Category Archives: Car

6 months in…

So, on 20th May this year, I received my latest shiny new car, a Mercedes C220 Sport Estate in Palladium Silver.

c220

Unfortunately, just under two weeks and just over 500 miles later I had the misfortune to be #3 in a 4 car sandwich while driving home from visiting a site in Surrey.

I made light of it at the time, with jests like “I wanted to see what it looked like with a Vauxhall Corsa hood ornament”, and “see if I could fit a Mercedes CLK in the nice big boot”.  The car wasn’t written off, although the repairs did cost in the region of £12k for parts alone, as advised by the repairing garage.  Fortunately I got it back as good as new after four weeks of hell driving a Peugeot 208 courtesy car.  Now, just over 6 months later I can say without reservation that I’m really glad I chose the C-class over the other options available to me.

After years of driving Ford and Vauxhall vehicles, I had never really appreciated the difference a premium car brand like Mercedes might make.  Gone are the little rattles and creaks from the dashboard and console, replaced with a silent refined atmosphere which disguises the speed and power of the engine.  I get better fuel economy out of this 2015 2.1 litre diesel Blutec engine than I did from the 2.0 diesel in the 2011 Insignia that preceded it!

There are also many small refinements which drive home just how carefully this car has been thought thru.  For example, after about five weeks of driving the car I realised that the little black strip visible on the ceiling from the drivers central mirror also contained a set of LED’s which showed proximity to other objects while reversing.  This being in addition to the usual beeps and the reversing camera that came as standard with this model. My failure to notice this before came from a combination of not needing them due to the Camera and beeping noises, and the angle at which I had the mirror set.  I initially thought the concealed illuminations “down” under the doors and mirrors were a silly affectation, but having been getting in to the car in dark car parks since the clocks changed, my mind has been changed here too.

I wonder if I’ll still love the car as much in another 3 years time?  🙂

 

6 Months Later…

Okay, so I’m not very good about keeping my promises to post on here more often!! Hopefully that’s about to change, and more about that in a few minutes.

Quite a bit has happened since I last posted. Most particularly of note would be the delivery of my nice shiny new car on 20th May, closely followed by me and it being #3 in a 4 car sandwich no less than 20 days and 1046 miles later. As I write this post, the car is still with the repairers, and I’ve now been driving the courtesy car for as many days as I’ve driven the Mercedes!  I haven’t gotten around to taking some nice pictures of the new car yet either.

My PLEX Library is now up to over 480 films, and more than 2000 episodes of 110 different TV Series’.  I’m working my way through my DVD’s slowly, but I’ve not found a way to Rip them that’s totally to my liking as yet; my current process is fairly slow, and results in files that are rather larger than I would like!

Anyway, I’ve decided to try and re-boot my technical interest once again. I made the decision some years ago that I’d allow myself to be drawn in to the world of Management rather than being a tecchie, and while I don’t necessarily regret that decision, I have found of late that I feel as though I’m loosing some of the technical skills which allow me to add my particular value in the role that I currently hold, so I’ve signed up for a year’s licence for Cisco’s VIRL programme, so that I can play with, and brush up on some of the newer solutions that I’ve missed out on in recent years, including NX-OS, and IOS-XE, as well as allowing me to play with F5’s, and Palo Alto firewalls in their virtual flavours.  I’ll endeavour to report back here on my findings, and any useful technical blurb that I find, in the hope that at some point, someone might find it useful.

So, following hot on the heels of this post will be my first technical issue, identified while preparing to set up VIRL under VMWare Workstation for the first time.

 

3½ Years already?

Amazingly, it’s been 3½ years since I wrote about the arrival of my Insignia, and it’s time for me to be ordering my next vehicle.  I’ve got a bit more of an interesting choice to make this time around, with some more luxurious vehicles in the running.

Realistically, the choice is between these:

  • BMW 320d EfficientDynamics (163Bhp)
  • Mercedes C220 CDI Bluetec SE (170Bhp)
  • Audi A4 2.0TDIe SE (136Bhp)

Or, I could drop back a band and choose from the following (and get a bit of cash back)

  • Vauxhall Insignia 2.0CDTi Tech Line (140Bhp)
  • Ford Mondeo 1.6TDCi Eco Titanium (115Bhp)

The Insignia/Mondeo option is a bit of a last resort if I can’t find one of the first three that I like;  I’m nervous about the Insignia because I currently drive a fully loaded “Elite” and know I’ll miss the whistles and bells if I drop down to the “Tech Line”.  The Mondeo I didn’t like when I test drove it 3½ years ago, and not sure the smaller engine would do it any favours!

So I’ve been out and tried all three of them on for size.

Given that I’m looking for the estate version to help carry around a certain daft greyhound, that means the Audi “Avant” model, the BMW “Tourer” model, or the Merc “Estate”.  I’ve been able to rule out the Audi already as I simply couldn’t fit in the drivers door.  It wasn’t even a question of my being on the large side;  I put the seat back as far as it would go and sat my posterior down on the seat, and promptly banged my head as I tried to get in.  My knees were around my chin trying, so I gave up pretty quickly!

I could fit quite comfortably in both the 3-series and the C220.  The 3-series felt rather dated inside, and the fit-out is nowhere near as nice as the C220, so I think I know where this is leading!

I’d like to retain the heated seats, and definitely have gotten used to having parking sensors at the front and rear, so I’m hoping I can upgrade the trim to the “Sport” version on the C220, even if that does mean it comes with a Satnav system which I don’t particularly want!

So it rather feels as though the decision is made already!

April Already?

This evening while faffing about with Websites and things, I realised that it’s April already, and that I’ve not updated this site with any new content Since January!

I really must make more of a conscious effort to update my witterings here, even if they are seldom read by anyone other than myself!

So… what’s new?  Probably not much!

  • I’ve driven nearly 18,000 miles in my (no longer quite so new) car in the last 9 months!
  • I’m getting to know the road between Home and Chichester extremely well indeed!  (for Work!)
  • I’m still working too hard!
  • I’m still just as much of a geek as ever!

I think this year is going to see some interesting changes for me in a number of areas.  I expect that in January next year, I’ll look back on this post and think – Yes, I was right!   Watch this space!

So I’ve refreshed this site with a new theme!  I expect I’ll be buggering about with it for a while!

I’ve helped my cousin and her man launch a new Website for their business.  Why not pay a visit to www.heathmorgan.co.uk and have a gander?

Now I really MUST make sure that I find some new content to put on this website more often!

Finally!

After what seems like an eternity, my new car is here!

My Vauxhall Insignia Elite Sports Tourer

It’s rather nice to drive, positively gliding along the Dual Carriageways. I’m glad I went for this rather than the Ford Mondeo Estate. Visibility in this seems far better than in the 5-door hatchback I tested.

We haven’t tried Tinker in the back yet, that’s a job for the weekend and two people, as the Automatic Tailgate might be slightly confusing and unsettling for him for the first few uses.  The Interior looks quite elegant compared to the older cars I’ve driven:

Insignia Interior

Insignia Interior - closeup of Central console

Insignia Interior - Dashboard


I initially had a problem using the USB port with a USB Memory Stick. Aside from the fact that it needs to be a fairly short stick to prevent it being hit by the centre console armrest when it’s folded down, it seemed to insist on playing the files in a strange order. Not a major problem for Music, but something of an inconvenience when listening to an Audiobook! I haven’t yet tried it with my iPhone, so that’s something else to put on the list of things to do!

More photos and feedback to follow in due course!

Vehicular Visions

I’ve been looking thru my old photographs, and have been reminiscing about the cars I’ve had over the years.

Prompted mostly by the news that my New car will be delivered next week, I’ve found some pictures of the recent cars I’ve driven/owned in recent years

My first car was a dented old Black 1984 “B” registration Ford Sierra “Laser”. This was a 1.6 Petrol car, and once I had it running well it performed pretty nicely. I actually sold it for about what I paid from it, having driven it in to the ground while I was learning to drive and it’s rusty bodywork was threatening to let it down at it’s next MOT test.

The replacement was a White 1988 “E” reg Austin Maestro. This one was a 1.3 ltr Petrol and was nothing but trouble after I bought it. It had heating problems, Electrical Problems, Clutch problems, and eventually needed a new engine which cost nearly as much as the car! After about 2 years of driving it I became totally fed up with it being so unreliable so I traded it in against a “nicer” more modern car.

No photos of either of these two, but being the Geek that I am, I have photos of the cars ever since.

Next came the 1995 “M” registration Vauxhall Astra. This was the first car that I chose based on what I would like rather than what I could afford or get my hands on.

I took the photo to help me with selling the car;  Unnecessarily as it turned out.  But then I decided I wanted a photo of the replacement, and it’s sort of become a habit to take a photo of the car!

My 1995 Vauxhall Astra just before sale

I actually kept this car for about 7 years, having paid about £6,500 for it when it only had 6,500 miles or thereabouts on the clock. I loved it’s little 1.4i Hi-Torq engine which could leave a 1.6 ltr ford standing and give a 1.8ltr a damn good run for it’s money. This one suited me because it was 3-door and looked a little sporty even though it wasn’t really. It saw me through one fairly serious prang, and by the time I sold it, it had nearly 90,000 on the clock.

The Astra was eventually replaced by my first Company car; A 2005 “05” registration 130Bhp Vauxhall Vectra 1.9CDTi SXI Diesel.

My First Vauxhall Vectra (2005)

I drove this for the requisite 3 years plus a couple of months before it was replaced by the next Vectra.

My current car is a 2008 “08” registration 1.9CDTi “Design” 150Bhp which had a few more whistles and bells, but the interior felt somewhat more plasticky and not as high standard as the previous Vectra, despite being a better model. This one had partial leather seats, which got really REALLY hot in the sunny weather. It had a squeaky drivers seat that has plagued me from Day One for the last three and a bit years, so in some ways I won’t be sorry to see it go.

It looks rather dirty in this picture, courtesy of some Seagulls, and some hot and dusty days just after downpourings of rain!

My 2008 Vauxhall Vectra "Design"

It performs well, and has great acceleration and handling, but the feel and creaky noises from the plastic fixtures and fittings, not to mention the squeaky chair make me feel the build standards took a nosedive when this one was made.

Here’s hoping the forthcoming new arrival will be significantly better!  Rest assured either way I’ll be mentioning my thoughts here!

Decision!

Since last week I’ve been grappling with a difficult decsision.

What new car to have!

I had a choice of four possibilities open to me.  These were:

  • Audi A3 1.6 TDi S Line Sportback (105bhp)
  • BMW 118d SE (143bhp)
  • Vauxhall Insignia 2.0CDTi Elite ecoFLEX (160bhp)
  • Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi Titanium X (140bhp)

I pretty much ruled the A3 and BMW 118 out immediately due to size.  Being the size and shape that I am (ahem) I thought I’d need a slightly larger car.

I then reasoned that I’d find an Estate version somewhat beneficial these days because of a certain four legged friend, so I started looking seriously at the Mondeo and Insignia, trying to decide.

This proved to be anything but easy!  The majority of people I spoke to recommended the Mondeo, but I’ve historically preferred Vauxhall’s to Fords.  I have nothing against Ford but liked Vauxhall’s better.  So I decided the only option was to try and test drive!

The local Ford and Vauxhall garages were exceedingly unhelpful.  None of the local Vauxhall garages had the Estate version of the Insignia, so I resorted to testing a colleagues’ Insignia Hatchback out one Lunchtime.  I found it Ok but my intial impression was that the visibility was quite poor due to a small rear window and wing mirrors that were almost triangular.   “Lookers” Ford initially gave me quite a runaround, with the Colchester branch first saying they didn’t have a Mondeo Estate available at all (same story as the Vauxhall Garage really), but then”Lookers” in Clacton saying that they didn’t have one… but (wait for it!) … Colchester did!

I eventually managed to test drive a 2.2 Mondeo CDTi Estate on Saturday but found it exceedingly dissapointing.

Finally I made the decision, and the order is in… for the Insignia.

Vauxhall somewhat pretentiously call it the “Sports Tourer”, and it does look quite smart.  This is the colour I’ve chosen .. “Technical Grey” apparently.

Insignia

I should take receipt some time in June!   Full spec here

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