Posts Tagged ‘test drive’

Test Drive: 2012 Fiat 500 Sport

On December 3, 2011, I test drove a new 2012 Fiat 500 Sport at Walter’s Fiat in Riverside, California. This Fiat’s exterior is Nero Black with the Nero Grigio Black interior. Under the hood is Fiat’s 1.4 liter inline 4 engine that produces 101 horsepower @ 6500 rpm and 98 lb-ft of torque @ 4000 rpm. It may be small, but good enough for city driving. The transmission is a 5 speed manual which is easy to shift. The dealer was asking $19000 for this Fiat. The price is just $1000 more than the build your own model with the same features on fiatusa.com, which was $18000. The Sport package comes with 16 inch aluminum wheels, a Bose sound system, Sport suspension, fog lights, a spoiler, and sportier front and rear bumpers. It definitely has a better fit and finish look than the 500 Pop, the base model. The 500 comes in other packages, such as the Lounge (the luxury model), The Pink Ribbon (in support of breast cancer), The Gucci (a Sport and Lounge mixed with red and green side stripes), and soon, there will also be the Abarth 500. It is the performance Fiat 500 model that won’t debut until sometime after the beginning of 2012. It will have a turbocharged 1.4 liter inline 4 engine that can make 160 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. This is one that will be worth test driving in the future. Let’s get back to my test drive. I walked into the dealer, and a really sweet Italian lady came up to me asking if I was interested in the Fiat. I told her that I wanted to drive a Fiat 500 sport with a 5 speed. We went outside, and there was a red one and a black one. I chose the black one. We went back inside so she could scan my driver’s license. When I sat in the Fiat 500, it was small. Even though it can seat four people, I would prefer not to seat more than two. What I did like about the Fiat was the sharp handling. When I started driving I drove around a traffic circle and it was easy to steer. The car wasn’t really fast, but good enough for a 1368cc engine. I have driven a 1969 VW Beetle with either a 1500cc or 1600cc a few times. It was slow, and I never got it passed 75 mph; however, it was certainly fun to drive. The Fiat can go faster than the Bug I’ve driven. The 5 speed manual was easy to shift. I try and focus more on driving than talking when driving a car that is stick shift, but I was able to talk to the saleswoman about Fiats, Alfa Romeos, and Italy. She was born in Italy and recently immigrated to the US. I visited Italy in June 2008, and I was telling her that I saw the first of the new Fiats on my trip. The new 500s debuted in either 2007 or 2008 for the Italian market, but they started coming to the states in early 2011 as 2012 models after Fiat bought out Chrysler. I just enjoyed talking to a woman that has an interest in cars like I do. She even said that she was going to buy one for herself. She said she wanted the Fiat 500 Pop. That’s my least favorite model of the 500. The test drive went well. I now have more of an interest in these cars. Overall, the Fiat 500 is a neat little machine. You would think that it’s a chick car, but that’s only if you buy a white 500c, the cabriolet, or any of the lighter colors. The Sport, Gucci, or Abarth models are more masculine looking. I do need a bigger car at times so it’s somewhat small for me, but for cruising around town or one day trips, it’s perfect. Parking would obviously be a piece of cake due to its size. If it were me, I’d stick with a red or black Sport, black Gucci, or Abarth 500. If you like small, funky cars, and want an alternative to a Mini Cooper or Volkswagen Beetle, the Fiat 500 is perfect. This car is not for you if you consider yourself to be a big person, or carry a lot of luggage or passengers. I hope these cars have a successful run in the United States, and that their consumers will be satisfied with their purchases.

 

Test Drive: 1997 BMW 750il (E38)

On November 23, 2011, I test drove a 1997 BMW 750il at Weir Canyon Honda in Anaheim, California. The car was in Arctic Silver and had a grey leather interior. It had 89,000 miles and the asking price was $9,900. The 750il has a 5.4 liter V12 engine that produces 326 horsepower @ 5000 rpm, and 361 lb-ft of torque @ 3900 rpm. The engine’s code name is M73B54. It was used in all E38 750’s and in the E31 8 series (850i and 850Ci). The transmission used in the 750il is a 5 speed automatic. What caught my eye about this 750il is that it’s almost an exact replica of the BMW 750il in the 1997 James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies.” The only differences between the car I drove and the one in the movie was that it had a grey interior, not a black one, and of course, it didn’t have the weapons and gadgets. The 750il in the 007 film had a variety of features such as a missile launcher that pops out of the sunroof, a steel wire cutter that pops out of the BMW hood ornament, spikes that drop from the rear bumper to flatten tires, reinflating tires, and a remote control to operate the car from a distance. You can watch the chase scene from the movie at the bottom of this article if you’d like. Now back to the test drive. I made an appointment ahead of time to take a look at the BMW. It was in the back of the dealership lot, so he went back to get the car. When it was brought out I thought that there was just one fishy thing about the car. It said on the windshield $6900. I found that hard to believe at first because it was in excellent condition except for some minor scuffs and the mileage was so low. I asked the salesman if the price was lowered. He said it was likely a mistake. I started the car, and I loved the start up sound of the 12 cylinder engine. I looked around the interior, and I noticed the car’s phone that was built in and on the center console. Whether it worked or not I didn’t know. It was cool but useless because most people would use a cell phone to make calls or texts, and it’s illegal for drivers to do so while operating a motor vehicle in California. I put the car in drive, and the only issue that’s not a big deal was that the parking brake didn’t disable itself all the way. I had to pull the pedal back a tiny bit to turn off the parking brake light. I let my foot off the brake pedal and it made a loud grunting noise. I thought it was the parking brake, but It wasn’t. I just realized that the brakes on the car were very strong, and they certainly were while driving it. This car has power, no doubt. I wouldn’t be surprised if it could do 0-60 mph in 5 seconds flat. I have never driven anything with a V12 engine in my life. It is most definitely a car that you would drive and not realize that you’re speeding in it if you are. You could easily do 60 mph in a 40 or 45 mph zone. I have previously driven a 1998 BMW 740il which had a 4.4 liter V8 a few months prior, and that car was excellent with handling. The 750il’s handing was also excellent and had a good turning radius. The V12 was very quiet, and the car was very smooth. I wanted to take it on the nearby 91 freeway; however, there was too much traffic to really get a good feel of the car. I was very happy with the test drive. When I got back to the dealer, I looked at the 750il more thoroughly. The silver paint was in excellent shape, with some minor scuffs here and there. I admired the sporty looking wheels on the car, which were 18 inch BMW M Parallel chrome wheels. These are the best looking wheels on any E38 BMW or any 90’s BMW for that matter. The tires on the wheels still had plenty of tread. The interior was in excellent shape. The backseats were comfortable and roomy. They can recline, and there was more than enough legroom for me. The trunk was massive, and had plenty of cargo space. I popped open the hood to take a look at the engine, or the heart of the beast. It was a little dirty, but it was beautiful. The engine could be steam cleaned for a nicer appearance. After “kicking the tires”, the salesman spoke to someone else at the dealer about the price. Supposedly, the car’s price was lowered from $9,900 to $6,900. At that price it would be a steal. The asking price for the 1998 BMW 740il that I test drove was just under $6,000 with less than 162,000 miles. This is so far the best car I have ever driven in my life. I would buy this car on the spot if I had the money without hesitation. If I bought it however, the results would be that my insurance rates would skyrocket, the maintenance costs would drain my wallet, and it would consume a lot of fuel. Remember, this is a $100,000+ car that we’re talking about here. Even though I love this car, I just don’t think it’s the right one for me. Maybe in the future if I have the money to buy one, but it’s a lot of car for a young person to have. The salesman told me that people have looked at the car that knew absolutely nothing about it. They only look at it because of the price. Many of them have said that it’s just too much car for them. If you’re not a car enthusiast, this is definitely not for you. If you are seriously looking into buying a car with a V12 engine, but not a highly expensive one to buy, then this car is perfect for you! If you’re a James bond fanatic, then you’d love this car also. This 750il is almost identical to the one in the movie. Perhaps in about 10 or 20 years, these cars will be classics! Do your own research before you buy, and I hope this article has been a good source for you if you’re looking to buy this “Ultimate Driving Machine!”

Photos taken by Weir Canyon Honda/Acura