"A word on the spot is worth a cartload of recollections"
James Maggs, Southwold diarist 1797-1890

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Sorry to come across like Jeremy Clarkson

but our hire car has dominated our trip to such an extent, so far, that I have to say something about it.

The first thing that struck us about our Nissan Versa was its chronically underpowered engine. It's also automatic, so pressing the accelerator down causes the engine to drop gear with a high-pitched whining sound, but without adding any appreciable forward momentum at all.

Instead of working to design a reasonably-powered engine, Nissan clearly spent all their time coming up with features that are presumably aimed at improving passenger's safety and security, but instead are just very irritating. As we discovered to our cost yesterday, the car automatically locks the doors even when the key is in the lock and the engine is running. This resulted in us being locked out of the car in temperatures below -15°C, and having to pay $100 Canadian Dollars to a locksmith to jimmy the lock.

(It's worth mentioning at this point that the locksmith unlocked the car within 20 seconds using a bent coat hanger. What does that say for the car's security?)

So, the doors lock automatically and only unlock when the engine is switched off and the key removed from the ignition. This means that the passenger can't open his door to get out of the car unless the driver first removes the key. What on earth is the point of that? Did the designers think there is a real danger of passengers opening the door while the car is moving and flinging themselves under the wheels of passing traffic?

Another deeply annoying feature of the car is that it emits loud beeps, all the time, to tell the driver that they are "doing something wrong". The sound of the beeps varies with each "infringement". Between us we've actually spent quite a bit of time trying to work out what we've done wrong from the different beeps. But I'm sure by the end of the holiday, like Pavlov's dogs, the car will have us fully trained.
Rant over!

(Actually, one of the beeps is quite useful, as it goes off when Nick is trying to move off with the handbrake on. It hasn't stopped him trying yet, but I'm holding out hope that it may do before the end of the holiday.)

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