A Car Review From a Student Driver's Perspective.
The best part of being 18 (or 15 in most other countries) is the chance to grab the steering wheel and whizz around the town in your car pretending to be one of the Grand Trio. And this enthusiasm translates into stupid and reckless driving which forces parents to put teens like us into a Drivers' education program. Well according to me, these programs are preposterous and a complete waste of time. But the best part about these classes is the chance to sit on the left (Right. I know, Brits!!) with an experienced person riding shotgun with you to correct your juvenile mistakes.
I'm going to make this article a bit personalized and every account in this article is completely a depiction of my experience with the cars. Yes, these cars might be old. Yes, they might not be supercars or hypercars but I feel this would be a comprehensive guide to most of the people who are yet to obtain a driver's license test or are completely new to cars. You might probably encounter these vehicles for the first time in your lives.
This is going to be more of a storytelling session rather than a review. So, sit back and enjoy reading my stupidity.
1. The First Car I've Ever Driven In My Life- The 2011 Honda Civic EX Sedan.
Look at that. The blue, majestic Japanese samurai standing and flaunting its glory. Courtesy- McKinney Cars
Oh, What a day that was!! It was the first time for me to touch the wheel and getting my foot rested on the pedals. A rush of adrenaline flowed through my body and I was ready to roll. On reaching the driving class, my instructor comes out of the smelly instruction room and hands over the keys to me. Nothing could ever bring the feeling of joy on TheGenuine Petrolhead's face (that was my pseudonym).
I sit inside the car with the big Honda symbol on the steering wheel flashing at my face and my legs, moving through the maze and finding its way to rest on the accelerator. Then, I was explained the ways to set the mirrors and the steering wheel height. With all the theory done, we were set to move.
First, we drove in the parking lots and all this while, for some goddamn reason, I thought of every car to resemble a go kart. Despite talking about innovations in transmissions and steering in my previous articles, I had completely forgotten that you actually need very little effort to turn them. At the same time, I had my left foot on the brake and my right foot on the accelerator. My instructor meanwhile, was patiently trying to fix this bad habit of mine and tried to tell me that I am not going to end up the road anytime from now. Through some recognizable driving experience, I've come to the conclusion that I had been a complete idiot.
An hour into the car and I had perfectly understood the working of the vehicle and now, I had it deeply ingrained as a motor habit that its a single foot for a automatic transmission vehicle and steering anything is really easy. It was then time to hit the city road.
Now, I had started to understand the vehicle. It was pretty fine around the corners but a little jerky at a few curves. While compared to the other cars I drove, the steering was nimble and gentle. But something worth noticing is the turn radius. Even to make a quick ninety degree turn, it took a minimum of two lane space to turn. I had once ran on the kerb in another driving class. This vehicle needs a lot of space which makes even parking, a hard task.
When it comes to the accelerator response, it lacks the punch to be brutally honest. Okay, I know what you are thinking. It's a 2011 car and a family budget sedan, what can you expect from it? True, but this fact gets irritating when you have somebody honking at you on a highway since you took 10 seconds to hit the required speed. The accelerator isn't a solid point on this car. But the smoothness of the ride is a solid go. There was not a rattle even at 55 miles per hour. I feel that this car would be perfect for a long drive, but city driving would be just satisfactory on this.
After almost bumping into a few elementary school kids and a cyclist, I had made it into the parking lot safe. It was then I perceived that commenting on stupid drivers on the road is easy till you hit the roads yourself. Now, I sit quietly in the front seat nodding my head at my dad commenting on stupid drivers on the road. Ironically, I myself am on the verge of being one.
2. 2015 Hyundai Elantra SE.
I was a big fan of this car when I was about five years old. The top rack of my car collection had this car. I just love how this sedan looks. A streamlined body with a continuous curve, this car was a trademark for styling since the beginning of the 21st century. While many other family cars were "boxy", this was unique and attracted a lot of crowd.
Now, I was given the opportunity to drive this car and by then, I had been a wise old man with a driving experience of 4 hours. I was pretty confident and felt comfortable, since the person who was beside me was my dad's friend.
The interiors of this car was very different and there was a lot of visibility both forward and backward, given the fact that this was a sedan. The driver's seat was positioned perfectly and was slanted like in many other sport sedans. This was a big advantage since lane control was easier and the dividers were perfectly visible. Moreover, the back mirrors could actually, show whats happening behind. Since, its a gradual dip in the slope, there is immense clarity on rear view.
After getting into the car, I was taken aback by the plot twist. My dad's friend said, "Now, I'll show you roads that you would never expect anywhere in Dallas-Fort Worth. Be prepared." That gave me chills and I had to prepare myself for the two hours of horror to come.
Narrow junctions, quick turns and surprisingly horrible roads looked like an easy task for this car. The throttle was perfect and there was no rattling even at high speeds. However, the steering was atrocious. Just staying in the lane required a lot of effort. It feels really loose, and felt like it would pop out any moment. At a stretch of multiple potholes, this vehicle went haywire. It needed a lot of talent to perfectly steer this car.
No car is perfect, to which I totally agree to. But this car is a tad better than the Honda Civic given that it possesses 3 more years of innovation and gizmos that makes the driving experience sweeter.
Purists and junkies would say a big NO to what I stated above.
3. 2017 BMW X5.
One car to which I could claim some possession (well, sorta). This car can be defined by a single word, legendary. It is the most advanced, powerful and intelligent vehicle I have driven. The best thing about this car is that it knows and understands your driving habits. The Artificial Intelligence in this car aids you while driving, especially in throttle and control. Another interesting feature I've noticed while driving is that you could set your dependence on this vehicle from a scale of 1 to 10 on a hypothetical scale. 1, Being able to drive with no external aids and 10, with just your hand on the wheel and foot resting on the accelerator pedal.
Guess, who was the unlucky shotgun this time?? It was my dad himself. And that gave me even more flexibility on what to do. On getting into the car, my dad said, "I have absolutely no control over this vehicle. All I want you to do is to stay vigilant. This is not like your driving lessons."
This is a relatively recent episode and to drive this car, I literally needed 2 months to gain trust from my dad. Again, his concern was a valid one. I used to shout at him but would understand it later.
Not to be biased, but I noticed no flaws with this vehicle. I tried my best but couldn't notice any. The steering, absolutely brilliant. Its for the steering that BMW is well esteemed and the heavy but easy steering could be compared to high end luxury sport cars. The accelerator, makes the 300 hp engine roar fiercely and anyone can notice an immediate thrust once you put your foot down. Usually, SUVs feel very uncomfortable in Freeways, even for a passenger. Its primarily due to the bulkiness and the body roll. This vehicle has a noticeable body roll but the handling counterbalances it and hence, perfect in straight and curved roads as well. Visibility, perfect. Overall a perfect car.
The turning radius is a debatable topic. According to physics, this does need a large turning radius since its size is big and the mass is high. This is probably the only "flaw" I could find with this bad boy.
I guess BMW made complete justice to their marketing slogan, "Sheer Driving Pleasure."
So, guys and girls!! I hope you enjoyed reading my article. If you did, please leave a bump. I know, it has been a very long time since I put up any article. College and laziness are making my life miserable.
Also, share a learner's story that you had encountered as a student driver. That would make me feel better( well, you couldn't have been as foolish as me, but bleh!).