Old but fun

Posted on December 2nd, 2013 in AutoSpeed,Opinion,Toyota by Julian Edgar

So the other day I was in Adelaide for three days. Usually, I would hire a car, but this time a friend offered me something to drive.

The car was a 1998 Toyota Starlet, 2-door base model.

How base? No clock, no tacho, wind-up windows, manual (not power) steering. But equipped with a 4E-FE 1.3 litre DOHC EFI engine and 5 speed manual trans. I reckon the car’s worth about $1500.

Within moments of picking it up, I loved it!

What did I love about it?

Firstly, it was – to use an old term – so nippy! It was super responsive to the throttle, and I’d guess most of its city nippiness came from what seemed to be very low gearing. (No tacho, so I couldn’t tell for sure.) So, you see a hole in traffic to lane-change into – and pow!, you could be filling it.

And the car was small! You get so used to the apparently inexorable growth in dimensions of cars that you actually forget what a small car is like. The Starlet was small enough that a Toyota Echo alongside in traffic seemed huge. The Starlet wasn’t a joy to park (the manual steering being quite heavy at low speeds) but in traffic, and for that matter on winding roads, the small size made it a delight.

And the vision! I’ve written before about the stupidly small window area being used in current cars, and the Starlet was simply nothing like that – it showed how it could be done. Big rear glass, large side glass, thinner pillars….good vision everywhere.

I even got the opportunity to punch it along a tight country road – and again I thought it a lot of fun. On its tiny 165/70 tyres it did well, and the steering weight in that situation was perfect.

OK, OK – it sure as hell is a car I wouldn’t want to have crashed in. And its NVH was bloody awful – it was quite wearing to drive long distances.

Would I want to drive an old Starlet all day, every day? Not on your life!

But jumping into an old, basic car startlingly showed strengths that are being lost in current cars: throttle response, size, vision….and maybe just even just the element of fun.



Hi Liam…

Posted on October 21st, 2013 in Driving Emotion,Opinion,pedal power by Julian Edgar

Hi Liam,

Thanks for your questions. I hope my answers help you in your Year 11 design and technology studies.


Is designing a hobby, a source of income, or both?

My designing is both a source of income and a hobby. I enjoy doing what I do: if I can make it both my work and a hobby, so much the better.

Initially, I started out doing things just as a hobby, but then I realised that by simply describing (in pics and text) what I had done, and selling it as a magazine article, it could pay me money as well.


How long have you been designing things for?

I think I probably have been designing real things since I was about your age. In Year 11 I got an electric drill and then an electric jigsaw, and started building speakers systems and solar heaters.  My designs were thought-through, and then sketched on paper, before I started building. So they were projects that were designed – not just built as I went along.

I can remember designing things earlier than that – say, in Year 8 – but I never then actually made them, so I don’t think that counts.


Which part of design gives you the most satisfaction?

That’s a really good question – one that I have not thought of before.

I think perhaps the thing that gives me the greatest satisfaction is designing and building something that lots of people say will not work, or is stupid, or is a waste of time – then finding that it works really well.

When I designed and built my first suspension trikes, everyone who knew anything about recumbent trikes said things like: “Why would you bother – trikes without suspension ride fine.” Now, about ten years later, I see plenty of mainstream trike blogs and sites reviewing commercial suspension trikes and saying how great they are!

It’s both frustrating and rewarding – frustrating when I come up with something I think is great, and then (eventually) rewarding when people recognise years later that what I said was great, was in fact great!


What kind of projects do you most enjoy working on?

I think I most enjoy projects that involve vehicles – things you can pedal or drive on the road. I reckon that being in control of a moving thing that you designed and built (or even just modified) is the very best.

I also have designed and built electronic projects, pneumatic projects, speaker systems, solar heaters – and many other things… but I reckon that vehicles beat them all by a lot.


What has you favourite design project been so far? And why?

My favourite project is usually the thing I am currently working on.

So today I designed and started to build a trailer for my tractor lawnmower. It uses pillow-block bearings for the axle, hubs I machined on a lathe, and a 25mm RHS square tube frame, MIG welded together.

I have to do my “real” job tomorrow, but later in the week I want to finish the trailer, installing a steel deck and hardwood side rails.

I am also currently working on turbocharging my hybrid Honda Insight, and it’s been fun coming up with a water/air intercooler and new airbox for the car. I also made my own machine to place a lip on the intercooler tubes, to stop the turbo boost hoses blowing off under boost.

But this time last year, I was all excited about designing and building twin 15-inch subwoofers to put under the floor of my lounge room!

It’s good to be excited about whatever you are designing and building.


What’s the process you go through during a design project?

Here are my steps:

1. What functionality does the design need to have – what does it have to do?

2. What have other people done to address the same needs?

3. What aspects of their designs can I use, and what aspects can I develop that will better suit my needs and building capabilities?

4. What aspects from similar designs, but in completely different design areas, can I use? (So for example, when designing a stiff but light structure – what aspects from aircraft, from yachts, from airships, from skateboards, from bicycles, from rockets can I incorporate in my project?)

5. Can I build my design with my skills, money and workshop equipment? If not, how can I change it?

6. Now it’s time for sketches – lots of them.

7. Build the thing.


What’s the process you go through when building it?

1. Follow sketches

2. Any design changes that I decide to implement during the build, I re-sketch and then consider very carefully before doing.


On average how long will a design project take? From the initial concept to a finished design.

A really big project, like my three recumbent suspension trikes, perhaps 9 months to a year for each of them. My turbocharging (and intercooling, and fitting programmable engine management, and fitting a MoTeC dash, and full tuning, and tweaking the electric control system, and fitting a new HV battery pack) to my Honda Insight I’d expect to take 9 – 12 months.

I am a slow worker and will make a part again if I am not happy with the first version.


What are your preferences or priorities in terms of things like: form, function, durability and build-ability?

Form: I don’t consider aesthetics (how pretty it looks) much at all. Good design has an elegance and beauty of its own.

Function: is critical – it must perform.

Durability: in the sort of things I design and build, I look at durability in two key areas. These are high quality bearing surfaces (eg use of ball bearings), and fatigue strength (over-engineering to stop fatigue failures).

Build-ability – very important – I have to be able to build the thing (or use others only very sparingly).


When starting a design project do you prefer to start with a clean sheet or start from what others have done?

I like starting with a clean sheet and only then looking at what others have done. Sometimes I learn a huge amount by looking at others have done – other times, I think my ideas are better.

But always consider first what you want to do and only then look at what others have done.


Do you use computer modelling when working on a design project? 

The only computer modelling I use is in the design of subwoofers – I don’t use any other computer aided design at all.  This is mostly because I am very old, but also because I seem to better develop my ideas by:

1. Sketching – drawing ideas as I am thinking them up.

2. Making small models – that show (through destruction testing) how strong they are, where any moving parts will hit each other, etc.

3. Making rough versions and seeing how good they are before building the proper one. That’s especially the case in electronic and pneumatic systems.

I think if I were starting now I would be particularly interested in getting good skills in CFD (computational fluid dynamics – how fluids like air pass over objects), and CAD – computer aided design, especially in the stressing of parts.


What have you found to be the critical elements in the design of a HPV to meet your particular goals/needs?

One critical element in designing a suspension HPV (Human Powered Vehicle) is to use the lightest approach to achieving the outcome that you want – and you should be striving for an outcome where the suspension natural frequency is about 1Hz (for an explanation, see http://www.autospeed.com/cms/article.html?&A=112279).

If the suspension is sufficiently soft to absorb bumps, you then need very effective anti-roll capabilities to stop excessive body roll on corners.

Another critical element is to optimise steering – this is because the rider gets most of their handling feedback through the steering response and behaviour. Optimising this includes Ackermann, caster and trail.

But to make it all really simple – the HPV should always behave as the rider expects. Actually achieving that is incredibly difficult.


How do you decide when a design is finished e.g. is the HPV project finished or just on the back burner until you can implement another set of ideas? 

I finish one HPV project and start another when I think that starting from scratch is a better way of pursuing the next set of ideas.


To finish, do you commercialise you designs in any other way than publishing them in articles? 


o   Protect any intellectual property you develop?

o   Keep secret particular problems or solutions you have found?

o   Look at production of your design?


I have looked at doing all those things and have decided that it’s best for me if I just write (and photograph) my designs and run them in paying publications. I also always tell it like it really is – not trying to hide any problems or solutions.

Commercialising a new design requires lots of risk in terms of money, and the further ahead of the other competitors that the design is, the harder it is to get it accepted.

Julian Edgar
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AutoSpeed in 2014

Posted on October 4th, 2013 in AutoSpeed,Driving Emotion,Hybrid Power by Julian Edgar

Well, it’s an exciting automotive time for me.

I’ve been working hard on a project – turbocharging my little Honda Insight – that’s going to result in a whole bunch of interesting DIY AutoSpeed stories in 2014.

Yes, even if you’ve no particular interest in turbo’ing a hybrid!

So what sort of stories then?

Well, first off the rank, I’ve bought a TIG welder and have been learning how to drive it. I must say that it’s been a very steep learning curve: despite having experience in both MIG and gas welding, TIG’ing aluminium is a dramatic step up. I’d expect some time in 2014 to write a story about learning how to TIG weld – in the mean time, I’ve done a story for AutoSpeed on making a welding trolley to hold the unit and its gas cylinder.

One of the things I’ve been welding is a water/air intercooler heat exchanger. The Honda will use the intercooler to maintain a constant inlet air temp (eg 35 degrees C ) – not just to cool the air when on boost. This is likely to require passing engine coolant through the heat exchanger following start-up on cold days, transitioning to working as a standalone heat sink, then in hot ambient conditions to working as a conventional cooler with pump and front-radiator. The aim is to achieve best fuel economy, as well as avoid detonation caused by high intake air temps.

I’ve also made a new airbox, taking an unusual approach that is easy to build and uses a widely available, paper filter element. The result flows well, is compact and can be adapted in size and configuration as required for the particular application.

To connect the turbo to the intercooler and then the throttle body I need new intake plumbing – and I’ve been making that as well. I chose to use mild steel mandrel bends – and I’ve made a simple tool to place a bead on the ends of the tubes to stop the hoses blowing off. We’ll be covering the tool, that uses a hydraulic press to power it, in a story in 2014.

Not yet made as I write this, but on the list of things to do, is a new exhaust system. I want to incorporate something I’ve long admired – a variable flow exhaust valve. I’ve got one sitting on the shelf (taken, from all things, a Ferrari rear muffler!) and I’d like to be able to integrate it near the rear of the car.

Driving the engine will be a MoTeC M400 – initially I’ll be controlling fuel, spark, EGR, VTEC changeover and turbo boost. Sitting in the same box near my desk as I type is also a MoTeC CDL3 dash – it will be displaying as many bits of information as I can configure into it.

I’d like to later integrate electronic throttle control – but one step at a time.

And what of the ‘hybridness’ of the car? Longer term, I’d like to use a new li-ion battery pack and controller, potentially over-rating the 10kW electric motor for short term bursts. But initially at least, the car will run as just a turbo three cylinder without the hybrid system operating.

My ultimate aim is to maintain the car’s  unbelievably good fuel economy and have up to 40 per cent more power.

On a different topic, over Christmas and New Year I expect to be in Germany for a month – as we did this year for the UK, I believe that will result in some very interesting tech stories.

2014 is AutoSpeed’s 16th year of publication – it looks like there will be plenty of interesting content!

The Falcon to die

Posted on May 28th, 2013 in Automotive News,Driving Emotion,Ford,Opinion by Julian Edgar

If you follow cars in Australia, I am sure that you have heard the news. Ford has decided to stop building cars here, and unless there is a radical change of mind, production of the Falcon will stop within a few years.

This has occurred primarily because of dwindling sales of the Falcon – a car that went from selling around 75,000 units per year in 2002 to about 12,000 in 2012.

That is a tragedy: a tragedy for the workers directly employed by Ford, and also for the workers of supply companies that will now likely go broke. It is also sad for the country as a whole: having the capability to design and manufacture as complex an item as a complete car is not to be sneezed at.

But it is also the outcome of a bunch of utterly stupid management and product planning decisions made by Ford itself. For all the talk of high wages, the value of the Australian dollar and the like, no one should refrain from looking hard at what Ford in Australia chose to spend their money on.

The FG Falcon, released in April 2008, was a car characterised by utterly misplaced priorities, to an extent that was staggering then and remains staggering in retrospect. In 2008, the downwards trend in Falcon sales had been in place for four years. People were moving from the Falcon to smaller cars – or, conversely, to large and multi-purpose four-wheel drives.  Social and engineering change in the world of cars was profound: the Prius had been on sale for nearly a decade; fuel prices were only going to keep on rising; and people were looking for flexibility in their cars – the ability to carry five people one day, and then carry big items home from the hardware store the next. All of this was obvious… but not to Ford.

The day after the FG Falcon was released, I wrote in this publication:

It’s very hard to believe that the Falcon will not go the way of the Mitsubishi 380 – and for much the same reasons. High quality engineering directed in completely the wrong direction, aiming at a target that started to move a decade ago and has now gone…

After driving the car we published these notes:

Feels very much like Mitsubishi 380 in that the FG is a car that with exception of some minor electronics, could have been released a decade ago – nothing special in performance/economy, interior space utilisation, interior design, styling (inside and out). Highly competent car but at the things (eg handling, long distance cruising, NVH) that are not a priority for most people.

A ‘nothing’ car in terms of progress. Feels like design priorities were set for what would work in mid Nineties – RWD handling, long distance Australian road travel, inoffensive (and unexciting) conventional styling inside and out. Needs – far better fuel economy option (eg diesel, LPG on downsized engine), much better interior design (literally zero progress made here!), better centre dash ergonomics.

My summary in a full road test of the car was:

With the exception of crash safety and the electronic stability control system, the FG Falcon reflects the design priorities of a different era. In short, Ford apparently believes balls-to-the-wall handling to be more important than fuel economy, and in-cabin styling to be more important than practicality. Simply, the money could have been much better spent.

New engine options – including possibly a diesel – are apparently coming, but as the car stands right now, it’s the epitome of a botched opportunity.

Of course, the diesel never came. Instead, we had that Ford choosing to sell the car with an engine range that included two high performance, thirsty engines – a V8 and turbo six.

One hi-po engine – sure. But two? What did they think this was, the 1980s?

And the issue with wasting internal resources like this is that those dollars could have been put into something else – like fitting a four cylinder. It took until 2012 to do that…

In a column written in December 2009, under the heading of ‘Making very bad product planning decisions’ I said:

The car that this year amazed me the most was the Ford FG Falcon.

The model that I would think sells the best – the XR6 – was incredibly off the pace in the things that matter to most purchasers. All I can say is: what on earth was Ford thinking when they set the priorities?

But to be honest, I could not – and still cannot – believe how bad the FG Falcon is…. and ‘bad’ in the context of what the car is supposed to achieve.

Why on earth did the company spend lots of money on a new front suspension design and steering when out on the road, pushing the car to anywhere near its very high limits is illegal? To put this another way, in virtually all road use, what was wrong with the previous model’s suspension?

That (rumoured) $100 million spent on the new front suspension could have been used to make the air conditioning actually work and improve interior packaging – both would have had far more positive impact on potential purchasers than getting better turn-in at 150 km/h…

And the fuel consumption!

Forget the official government test figures: at a measured 12.5 – 13.5 litres/100km in the city, there appears to be no real-world improvement in a decade. That is simply unforgiveable.

The Falcon angers and frustrates me. The decisions that Ford’s myopic product planners took, in the face of overwhelming worldwide evidence, has cost this country – and Ford – a lot of jobs and money.

At the time these words were being published, our comments section (which unfortunately is not currently visible) was full of people saying how wrong I was.

The automotive journalists in Australia – every darn one of them – said how great the car was. Other than AutoSpeed, not a single publication suggested that the car was utterly wrong for the time and would be a flop – probably sending Ford under in terms of manufacturing in this country. “FG Falcon stuns” read one media test headline. Stuns for what – its inept direction? No, the test didn’t actually say that…

In fact, I was so amazed by the lack of criticism of Ford’s approach with the FG that I wrote a bitterly ironic column with the sole focus being how stupid the decisions underpinning the FG were. I called the Falcon The Ideal Car for the Times.

So why did Ford chose to make the decisions it did?

We will probably never know…. those who set the direction are hardly likely to confess – let alone, try to justify what they did. And sure, Ford was working within tight limitations regarding money and resources – but that just made it even more important that those product planning and engineering decisions showed an understanding of a changing car buying market – not to mention societal change on a broader scale.

But I honestly feel more depressed about it all than triumphant. I am sad to see part of Australia’s engineering and industrial heritage disappear…and once it has gone, you can be certain it will never come back.

New book on car aerodynamics

Posted on March 23rd, 2013 in Aerodynamics by Julian Edgar

Well, today is an exciting one for me.

After a gap of quite a few years, today my most recent book was published. It’s called the Amateur Car Aerodynamics Sourcebook. I think it’s got lots to interest people who wonder how air flows over, under and through their road cars.


Section 1 introduces aerodynamic drag and lift. The language is simple and straightforward – but still includes concepts such as drag co-efficients, lift co-efficients and the different types of drag that affect road cars.

Section 2 is devoted to aerodynamic testing – directly measuring aerodynamic pressures, and seeing airflow patterns by the use of on-road wool-tuft testing.

Section 3, the largest part in the book, covers aerodynamic modification. Fitting vortex generators, testing different undertrays, reducing drag, using turning vanes in intercooler ducting – all are covered in detail. In addition, techniques are described for reducing wind noise, building an effective engine intake that breathes high-pressure cold air, siting bonnet vents in the correct location, and testing airflow through intercoolers.

If you have read absolutely everything I have produced on aerodynamics in the last decade you will have seen much of the material before. (That said, even I was surprised with some of the stuff I dug up – I’d forgotten I’d written it!) But I must say, having a copy of the printed book in my hand as I write, the usability of the information is so much higher when you have it all in one place, and can browse at will.

It’s my book so I am sure that you’d expect me to say how great it is, but I genuinely believe that it adds something worthwhile to the (very few) books published on the topic of road car aero modification.

If you are interested, it’s available directly from https://www.createspace.com/4201918

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A poor way of looking at technological history

Posted on February 4th, 2013 in Driving Emotion,Opinion,Technologies by Julian Edgar

Recently I thought it might be good to do some further tertiary study.

The topic? Transport history.

I like trains, cars, ships, hovercraft, airships and the like, and I read a lot about them, especially their technological development.

So I looked for a tertiary institution that offers a course in this area. I found one too, offered by distance education at a university in the UK.

I wrote to them, giving a little of my background (diploma and degree in education with majors in geography and sociology, graduate diploma in journalism, author of a tech book on cars, and longstanding journalist in the field of electronics and technology), and asked if their course would be suitable.

They were positive but pointed out that the course, a certificate, was taught at a level that may be overly simple for me. However, when I looked at the content, it actually looked really interesting.

The first year of the two-year course was based around content that traced the development of transport within Britain over the last few hundred years, and in the second year, students were able to write a dissertation on, the university said, any transport-related topic they liked.

The course was not cheap (around AUD$5000 a year) but as I say, it looked good – especially with the freedom in the second year. In fact, I mused, what sort of topic would I pick for that long second-year paper? I came up with three possibles: automotive front suspension design 1920 – 1950, aerodynamics of passenger cars 1970 – 1990, and development of the SR.N4 commercial hovercraft. Each I thought would be a worthy area of major study: I became quite excited at the prospect of the course on which I was to embark.

I wrote to the university, nominating these topics and asking if they’d be suitable.

But then things started going downhill.

Back came the reply:

“Technical subjects are, of course, very acceptable so long as the study contains analysis in the historical context. A straight story of changes in design with no linkage to social/economic/historical influences would not be acceptable.

The course convenor went on:

“In other words, we would not be interested in precise details of nuts and bolts but we would be interested in how and why it developed that way.”

Further, the lecturer nominated a link that, she said, showed the approach the university liked. The most interesting part of that link was at http://www.historyoftechnology.org/booklets_intro.html. Here is an excerpt:

Scholarly specialists now largely agree about what is called social construction: the idea that technologies succeed or fail (or emerge at all) partly because of the political strategies employed by “actors”— individuals, groups, and organizations—that have conflicting or complementary interests in particular outcomes. [….]  …there is no doubt that technological designs are shaped by ambient social and cultural factors…. the shaping of technology is integral to the shaping of society and culture.

In other words, the development of technology should be examined through a sociological rather than technical prism.

Now as I wrote above, I have a degree-level major in sociology: I am completely happy that a historical analysis of technological developments should occur in part within a sociological frame of reference. And  clearly, the success or otherwise of the technology, if assessed by the change it brings to society, is well measured and described by an analysis that takes into account the contemporaneous (and subsequent)  economic, political and cultural environments.

But to suggest that those responsible for the development of the technology are mere actors, implicitly of no great consequence – well!

The development of hovercraft technology very much reflected the economic, political and cultural environment of 1960s Britain – but crucially, without the ideas of one man, Christopher Cockerell, there would have been no hovercraft in the first place! Further, without the intellectual capital expended by engineers within Saunders Roe, bent on overcoming specific technical issues, there would have been no giant SR.N4 hovercraft – even if all this occurred in exactly the same sociological and historical environment.

You simply cannot exclude from the story the people who came up with – and refined – the ideas: they are integral to the technological development, as are the discrete steps they took in that process.

Furthermore, the suggested approach ignores the idea that there are objective measurable outcomes in technological achievement itself – it is not only within a social context that any worthwhile judgements can be made of technology.

Would Issigonis’s Mini have been less of a technological achievement if the car had been unsuccessful within broader society – something that, soon after its release, looked quite likely? If analysis includes objective automotive design criteria such as packaging efficiency, fuel economy, performance and handling – then no, it would have been just as great a technological advance, even if it had been a commercial flop with little overt societal impact.

So while I certainly understand the critical importance of a social context in terms of genesis, adoption and impact of a technological advance, to pay only lip-service to the nitty-gritty of the technology itself, and its process of development, seems to me to be missing a helluva lot of the wood for the trees.

It’s easy to be uncharitable: perhaps this approach is the one endorsed because people don’t want to be bothered understanding the technology – better to just accept that it would have come about anyway….so who cares how they actually did it?

But what an incredible belittlement of engineers….

Footnote: I’ve decided not to do the course.

3500 kays in the UK

Posted on January 19th, 2013 in diesel,Driving Emotion,Economy,hyundai by Julian Edgar

I’ve just come back from driving 3500 kilometres around the United Kingdom, done in 3 weeks.

The purpose was a family holiday, where we just happened to see as many engineering marvels as we could in that time and distance – something that was achieved, and will be covered in an upcoming AutoSpeed series.

A lot of the driving time was spent on the excellent freeway (“motorway”) system that exists in Britain. These roads are typically four or six lane highways – here in Australia, they’d all be marked (and enforced) at 110 km/h. And in the UK, the posted motorway limit is in fact 70 mph (113 km/h).

But the kicker is that people actually travel at 80 – 85 mph (about 135 km/h). Despite there being plenty of traffic sped cameras, and an occasional police car, the enforcement is set at a level where these speeds are fine.

And boy, does it ever make a difference to travel time when you can sit on 135 km/h in the right-hand lane!

The drivers are disciplined, courteous and aware – average for average, much better than drivers in Australia. In those 3 weeks, much of it in wet and windy weather conditions, I saw very few accidents and witnessed even fewer driving mistakes.

The Australian politicians who believe that any higher limit in (most of) Australia than 110 km/h would kill swathes of people – I wonder if any of them have driven overseas (as opposed to being chauffeured) while on their international ‘study trips’…

The car we had for the trip was a Hyundai i40 diesel ‘Blue’ wagon.


It was brand new, with only delivery kilometres on the odometer. Well-equipped in the guise we had it, it came with seat warmers, excellent navigation, dual climate control, leather, colour instruments LCD, parking sensors – and so on.

The diesel was coupled to a manual 6-speed box, that was slightly notchy when cold and always had an overly long throw. Not over-endowed with power, the car turned in a fuel economy in the low Fives in litres/100km – really excellent with the car heavily laden and often driven at speed.

Driving mostly on highways disguised one of the shortcomings of the engine – its off-boost performance (say up to 1500 rpm – and a low redline in a diesel, remember) was woeful, and the transition to on-boost torque sudden and lacking progression. In urban conditions, and especially where a sudden spurt of power was needed from a standstill, the car could border on dangerous.

Interior packaging was very good, with one exception – as with many current cars, the window sill line was too high, especially in the back. Even sitting on a booster seat, my 8-year-old son could only just see over the window line – stupid.

Ride and handling were also fine for our purpose. Grip levels weren’t huge (low rolling resistance tyres?) but with good stability control, there were no issues. Ride quality was excellent – but remember, that was with 3 people and lots of luggage. Less heavily laden, the ride would have been harsher.

I thought it a superb car for the purpose to which we put it. In fact, the Hyundai struck me as a very well built car coming from a maker with perhaps 50 years of designing and building cars behind them. Interesting, when even 5 years ago some Hyundais were dubious at best.

I’ve been shooting photos for publication for over 30 years, and I knew the trip would need lots of pics taken. However, I didn’t really want to lug around my digital Nikon SLR – so I bought a new camera. After much consideration and reading of reviews, I got a Canon G15.

What a superb little camera!

Its ability to shoot with high quality in very low light, often without flash, is exemplary. This ability comes from having a fast lens (unusual in pocket cameras), high lens quality at all apertures (again unusual in this class) and having sufficient modes to match the needs of a professional – or the rankest of amateurs. I particularly like having exposure compensation on an instant-access dial – I less like not being able to quickly modify flash output.

Especially in difficult, contrasty or low light conditions, the camera performed very well indeed.