What you need to know:
- These vehicles occupy a niche that caters to a sizeable demographic, thus making everybody happy.
- I have a few connections in the motor vehicle import business, so I may be able to get my hands on an Up! sooner rather than later.
I like your column because it is ever insightful and an eye-opener. This may not be what people are looking for, but sometime back, a Nissan March 2013 overtook me and a number of other cars on Mombasa Road yet we were doing 120km/h with our big cc engines. This brings up the question around the use of these subcompact cars: Nissan March, VW Up, Mitsubishi Mirage, Suzuki SP and Suzuki Swift.
The mirage seems like a nice proposition but the 74 hp 1000cc engine has received a lot of slack from experts worldwide. From being called underpowered to noisy to unstable. Can you give me an honest perspective on these vehicles, especially the Mitsubishi Mirage and VW Up since they are fairly new in our country?
Let me conveniently overlook the fact that all you people with your big cc engines, along with the Nissan March driver, were speeding, and say that the global derision of small cars may not always be justified, but it is accurate all the same. Why no justification?
These vehicles occupy a niche that caters to a sizeable demographic, thus making everybody happy: those of modest means can still afford personalised transport, while the car maker makes their profit and everybody wins, except the environment, but this is a whole other discussion.
I will not go into details because I'm yet to drive the Up! (the exclamation mark is actually part of the little VW's name) and I don't want to sound cruel against Mitsubishi (I have driven the Mirage and didn't like it), so I will keep it simple and say believe the hype.
The Up! is as good as they claim it is, the Mirage less so, but there is another Mitsubishi that is almost as compact as, but more powerful than and better to drive than the Mirage, and this is the Colt - the Colt R to be specific. Sadly, you have to pay for that extra goodness, so naturally it costs more than the Mirage.
I have a few connections in the motor vehicle import business, so I may be able to get my hands on an Up! sooner rather than later. If any of them is reading this, they know where to find me...
I am eyeing the Toyota Spacio, the Runx and the Raum or Voxy, which do I get?
Baraza what's up? First, I want to thank you for your weekly car reviews, I can never get enough of your prowess in English and your vast knowledge of cars, which is just so cool, (for lack of a better word).
I’m looking to buy my first car, my first option is a Toyota Spacio, the second option a Runx and the third option the Raum or Voxy. I want a versatile car that has a spacious boot, that is to take me to work, to carry my big family around, do some bit of taxi business.
I was really considering the Spacio because it's a 7-seater, however, I have been told its resale value is low, but am not looking at that right now, (I will cross that bridge when I reach there), my budget ranges from Sh400,000 to Sh450,000. Please advise me.
Greetings Mwalimu, the accolades are well received with much gratitude. When you mention versatility and your options list consists of a minivan, that's the vehicle to start with, unless there is an SUV in that list.
The Voxy ticks all the boxes as far as the aforementioned versatility goes: it will take you to work without looking out of place, though environmentalists will judge you harshly for being the lone passenger in a high occupancy vehicle, it will lug your expansive clan members without qualm owing to its roomy eight-seat interior, it is actually quite good as a taxi and should serve quite well in the highly lucrative hotel and airport transfer sector, plus it's a van, so luggage capacity should be superior to the lesser vehicles.
The Spacio comes a close second if it's the second-generation vehicle we are referring to, the first generation is not very impressive. The RunX is good to drive but that's just about it, while the Raum... well, give that a hard pass.
So, the Voxy takes an easy and uncontested win, but you will need to up your budget by an extra 100 grand or so to acquire a passable unit. Remember the adage: "Yer gets what yer pays fer".
Fellow readers, here’s the secret to getting your question featured on this column
Thank you for featuring and responding to my query on, among others, air suspension on DN 23/09/2020. I wish to respond and clarify two things.
1. MPA mantra (Motion Power Advancement)
You were livid wishing to know who else owns a closer moniker to yours. Let me digress. Over the years I have managed to have more than five of my queries featured in your column, and considering that you once alluded to receiving thousands of emails, five to me is an over achievement.
Over the period I have mastered how to ensure my article is catchy, abnormal and provocative enough to coerce you to respond.
On basic techniques are the words and the grammar input. Having noted your way with the language, I try to connect to your psyche by getting a cue to your drift. ‘proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten’ C. Achebe. Yours are not proverbs, but a style you can best describe. With a potent issue loading the gun, the weaving of the words pulls the trigger.
In this particular article I changed the actual words on the mantra to provoke a response and of course get my item featured. Referring to it as ‘our’ mantra was the icing.
Further, am certain you also do not wish to sound repetitive in your column with obvious queries of first time car buyers/owners ad nauseam, so an off tangent item is more likely to endear to the editor.
You may share with correspondents who have not had their day of glory this tips and techniques.
2. Tyre 15” Tube 14”
In your response to this matter, you referred to a Rim and a Tyre while my query was about a Tyre and a Tube. In the food chain, we still have tyres that use tubes and since you promised to do more research on the matter, please note the real players in this drama.
Greetings R. Mwangi,
You must be some kind of seasoned hunter because you have mastered the lay of the land and your snare has worked, what, the sixth time now?
As you said, for someone who sifts through thousands of emails on the regular, scoring five hits as one of the thousands clamoring for their 15 minutes is a success rate that is unprecedented.
Congratulations on yet another successful strike: this is the kind of correspondence I love to receive, enjoy reading and look forward to answering. I hope the other readers are taking notes.
About the rims and tyres: the oversight was pointed out by very many people as soon as it was published, and I apologise unreservedly over the error. In fact, I'll do you one better, I'll address the matter again, this time exactly as asked:
I hone my trade next to a tyre repair shop and have noticed that the repairman readily fits size 14" tubes to size 15" tyres once the corresponding size runs.out. How do a size 14" tube sit in a size 15" tyre (cars)? Wouldn't it feel like a farmished fellow trying to extend an empty stomach just to prove he isn't hungry.
From the face of it, it looks okay and the guy dismisses it as so, but am alive to the fact that small flaws are magnified to monumental proportions once wheel revolutions reach top speed. Doesn't this trick negatively affect the feel, bounce and control of the vehicle at a reasonable speed?
This was (part of) the question, right? The answer is fairly simple, actually. The tube is made of rubber and rubber can stretch - in fact, that is the main reason behind why use rubber is applied where it is applied: the elasticity. When the tube is inflated it expands in all directions.
Fitting inside the tyre should therefore not be an issue, owing to the expansion, the real issue would be how it fits over the rim. Don't worry, I've not flown off the rails again, I talked about rims and tyres last time, this time it's tubes and tyres and the answer is as stated: the size 14" expands when inflated and will expand to sizes far and beyond the 15" that had you concerned. I hope we are clear now.
Why, pray, would the Toyota Fielder cost more than the Toyota Mark X?
I hope this email finds you well. A strange thing is happening that is of concern. First, a 2013 Mark X entry level grade is priced the same as the fielder in our market, which I can't comprehend. Second and worse of all, the many people who bought the Mark X a while ago are selling them at prices painfully close to half a million.
A 2009 Mark X for Sh600,000 and some even cheaper. My main question is, why is the Mark X depreciating at such an alarming rate in the used car market? Isn't this ‘untoyotaristic’ by Kenyan standards? What's the catch with these used cars?
The pricing of the Mark X versus the Toyota Fielder is a classic case study in market dynamics, a.k.a the laws of demand and supply.
Now, comparing like for like, the Mark X boasts superior specifications compared to the Fielder, so naturally one expects it to cost more, and it does...brand new.
However, the used car market has no respect for specification and relies purely on demand and supply. There is a high demand for Toyota Fielders, both among buyers and car thieves, therefore, it follows that the sellers will charge a premium for it.
But why is there demand for Fielders and not for the Mark X, I hear you ask, more so given that the Mark X doesn't look half bad, especially when well maintained? This is where “word on the street comes in”. A 2.5 liter V6 engine (or even 3.5 if you go really mad) has everyone running for the hills yelling "FUEL CONSUMPTION".
Six spark plugs and six injectors have everyone running past those hills yelling "COST OF SPARE PARTS". The big engine and the six cylinders means service intervals involve large volumes of engine oil, which will have everyone jumping off a cliff yelling "MAINTENANCE".
These are all falsehoods. There is nothing particularly abnormal about owning and maintaining a Mark X if you do it right. As for those selling off their cars cheaply, it's because they really need buyers for the vehicles, reason being the Mark X is a low car, so it will not manage some of the roads some of us have to drive through. Scraping bumpers and body kits gets frustrating very quickly.
Secondly, the rear-drive platform and no LSD also means driving on wet surfaces (especially grass) is a Chinese fire drill: an embarrassing waste of effort that yields zero results. It is less embarrassing and more painful (or even potentially lethal) when this unwitting “drift mode” comes into play on wet tarmac at critical locations, such as when you inadvertently hoof the throttle when exiting a junction and you end up rotating on your own axis.
Come to think of it, I need me a Mark X... See you next week!