Francisco is looking for a car: part 1.
A late June morning. Francisco sets out with destination the industrial area in search of dealerships that might have what he needs.
The first dealership he arrives at is Safe Motoring.
Hanson Heron 1.8 Ti
Right after walking into the Safe Motoring dealership, Francisco was greeted by a saleswoman. After telling her what he was looking for, the saleswoman took him to the Heron. Upon a first look at the car, the strong blue and the simple styling (specially on the rear) were off putting, but Francisco decided to give the car a chance.
Construction wise it was pretty standard, monocoque structure, all around independent suspension, front transverse engine sending the power to the front wheels…two liter engine, which might fatten the tax horsepower rates, but if it’s good enough it could be given a pass. 6 speed manual transmission, complies with the rules for the B license…interior was more than adequate as well. The quoted fuel economy of 4.3 l/100k and claims from the saleswoman that it was quite reliable sealed a test drive for the Heron the following Monday.
Keika Hop Junior
The saleswoman then took Francisco to the next car, the Hop Junior. This made Francisco scratch his balding head, as Keika is known to be a track car company. But nevertheless, he gave the Hop a chance. The styling was again a bit too retro for its own good, and the rear felt bare; under the bonnet rested a 1.6 liter engine, which should keep tax horsepower rates not too high…but it was a v6. Such a small V6 will probably be a pain to repair in case of a breakdown, even if it’s supposed to be quite reliable, and the body and chassis were made of untreated steel, meaning it’s susceptible to rusting and corroding. This is not a car for driving practices. Out of Francisco’s shortlist.
Mitsushita Jesta 1.2J
The next car the saleswoman took Francisco to was the Jesta 1.2J. What was all the outdated styling about? He was shopping for 2015 models, not 2005! Anyways, the tiny Jesta seemed to get the job done in theory; the diminutive hatchback looked good on paper, but the bad fuel economy for the size and power, as well as the bland styling and the fact that despite how small it was it was relatively pricy to repair, combined with lower safety, made it go out of the shortlist.
FM City 13ET
The last car in the Safe Motoring dealership was the FM City 13ET. While the looks were truly offputting, Francisco decided to give it a chance. The worst offender was when the saleswoman mentioned the driver aids were basic, though: the car only includes ABS. That’s going to be unsafe for the pupils and a wheel peeler, not going to happen; out of the shortlist.
CSM Pidge PE.
Garum Motors was the second dealership Francisco visited in his unending quest. After shaking hands with the salesman there and telling him what he needed, the first car he was shown was the Pidge PE. Once again, the looks were off putting, but you can’t judge a book by its cover. Interior was adequate – and a bit more refined than the average car he had seen so far – adequate safety, manual transmission, etc.
But this car had some serious flaws. Worse than expected fuel economy, little runoff after peak power and almost no overdrive. Sadly a package that could’ve been nice went wrong - and out of the shortlist.
Francisco was taken to the CS15 afterwards. He knew this must have been a mistake, he wasn’t looking for a diminutive coupé. But before leaving this car, Francisco left the dealership and came back with a Mario costume and a banana bouquet. Some people say a CS15 was seen around Malaga throwing bananas at other cars’ wheels.
A car Francisco was more eager to look into, his inspection began: the safety systems looked a bit outdated, and the interior wasn’t that nice to begin with. The engine was also on the bigger side at 1.9 liters and 4 cylinders, and while the fuel economy was good, the five speed manual had no overdrive. To top it all off, 150hp was way too much power for these first time kids.
The car was just not what Francisco was looking for; he was sad to see a car that looked promising go wrong like that. Out of the shortlist.
Francisco had also realized the crossover craze might have a reason to exist. Asking the salesman about them, he was taken to the rugged looking urbanroader. It didn’t look half bad either! Manual transmission? Check! Advanced safety? Check!
But Francisco would stop ticking boxes soon. The interior was simply bare, with the rear seats being coupe-like. Fuel economy is not that good either, and the brakes looked quite small. After thinking about it for a while, Francisco finally chose to give the “urbanroader” a chance, although he was skeptical about it.
Shromet Radiant RC
Next up was an American vehicle, the Shromet Radiant. Quick checks: manual transmission? Check. Naturally aspirated engine, should make it more reliable, and also quite small for that sweet low tax, and okay fuel economy. On the cons? Really bare interior and a tad too much power for Francisco’s taste, 20hp short of the oNe.e.
But then again the interior had five full seats, and advanced safety and driver aids, and also it managed to be more comfortable than some of the other offerings yet thanks to a soft suspension setup. A test drive was booked for this one, even though Francisco was skeptical about it due to the high power output.
TSR Kazuma Base.
After a good lunch at Francisco’s usual bar, Málaga Wagons was the next dealership visited. And to honour its name, the salesman took Francisco to a station wagon. The Kazuma looked good, if very 2007, and Francisco wasn’t sure such a long car was a good idea for a first time driver. Most importantly, it was a four seater wagon. That didn’t make any sense.
The manual transmission was there, and all the interior amenities were there, but then the salesman informed Francisco there could be some difficulties owning this car. To be precise, low reliability due to a low quality turbo, and worse than average fuel economy. Out of the shortlist.
Cavallera Kunai Mk2.
The Cavallera Kunai was the next car the salesman took Francisco to. The sleek looking hatchback Francisco was greeted with sported a nice and simple 1.4 liter naturally aspirated 4 cylinder to help keep taxes average, and 6 speed manual. 4 seats inside, with an adequate interior without many amenities. Safety felt adequate too.
Not everything was a pro however. While fuel economy was not bad, it wasn’t the that good compared to some of the other offers he had seen so far. The brakes also looked quite small, and despite being nice vented discs, it made Francisco wonder if the car would take big amounts of braking well. A test drive was booked for this one, although Francisco was, once again, skeptical about it.
Maestro Coda 1.4e
From a sleek looking car to a smart looking one. Francisco didn’t know of this brand before entering the dealership, but his first impression of the Coda 1.4e was excellent. And surprisingly enough, the engine the Coda sported was quite similar to the Cavallera’s, with similar output, displacement, same number of cylinders and similar fuel economy, with the same gearbox.
The Coda wasn’t an accidental carbon copy, though…or was it? Francisco’s concerns with the Coda were similar to those he had with the Kunai. Small brakes, not the best fuel economy…however the Coda managed to have much more complete safety. This sealed a test drive for the Coda the following Monday.
Kimura Auburn BXt
And from Málaga Wagons to Harts Rental Service, an international fleet and rental service. Upon arriving and telling the saleswoman what he needed, Francisco was taken to the Kimura Auburn. The sleek looking compact wagon made Francisco doubt about it at first, like he had with the TSR Kazuma. However, the interior was more than adequate with space for 5 adults, not too many amenities but not too bare either, and no corners were cut in the safety deparment. The three cylinder engine displaced just 1.2 liters as well, making it perfect to avoid high taxes.
However, fuel economy was on the lower side with this one, presumably due to higher weight and wider than average tyres, and a call to the local mechanic revealed the Auburn would be a bit more expensive to repair than average. The engine did not make full use of the 95 octane gas we have here either, instead being tuned for American 91 octane. Sadly this made Francisco’s mind up as a “no”.
What’s that? Another round of Mario Kart around the city? Another round of Mario Kart around the city it is. Aftermath: a few hours in the police station and a fine for Francisco. Worth it though.
The next car Francisco was shown was the Sofa. Just what Francisco needed! He ordered a test drive for that same day and hour, drove it to the parking lot and stopped there, falling asleep. A good Sofa for the traditional Spanish ritual of siesta.
FABEL Barnard ECO
After a good siesta, it was the Fabel’s turn to be looked at. The chic looking hatchback promised great fuel economy, the mandatory manual transmission with 5 speeds, appropriate safety, subcompact practicality, ease to drive and probably one of the lowest repair costs after a call to Francisco’s local mechanic.
But there is no free lunch. Low comfort, a suspension that was quite soft and prone to roll and falling short of power made the Fabel have to go out of the shortlist. A kei car was just not going to be the right tool for the job, even if it looked really nice on paper.
And after that, Francisco decided to head back to his appartment as it was quite late already, but not without a quick visit to the office to tell his boss what the cars of choice he had picked so far were. However, he had yet to check a few more dealerships in the outskirts and nearby towns outside of the capital. It’d be a long day tomorrow…for now, time to watch the World Cup with his kids.
(Expect the second batch of reviews sometime between today and tomorrow).