In Summary
  • Lose unnecessary weight. Shut any windows that you don’t really need open. Inflate your tyres properly.

  • Get rid of roof racks or bodykits that serve no real purpose - they only increase drag.

  • Plan your trips beforehand to ensure your drive has the best possible permutation of good roads, short distances and little traffic.

Hi Baraza,

Your research and knowledge qualifies you for the position of transport CS now or in future. My Corolla 91 is fitted with an EFI engine. Is there a VVTI engine that is compatible with this vehicle?

You once wrote on how you drive to and from Western at a good speed and return very good fuel consumption figures. Could you kindly share with us some of the good driving tips that you use?

Itonga.

An average of 12km/l from a 1500cc Corolla NZE isn’t half bad but is indicative of mixed use between intra-urban city centre assault and open-air highway cruising. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

Well, almost any later-generation VVT-i equipped Corolla engine will go into the 91 without any compatibility issues. Now, about my driving: I think I have outlined my technique before but I will gladly share it again.

First is to go easy on the throttle. Allocate yourself enough time for your journey so that your drive is more of an enjoyable tour and less of a frantic ambulance driver-esque flailing at the wheel and rat-killing stomping of the pedals weaving in and out of slower traffic.

Not only is it hard on fuel and hard on your car, it is also hard on you. Go easy on the braking as well. I brake as little as possible, but not so little as to cause consternation to the people I’m sharing the road with.

I always look up to a kilometre ahead when conditions allow to anticipate whether I will need to slow down and simply let off the throttle rather than use the footbrake.

This also makes overtaking easy because you can time yourself to get back on the power early such that by the time you are overtaking, you are at a good pace that sees you complete the manoeuvre quickly and cleanly.

Many people wait until they are at tailgating distance to brake hard, then swing out, mash the firewall in second, seeing the tach soar to 5000 and then possibly fail to complete the exercise because of oncoming traffic, forcing them back, which means they have to have another go at it... and another.

This will not win you any economy awards.

These two techniques will take you places as far as saving fuel goes, but there is more to it. Lose unnecessary weight.

Shut any windows that you don’t really need open. Inflate your tyres properly. Get rid of roof racks or bodykits that serve no real purpose - they only increase drag. Plan your trips beforehand to ensure your drive has the best possible permutation of good roads, short distances and little traffic.

Lastly (but definitely not conclusively), only drive if you really have to.

Of course, driving a car with a manual transmission helps a lot too. I recently went on a long trip, maintained a steady 100 and averaged 11.8km/l. I was going uphill mostly, despite the vehicle going into its limp-home setting (a.k.a “safe mode”) for some few kilometres. Not bad for an 18-year old Subaru....

I plan to get a car from Japan, which importer do you recommend?

Hi Baraza,

My name is Elvis. I am planning to buy and import a car from Japan. I am not sure which car export company in Japan is genuine, so understandably, I am wary of losing my hard-earned money. Kindly advise me.

Hi Elvis (Presley?)

Imported vehicles

Imported vehicles leaving the port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

We are not in the business of analysing car importers in this column, so names will go unmentioned – doing so would come with the risk of libel, free marketing and so on, you understand. But I do understand your caginess about the whole thing, though.

There is quite a tidy sum involved in buying a car and one wouldn’t want to see their nest egg summarily vapourised courtesy of unsavoury and shady elements who do not understand the concept of honest work.

Feel free to ask friends for recommendations or better yet, join an online forum and run a poll or vox pop to establish who to trust and who to steer clear of.

That should provide some clear answers as well as offering up a wealth of information on how to go about the process.

Subaru Impreza Sports vs the Golf

Hi Baraza,

An older cousin recently bought a Subaru Impreza Sports but not everyone is impressed – it picks up fast and it has been a cause of accidents lately. Kindly advise on its safety and benefits it may have over the Golf.

Subaru Impreza.

Subaru Impreza. PHOTO | COURTESY

Well, the Impreza may have AWD, but so does the Golf (4Motion, where available) so that cancels that out.

The Golf is more prestigious, the Impreza is more rugged. Both are smallish, egg-shaped pods for inner city exploration and the occupation of tiny parking spaces.

Go for the Impreza if you want to put up with the constant barrage of baselessly judgemental aspersions cast towards “Subaru” people, go for the Golf if you don’t mind a persistent Check Engine Light.

The Golf is a nicer car, though. Really refined and “affordable premium”, if there is such a thing.

Safety? Well, for starters. the Impreza was a Top Safety Pick for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety back in 2012, which is saying something. It scored a green G (Good) in almost everything except for structure and safety cage where it scored a yellow A (Average). The green G is the highest accolade attainable in the crash tests of 2012.

(I have to correct you here on your notion that Imprezas have been the cause in accidents lately. I seriously doubt that because the statistics say otherwise. Imprezas are not that many to begin with, and the few that are there are not driven as badly as people tend to believe.)

And now the Golf.

It scored an otherworldly 94 per cent for adult occupant safety, 89 per cent for child occupant safety, 65 per cent for pedestrian collisions and 71 per cent for safety assistance on the Euro-NCAP tests, which tend to be more stringent than the American IIHS one.

I know these are two different scales of merit, so in comparison, the Golf scored a green G in everything except for right foot injuries for the driver where it scored a medium, but keep in mind this was a left-hand drive vehicle so that means the passenger’s foot.

I would say the two cars are fairly balanced as far as safety goes, but the high scores that Golf is hitting for adult and child occupant safety on the Euro NCAP look very impressive.

Help! What’s wrong with this car?

Dear Baraza,

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