Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Cars!

I've got my N license in British Columbia a few weeks ago! This means I can drive alone in a car, but only with one passenger, and restrictions like no electronics usage etc. After two years, assuming I'm still alive and not maimed anyone, I can be upgraded to a full license and will be able to use a gps (yes!) and carry more people.

Now cars here in Canada are extremely cheap, from a Singaporean's perspective. A brand new Mazda 3 GT for example is about 25k. EXTREMELY CHEAP. That would probably cost like 3,4 times more back home.

Now, I'm one of those idiots that care about investing for retirement and personal finance. Can I afford a car? Easy. Can I justify it? No. So, I've opted instead to go with car shares. There's lots of car shares (and rental companies) here in Vancouver. I've barely over a year of experience, and some carshares need over 2 years of driving experience (e.g. Zipcar, Evo). The two that allow, as afar as I know is Modo and car2go.

Haven't driven much with car2go, mainly because it's a bit more expensive than Modo. Modo's about 2.50 for half an hour, but car2go runs about 32 cents a minute, so even a ten minute jaunt costs a fair bit. It gets cheaper if you get one of the packages, e.g. an hour is 13 bucks, or 22 cents a minute. But Modo's five bucks an hour for their regular vehicles.

The key advantage of car2go is they're great for one-way trips. You don't need to return the vehicle to its start point, so long as it's parked at a proper parking space. I try my best to plan out one way trips because the smart car is good fun, but it rarely occurs.

Now the smart for two is a pretty solid vehicle. I love the throttle and brakes, and the car is so easy handle. A few things I thought might not be so good, especially going downhill, is that I need to crane my head down in order to see the traffic lights.  Visibility on the rear isn't the best either. Overall, it's a fun peppy car. Haven't taken it on the highway sadly, I'd be keen to see how it handles there.

Modo is Vancouver's big car share co-op, and the one I've been driving the last few weeks. I've driven a few cars and thought I'd put down some thoughts about them:

Honda Fit
Compact, throttle is a bit more responsive than I like. I'm sorry to say while I think this is a brilliant ride for the price, I thought it was a bit forgettable. It's.... a car.

Fiat 500
I really want to like this car, and I will definitely rent it again, but it's the most twitchy car I've driven so far, it's rather scary when driving on a wet highway. The engine noise is also the loudest of all the cars I've tried. It's fun to hear the revs, but I soon got sick of it. The auto transmission also shifts around the 50km/h mark, which is annoying. The steering has zero feel, but it's super maneuverable.

I love the interior though, it's so kitsch! Unfortunately I don't like the rpm/kmph display, it's confusing with the RPM reading on the inner ring, and the kmph on the outer ring with a gear/cog motif that makes it difficult to read exactly how fast you're going.

Still, it's a very popular vehicle and I've not been able to rent it when I needed a car. There's also other variants that I want to try, like the 500C (convertible! oooooh) and the performance model, the Abarth. Not a big fan of the later - don't like the text emblazoned on the sides, and the interior is a boring single tone, not kitsch enough for my taste.

While this has 4 seats, there's no way anyone's going to be sitting in the back lol. Well, maybe if they're like, tiny. One great thing about this car, only two doors, brilliant. That way, you only need to buy one bazooka, point it to the right, and let it rip when you see a t-rex trying to get in. Don't reload when driving, that's unsafe.

Mazda 3 Sport
OMG this car rocks! It's got good enough power for hillclimbs and getting on the highways. Interior is boring and un-kitsch but super comfy. Throttle is... not super direct, I feel there's a slight lag but it's a good thing. I thought I could control it the easiest. Dashboard is boring and utilitarian.Two usb ports and a 12v socket in the center console.

Handling is pretty solid, I felt very confident on the highways or narrow roads. I've also got brand bias, as I'm a big fan of the MX5 and FD3S, both of which I've never ridden lol. #initiald

If I ever needed to buy a car, this is probably at the top of my list. The main problem: It has 4 doors, meaning 3 extra egress points for velociraptors to enter the vehicle. It's expensive to buy like, 3 mini guns as anti-velociraptor defense.

Toyota Prius C
I think this car is brilliant for city driving in mostly flat area; it doesn't have the strongest engine and you can hear it whine when you're on-ramping a highway or climbing steep hills. And New Westminster has steep hills! Not the steepest in BC but yeah I can easily floor the throttle and the car just.... tries its best to accelerate. The throttle positioning is also a bit tight; I had to keep shifting my foot to get a good place else I'd be trying to push against the right wall.

The throttle is great at low speed and for city driving, I feel it's very optimized for that range. When on the highways, yeah, flooring it doesn't really do much lol. Steering is very solid, it doesn't feel as "on rails" as the Mazda 3, but I felt very confident with it. I like the brakes as well, it was easy to slow down without over compensating.

The shifter does feel a bit cheap, but usable. No dashboard behind the wheel - the speedo is in the center and it's a digital readout. I thought this was a great speedo unit - unambiguous and easy to read. Definitely the car I had the easiest time keeping my speed with. I also think it was the only car I've driven so far that has a dash cam.

And yes, this car has 4 doors, which presents a problem when being assaulted by dinosaurs that know how to open doors. Consider buying one anti personnel mine, aimed at yourself, it's cheaper and you'd probably feel less pain than being eaten alive by dinosaurs.

Mazda 2
Eh, this is like Mazda's analog to the Honda Fit. I'd say the inside of the car is better built than the fit, but the throttle response is a bit too sensitive for my taste. Handling is good, and small size means easy to park. Eh.


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