Audi A4

Volvo v50 08 wagon

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 

Rental review

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I rent a lot of cars, and sometimes Hertz gives me something a little more interesting – like this Volvo V50. It’s a lot more comfortable than the usual Tauri, faster, and has a better stereo. The key features of a rental car are:
  1. Quiet – this car is about as quiet as any I’ve rented except perhaps the Audi A4.
  2. Comfortable – the V50 is a little less roomy than a torus, but I find the layout fits very well and doesn’t feel at all cramped.
  3. Basic amenities – I’ve gotten rental cars with manual windows or manual seats and mirror adjustments. It would matter less in one’s own car or just driving around, but realizing the mirrors are out of wack as you try to merge onto the freeway that is probably taking you the right direction before the GPS has locked satellites and discovering that you have to reach over, unroll the window, and poke at the mirror is sub optimal. The Volvo has everything you’d expect.
  4. Stereo – up here in Canada I listen to CBC-R2. Good classical and some funky music too. It’s nice when it sounds good. The Volvo has a great stereo that performs well at any volume and isn’t absurdly bass heavy like a Scion. On the other hand, the Volvo doesn’t have an iPod port like the Audi or a MP3 compatible CD player like a lot of Mustangs have.
  5. Security – I usually have a computer with me and sometimes it is convenient or necessary to leave it in the car. A trunk is a lot more secure than a wagon, and while the Volvo has a pull-out cover to hide what’s in the back, it’s not as confidence inspiring as having a solid trunk.
Posted at 22:00:27 GMT-0700

Category: photorental carstravel

Renting an Audi A4 Quattro

Thursday, December 13, 2007 

Hertz was very nice to me and rented me a brand new Audi A4 instead of the Taurus I reserved. It had a whole 50km on the odometer when I got it. It was kind of fun: fast, accelerated hard with the four wheel drive in sport mode and a six speed transmission, even on the snow and ice. The sound system was great… but…

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So like many good cars these days, it had an iPod dock in the glove box. Pop your iPod in the slot and the stereo recognizes it as a… CD? whatever. And it has a changer, so it allocates CD’s “1” through “6” to the CD changer and “7” though “12” to the iPod. It seems to allocate them to playlists it finds on the iPod, but it doesn’t extract any text. You change from file to file with the track changing knob, which indexes through tracks 1-99… and then 1-99… and then 1-99… Which means you’re finding your songs by the sound. Now this is an interface that in 1983 made sense for a CD… 10 or so tracks, you can probably remember what’s what. But it does not work for an iPod with 10,000 tracks… not at all. Not even a little bit.

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Ironically the display is matrix addressed and has more pixels than early iPods and can clearly read the file structure… it has two knobs and plenty of buttons, more interface input than the ipod and plenty to implement the ipod’s simple knob+4 buttons. Why it doesn’t extract and show some useful text is beyond me. It also makes it clear how well designed the iPod interface is for navigating huge numbers of files when you try something completely lame.

Nice car though…

Posted at 21:00:26 GMT-0700

Category: photorental carsreviews