I never miss the Wednesday Nation because of your column. Keep up the good work. I want to take a road trip down to South Africa and back. Between the three beasts below, which 2017 models would you recommend in terms of speed, efficiency, durability as well as the one that will not give me major mechanical issues?
Thank you for the kind word. Of the three models you mention, one of which I'm not sure I'm allowed to discuss on the basis that I have an alleged dislike for that brand, a dislike unbeknown to me — the Discovery is easily the fastest with the best roadholding abilities.
Efficiency will matter greatly on how often and for how long you hold the aforementioned speed, but again, from experience, the Discovery is the most impressive.
Durability is a clear Prado win, as is reliability.
Of the three, my recommendation would be the one from the brand I am accused of taking a hatchet to: the Pajero.
It straddles the middle ground in terms of speed, reliability and durability, and it has a nice balance of tarmac tendencies and off-road talent.
It is also the cheapest by far. The Prado would seem the obvious choice, but its roly-poly suspension does not make it very good on curvy roads, it costs a lot and it is a Toyota SUV, which means if you wander into an area of questionable security, you paint a conspicuous bullseye on your back and are begging to be relieved of your shiny wagon.
Why is my Toyota Ipsum guzzling copious amounts of fuel?
I am an ardent fan of your column and will welcome your insight on an issue with my 2005 Toyota Ipsum. I got it one and a half years ago. In those few months, I have replaced its 2AZ engine, computer and oxygen sensor, all in an effort to tame it’s weird guzzling. But it has been in vain. One mechanic suggested that it’s normal for a 2.4 litre engine, but I disagree. Nairobi to Nyahururu is roughly 190km. The vehicle consumes 80-plus litres to and fro. Is that normal, sir? I have on many occasions gone for the computer diagnosis without success. Another factor disturbs me: the “check engine” sign pops up each time the engine heats up, so does the “4wd” sign.
What might the problem be?
Burning 80 litres of fuel to cover 190km on what is clearly a smooth tarmac road is, quite frankly, insane to be honest.
That translates to 2.4km/l, which is unfathomable, not just in a Toyota Ipsum, but even in the ultimate supercars that we only see on the internet and in rap videos. Hell, it is unfathomable on a 22-wheeler Scania truck, for crying out loud!
As I write this I am marooned on the shores of Lake Turkana at a place called Loiyangalani because I dared to drive here in an unserviced 2.7 litre Prado that quickly made short work of my coffers, and those coffers were not thin at the start, but even then, I'm not going through 80 litres of petrol per 190km.
The fuel consumption of your Ipsum is terrible. Start by pulling an error code based on the Check Engine Light to find out what the problem is.
I can make a few guesses but I don’t want to, just get the code to be 100 percent sure what the associated problem is. As for the flashing 4WD light, have the transfer case in your car looked at to determine whether it’s a mechanical problem or a faulty sensor.
Stop with the guesswork and random replacement of electronic sundries in the car because you are clearly wasting money in the exercise since none of those replacements has worked so far. It’s time to handle things soberly and effectively.
As for the mechanic who alleges that the fuel consumption is normal for a 2.4 litre … perhaps it's time you found somebody else to handle the problem.
Can I sue this thief of a dealer?
Baraza, I bought a car from an established dealer only to later discover that he lied about the mileage. The [odometer] is reading 76,531km while the internet verification is reading 172,556km at inspection point. Any legal action I can take?
Yes, but it won’t lead anywhere. You could sue the dealer for false advertising but the dealer will simply claim the vehicle was like that when it was handed to them for selling, meaning you have to start tracing former owners, none of whom will admit to the subterfuge if you even manage to find them in the first place.
So, yes, you can take legal action, but it will not bear any fruit besides wasting your time and money. This is a clear-cut case of “accept and move on”.
I want to manufacture a car …
I thank you for educating us about cars. I have become such a loyal reader, I even dug through the archives to read what you had written earlier. I am a young dreamer who has always wanted to make my own car. Having recently finished high school, thanks to your Wednesday articles, insight from friends and Google, I have been able to learn a lot about what it takes to make a car. Now I think I’m ready to venture into the “unsuccessful” industry of car manufacturing in the country. Keep up the good work, I hope to meet you in person someday.
Trying your hand at car manufacturing when fresh out of high school is, shall we say, extremely ambitious of you. At that stage in life, unless you have tonnes of money lying somewhere, the undertaking will be more of a fool’s errand than a noble cause.
You will need plenty of cabbage to set up a technology centre that will handle R&D for your car(s), a design studio where your car will be rendered in two and three dimensions before you settle on a design and offices for mundane corporate stuff like HR and finance. All these cost money.
Then you will need to fill these buildings with people because no way on earth are you building a motor vehicle by yourself. These people have to be professionals if you are to move forward, and professionals don’t come cheap.
You will need advisers and managers to help you navigate the murky waters that are corporate captaincy as well as show you the intricacies of the automotive industry.
Having spent hundreds of millions setting up the company and hundreds more millions developing a car by paying engineers to do the actual development based on your whims and/or vision, you will spend yet more hundreds of millions establishing a factory to produce the vehicles.
Then hundreds of millions more marketing your product while the government prunes your kitty in the name of taxation.
You could try and go the cottage way of assembling a car in a barn behind your house but you still need money for this and more importantly, the British motoring industry has shown us that this path is not sustainable and you will either fold or be assimilated into a megacorporation if you’re lucky. Volkswagen is adept at swallowing wallowing car companies that show promise but are unable to hold their heads above water.
So, in summary, you need tonnes of money to realise this dream of yours. A shorter and more sensible path to achieving this goal is spending those multiple hundreds of millions either buying an existing car company — Saab would have been a nice investment but it’s gone, though I hear Lamborghini may soon need a new owner — but if you want to establish your own brand and still skip all the above-mentioned creation protocols, apparently you can buy a car company from China by paying them the princely sum of $100 million after which they will even build a factory for you as part of the deal in your country of choice after you pass through the requisite bureaucracy, and what’s more, you get to give this company a name that you pick yourself.
That just about sums it up. To create your own car, you need several tons of money whichever way you go.
How do you rate the Honda Fit in terms of fuel efficiency?
Trust you are well. I am looking into buying a Honda Fit Hybrid RS 2012/13. I would like to know the rating, usability and fuel efficiency. I will travel long distances, hence fuel efficiency is key.
The Fit Hybrid is very usable. It is compact, which makes it manoeuvrable, and its design language maximises on space, making it very practical. Fuel efficiency is not worth discussing: a small hatchback with a hybrid power train is not similar to an oil rig on fire as far as burning fuel is concerned, so there is nothing to worry about on that front.
However, long-distance travelling is not the forte of these tiny city runabouts. To have a fuss-free experience, you may need something a little bigger.
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