Review: The 2015 Corvette Stingray

Post by Mark

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I don’t test drive that many American muscle cars, in fact I’ve only reviewed one before and that was the very evil Camaro ZL1 back at the end of 2012. What made that car so much fun back then is it rained when I had it. So you can imagine my bewilderment when it started raining this weekend right after I picked up a brand new arctic white Corvette to review. What are the odds that the second time in two years that I pick up a tail happy monster American car, it freakin rains again! Either someone up there loves me and wants me to have a lot of fun, or hates me and is hoping I’ll end up wiping out. Luckily it turned out to be the former.

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I’ve been a fan of Corvettes ever since I was a little kid and I nearly even purchased one when I moved back to Kuwait after university. So when I was dropping off the review Escalade a few weeks back and heard they might have a Corvette to test drive I jumped at the opportunity. My persistence finally paid off when I was told I’d be able to pick one up this past Thursday to enjoy over the weekend. Strangely though I ended up picking up the Corvette from a rental firm in Salmiya. Alghanim’s test drive vehicle wasn’t going to be available for sometime and since they had just delivered a brand new Corvette to a car rental company on Thursday, they ended up renting it back off them for the weekend to give to me. I was actually the first person to drive the car and so had to remove all the plastic from the dashboard, doors and seats. A brand new Corvette all to myself for the weekend, I thought it couldn’t get better, and then it rained.

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The 2015 Corvette is a beast of a car with a 6.2L V8 engine, 480HP and a 0-100 acceleration speed of 3.8 seconds. Its badass and when I first drove it off the lot I knew it was going to be a fun ride. I ended up spending most of the weekend going sideways while trying to be obnoxiously loud. It was a repeat of my weekend with the ZL1 and my friends calling me هيلق (hooligan) while I’m smoking the rear tires. No sort of civilized driving took place this past weekend. I mean seriously though I drive an FJ Cruiser as my daily driver so there was no way I wasn’t going to end up driving like a moron in a Corvette that wasn’t even mine.

The Corvette has five drive modes to choose from, Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track with each one of these modes calibrating 12 different performance variables like the exhaust mode, steering, traction control and even the cluster display. By default the car starts in Eco mode but in case you want the loud exhaust sound of the track mode you can turn that on permanently from the settings screen. Speaking of the screen, the Corvette has a touch screen media center which like every other American car I’ve been in, looks like it was designed to be used with Windows 95. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult for American carmakers to hire decent interface designers, it would make such a big difference in the overall experience of the car. On the other hand there is a super cool hidden compartment behind the touch screen. With a touch of a button the screen slides down revealing a compartment with a USB port (Check out video below). So if you have an iPod you can just plug it in there or you could just use it to store your wallet, glasses, keys, cocaine or other trinkets. In case you’re wondering there are two more USB ports in the center console which are better located to plug your phone in.


[YouTube]

One of my favorite features in the new Corvette is the targa top since it allowed me to remove the roof and drive as a semi convertible when the sun came out. The ability to remove the roof when the weather is great is such an added bonus and it’s so easy to do. I watched one YouTube video and then was able to remove the roof within seconds and store it in the trunk. Putting it back on took a bit longer but it’s still really easy and a one person job.

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One question I always ask myself when driving a sports car is if it can be a practical daily driver. With the Corvette I think the answer would be possibly, but not for me. The car is pretty low and I was scraping the front spoiler on some speed bumps and even while entering my underground parking. But other than that it’s actually a fairly easy car to drive as long as you don’t step on the gas pedal more than half way. In traffic it’s easy to maneuver and when in Eco or Tour mode the exhaust sound is muted and very civil. My biggest gripes with the car are mostly superficial. I didn’t think the interior felt premium, the car I drove had a red and black interior but the red made some of the blemishes in the leather finishing more visible. The whole interior also felt very plasticky which is an issue with most American cars. On the bright side it didn’t have any of the awkward touch controls of the Cadillacs and instead uses real buttons and nobs for the various interior controls. One thing I really found odd is how the door doesn’t have any handles, not on the outside nor the interior. Instead it uses a touch button for the door on the outside which is fairly common, but it also uses a touch button to open the door from the interior. I didn’t know that and when I first tried to open the door to get out I couldn’t because I couldn’t find the door handle. Anyway I finally figured out it was a button I had to press to get out and it made me wonder what would happen in an emergency or if the car battery died while you were in it. For that it turns out there is an emergency door handle on the floor near the seat. I don’t know, it just seems to complicated and over engineered for just a simple door handle.

For those of you wondering when the souped up Z06 arrives to Kuwait… they don’t know. The 2016 Middle East version of the Z06 keeps getting delayed and the dealer doesn’t have an estimated arrival date as of this post.

The 2015 Corvettes start at KD22,795 which is a ridiculous value for the performance you’re getting. Colorwise if I was to get one it would most likely be the shark grey metallic exterior with a full black interior. If you’d like to test drive any of the Alghanim Automotive cars then click [Here]


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Fail of the Week

Post by Mark

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Hashtag #kuwaitfail on instagram or twitter and I’ll share the best one every week.

Update: I was just made aware this happened in Dubai. I should use google’s reverse image search more often. In any case below is another view.

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Porsche Climbed Over Concrete Barrier

Post by Mark

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Freak accident.

via @buyabis_m


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Easy Taxi now has Competition, Careem

Post by Mark

careem

Until Uber comes to Kuwait we have to make due with alternatives and as of recently the only alternative we had available was Easy Taxi. I’ve used them a few times and I have mixed feelings about them. For one thing every time I book a car the driver calls me up and asks me where I am even though he has my GPS location on his map. The other annoying thing is the fact that they try to negotiate a price before they even pick me up which I hate doing. My last issue is the fact that I have to pay cash instead of having the ride charged to my credit card similar to how I do with Uber. This is where Careem comes in.

Careem is an alternative to Easy Taxi that has recently come into the market. I haven’t had the chance to use them just yet but first impressions from their app and website is that they might be a worthy alternative. Why?

– You can add a credit card to your account and use it to pay for your rides
– The rides are metered
– You can pre-book a cab in advance

The only negative I can see at the moment is that their rides will cost you more. The minimum cost for their “Economy Car” is KD3 while their “Business Car” is KD4. If you’re interested in trying them out you can download their app or visit their website [Here]


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Review: Cadillac Escalade 2015

Post by Mark

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After spending a weekend with the Mercedes S-Class I was telling a friend about my experience and how it made me want to listen to hip hip the whole time. Before realizing it we were discussing other cars that suited hip hop when the Escalade came up. My friend asked me why I don’t review the new Escalade as well so right away I got in touch with Cadillac. The next day picked up the Escalade for the weekend.

The car is HUGE! I was expecting it to be big obviously since I’ve driven the older Escalade before but it had been a long time since I had been any car that was this big. The model I picked up looked very pimp with a black exterior and a brown leather interior. First thing I did after adjusting the seating position was to connect my iPhone and start blasting hip hop. While looking for a USB port to plugin my phone I actually ended up finding five, so you could basically charge the whole families phones while driving. The car I drove could fit six adults very comfortably since it had two pilot seats in the second row instead of the usual bench seat.

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Because I had the Cadillac for the weekend I decided to pick up a few friends and head into the desert for a fun outing. It was a Saturday and Qout Market was on so we decided to all meet up there first. Once we were done with the market all five of us got into the Escalade and took off towards the desert. The Escalade performs at its best when the car is packed with friends or kids. Since the car comfortably fits six and we were just five everyone was pretty relaxed on the long drive. One cool feature I enjoyed in the car on the long drive is the heads up display. Instead of having to look down at the speedometer all the time to see how fast I was going I could instead have my speed displayed on the windshield in front of me. But sadly that still wasn’t enough to stop me from getting a speeding ticket. The car is enormous so you expect it to drive like a tank but it doesn’t and I ended up getting caught doing 145 in a 120 zone. Once we got to desert, I shifted the car into four wheel drive and drove off road looking for camels.

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For a car this huge though you’d expect a lot of room in the trunk but thats sadly lacking when the third row seats are up. It’s one of the few negatives I have about the car. With both rear seats down you get a ton of luggage space but the car then can only hold four passengers. On the positive side you could lower half the third row seats creating more luggage space while still leaving room for a fifth passenger. The second thing I disliked about the car is the touch interface. Cadillacs don’t use standard push buttons to control things like climate control or the volume but instead use a combination of touch buttons with physical feedback. It’s hard to explain but it’s basically a flat surface which you touch and the surface vibrates a little bit to let you know the button has been pressed. I found this interface very frustrating to use especially the volume control. You can’t increase or decrease the volume easily, if the music is too loud I need to tap the volume button over an over to get it to decrease but you can’t do it too quickly or else it won’t register your touch. I also thought the main interface screen was awkwardly positioned facing upwards towards the ceiling instead of pointing eye level or at least towards me the driver. Finally the media system interface looks like something from 2008. I didn’t think it matched the luxury feel of the Escalade and I’m surprised the background color of the interface was a vibrant blue which not only doesn’t match the fancy interior of the Escalade but doesn’t even blend with the digital speedometer display which has a black background.

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I had a blast with the Escalade over the weekend. It’s such a ginormous car but it isn’t difficult to drive at all. Cadillac have really tried their best to make this car accessible to everyone especially mums. The gas and brake pedals are adjustable so if you’re short you can move them up closer to you, the seat obviously is very adjustable but other features like lane change warnings and surround vision all try to make this huge car feel unintimidating. Also for people who like to whatsapp and snapchat while driving, the lane change warning is something you’re going to appreciate. While driving if the car starts drifting towards the other lanes, the car warns you by vibrating your chair. That way you can look back up at the road and adjust your driving.

The Escalade starts at KD27,000 for the premium model which is the one I tested in this review. If you’d also like to test drive any of the Alghanim Automotive cars click [Here]


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New Speed Cameras that Look Like Garbage Bins

Post by Mark

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According to @tafteesh_q8, a new speed camera was spotted in Ahmadi that looks like a garbage bin. If these start popping up everywhere then I might consider investing in a decent radar detector since I get way more speeding tickets then I should be anyway.

Thanks @Ahmad_Al_Awadhi

Update: Based on the comments it seems the photo above is not in Kuwait.


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Google Maps Reporting Accidents in Kuwait

Post by Mark

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Is this feature new? My brother noticed it a couple of weeks back and my friend told me about it yesterday.


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Review: The Mercedes S-Class

Post by Mark

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Around a couple of weeks back I was listening to the Joe Rogan podcast where he had my favorite car journalist Chris Harris on. They were both talking about cars and Chris Harris started talking about how comfortable the new S-Class was and how much he loved it. The past few cars I’ve reviewed have all been pretty much sport cars like the Jaguar F-Type Coupe and the Ferrari 458 Spider. So I figured you know what? I wanted to try something different. So I whatsapped my contact at Mercedes and asked him if the S-Class was available to take over the weekend and it was.

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I have a bit of history with the S-Class since over the years my dad has owned the previous four generations and I’m old enough to have driven three of them. My favorite of the three and the one I have the most amount of passion towards was the shaba7 (“ghost” model year 91-98). I remember when the car first came out me and my best friend spotted one in Salmiya while we were walking towards Kids ‘R’ Us (this was probably around 1992). We started discussing how the car came standard with bullet proof windows and how it was so quiet once you sat inside that Mercedes installed a little red light that would notify you if a car around you beeped because you wouldn’t hear it otherwise. Of course all this wasn’t true but the shaba7 was so different from anything else at that time it created all these rumors. Then when I finally became old enough to drive the car I just felt so on top of the world when I was in it. I used to beg my dad to let me take the car out when I had a date because it was so much more impressive than pulling up in the other family car, a 1993 hunter green Dodge Minivan. The S-Class has changed considerably over the years but the one thing that hasn’t changed is the respect you get when you’re in one.

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When I first sat in the new S-Class I was taken aback by how beautiful the interior was. I’ve been in quite a few cars now that have replaced the analogue dashboard dials with digital screens but none have managed to make it look as good as they do in the S-Class. The center console screen is also the largest screen I’ve ever seen in a car, its around six iPhone 6’s wide just to give you an idea about how huge it is. All these screen with cheap looking graphics would have been a disaster but Mercedes have put together a very tasteful and premium looking user interface with fancy graphics and lots of animations. At night you can also choose if you want interior mood lighting and the color of the light. I chose pink just because it made the interior look like a fancy strip club but the car interior looked great in all the colors and surprisingly not that tacky. The S-Class was very comfortable to sit in and the seats had the softest head rest in any car I’ve ever sat in. It’s literally pillow like and in fact it might have originally started off as a pillow and then shaped into a head rest. No matter who sat in the car the first thing they would notice were the fluffy soft headrests. As a whole the car was extremely comfortable, so comfortable in fact I drove it all the way to the Boubyan Island bridge and back without feeling any sort of fatigue or exhaustion. It’s fast, smooth and super comfy. I also think the new S-Class is the best looking S-Class since the shaba7. I love the exterior lines and especially the rear of the car which I’ve disliked in the last two generations of S-Class.

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For some reason this car just made me want to blast hiphop the whole time and I don’t even listen to hiphop. It’s such a pimp ass car I loved it. I drove up to a gate outside these water towers that were being painted and when I parked the car I noticed the caretaker of the place started unlocking the gate to let me in. The car screams I am important especially now with not so many of them around. I honestly really can’t think of anything negative to say about the car. If I wanted to nitpick I could say I found the screen animations a bit slow and I hated how I actually had to go into the menu to turn the AC off instead of using a physical button. I could also complain about the sound system which I didn’t think was that great but really this would be me just nitpicking because there wasn’t anything I really disliked about the car. The new S-Class starts at KD33,000 but the model I drove was a bit spec’d out and sells for around KD35,000.

For more information on the S-Class, check out this [Link]


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The Kuwait Concours d’ Elegance

Post by Mark

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The Kuwait Concours d’ Elegance will be taking place next week starting from February 11th and last till February 18th. The Concours d’ Elegance first came to Kuwait back in 2010.

What is the Concours d’Elegance?
Concours is a French word meaning competition. The concept of Concours originates in 17th C. France when aristocrats used to choose their best horse carriages to parade around parks of Paris during the summer week ends and holidays. Later these traditions changed to automobiles from the 20th C. Concours today have strict regulations and cars are inspected by qualified judges. Trophy winners are carefully chosen.

A reader sent me the full schedule of events that are taking place that week, if you’re interested in checking it out click [Here]


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GulfRun X

Post by Mark

Last weekend I went to Bahrain to attend the GulfRun X event that was taking place there at the Bahrain International Circuit. GulfRun is a yearly event where guys in Kuwait take their cars to Bahrain to race on a race circuit over a two day period. The last GulfRun I attended was GulfRun 6 but since this was their 10th year anniversary there was no way I was going to miss it. I spent most of the day socializing at the tracking and the evenings enjoying the dining experience Bahrain has to offer. My good friend at 8IGHTYONE Productions just released a video of the event and I just love it. Check it out above. [YouTube]

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