31st January 2010

Ford Fiesta S2000 rally car revealed

You’re seeing this message because the 4Car website has closed.

Launched ten years ago as an online companion for the TV show Driven, 4Car grew into one of the foremost sources of independent car reviews, news and features in the UK.

Unfortunately the current economic climate has made it difficult to keep the site running, especially without the justification of an accompanying TV show. In light of the large running costs and downbeat commercial market continuing into 2010, we have reluctantly decided to close the site.

We’d like to thank everyone who contributed to 4Car over the years, from the fantastic array of journalistic talent, to the team of dedicated technical personnel at C4, and of course the millions of loyal users who visited the site every month.

Happy motoring,

Dan Gilbert

(Former) Editor, 4Car

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31st January 2010

Do young drivers lack skills? Poll

A string of horrifying holiday crashes, many involving young people, has sparked a Carsguide reader backlash.

Parents and concerned drivers are calling for changes and improvements on all fronts to cut the carnage.  Many have asked about the safety systems in cars, with the emphasis on airbags, anti-skid brakes and ESP stability control, but there are also questions about driver training. Have your say in our poll at left.

“The idea of handing complete control of a complex machine like a motor car to a poorly trained operator is patently absurd, and obviously highly dangerous – yet that is what is happening every day. Young people have major car accidents, alone or with groups, with sickening regularity, and there is no evidence of the trend diminishing,” says Bob Watson, who is more than just another Carsguide reader. He is a former champion in race and rally driving, a Holden engineer and an experienced driver trainer who says Australia needs a comprehensive re-think on driving licenses.

“We need a top level re-think about the wellbeing of our young drivers, a program to train them properly, and a licence test that truly proves their ability to drive a car,” Watson says.  “The time may not be far away when heartbroken parents who have lost their child in a typical young-driver crash take the government to court for giving their child a licence to drive a car when, clearly, the child was not capable of doing so.

“When an authority such as VicRoads assumes the responsibility of checking whether a driver is capable of driving safely, through the Drive Test, and does not do so adequately, the authority has clearly failed to discharge its responsibility properly. It is called culpability.”

But readers are also concerned about the attitudes of hoons and other aggressive ‘Type A’ drivers on the road.  “It may be worth telling your readers of the consequences of bad road manners in other countries,” says Frank Hennessy, referring to an incident in Dubai when an Australia gave ‘the finger’ to an Arab driver.

“Locked up for 28 days. Then deported. That’s not all – had to give up the home, two cars, and made the wife move back to Australia.”  His verdict is straightforward and he wants the same sort of no-nonsense penalties in Australia.  “A pity we don’t have the same sort of punishment here,” says Hennessy.

For Watson, a bad attitude is still the result of poor training.  “Despite the many recent crashes causing loss of teenage lives, all the authorities seem to do is bemoan the fact that young people are driving stupidly, and discuss increasing penalties for irresponsible driving.  They overlook the fact that many of the young drivers who are killing themselves and their friends should not be driving,” he says.

To prove his point, he has done an in-depth analysis of the requirements for obtaining a license, from training through to the actual Drive Test.  “The government puts the onus fairly and squarely on learner drivers or their families to obtain adequate driver training the best way they can before applying for their P plates. Nothing is available from the government in the way of formal training.

“Courses are offered by organizations such as Murcotts Driving Excellence or AAMI, but many families cannot afford them. Professional lessons from a driving school are another option, but they are also expensive, and in most cases this type of instruction is confined to teaching the finer points of passing the licence test rather than teaching basic skills.”

Watson also worries about the current requirements for a minimum number of driving hours.  “Does the student get 120 hours of experience, or one hour of experience 120 times?,” he asks.  What is Watson’s solution? He wants proper training, but is not convinced it will happen.

“Cost is presumably the reason that there is no official procedure for formally training pre- P plate drivers. Revenue wise, it is far more attractive to gather traffic fines from motorists than to spend funds on the expensive infrastructure for young driver training.

Politically such training may also be a negative, because anything that delays the licencing  process or makes it more costly or difficult will be unpopular with young voters.”

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31st January 2010

Exclusive: TTAC Takes Apart Both Toyota Gas Pedal Assemblies – Denso Unit Looks Cheaper; Rumored To Be Recalled Too

In yesterdays post , we offered a bounty for anyone to open up both the CTS (bottom) and Denso (top) Toyota gas pedal assemblies. No one took us up, and no one anywhere else has done it, so we took it upon ourselves . So here they are, both e-pedal assemblies taken apart and examined, in our quest to understand if and what the significant differences are, and how Toyota’s possible “shim” fix would work.  On initial observation, it appears that the CTS is actually a more solidly engineered unit, in that the pedal pivots on a traditional and solid steel axle whose bearings are brass sleeves. The Denso: its whole pivot and bearing surfaces are flimsy-feeling plastic. But that can be deceptive, and we’re not qualified to judge properly if it is indeed inferior or superior. But according to sources within Toyota, the Denso unit will likely be recalled too. So the real question is this: are these units really the full source of the problem, or are they scape goats for an electronics and/or software glitch? Pictures and tear down examination and analysis follows:

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31st January 2010

Infiniti Compact rendered by avarvarii

While not yet very popular in Europe, Infiniti cars are considered in the US true alternatives for BMW and Audi. After Lexus have announced their Lf-Ch, Infiniti joins the downsizing trend and wants to produce a premium compact to go against the 1 Series and the A3. We expect the Infiniti to be a dynamic car with a sculptural design and an emphasis on performance that could really shake up BMW fans. With a low, wide stance and large wheels this could be the ultimate hot hatch, especially if we consider that Infinitis are generally well powered and well equipp

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30th January 2010

2010 Detroit Auto Show attendance beats ’09 by 65k

2010 Detroit Auto Show attendance beats ’09 by 65k

by Chris Shunk (RSS feed) on Jan 30th 2010 at 5:06PM

The 2009 edition of the Detroit Auto Show was depressing on a variety of levels, ranging from the number of automakers who either pulled out or didn’t bring anything new, to the industry’s general malaise as a whole. The show was upsetting on a regional level because attendance dropped.

Luckily, 2009 is in the books and 2010 appears to be better on nearly all fronts. While new introductions at the show seemed down this year again, the bright side is that more automakers participated and, perhaps more importantly for the struggling region, attendance was up in a big way.

The Detroit News reports that 715,000 men, women and children paid up to $12 to attend the show this year – up 65,000 from 2009′s dismal numbers. Part of the reason for the increase came courtesy of surprisingly good weather (for Detroit), while the overall outlook of the industry isn’t (quite) as dire as it was one year ago. Also, that higher attendance number happened despite the fact that the Audi display caught fire and cleared Cobo for one afternoon.

[Source: The Detroit News]

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30th January 2010

Honda Crosstour: Blockbuster or Bust?

It’s opening weekend of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and I’m racing against time and Mother Nature. I’m caught in a snowstorm on Interstate 80, wending my way through a blustery stretch of Utah’s Wasatch National Forest between All That I Love at the Egyptian Theater in Park City and the 6:30 p.m. showing of Hesher an hour north in Ogden.

Out the side windows the darkness is peppered by snow flurries and the halting progress of weekend traffic. Through the windshield is a sea of brakelights as ski-racked Subarus and salt-encrusted 4x4s shuffle down the steep grade of the snow-dusted interstate. A car two lanes over starts into a languid, right hand spin. The driver has locked the brakes and the semi truck a car length behind struggles to avoid contact. My girlfriend in the passenger seat gasps at both the unfolding scene and the possibility of missing a Natalie Portman premiere. My sister, seated behind her and snoring lightly, seems slightly less concerned.

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