Make driving more social

MM Title Bar

Ever got into an altercation on the road? Saw a person you fancied at the traffic lights? Got that feel-good song on in the car? Never knew how to show your emotion without taking your hands off the steering wheel?

Social networking is taking over people’s lives. Walking down the street, most people will have their head buried in their phone updating their status on their favourite social network. The world is now connected to the internet wherever you go, even in your car so why not be social as well. An emerging product known as MotorMood will allow you to do that. Give that person a flirty wink, or show that you are having a good day by displaying a smile.

MotorMood’s base product is a remote-controlled back-lit decal attached to the rear windscreen. It is activated by a remote control on the driver’s sun-visor, with each decal using its own remote. Cars can have as many decal stickers as they wish but at the moment MotorMood are preparing to start selling the ‘Classic 3’ just in time for Christmas with a happy, angry and flirty smiley face. New faces and messages will be available soon. Initial plans are to start selling in the USA and then bring this innovative product to the European market including the UK.

MM mockup

MotorMood is a start-up company based in Orange, California in America. Three young graduates working hard towards their goal of owning and running their own business. Their kickstarter campaign goes live in a few weeks so keep you eyes peeled for that and go ahead and take a look.

First Drive: 2013 Audi A3

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Audi, BMW, Volkswagen and Mercedes have been battling it out to be the best German automaker for years and this year Audi has released their 2013 A3 setting the bar rather high for the other manufacturers to follow. The car is noticeably bigger than the previous model but you only feel it when you walk around it.

 

As soon as you sit in the semi bucket seats, not factory standard you automatically feel like you belong in the driver’s seat. It is a place, which will be comfortable for driving for hours on end. Arranging the driving position is a breeze, as steering column can be moved up and down as well as closer or further away from the driver.

Gadgets are abundant on this car from the screen that neatly pops in to the dash when not in use all the way to Audi MMI system that lets you to play with pretty much every setting on the car.

 

S-Tronic Gearbox needed a little getting used to at first, smooth up and down changes in D and if there is need to overtake downshift with the flappy paddle. When I first drove it, the auto box didn’t  hang on to gears and will up change at around 2000 revs to save fuel that annoyed me when I wanted to push the car.  Drop the gearbox in to Sport mode and this quiet car completely changes. It feels like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde made a car. The gear changes are more savage holding onto gears as long as possible pushing you to blip just below the red line. In Sport the engine noise can be heard in the cabin however is not intrusive to the driver.

After sitting idle in the car did I realize that the Audi MMI let me personalize my driving experience, determining how long I wanted the lights to stay on after I locked the car, volume of the radio at start-up and so on. As being a bit of a tech freak, I went through all the options available.

 

Driving a car like this puts you in a false sense of security that the roads are actually smooth and supple even though they are ridden with potholes, right up to the point you hit one and damage your new alloy wheels. I’m normally for the larger option wheels on most cars but I feel with this car, the ride will change for the worse if you opt for the larger option wheels. One thing I missed were the Xenon headlights which do not come as standard, and was overlooked on the options list.

 

A word of warning, if you intend on purchasing such a car, go with a budget set and with options marked out as the amount of options on the list can be time-consuming and you will soon see the price rising extensively. Other than that, it’s a great car and will surely stand the test of time.



Stats:

Power output: 105 bhp

CO2 emissions: 102 g/km

Fuel efficiency: Combined 72.4 mpg

Front wheel drive

For the love of driving gadgets

Gadgets have always made life easier, no matter what type of gadget it is. When man had a problem that he could not solve, another man created a machine that would solve it very easily.

These gadgets have found their way into our driving lives making them easier….. but after sitting down and pondering… are these gadgets making our lives easier or are they simply making us lazier?

ABS, airbags and something as simple as seat belts were all gadgets of yesteryear but now have become a standard feature in all cars.

will that happen with some of the other gadgets?

Parking sensors….. these seemingly harmless dots strategically placed on our car bumpers seem to be creeping into that standard list of gadgets. Before they were only a luxury available to large cars like the mighty Range Rover. In that car you needed all the help you could get to make sure you don’t scuff the wheels or damage the car behind you. For that reason I can agree with having parking sensors on big, hard to park cars, but come on, on a Toyota Aygo? That is just being plain lazy! when I head down to the High Street, I on occasion sit and watch people park their cars. 90% of people do not know how to park a car. (slightly exaggerated to give effect but you get my point). people are being too reliant on these sensors. There is no need to look in the mirrors, oh no that’s why we have parking sensors. But there is the flaw…. parking sensors don’t pick up bollards.

Parking Sensors
Parking Sensors

In the new Range Rover Evoque, there is a new extra which allows the driver to peek out at junctions without having to push his bonnet to far out. These cameras are a godsend. Instead of having to creep out into the main road to see if any cars are coming, just peek at the screen on the dash and make your decision accordingly. Just make sure they are clean otherwise they are clearly pointless.

Range Rover Evoque Surround Camera System
Range Rover Evoque Surround Camera System

Something else that is a great idea for the driver looking for parking in a busy area, but then ruined by going that little bit extra. BMW have an extra available on their new 1 series known as the Park Assist which will assess parking spaces for you when travelling under 20 mph. That is very cool and could come in very handy when the driver still has not gotten used to the dimensions of the car. But this is where it goes over the top. The car will then park itself, whereby the driver will only need to feather the throttle and the brake to ease it in. Doesn’t that defeat the point of learning how to parallel park?

Park Assist by BMW
Park Assist by BMW

I Love gadgets in cars, I am one of those geeks who will sit in a car before driving off testing out all the buttons and seeing what features are available, but some of them are just not needed.

 

Mercedes C63 AMG

The Mercedes C63 AMG is very special to me. The car is probably one of the most understated and only a true petrol head knows what lurks beyond the subtle exterior.

The car looks like any Mercedes C-class of recent, except for a few tiny things. The 6.3 AMG badges on the flared wheel arches and the quad exhaust give off hints of the power that the mighty engine holds. Not only that, but this specific car was relea­sed in conjunction with AMG’s 40th anniversary.

The engines are hand built at the AMG factory, and they are so proud of this that each engineer has his personal plaque stuck on each engine built.

The 6.3-litre V8 AMG engine coupled with a quad exhaust turns even the most serious of grown men into little children, giggling at the rumble of this mean machine. The car pumps out 451 bhp, which is plentiful.

When the car is brought to life, the exhaust sounds like you have angered the devil deep in the bowels of hell. When I took off with the car I wasn’t sure what sort of power I had beneath my right foot.

After I floored the accelerator, the car’s tail wagged a bit and I was propelled to excessive speed in a matter of seconds. It was alarmingly quick and serious attention is needed to avoid colliding into the car ahead.

To counter such speeds, the car needs an adequate braking system and I was extremely satisfied with the braking capabilities of the massive vented brakes. This car will shave miles off the speedo very swiftly and this gave me a ‘false’ sense of security.

In traffic, the car is as docile as a standard C-class; it has four doors and has a big enough boot for the shopping. The model I tested had the optional sat-nav, which pops out of the dashboard when you start up.

This car is typical Mercedes, with a well-built interior, covered in carbon fibre and leather. The seat is heavily bolstered and wraps around the driver tightly.

The car is fitted with a special ESP button, which is basically traction control. It has three settings, ON, ESP-Sport or OFF.

ESP-sport allows you to be naughty and light up the rear wheels but if you get it wrong the car will correct the driving line itself and keep you on the road.

There are a number of things that might keep you from buying this car: fuel consumption and price of tyres because you will go through a lot of them.