Nick Heidfeld goes to the Dark Side, Buys Nissan Leaf

nick hedfield

Nick Heidfeld, a Former F1 driver, has officially gone to the dark side.  How?  He’s bought a Nissan Leaf which is an all electric car.

Does the Nissan Leaf go fast?  No, not really.  Does it make loud noises? No, it makes hardly any noise at all since it uses an electric motor. Does it look cool?  Ahh, depends on who you are and who you ask.  Does it have responsive driving?  Mmmm, probably not. So what was a race car driver like Nick Heidfeld thinking?

The purchase of an electric car by the German ex-Formula 1 driver isn’t that surprising.  Heidfeld currently competes in the newly formed and sanctioned Formula E racing series which features all electric car racing and is sanctioned by the FIA, the governing body behind F1.  The series is meant to showcase new electric vehicle technology to the world.  He’ll mainly be using the car to ferry around his family in Switzerland where he currently lives.

What do you think of an F1 driver, even a former one, buying an electric car?

[Source - InsideEVs]

Nissan Leaf powers Clean Graffiti [VIDEO]

Nissan has done some cool marketing with the Nissan Leaf, but this Clean Graffiti video from Nissan UK is probably the coolest thing I’ve seen.  It shows how the Nissan Leaf was able to power what is known as “Reverse Graffiti” by the artist Paul Curtis.

Curtis, who goes by the art nickname Moose, uses a water pressure washer with stencils held against walls to create truly stunning and thought provoking art.  As the pressure washer takes away dirt and grime you can see what’s left behind from the stencils.  The idea is to show how air pollution affects cities around the world.

Paul Curtis, aka Moose, used the Nissan Leaf to power a few different designs in Hamburg, Germany and London, England.  The results are beautiful and quite interesting.

Let me know with a comment below what you think of this Reverse Graffiti or “Clean Graffiti” as Nissan is calling it.

Clean Graffiti – Nissan Leaf

Nissan creates the first car-powered clean graffiti using the 100% electric Nissan LEAF – the world’s best-selling electric vehicle (EV). The street art was created on polluted walls in London and Hamburg depicting the cities iconic skylines.

The Nissan Leaf is the best selling electric car of all time having achieved 100,000+ sales. One owner has clocked over 100,000 miles on his Nissan Leaf and they these electric cars come in handy in gas shortages.

I got $2.40 for a Scrap Metal Radiator, Worth the Time?

old radiator

Recently I a replaced and installed a new radiator in a van.  After I had the new radiator installed I realized I had this old radiator and was trying to figure out what to do with it.  It can be a bit of dilemma for someone who does auto repair at their house.  Auto part stores don’t want it is not a rebuildable core, so they can’t get any money for it.  You could throw it out, except an aluminum radiator is worth something in scrap metal.

I usually find I always have this issue of what to do with used auto parts like this radiator.  You can take it to a metal recycling center and they will give you a little money for it.  Most of the time I don’t bother with taking used auto parts anywhere as it just piles up and I never remember or get around to taking to exchange it for cash.  Also I’m pretty sure if I left the metal in my car I’d waste gas having it the car.  I’d likely keep forgetting to take the metal to a recycling center for cash and then it would become a cash drain.

Luckily for me today I was close to a metal recycling center with the old radiator in my trunk, so I decided to stop-by and exchange it for some money.  What did  I get for it?  A nice $2.40, which is better than nothing but not enough for even a fast food meal.  (Not that I encourage eating any fast food.)

While I’m not knocking the $2.40 in hard cash I got, it made we wonder…is it even worth the time and gas to turn in scrap metal like this radiator?  What about the gas?  The metal recycling place was about a 1-mile-and-half out of my usual way.

My opinion is if I had made the trip specifically for the old radiator I’d say, “N1.”  I would have wasted too much gas and my time for the $2.40.  Since I was already in the area it was sort of a no brainer.  However, if I had the radiator in my car for two weeks or something I would have likely wasted more money in carrying it around then actually getting money for it.  A lot of factors to think about for a used auto parts like this.

I’d love to hear shadetree mechanics and the DIY auto repair community’s opinions.  Would you take this old radiator if it was seperate trip or do what I did?  How do you usually handle old auto parts?  Do you have way to get the most money for them and to maximize your time and gas?

New Ford F-150 comes Packed with Tech [VIDEO]

ford f150 tech

The new 2015 Ford F-150 will go on sale toward the end of the year and Ford is packing the company’s most important and best selling vehicle with a growing list of technology features.

To see these new features you can watch this video below where Jennifer Shaw, Ford’s Driver Assistance Electronics Supervisor, explains some of the technology that is available on the new Ford F-150.

Individual tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS)

Instead of having that annoying TPMS light go off and not know which tire is low, the new F-150 shows you exactly which tire but how many PSI (pounds per square inch) it’s low.

*Standard on all trims

Curve Control

What is Curve Control?  Basically it helps a Ford F-150 driver maintain control if they take a turn too quickly by automatically reducing torque and applying four-wheel braking.  This should reduce a truck speed by up to 10 mph in approximately one second, assisting drivers to stay on their intended path.

*Standard on all trims

Parallel Parking made Easy

Hate parallel parking?  What about parallel parking with a big truck?

Ford has a solution for this with it’s Active park assist technology that uses two ultrasonic sensors and electric power-assisted steering to help F-150 owners parallel park. The sensors measure gaps between vehicles on the street to determine if there is enough room for the F-150 to park.  After confirming the F-150 can fit, the truck automatically steers into the space, while the driver operates the accelerator and brake pedals.  Ford claims they are the first company to put active park assist on a truck.

We will have to see if Ford’s marketing team will make a commercial as good as Parisian Pinball for Active Park Assist in the US.

*Available on Lariat trims and above                                 

Adaptive cruise control & Collision warning

Adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support uses radar in the front of the truck to measure the distance and speed of vehicles ahead. Using this information, the F-150 can automatically slow to keep a consistent following distance set by the driver. The slower speed will be maintained if adaptive cruise control is activated. Collision warning triggers visual and audio alerts if the system detects the following distance is diminishing too quickly and a collision may occur. It also pre-charges the brakes if the driver needs to stop suddenly.

*Available on Lariat and above

Class-exclusive smart trailer tow module

If you tow anything you will find this feature handy.  The smart trailer tow module will inform the driver on the dashboard which lights on a trailer connected to the truck aren’t working, so the driver or a passenger doesn’t have to get out of the truck and walk around the trailer to personally find blown lights.

*Available on all series and included on all 3 towing packages

Massaging Seats

Want a massage but don’t have time to go get one?  Just opt for the multi-contour massaging seats in your new Ford F-150 so you can get a massage while you drive. :)

*Available at King Ranch, standard on Platinum 

Blind Spot Monitoring

Available BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) utilizes radar sensors in the taillamps to monitor blind spots that may not be visible to the driver.  If you attempting to change lines and another vehicle is in your blind spot, the sensors will trigger a warning light in the sideview mirror.  These sensors also can detect a vehicle coming down an aisle when the driver is slowly backing out of a parking space.

*Available at XLT, standard on Platinum

Lane-keeping system

This feature is to help prevent a driver from moving outside of the intended driving lane by accident.  The system automatically detects the left- or right-hand road lane markings using a camera mounted between the windshield and interior rearview mirror. A vibration in the steering wheel is used to alert the driver if they start to drift.  The Lane Keeping System is useful to prevent highway hypnosis for 2015 F-150 owners.  The system can also provide steering torque to help guide the vehicle back into the lane if needed.

*Available at Lariat at above

360-degree camera, Ready for TV? 

An available 360-degree camera with split-view display uses four exterior mounted cameras to give the driver a bird’s-eye view of up to seven feet surrounding the F-150 to assist in maneuvering like parking in tight spots, navigating narrow roads and trails at low speeds.

*Available at Lariat and above

Hill Descent Control

For those that enjoy off roading the Available Hill Descent Control uses anti-lock brakes (ABS) to give the driver control while descending a hill. With the push of a button, the truck’s speed is set automatically, allowing for the driver to concentrate more on enjoying driving down a hill and less on braking.

*Available on all series (4X4 models only)

2014 Kia Forte Review – A Knockout in the Small Car Segment

2014 kia forte

Kia recently has been showing it’s muscle with redesigned cars that not only look better but also have better refinements inside their cars too.  On my short test drive with the 2014 Kia Forte I was impressed by this small car and the work that Kia has done to it make a truly competitive car.

So here’s my 2014 Kia Forte Review and I’ll start off with the design of the exterior as this is the first thing you see.

Exterior

The Forte’s new design is quite beautiful and pleasing to the eyes.  It feels bold but it doesn’t have too much bling or odd lines that distracts the eye and distorts the design (exactly what bean counters are notorious for wrecking).  It’s a good blend to appeal to the mass market but still adds styling for those with discerning taste.  I test drove the Kia Forte EX trim line which came with chrome looking trim accents and upgraded wheels which made the car feel a bit more upscale.  What’s most noticeable though on the Forte is the front fenders and grille blending in with the bird eye headlamps though.  I like the “derriere” of the Forte as it has nice taillights along with a simple design.

Kia Forte Interior

If there is one place where the Kia Forte delivered the knockout blow it’s got to be the interior.  Basically from the moment you get in and slam the door you already can feel the Kia is an all around better and more sturdy car.  Once you are inside and in the driver’s the interior stands out from other small cars I’ve driver in this class.  It’s quite pretty and comfortable

On the EX model I drove it was decked out with chrome accents and emblems which added to the overall you are not in “old Kia.”  What’s more noticeably than accents are the interesting use of gills in the dashboard on the passenger side which adds some texture and a feeling of motion.  Kia designers also outfitted the door panels with gills giving a sense of refinement you rarely see in this small car segment, even on Japanese competitors.  The infotainment screen is also nicely blended into the dashboard with slick curves and angles but not in a way that makes you uneasy.  Leather seating finishes off the design and comfort.  My first thought in the Kia Forte was, “This cabin is incredible.”

Seating and Trunk Space

Legroom in the front and rear is decent for a small car.  I didn’t have a problem anywhere in the Kia Forte.  Although like most cars in this segment tall people will not enjoy sitting in the backseat for long periods, but who can blame them?

Regarding trunk space I felt it was good for small sedan.  Perfect as a grocery-getter or going out to the hardware store for working on the house.

Forte Powertrain

The model I drove was equipped with the 2.0 liter 173-horsepower four-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission.  This powertrain setup gives you a very decent 28 mpg (24 city/36 highway) driving.   The Kia Forte gets you to 0-60 mph in roughly 8 seconds.

Driving Impressions

Driving the 2014 Kia Forte for only a short period of time my impression was it’s handling is decent for the class.  It is not sporty but I felt the steering was agile and it put the car where I wanted it to go without any fuss.  The powertrain shifts should be fine for daily drivers as it is smooth and I didn’t feel like there was any problem revving the engine 173-hp engine and getting power from it when needed.  Basically the engine delivers power when needed and sips fuel nicely when it is not.  The Kia Forte delivers a nice driving experience and is somewhat above par for this class in my opinion.

While cruising down the road I was further impressed with the interior by how silent it is in the cabin.

Would you buy the 2014 Kia Forte?

Being an auto journalist I get asked this question a lot.  Unfortunately I can’t answer  with a definitive “Yes” or “No” as I only had about 30 minutes in the 2014 Kia Forte I drove.  This isn’t enough time to really assess the functionality of the infotainment system, driving in all road conditions, and other Forte features.  This was a friend’s vehicle and not a press loaner from Kia.  I’d be happy to test drive a Kia Forte, or another Kia, for a full week if I was offered though.

Before I’d buy the Kia Forte sedan I’d personally like to drive the Kia Forte hatchback as that adds more trunk space and storage capacity without upgrading to a larger car.  It seems hatchbacks in the US market have become much more popular and I haven’t driven the hatchback Forte to compare.

Final Thoughts

Along with better exterior designs that are eye catching, refined engines and transmissions, and improved interiors Kia has come far.  The 2014 Kia Forte shows this on all fronts and with a nice amount of standard features, like all Kias, for the price it’s just a small car that delivers a knockout in the segment.  Cars like the Kia Forte must have executives at Japanese and American auto companies on their toes.  It feels like Kia is the fighter that nobody was expecting would deliver any serious blows, but has.  Kia isn’t a just a “cheap car brand” but in my opinion provides great value for the money and I’m sure there are a lot of happy 2014 Kia Forte drivers out there.

Unsure if the Kia Forte can pull buyers away from the mighty Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic which are leaders in this small car class, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some buyers opted for the Kia.  It adds great contemporary styling with a price tag that suits a lot of wallets.

If you have any questions about the 2014 Kia Forte, please leave them below and I will answer any questions as best as I can.  If you own a Kia Forte and want to leave a comment about what your experience has been like as an owner I’d be happy to hear.

2014 Kia Forte EX Specifications

Powertrain: 2.0 liter 173-horsepower engine with 131 lb-ft of torque, 6-speed automatic

Base Price : $19,400

MSRP (model tested): $25,500 (roughly)