About the road tests on the jpoc web site?

I get to drive a lot of different cars and this is my opportunity to write something about them. Why? Because I enjoy it and because I see from my stats that some people like reading them.

I do not set out to be a replacement for "What Car?" or the like. You won't catch jpoc strapping a fifth wheel on and timing his 0-60 sprints. That's not because I sneer at performance or think that it is unimportant it's just that I don't do that.

What I write about is what it is like to spend, typically, ten to twenty hours in a car in the space of a weekend. You really get to find out things quickly like that.

Here is a short guide to the things that I look out for:

Styling and interior

Is it all good to look at, practical to use and comfortable. If you drive for a long distance, will you get out feeling like you have just been whacked in the kidneys with a baseball bat? Is there enough luggage room. Is there somewhere sensible to put whatever paraphernalia you want around you? Can you work out how to operate the radio without having to spend half an hour reading the manual? Does the ventilation system work correctly?

Ride and Handling

Do you bounce around so much that you get sick? Is everything secure and steady at speed on the highway? If you hit a bump in the middle of a corner, do you think that you will head off to the trees? How well does the car handle? This is not just a mater of how fast you can corner but also how easy it is to exploit the cars limits.

Performance and Economy

As I mentioned above, Ido not set out to measure performance. Numbers matter little in the real world. Likewise, I don't set out to make measurements of fuel consumption and unless a car uses much more, or less, fuel than expected, I don't comment on this. What matters to me is this:

Does the car have enough acceleration to get up to the speed of motorway traffic on a short slip road? If something causes you to slow on the motorway, can you get back to speed quickly or do you then hold up everyone else while you slowly regain momentum? Can the car keep with the traffic on the German Autobahn with no speed limit? Off the motorway, can you overtake slower traffic safely?

As for fuel consumption what really matters to me is how far you can go on a tankful. For example, in the winter of 1999-2000, I needed to make a number of return trips from Paderborn to Ulm and back in a weekend. The distance was 500km or just over 300 miles. Picking up a car with a full tank should allow you to complete that trip without a stop but that was not always so with every car that I used and that was a real disadvantage.

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