Night and Day difference

I don't miss much of the UK but one thing I do miss is the driving. It is quite sad that even a mid-range MPV (mini-van in American speak) handles and drives better than the so-called sports car in America. This weekend I've rented online a compact car and when I got to the rental place I was given a Vauxhall Zafira to my dismay. A people carrier!? WTF? An automatic one, no less! But once I've started driving it both in London as well as on the motorway, I was pretty impressed. The 2.2 litre direct injection engine (150 bhp, 215 lb/ft) gives the car pretty good pick up and I was able to comfortably and safely fly along M40 around 85-95 mph. The 'sport' mode turns the automatic gearbox into more manual like; holds longer on gear, harder gear changes to get more torque and power. The chassis, despite its large size and heavy weight, proves to be very stable and responsive. The power steering is just right, not light and devoid of feels like almost all the American cars I've driven. I was able to drive through the windy country roads between Birmingham and Bridgnorth in high speed (~60-70 mph) with confidence, whereas I was actually scare just to take a simple gentle turns on a Highway with the Chrysler 300C around 65 mph!

And finally, to all you Americans out there, traveling on a straight and wide highway at 75 mph is not fast. In fact, if you are doing that speed on M40 last night, you would see me (and many others) speeding past on your right! I feel like I was driving for real last night when I was not the only person who was traveling faster than 85 mph for most of the journey.

Now if only I can have a week full of driving around the UK in a real sports car, like Audi TT, Mercedes SLK, Lotus Elise, etc…

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Day of upgrades

Eiron and I took a late flight to Houston, Texas last night for a friend's wedding. We landed at around 11PM and when we got to the car rental agent, we were first offered the SatNav (which I happily accepted) and then an upgrade from the intermediate size car to full size (which I declined). The agent gave me the car upgrade for free anyway so that was nice! (I generally hate American car but this Chrysler 300 Touring is pretty nice, for an American car! Handling pretty good for its size, and the engine and transmission is sporty.)


Then when we got to the hotel, it turned out that they were fully booked and there was no room for us. Apart from the president suite, that is! So we were upgraded to the president suite for our stay which we find out is about 20 times what we paid for our room. The suites is bloody huge! There are living room, conference room, two bathrooms, bedroom, and even a small kitchen!

Now all we need is for Continental to upgrade our return flight to NY…

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Blind spots

When it comes to programming, I have tremendous respect for my ex-colleague Scott. But apparently he is not a car nut (hint: he drives a Prius), so I was surprised by his post about how the side mirrors should be setup. I thought I was the only person to setup side mirrors this way ever since I owned my first car in the mid-90's! This is despite the fact that this setup is entirely logically as the function of the mirrors (at least to me) is to remove blind spots!

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