When driving abroad the most important thing to do is to stay legal. Being prepared and taking care when on the roads in Europe can ensure you don’t get hit with a big fine or possibly even worse. There are plenty of motoring regulations and rules in the UK but in Europe they step it up a level.
The info-graphic below shows some of the wide-spread and unusual legal requirements you’ll need to be aware of. You’ll need your own breathalyser in France, two pairs of glasses in Spain if you wear them and even replacement light bulbs in Italy. The bizarre rules can massively vary by country but some don’t get any less strange to your average UK driver.
There’s also the typically lower drink/drive limits to consider in majority of European countries so if you’re driving then you probably shouldn’t be considering that small one. You might also want to consider going easy the night before if you’ve got an early start driving the following day.
That “expensive” taxi or bus ride isn’t looking so bad now is it?
Image courtesy of Autoweb.
If you live in the UK or any other part of Europe, then the likes of the BMW M3 and Audi RS4 are the best mid-size performance saloons money can buy. There’s others, but these two saloons mix refinement, luxury, handling and performance best. Over in the US, things are a little different, although the BMW and Audi are still available.
If you’re looking for a stylish mid-size performance saloon that’s a little different to what the Germans have to offer, the Chevrolet SS should fit the bill nicely. But then it should – this is the first RWD performance saloon Chevrolet have made in 17 years.
It’s powered by General Motor’s trust-worthy LS3 V8 which in this car develops 415 bhp and 415 lb /ft of torque. According to Bristol Street Motors MOT Gloucester, this engine is simply to service. Power is sent to the rear wheels by a six-speed automatic gearbox, with fat and sticky 19-inch Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tyres to keep everything in check. The brakes are big too – four-piston Brembo calipers with 14-inch front rotors provide the stopping power this 1,622 kg car needs.
In a straight line, the Chevrolet SS is brutal. 0 – 62 mph happens in 4.9 seconds and it’ll complete the quarter mile in 13.2 seconds. With a top speed of 165 mph, it’ll edge past a standard BMW M3 or Audi RS4 out on the motorway, too.
When the roads get twisty, the Chevrolet SS is a bit of a weapon too.
The chassis has MacPherson struts upfront and a multilink rear arrangement. The car also boasts a 50:50 weight distribution. The result is an American car that actually handles well, and a car that wills the driver to push on through the corners.
The biggest drawback is the gearbox. It simply isn’t sharp enough. It lags around town and it isn’t the smoothest when pressing on. It also numbs the experience, and despite the thumping V8, it ruins a lot of the sportiness.
At least the interior is nice though.
Like the best mid-size performance saloons on the market, the SS is packed with technology. As standard it comes with a front collision and lane departure warning system, as well as automatic parking assist. Dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, every type of connectivity option imaginable and full leather come as standard too. Like a lot of American cars, the interior isn’t of the same quality as a BMW or Audi, but it’s damn close, and the ergonomics are excellent.
The Chevrolet SS is branded as the Holden VF Commodore in Australia, which sounds much cooler than the name you’ll know it by. Prices start from $43,475, which makes the SS quite the bargain for the performance on offer.
It seemed like such a great idea at first: cars that run on electricity instead of petrol. This sounds like an environmentalist’s dream, not to mention what it means to those of us tired of paying high petrol prices.
However, despite large government incentives (which are now being phased out), the sale of electric cars has just not taken off. The goal was to have 1.7 million electric cars on the UK roadways by 2020. The reality is that in the past two years only about 3,600 vehicles have been sold. Even though the government offered a £5,000 subsidy to electric car buyers, sales have been sluggish. So exactly why hasn’t the electric car movement gained much traction here in the UK?
Electric Cars are Expensive to Produce
Pound for pound, electric cars cost about twice as much to manufacture as their petrol powered counterparts. Unfortunately, a person’s wallet often speaks louder than their desire to reduce carbon emissions. Electricity might be cheaper than gas, but electric power is not free. In order to make up the difference in cost you would have to drive close to 200,000 miles. This would take the average driver over 24 years to accomplish (based on figures in this 2012 report).
Combine this with the higher cost of insuring electric cars and it’s a lot to put consumers off. Sure, it’s possible to look around on a comparison site to find a better policy and it’s possible that electric car production cost will go down, but for now price is a clear obstacle. Choosing a comparison site is hard, but after looking at the Meerkats on Facebook, Compare the Market obviously put their customers first.
Slow Re-Charge Time
The fastest charging time possible for an electric car is about four hours. Now you can plug it in overnight, but sometimes you just don’t have the time or an outlet. How long does it take to fill up a fuel tank? The UK government and the EU are investing big money to add charging stations throughout Europe, but this does not eliminate the time factor.
Some electric cars claim to have a range of 100 miles. However, real life road tests show numbers more in the range of 30-55 miles per charge depending on temperature and average speed. So what do electric car drivers do to save charge? They turn off the radio, the AC or the heat. Also they obsess over trip routes, charging times and charging locations.
BBC reporter Brian Milligan wrote in his online electric car testing diary, “Including the time spent both charging and driving, I managed an average speed between London and Edinburgh of just 6mph. Not exactly impressive or very practical…”.
They Aren’t Completely Green
Electric car advocates often point to the low emissions produced by electric engines (about half that of petrol or diesel engines). This is only half of the story though. The fact is that the manufacturing process of an electric car produces twice as much CO2 emissions as does the manufacturing of a petrol powered car. Also, the energy used to produce the electric charge is mostly from fossil fuels. Like the cost comparison, you end up having to drive the electric car huge distances for a long time in order to make a real difference in emissions.
Even though electric cars are a great idea, prohibitive factors like cost and convenience must be resolved. The real issue, however, is that the whole environmental benefit is questionable. Given these obstacles electric cars have a long way to go before they make a real difference in the automotive market.