15th Apr 2018, 21:00
Interesting review and comments; myself I'm in the United Kingdom and we have some pretty bad roads here as well. Not so much coarse 'chipped' roads, (our motorways are fairly smooth), but country roads and city side streets are awful. To be fair it has been a bad winter and the roads are cracked and full of pot-holes more often than usual. Don't even get me started on the amount of speed-bumps we have! (or 'traffic calming methods' as they call them now). I get that it's for safety, but it is overkill here.
Had a Mazda 626 years ago, a great car but very firm ride which was almost unbearable sometimes. A bit noisy as well. Got a Volvo S60 now, a very smooth quiet car, but still can't always dampen out the roughness of our roads here. Sometimes I think a Rolls-Royce or Bentley would still not be good enough!
10th Dec 2018, 18:40
Thank you for your comment.
I test drove the latest one, the Sport model (the 2.5 litre); the road noise improvement is marginal, the car is great, very nippy, but... it's a bit cheap and nasty inside (the single speedo instrument cluster looks awfully cheap in my opinion).
The suspension is very lumpy; in NZ there are lots of drain covers that are not flush with the road, and are some cm's deeper than the road surface. This car, rather than smoothing them out, seems to climb in and out of every depression in the road.
In the end, I purchased a Jaguar XF; I learned that most Japanese cars post 2000 are all built cheap and nasty, down to a price. Never having owned a European car before, I drove a Passat, Skoda, Golf, Peugeot 508, and Jaguar XF, and BMW 320. One thing became immediately apparent, all the above cars felt solid, and the sound insulation was way above those Japanese cars I owned; in fact, they make a mention in the sales blurb of reducing noise by fitting "acoustic windshields" etc. The Jag XF was the quietest of them all; not only does it have an acoustically lined windshield, but also has a double engine firewall so you can hardly hear the engine either. I ended up buying that.
10th Dec 2018, 18:48
Thanks for your comments. I ended up buying a Jaguar XF, the quietest car I have ever driven. The Passat, Golf and Peugeot 508 were close seconds; I read they put in a lot of effort into reducing noise; I don't think that's on the radar with Japanese cars. I don't think I'd go back to a Japanese car now; sure they're as reliable as hell, but I think European cars are engineered better.
11th Dec 2018, 06:28
Japanese cars are not all built equally. From observation, Japanese cars that are built for European or other, how shall I say this, "richer" markets, are either not built the same or have different detailing qualities than those for the Japanese market. Japan has very smooth roads, with quiet surfacing. They don't put as much sound insulation on their domestic cars as they do for many export markets. And because New Zealand takes Japanese used imports by the shipload, that's what they get. They usually are not able to drive a NZ-new equivalent of the same car to compare.
Case in point - a NZ-new '98 Nissan Primera I drove then felt, sounded, steered and handled very differently to the same age Nissan Primera Camino Japanese-import that a friend bought. Like they weren't even made by the same factory. Blindfolded, I wouldn't even tell they came from the same brand. Things change when you go up the food chain of even the Japan domestic market cars - a Nissan Skyline 2001, Toyota Windom (aka Lexus ES300) or Aristo (Lexus GS), you can tell are better-engineered - from the refinement, all the way to the kind of plastics used. Heck, just the thunk of the door tells you.
European cars - more so the Germans (which most NZ'ers are now able to buy used from Japan but sourced from Germany or whatever factory makes them), tend to keep the car specs near identical regardless of the market, with allowances for legal requirements. So a NZ-new BMW 320i feels identical to the equivalent Japanese import. Admittedly, buying a Japanese stalwart like a Corolla or Mazda 3/Axela would likely give a very reliable car, often even if neglected, but what keeps people buying European cars is the FEEL, which unless you have a Lexus or Skyline, you just can't get from Japan. Prestige? Well, there really isn't any prestige in having a BMW or Mercedes in NZ if you can get them as used imports at a quarter of the price of a new Kia Picanto. And when you see VW Touaregs driven around by working class people in lower-income neighbourhoods, prestige is a myth. No one even looks twice at a V12 BMW.
11th Dec 2018, 19:36
Well said, totally agree. I live in the UK and car culture feels dead here. When I was growing up in the 80s and 90s, people's heads turned to look at even the cheapest Mercedes or BMW that passed by. Now they are common place. Good cars, but they have lost exclusivity. Anyone can get one on loan/finance, or lease for a couple of years, and show it off like a fashion accessory, but ultimately, no one cares. Also, most modern cars all look the same, which does not help either. Rarely does a car stand out unless it's a quirky sports car that costs a fortune to buy.