

 Practicality

In addition to a low asking price, the Savvy offers buyers low insurance rates and low maintenance costs. With good fuel economy, the Savvy will be an inexpensive car to buy and run. The Savvy offers front passengers respectable head and legroom. If you move to the rear however, headroom will be compromised. Moving further to the rear the boot is deep and spacious, offering a surprising amount of room for such a small car. The fascia is uncluttered and organized, but the buttons lack a quality feel. The instrumentation is hard to read, but is all logically placed. The Savvy provides passengers a smooth ride, with engine noise being the only intrusion. The seats are supportive and comfortable. Front passengers will enjoy much of the Savvy’s headroom, but rear passengers won’t be uncomfortable as they have plenty of legroom. The wide door apertures make it possible for occupants to enter and exit the car with ease. The car sits at a comfortable height, making it uncompromising when it comes to reaching the seat bottom. When accessing the boot, a low loading lip makes lifting large, heavy items into and out easy. This is accompanied by a wide boot lid aperture so access is unrestricted. The Savvy is very simple to park. Light steering and great visibility make reverse parking a cinch. The small dimensions make it possible to park the Savvy in the smallest of parking spots.

 Life Style

The Savvy was not designed with driver pleasure in mind. Even so, the car does offer decent steering that responds well and has good feel. The suspension also strikes a good balance between ride and handling. The bad news is that the engine is loud and works hard to make decent progress. The Savvy would actually make a decent family vehicle. It provides good cabin space for four. Two children would easily fit in the rear seats. The boot is also large enough to accommodate a stroller and other good sized items. The Savvy would make an excellent first car. It has a stylish and appealing exterior design, and it enjoys low running costs. The car’s low purchase price will be very appealing to many first time buyers. The Savvy’s exterior design makes the Savvy look like a quality car. The attractive exterior does not really match the cheap interior. The car’s fit and finish are easily matched and beat by some well-known competitors for an equal or lesser price. Proton is largely seen as a producer of bargain vehicles, but is also known for reliability.

 Security and Safety

The car comes standard with an alarm, engine immobiliser and central locking. The internal releases for the fuel filler flap and boot add an additional element of security to the Savvy. Proton has included an impressive level of standard safety. The car is equipped witht win airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners and ABS. Rear parking sensors are also a useful safety feature.

 The Finishing Touches

The Savvy is fitted with a Clarion CD and radio unit. The unit has really good sound quality. The unit comes with four speakers and tends to falter a little at higher volumes. The majority of the dashboard is grey, and there splashes of colour on the instruments and fabrics. The overall feel of the cabin is dark. The fabric is decent, but the cabin’s plastics have a cheap feel.

 Summary

The Savvy is a fairly decent car. It’s a really good city car but the budget materials in the cabin are disappointing and the engine noise gets to be unpleasant.

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SsangYong SIV-1 concept

Introducing the SsangYong car that ‘defines the brand’s new design philosophy! It is due to appear at the years Geneva Motor Show, take a look:

SsangYong

SsangYong is looking to make a big impression at this year’s Geneva Motor Show in March. It has been described as a ‘mid-premium CUV crossover utility vehicle’ and it marks a much needed change in direction for SsangYong. It is being hailed as the car that ‘defines the brand’s new design philosophy’, and it has a modern muscular look about it which gives of a sportier than usual (for SsangYong) impression. We think it is a great look, especially when you compare it to the likes of the SsangYong Rodius. Having driven a second hand Rodius for myself, I can only hope that they have improved the SsangYong driving experience as well as their design philosophy.

It is as wide and long as the Land Rover Freelander, taller than the Range Rover Evoque and it is set to rival the Kia Sportage.

Interior wise, not much has been disclosed regarding the SIV-1, thought they have confirmed that it will contain four independent bucket seats and a ‘mobile audio system’; whatever that is. We are guessing that this car will eventually reach production, and we are excited to see how it is received at Geneva, but it is definitely a good move from SsangYong, if they want their brand to excel.

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Welcome

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Welcome to Virtual Software LTD, from here on out we will be looking at the future technology and software which you can expect to occupy our cars and everyday lives in the not too distant future. It seemed to make sense that we should focus on the automotive side of things as there is most definitely change in the air, what with a constant technological race for the next source of power. Cars are also the first products to be integrated with more common technology as it evolves, i.e most cars are now being built to integrate with smart phone. Even if you own a second hand car, there are easy ways of giving it the modern touch, buy simply installing a Bluetooth compatible radio which will play your iTunes from your iPhone, without having to plug it in!

Cars are becoming so computerised, that there is talk of some models which can be serviced (to an extent) by downloading the latest updates directly onto your car from the internet, as you would on a computer or a smart phone. Servicing your car has never sounded so attractive!

So join us as we learn about all the new car parts and software that the technological world has to offer, and witness it change your life!

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