And it was glorious. For reference, here are some of the kind of cars I have driven before;

  • Mitsubishi Spacestar 1.6
  • Citroën C1 (first gen non facelift, facelift and second gen)
  • Honda Jazz Hybrid
  • Kia c’eed 1.6
  • Renault Clio IV
  • Opel Corsa
  • Volkswagen Jetta
  • Suzuki SX4
  • Suzuki Swift
  • Suzuki Alto
  • Volvo V40 D3

That should be plenty to make the point... Basically none with much more than a 100 hp (Volvo excepted). And all have been kind of forgiving economy cars. So, jumping into a turbocharged 2.3L 4-cylinder AWD sedan packing about 260 hp is a bit of a change.

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Transmission / Shifting

I’m ashamed to admit it’s been the first time in ages that I’ve stalled a car trying to pull away from a full stop. Those clutch engagement spots take some getting used to, and so does the fact that I need to add a bit more throttle. Modern economy cars are so forgiving you can basically pull away without putting your foot down on the throttle, just by lifting the clutch slowly.

Anyway, it got better during the drive but it will take some time before I properly shift and match the revs a bit better for the downshifts.

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Powerrrrr

God, that turbo is so much fun. You just keep on having that push in your back way, waaaaay past the legal speed limits. Going from 90 km/h (55 mph) up to 160 km/h (100 mph), in sixth gear with that push in your back and taking just a handful of seconds.... Just puts a great big smile on my face.

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Meanwhile, below 2500rpm it’s a perfectly normal driving car. Just cruising along behind a bus at that 55 mph in sixth, is no problem or extra effort or uncomfortable. You are just a light push on the throttle away from having all the power you need to overtake when the gap is there.

Sound

OK, it’s fairly loud inside. Right now I blame it on studded snow tires. The custom exhaust by the previous owner doesn’t help but it’s not really droning and it sounds pretty pleasant in fact. Here’s a quick video. Didn’t get the GoPro positioned quite right so the sound is a bit muted, but if you turn your volume up a bit you’ll get a decent idea. Also don’t mind the less than ideal shifting;


Issues

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So, there are a few issues. Inside are some cosmetic issues;

- Driver side sunvisor ‘leg’ is broken and held in place with tape. Don’t care, never use it
- Some scratches on the plastic in the center console, shit happens, it’s a 12 year old car
- Rear windows have been tinted with plastic foil stuff or something, got to get rid of that.
- Some damage on the driver side interior door panel

I also noticed a few electrical issues. Right side turn indicator blinks twice as fast as the left side for example. The electric windows weren’t controllable from the driver door panel, turned out that was due to the battery change. And the one that is the most pressing for next inspection in six months... the airbag symbol comes on every now and then. Will need to have that checked out for sure.

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Other issues are a leaky 2nd catalytic converter, some bushings that will need to be replaced (not urgently), two minor fluid leaks due to worn seals/gaskets though upon inspection of where the dealer described them, all areas were dry. Still have to check it out again though. Air conditioning does not seem to work, the translation from the inspection report says something about leak in A/C radiator, but I assume they mean the condensator. Not a hugely expensive fix and it’s only nice weather for like 2 weeks out of the year here so I don’t need it fixed urgently anyway.

Written down it seems like a fair bit of issues but none really impact the driving or safety right now, or it’s ability to pass inspection, except for the airbag light and those seals that need to be replaced.

Plans

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So, next step is to start planning out the fixes, but first I will need summer tires. It’s legally required here to have snow/winter tires from the 1st of December until the 31st of May, so the studded snow tires that are on now are a bit of an issue. Since I won’t be able to escape swapping rubber anyway, I will get some new summer tires instead of all-season or three-season or something. Looking at either Falken FK453 in the original 215/45R18 size or put 225/45R18 on for more choice and in that case looking at Michelin Pilot Sport 4... Both seem to be good performing tires but on the expensive side. Anyone got some more suggestions? Local choice is fairly limited but I might consider ordering online from somewhere. Luckily, 225 will fit the OEM wheel as the studded tires are also 225.

After the tires are sorted, drive the car, enjoy it, start making the fixes. If and when it passes the next inspection I will start thinking about whether to mod it with suspension bits or other fun stuff. Don’t want to sink too much money in though, it’s still a 12-year old car.