Recently in wheels in motion Category

in on the relationship front , wheels in motion |


We had buffet shabu shabu lunch and were very full afterwards. Walked around the mall, then took mm’s car out for a drive. More walking around, no particular theme or aim. Too full for dinner, just had a coffee and dessert.

Been doing this quite often lately. She doesn’t need a car, sometimes she doesn’t use it for weeks. But it has been nice, giving us something to do and places to go.

The licence plate starts with RY, so she named it Ryan. I don’t get the need to name inanimate objects like cars or computers, then I remember that she used to have names for our cars in London. Have to ask if she can remember the names, because I can’t. I guess when we go for a drive, it’s like there are 3 of us rather than just two.

in wheels in motion |


Met up with mm for church, dinner then parking space research. The landlord for her parking space has sold the space and even though the lease is till next year, she’s thinking of buying her own space. Such a weird concept, paying ridiculous prices for a car park space. Understandably, in many cities nowadays there is a price attached to parking space, but the sheer amount, wow. Even in the US, paying half a million dollars in Boston? Wow again.

There really needs to be more automated parking systems to squeeze more cars into limited parking space. That said, it’ll never work here, how could people’s maids get to the car to clean it? Oh yes, it’s almost impossible to find car washes, and most idiots who live in this city have slave labour maids to do their chores.

in wheels in motion |


Met with mm to pick up her new car. Took a full 2+ hours for the dealer to explain everything to her satisfaction. Our plans for a drive went out of the window. Then we met up with the guy she will rent her parking space from, that was another 2 hours.

in wheels in motion |

We test drove the Toyota Ractis yesterday, and the Prius c today. First the Ractis. It’s been Japan only for a while, only venturing overseas the last couple of years. Apparently it’s the Yaris replacement, and in Europe it’s known as the Verso. Standard Japanese compact hatchback. Everything is middle of the road, nothing spectacular. Handling a little light, not in the same league as the Golf we tried out on Monday. Like, duh. The test drive route involved mostly city driving and going up a fairly steep hill. There’s a 7-speed pseudo manual control that revs up the engine and makes the car go faster. I had better use of it than mm, she was too timid to step on the pedal. All in all, an “okay” car.

The Prius c is the smallest version of the Prius range, the sporty hatchback version. The selling points are price (the magical sub-US$20,000 mark) and the fuel economy. It’s the first time either of us had tried a hybrid car. Very impressed with the handling and fuel economy. City driving meant a lot of times it switched to the electric engine and it was very quiet. The biggest online complaints are lack of acceleration (0-60 in 11 sec advertised) and struggles to get uphill. Both valid complaints, but nothing too concerning for us. I found it noisy going up the hill, the same hill I had to switch to 2nd gear in the Ractis yesterday. Yet once it got going, we preferred its handling and performance. Probably due to the lower centre of gravity. Yes, it’s not fancy, no bells and whistles, no pretty flashing light gadgets. But, we’re not looking for bling.

There is a price difference, around US$3,500 between the two, with the Prius being more expensive. I was only there as the second driver to give my opinion, ultimately it’s not my decision.

in wheels in motion |

Met up with mm at lunchtime to test drive the new Golf TSi bluemotion. Went up the steep hill, around the traffic and a little bit of accleration on a straight bit of flyover. Drives like a Golf, as expected. Smooth and stable and comfortable. But the acceleration is slower than we’re used to in other Golfs. Not quite perfect, but definitely at least 4 stars.

in wheels in motion |


I’m on foot today. With all the excitement with the marathon, I also took the car to the dealer yesterday and they bought it back. The price is…better than nothing, less than I wanted. But I don’t have the time, and the more I procrastinate, the more it depreciates. Sigh. At the end, I had 3,660 miles on it. Two years of which about 1 year I wasn’t in the country to drive it. It’s still in perfectly pristine condition. Cry.

in wheels in motion |


…is that I don’t want to sell it
…but I can’t keep it, cos I don’t live in the US anymore
…my ex-colleague was going to buy it, but then backed out
…so it’s been sitting idle for almost a year
…the battery is dead dead dead, I had to go get a new one
…I’m going to be more $$$ out of pocket because now I have to renew registration and insurance
…I love the little car, but I need to sell it

in objects of desire , wheels in motion |


I was booking a zipcar for grocery shopping tonight and saw on the website a bunch of new locations and cars. Although zipcar and ford agreed to a joint venture in the US, it hasn’t made its way here. All the new cars are non-Golfs — Polo, VW vans and yes, that’s a BMW 1-series that will be around the corner from me. Yay, yay and more yay. Not sure about timing, I faked a reservation in late Oct and they were still greyed out.

in wheels in motion |


It’s national bike week, with the aim of getting more people cycling. It is a big thing here, much more so than in the US. I had to go to the health centre at Harrow Road and I did take my bike, but I wasn’t happy about it. There is simply too much traffic and blockages even where there is a bus or bike lane. Until there are dedicated lanes and a culture where other road users take care of cyclists, London will never be an Amsterdam or Zurich.

in wheels in motion |

I’ve done zipcar a few times now, and as car insurance keeps going up, it’s becoming more and more obvious that it was a good decision not to buy a car.

And now I have yet another optios, as Hertz, yes the Hertz, just launched a rent-by-hour electric car service in London. Same annual fee £50 as zipcar, and prices from £5 an hour, £50 a day. The biggest selling point is that all the connect cars are electric, and it looks like they have vans too. The downside is there are fewer locations, looks like hertz offices only. Still, these car club / sharing initiatives can only do good for the environment, congestion and even the economy. How so the economy? Fewer uninsured cars, fewer actual cars on the road, people saving money in one area and spending or saving in another…hey, I’m not Paul Krugman, so no deep think about economics and politics.

in wheels in motion |


Ms M’s comment on fb reminded me that I promised to take a pic of one of the zipcars. I didn’t take it at its home spot, this was last saturday in front of my apartment.

in wheels in motion |


Got a zipcar again today. This time it’s another Golf “Goebels” which is about a block further away than the other one. Drove up to Tesco’s for a big-ish shop. I had it or 3 hrs, and it took me almost 1hr to get up to Brent Cross in the rush hour traffic. Plus 2 single-lane roadworks at West Hampstead, I came home via the A41.

Once I have the iphone4 synced I can start using the zipcar app. Nice.

in wheels in motion |


Don’t have a car yet, but needed to go shopping for big stuff. So I got a zipcar. Very simple idea — sign up for an annual fee, reserve a car, pick it up from its home location, drive, take it back home. Fees are by the hour all inclusive, no extra for petrol, insurance or congestion charge. There are a few zipcars within short walking distance, and they all have names! I got Gainsberg, a blue golf for £5.95 an hour. I have a feeling I’ll get to know this one well, the other car there is an A3 which is more expensive. I unlocked using my zipcard, and the keys are inside. Didn’t take me long to get used to the car, it’s a golf for crying out loud.

Took it to Brent Cross, where I bought a microwave and a dyson vacuum cleaner. Then it was to Tesco for cleaning stuff, coke zero, drinks and snacks. I’d booked for 6 hours, thinking I was too safe. By the time I got home, unloaded and brought the car back, it was 5 hours already. This is a very convenient way of getting a car, may be between zipcar and my bike, I can get by without my own car.

in wheels in motion |


To change my address, I had to get one of those new photocard driver’s licences. It was easy enough to apply online, they grabbed my photo and signature electronically from my passport and it arrived within a few days. For some odd reason it still has a counterpart in paper, which to me, defeats the purpose of switching to a convenient plastic card. Strange.

I don’t have a car yet, but I still have my 4 driver’s licences, it’s kinda hilarious.

in wheels in motion |


I paid off my car loan before I left Chicago. The car itself is still in Chicago, in my friend M’s garage, while she decides on whether she wants to buy it for her son. So now that the loan is paid off, I get the title back. Although I asked them to be sent to Car’s address, they (not sure whether it’s Chase or the State) decided to send to my home address. Luckily my dear neighbours B&D was watching out for my mail and sent it to me.

I miss my little car.

in habitat , wheels in motion |


With all the excitement about parents visiting, going to NY and Niagara, I forgot to mention that our basement tenant moved out and I got the garage. It just fits my little car.

in wheels in motion |


Took this about a month ago on the iphone and forgot about it. It’s not terribly clear cos of the sun, the speedometer reads 2000 miles. No change since I took it cos I hadn’t really driven anywhere. Yep, I’ve had the car almost a year and I managed 2000 miles on it.

in how the day went , wheels in motion |


It’s just a tiny smattering of flakes, but it’s a sign.

Winter is here.

in arts and media , wheels in motion |

youtube link:

As a new owner of a sports car, I can safely say that yes, I look at other sports cars. And covet the models I didn’t get — Porsche 911 GT3, antique green MG, BMW M3. And this, the Audi R8. drool

in wheels in motion |

car40loaner car42loaner

I took my new car back to the dealer to get a sealant coating on the paint job. Yes I know I can T-cut it once in a while to get it to showroom shiny condition, but well, I’m lazy.

They gave me a temporary car, what they call a loaner. Shows how Americans can’t live without their cars. This one is a tornado red Elantra, very easy to drive and, heehee, made me feel like I’m sitting higher up than the Tib. It also has huge stickers at the side and back that screams that it’s a loaner vehicle. Like LOANER !!1! Don’t sell me! I don’t belong to the person driving me, don’t blame me!!

in wheels in motion |


The long and short of it is, I bought a car.

Thursday I went to a friend’s house to look at her 2 cars, both of which she needed to sell. I had my eye on one of them, an SUV that drove really really well and I was keen on.

Saturday I went out with Car and her family to carshop with her mom. It was a big Hyundai dealer, and her mom had her eye on a Sonata. So we were walking around the lot, full of all sorts of vehicles. I idly looked a a few, not having any particular interest in any of them.

Until, at the far corner, we came across this.

Small. Sporty. Shiny black. Red leather seats.


It was a 2008 Tiburon. I’d never heard of the model before. But it called to me. I looked, and looked, and looked. And Car said, go for a test drive.

It’s a manual 6-speed. Low on the ground. What can I say? It felt good. There was a touching story with the car, a father bought it for his son who had a terminal illness. It never got driven, though it was appreciated. The son passed away, and the car came back to the dealer, with under 100 miles on it. To all intents and purposes it was a new car. Original price $28k, and this week it just got reduced to just under $19k. A combination of the economy and manual transmission meant a few test drove but none took it on.

So I did. There wasn’t any question, from the minute I got in.



  • 2008 Hyundai Tiburon (aka Hyundai Coupe) SE
  • 2.7-liter DOHC 24-valve V6
  • front wheel drive 6-speed manual
  • front airbags, side-impact airbags, anti-lock brakes, Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • cruise control
  • Kenwood mp3 sound system
  • power tilt-and-slide glass sunroof
  • red leather seats with black cloth inserts


I also got a nice deal on a 10 year warranty, half-price sealant treatment. I can’t stop touching it. Didn’t take me long to get used to driving it. I’m not gonna start raving on and on about it. It just feels right.

full set at flickr.

in how the day went , wheels in motion |

Spent the day running around in one place. Very excited but very tired. More news tomorrow.