Some sports cars are precision tools, others are sledgehammers
I am trying to decide which sports car I should buy, a Mazda MX-5 manual or a Ford Mustang V8, probably auto. I have test-driven the Mazda with the metal retracting roof and it’s a dream to drive but haven’t tried the Mustang. What’s your opinion? — Charlie Micallef, email Talk about chalk and cheese; you really couldn’t pick two more different sports cars. Do you want to drive a precision tool or a sledgehammer? I’d go the Mazda every time. It rewards without you risking losing your licence. And do you really need to spend $55,000-plus on the MX-5 RF Limited Edition? The $38,000 1.5-litre GT with soft-top is the bargain pick for me.
I’d like your advice on my daughter’s Volkswagen Golf wagon which was recalled due to its dual-clutch automatic transmission. It was fitted with a new transmission by the selling dealer but not long afterwards it started to shudder and grind at low speeds. The dealership said that if a new transmission was required she may be liable for part of the cost. Do you think this is fair under the circumstances? — Edward Oen, email Volkswagen has inspected the car and agreed that your daughter will not be charged for the work, given the very low mileage of the car. Quick response by the manufacturer and a great result for all.
I’ve been having an ongoing issue with my Kia Sorento GT. On long journeys the car starts to splutter as if no diesel is getting through but this doesn’t happen on short trips. Kia can’t find any error codes on the test drive. I’m thinking of paying a specialist diesel mechanic to check. Please help. — Sepwita Fepuleai, email The Kia dealer has equipped your car with an electronic device to record any errors and the data has been sent away for analysis. Kia’s Kevin Hepworth says: “I understand that the owner wants an instant solution but given the complexity of the modern car it sometimes takes a bit longer to identify an issue and develop a solution. He can be assured that his concerns are being treated seriously.”
Re dim headlights on the Hyundai Tucson. We have a 2016 Sportage Platinum with a similar problem. I have found that turning the centre display off at night is a huge help as it cannot be dimmed enough for the driver to see outside properly. The only other option is a Unibar above the number plate with an attached small LED light bar. — Matthew O’Neal, email. I experienced the same issue with my Tucson. The 55-watt factory globes are Phillips H7 LL (long life). I fitted Phillips H7 extreme vision-plus globes, also 55W, and this gave me an extra 40m-45m of beam. The extreme vision globes are about $75-$80 from AutoBarn or Repco. — James Skillen, email
TIME FOR A CHANGE
My wife and I are considering upgrading our cars. She drives a 2001 Holden Astra with 175,000km on the clock, and I have a BA Falcon with 135,000km. She would like a small to medium SUV or hatch, and I would like something of similar power to the BA but not necessarily a six-cylinder. What would be the market or trade-in value of both cars? With a price range of $15,000-$20,000, what would be good buys? — John Wallis, email Sadly you won’t be able to bank on much trade-in on your current cars. Due to their age, the best you could realise is a few grand each. For your wife I’d suggest looking at a hatch rather than an SUV to keep costs down. Perhaps a sixth-generation VW Golf or a six-year-old Mazda3. Why not replace the BA with the later model FG? You can probably pick one up for less than $10,000. A 2011 Toyota Aurion also fits the bill.
What can I do about my Nissan Patrol diesel, bought new two years ago? It has 19,000km on the clock and is at the dealer’s workshop again, this time with no clutch. I’ve had problems with the rear lights, needed the brake master cylinder replaced, the aircon seals needed replacement (all under warranty) but now the clutch has gone and I’ve been told it’s wear and tear as I tow a camper trailer. A heavy-duty replacement at about $5000 was suggested. It is excellent for towing and off-roading — but have I bought a lemon? — Hans Manson, email A poor ownership experience so far and you are right to expect better, although Nissan has honoured the warranty to date. Nissan spokesman Tony Mee says the company has tried to contact you twice without success. Give them a call and let us know how you go.