Testing cars

Posted on April 25th, 2004 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

One of the areas that AutoSpeed varies very substantially from other automotive media is in our new car tests. Basically, we try very, very hard to tell it clearly and bluntly like it is; something which when we do, often puts us into hot water. For example, Nathan Huppatz, our man who contacts car companies to organise the cars for tests, is currently having difficulties getting cars from Subaru, Mazda, Kia, Alfa Romeo, and Citroen. (That’s why you no longer see tests of those cars in AutoSpeed.) You see, those importers – and/or the distributors associated with those cars – didn’t like a test on one of their cars that we ran previously. So, no more cars for this non-complicit media. (Other companies place conditions on cars – Ford, for example, won’t lend me any new cars to drive – instead, Michael Knowling does those tests!)

Given that Michael and I have a completely zero bias for or against any manufacturer, it’s all pretty bizarre.

But how do we go about testing the new cars, anyway? Every new car test is a little different, but primarily we try to use each car exactly as we would a ‘normal’ car. The length of a road test is a week, so we try to use the car for that week much as we would our own. That includes going to the shops for groceries, having our partners drive the car (perhaps to work for a day), going out in the evenings, and so on. Additionally, we try to do a long country drive, make sure that the car goes through some rush-hour heavy traffic, and we push it hard on roads to test braking and handling. Additionally, if a car has a special function or aim, we try hard to exploit that as well – so a load carrier carries loads, a sports car is driven hard on winding roads, and so on.

Over the week we normally rack-up about 1000 kilometres. (Of course, no time can be set aside specifically for driving press cars – it needs to be fitted in around other work!)

Musings on new cars

Posted on April 11th, 2004 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

One of the problems with changing new car fashions is that the goal posts keep getting moved. Hey, that’s a problem? Well it is when the judgements being made within certain categories start being applied universally.