Dear Baraza,
In your reply about power and torque on February 19, I had a feeling that you mixed up power and speed. I think torque was alright, but power is not speed. Power combines both torque and speed. If you increase one, you reduce the other because at full throttle, power is the same when taking off or cruising at 120 km/hr.

What? No. Full throttle is full throttle, be it at 2000rpm or at 9000rpm. However, power at 2000rpm is NOT the same as power at 9000rpm. That’s why we have power curves and torque curves.

I’d have explained what a power/torque curve is but it’s not easy to do so without becoming technical to the point of alienating my readership. The same goes to why and how power is a direct result of engine speed, so we will instead take a shortcut.

Read the creep sheet of any motor vehicle and I can tell you it says “maximum power of ‘x’ horsepower or ‘y’ kilowatts at so many thousand rpm”. It specifies the engine speed at which this maximum power is attained, which implies the power is not the same all through the rev range.

You can go full throttle from idle and stay at full throttle all through the rev range, but it is only at one specific point where you will achieve maximum power.

The power output rises from idle until this specific point after which it drops off again because the engine’s abilities do not allow it to carry the maximum torque it develops to faster engine speeds.

You got it wrong on the Mazda Bongo, Nissan Vannete and Mitsubishi Delica

Dear Baraza,
I really appreciate your insight on all things motoring, but lately, you are making some missteps.

In a reply to a query in the Nation of October 20 on the Mazda Bongo, Nissan Vannete and Mitsubishi Delica, you dismissed the Delica as you usually do for Mitsubishi brands except Evo. If I quote you “....Delica, for reasons I will not go into lest I get admonished against trashing brands again”.

This offhand dismissal of Mitsubishi brands prompted you not to do proper research on the Delica. Here are the facts: Delica D:3 is a rebadged Nissan NV200, Delica D:2 is a rebadged Suzuki Solio while those three brands that the query centred on are one.

That Delica 1999-2010 is a Mazda Bongo. The only real Mitsubishi Delica on sale as per our import rule is Delica D:5 all others are rebadged, otherwise it is the older version that can’t import Mitsubishi Star Wagon and Mitsubishi Space Gear. Those are the hard facts.

Regards, Mwaniki

Thank you for your hard facts. Now here are mine:
Hi Mwaniki,

1. I do not “dismiss Mitsubishi brands except Evo”, offhandedly or otherwise. Au contraire, it is because of addressing Mitsubishi brands that I was asked to cease and desist, which I did... for a while. Then I remembered that I am an independent car reviewer with a right to an opinion based on whatever I come across, so... we’re back at it (last week should have been a good enough indicator that normal Mitsubishi-addressing business has resumed)

2. The aforementioned opinions are shaped by a combination of research and vox pop derived from anecdotal evidence by various people I engage. First we have Car Clinic, this column, which enjoys a vast correspondence from a readership, and which has existed for almost 10 years.

That is a large enough population sample and a long enough time period to draw meaningful, conclusive patterns, data and statistics from, don’t you think? You also don’t survive as a two-page columnist for the region’s biggest media house and its best-selling newspaper by being dismissive or averse to research.

Subaru Legacy.

The risk of ignominy and subsequent termination is too high to take such a lackadaisical approach to my work. Speaking of population samples, I helm a hyperactive social media forum with a membership of 87,000 petrolheads and potential petrolheads as we speak.

Those are more than enough active fingers on abused keyboards giving multiple views for one to safely conclude that maybe, just maybe, in a given list of motor vehicles, one or two are not as good as the others. I’m not saying outright that Mitsubishi is bad, but apart from the Lancer Evolution and the trucks/lorries, can you name one, just one Mitsubishi vehicle that is actively and undeniably dominant in its particular segment? I’ll wait.

3. That said, let’s now look at your hard facts, more so about the Delica D:5, the “real Slim Shady”. It debuted in 2007, which means it suffers the same problems that the Nissan GTR does: it is officially a teenager, which in automotive terms is what human teenagers would call “old AF” (as Father).

Thirteen years is a very long time to keep one model of vehicle going (Hello Pajero/Shogun!) and the 2019 facelift doesn’t do much to alleviate this.

Let’s look at things from a uniquely Kenyan perspective: 2007 was the year we had a disastrous election that was followed by civil strife. Does that seem far back enough for you?

Alternatively, in 2007 we had KBA plates. We are now at KCY/KCZ (and there are photos of a Landcruiser KDA fluttering around online, though I have no idea what the story behind that one is). Do you now see exactly how old this car is?

How about we look at flagging sales numbers? The 1995 production of the Delica stood at 109,930 vans, all made in Japan.

The 2007 production is bubbling just under 20,000 units for combined production in Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines. What does that tell you? Between 2012 and 2019, Indonesian imports, which are all Japan-sourced, maxed out at 28,429. Now, you could argue that from 2007 onwards, a large number of these Delicas were rebadged, which begs two questions:

a) This doesn’t account for the steadily declining sales numbers for the 1996-2006 decade. What was going on there?

b) What was the need for rebadging? I know why cars share badges and whatnot (splitting R&D costs, mostly), but does it not speak against the Delica's popularity that they never got to enjoy the kind of production figures they once sported 25 years ago? Keep in mind motor vehicle sales have been on the up and up year by year until that stupid virus showed up and forced everyone to stay indoors.

Anyway, the D:5. The toothy prefacelift* version boasts a leering rictus straight off a French car from the early 2000s; something along the lines of Renault or Citroen. The facelifted van looks like a prop in a sci-fi film and may be the unwitting victim of an overenthusiastic designer who didn't know when to stop. Its countenance suffers from the same affliction beleaguering the Pajero Sport's rear fascia: too many unnecessary details in the form of lines, joints, angles and whatever else the designer put there. It is too much, tone it down a little, yo.

(Certain versions of the prefacelift D:5 come with a soberer, less dental appearance.)

It is a tall-ish vehicle which means it has very good headroom. It also means it has a high c-of-g. Body roll is your friend, as will be understeer if you make the unwise decision to wind it up (don't), an unwise decision because apart from the wonky dynamics, the D:5 can get uncharismatically raucous under hard acceleration. These are just some of the characteristics that stood out in the short dalliance I had with the D:5 - yes, I have actually driven one but not reviewed it until today because you raised the matter.

And then there was Toyota, the nemesis of almost every other mass manufacturer not just in Japan, but on earth. The 2012-2013 Noah, in whose line of fire the Delica sits pretty, peddles for between 1.3 -1.69 million. A D:5 of the same vintage peddles for 1.45 - 1.7. Do you see the problem here?

Toyota’s homegrown rivals survive by undercutting the giant's products in price because street cred alone is enough to sink them if they don't watch out. There really is no price for brand recognition, which is why a lot of companies invest in public relations.

But here we have a van that is not objectively superior going for the exact same price used. Factoring in depreciation, how much exactly did these D:5s cost new? Could the Three Diamonds have priced themselves out of the market?

(There are other Delicas of the same age going for about a million or less, but these are not D:5s. They're the rebadged D:2/D:3 you mentioned earlier.)

If Mitsubishi reverted to the Delica design brief of old, that of a compact, practical and affordable little van free of frippery, they may have sold a lot more, but on second thought, they actually already have such a Delica. It is also called a Nissan Vanette, but some call it a Mazda Bongo.

An electric car.

Is Kenya ready for hybrid or electric cars?

I would like to seek clarification on the following:
1- Is it true that Nissan automobiles are less reliable and have a shorter lifespan than Toyotas of similar specifications comparatively?

2- Does Kenya have adequate (or any at all) infrastructure, for instance, charging points, service centres and dealers, to enable people to use hybrid or electric cars in the country? Is it possible to charge such cars at home, the way one would a smartphone or laptop?

3 - Speaking of hybrid cars like the Range Rover P400e, does the hybrid model have less power and torque compared to the fully petrol or diesel model?

Hi James,
1. Generally, yes. Some models hold up relatively well (but are still no match compared to the chargers of Akio Toyoda) while others fade away faster than a Toyota's service interval.
2. No, not only does the country not have adequate infrastructure to support hybrid or electric vehicles, it actually has none at all that I know of. None of the local franchise/brand holders sells a hybrid or electric car, meaning they don’t have the support network, and this kind of support system can be a bit overwhelming for a private entrepreneur to attempt to go alone, especially given how few and far between hybrids and electrics are.
It is possible to charge cars at home, but it is a very slow process, usually done overnight (and even then you might not get a full charge). Porsche and Tesla have technology that has been misnamed: “superchargers”, which are not metallo-mechanical devices that produce a whining noise and increase fuel consumption, rather, the new-age fossil-hating “supercharger” definition is a charging station that charges electric vehicles really quickly, up to 80 per cent charge in a matter of minutes last I checked.
3. The power outputs will depend on what the manufacturer decides. Some hybrids have lower outputs because they use smaller internal combustion engines compared to fully petrol or diesel versions. Some, however, have higher outputs because alongside the internal combustion engine, there is an electric motor that supplements outputs and sends the figures much higher than usual, particularly torque. Electric motors develop a lot of torque.

Go ahead and buy the car of your dreams
Hi Baraza,
I own a Subaru Legacy BR9 2500 cc non-turbo. I plan to upgrade to a Legacy Turbo 2000cc but I’m afraid of its consumption.
Kindly advise me. Anthony

Hi Anthony,
Go for it. The consumption is not as bad as you think, and may in fact be better than that of the 2.5 litre (shouldn’t it be a 2.4?) BR9 you currently sling.

Who owns a ‘Cathedral’ that I can review?

Hi Baraza,

I hope you are well, keep up the good work. I still await your piece on the “cathedral”.
Regards, Patrick Mtei

Hi Patrick,

I hope you are well. Keep up the good readership of this column. I still await to drive the “cathedral” analytically, so we don’t have a piece on it at the moment.

In light of that, anyone out there with a Mercedes-Benz W140 who is not afraid of having it critically and publicly scrutinised can reach me on the address provided — I promise to do it justice. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the lowly S280 six-cylinder or a romping-stomping V12 600, we do not discriminate. Patrick here is in dire need of a review...