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Old 11-03-2005, 12:10 PM   #1
igor
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Igor's test drive #2: Civic, Cobalt, Spectra5

Dear all, so I was bored yesterday and ended up in the "Shouth Philadelphia Auto Mall", so I decided t okill time and test drive what compact I could.

The three that I did manage to drive are:
2006 Honds civic EX Coupe
2006 Chevy Cobalt LS Coupe
2006 Kia Spectra5

You might remember about a week ago a posted my review of Mazda3 5door CLICKY

Me and My Focous
To start off, I will have a little chat of what I (don't ) like about the Focus.

I drive and 05 Focus ZX3 SES Automatic PZEV (i.e. D20E engine)
I love the handling and value the steering feel. Pickup, IMO is good, maybe even great (more on this later), and the package is perfect (I have ZX3). I like the interior and am OK on the exterior.

What I do not like it the knowledge that is it an old design and platform. I feel cheated by Ford. I also feel that the Focus is too loud (rad and wind noise). (although I love the engine sound). I also do not like that I couldn't get goodies like ABS, Traction CNTRL (not available when shopping) and that some more advanced computer driving stuff is not even offered.

Car #1 Honda Civic
Design In and Out
I like the way it looks from outside. It is fresh and good looking. I knw the EURO version loos even better, but the US version is good enough. I am upsett that Civic will nto be offered as hatchback, not this year anyways - so I definitely mnd the small trunk of the 2door.
The interior is nice and comfortable, but it does feel like a van. I want to laugh that honda failed to look at other compacts and learn from them before designing this Civic. Ford learned that drivers like to see their hood, so they can estimate parking. With the new civic you have NO CLUE where your front iis - none. And the dash IS too long and makes me feel uncomfortable.
The instrument cluser is OK but I am not too fond of it.. I kept saring at the Tach and looking for speed info.

Streering
It's awful - Honda definitely aimed at more comfy people, not the sports inclined. the sterring is on par my my previous car - Ford Expedition - it was too light and gave me no feedback. I felt I cannot be precise with it - I heated it,m preriod.
Engine
I definitel;y missed a LOT of touque in the Civic. There was none in the low revs, and it just made it feel ver ysluggish.
The engive whiler well isolated fro mthe cabin had a nice sound to it. But over all I was not impressed with the endgine.
Transmission
To compare to my Focus I drove and ATX Civic.. and it was OK. whoever under acceleration it did hold it to higher revs and downshift a little too late. The transmission just did't feel like it knew what it wanted to do at times.
Suspension
IT felt nice nad cushy. It held its track well, but nothing that would make want to sing.

OVERALL
Well the civic was plenty refined, abut nt enough fun. It was definitely a car I cn see my mom driving a be happy about it, but it is jsu not same class as Focus.


Car #2 Chevy Cobalt
Design In and Out
Oh who are we kidding this car is butt ugly... Chevy felt like the Cavalier was nice enough car to simply copy its shape and I think that was jsut a huge mistake. There is nothing about this car I like fro mthe exterior.
The interior has some nice touches. Once again the shifter and hand break has some nice shapes that make it look a little classy. But over all it has NOTHING over the focus interior wise.
Oh man and the trunk opening is the smallest I have seen. the trunk itself was HUGe, but you can't fit anything in it through the tiny opening. PLus, Chevy dhid the same as Ford, and while the seat backs were split, the bench was one piecs.. nice place for cost cutting I guess.
Streering
while not as abd as Civic's the steering didn't match the Focus' It was number and not in my view over assisted.
Engine
Well.. someohow despite being rated higher in everything than the Duratec, the Cobals with 2.2 engine still felt suggish. Again, it didn't have the picup I have in the Focus, and I expected from a US competitor.
It was not bad, but nothing special... I expected a little more.
Transmission
This is where the Cobalt surprised.. in a bad way. The transmission was AWFUL. it held the gear too long. took to long to put in the next gear, and fisged for a gear twice in the 5 minutes I was beind hte whee;l.. it was off all the time and it just killed whatever merit the car could have had otherwise.

Suspension
Like the civic, it felt OK. I it was actually better than Focus in absorbing bumps tc.. but I didn't have a hcance to test cornering etc, and I beleive I would miss Focus there..
OVERALL
Overall, I just continue my dislike for Chevy. I can't say GM, because I like POntiac, but Chevy just has nothing. Cobalt doesn't look good, doesnt't driver well and it doesn't have the lowest price.. To me it had nothing to offer.

Car #3 Kia Spectra
Design In and Out
I alway7s liked the sheet metal of the Spectra. IT looks nicely sporty without overdoing it. Especially the Hatch has some nice shapes, and the sideskirts, whie a little cheesy, t oadd a lottle attittude. However the huge and ugly wing in the back kills the flow.. ogh well no one is perfect.
Inside, the sepctra5 failed. The steering wheel was too thin and was covered in very flimsy feeling plastic (I hope they didn;t claim it was leather wrapped). The plastics were just abohtut on the level with Focus, but the dash design was a little bland and jsut not my kind of coffeee.

Streering
However, the steering welt good. it was (of course) not as good as Focus' but it felt good and I felt confident about directing the car.
Engine
Kia has some nice sound to it under the hood. it sounded pwerfult and pulled well. Again I felt t was not as powerful as my FOcus, but it felt preppy enough.
Transmission
This was a good surprise. especially after Cobalt. I even told the salesman... they got the transmission right. IT shifted where I wanted it to and simply performed well. This definitely added to me liking the car.
Suspension
This was another pleasant surprise. The salesguy took me on a "curl de sack" so I could test the cornering ,and sepite looking a little top heavy, the Spectra5 held very well ,and I felt confident pushing it a little bit in the turn.
Thinle not as cushy as either the Cobalt of Civic, it felt good - close to Focs and I liked it.
OVERALL
I have to admint I liked this car. it was the cheapest of all while offering the most in its package. It handled well, shited well and puled well. I wasn;t having the interior, but I liked the overal lcar. I would still most ptobably buy the Focus after driving the Spectra5, but maybe in its next genertion, the Spectra5 could bypass my beloved FoFO.


A note about the dealerships
I was surprised by the ndiference I encountered in the dealerships. Besides the three above I went to VW, and Pontiac dealers. The Pontiac guy told me they had no Vibes, despite having a used une right on the lot (I mean it is the same car!!). .and similar happened at VW.. I asked what enfgines they have with the Golf/Jetta.. and from then on he just was like.. oh no.. I do not feel like showing you any car.
I guessed they only had the weak 2.0, but I still expected him to offer me a test drive in them so I can feel the car... but naw. he didn't feel like it.
The honda guy didn't care either, and was out of it. not know ing almost anythign about the civic.
The Chevy guy was disorganized and let me wait there ofr about 10 minutes when he went for the keys...

The only one who was interested in selling their cars was the Kia guy.. he mentioned the specials about 4 times in the 5 minutes we had. and made sure to ephasize he would match any competitive offer for any other brand.. etc..

Conclusions
Well I thope people wil lnejoy this reading. I tried to be concise, since I had to write about 3 cars..But hte bottm line.. if I wanted a more upscale car, like tne New Jetta, I ould put Civic on my list, but not if I was jsut looking for Focus replacement.
Cobalt is out of thel game completely, but Spectra5 managed to impress me. As I said I still don't think they caught up completely, but the next gen Speacta can be the thing..

good job Kia.

Igor


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Old 11-03-2005, 12:13 PM   #2
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*applause* WOnderful info.. Thanks!
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Old 11-03-2005, 12:21 PM   #3
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I would want to try the cobalt in MTX.. driving an ATX of the SS (I know you did LS) would be like driving an automatic SVT.
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Old 11-03-2005, 12:26 PM   #4
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So are you buying the Kia??
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Old 11-03-2005, 12:33 PM   #5
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^^^^^
Nah... When I bought the focus I had no car, so I didn't get the drive man ycars.. so now I am trying around t osee any differences. If I didn;t have any car.. possibly I would buy soething else. But none of these cars are a significant improvement over Focus (to justify biting the depreciacion bullet). Moreover, the reasons I could consider other cars would be an upgrade in size (Vibe) and I really do not need anything bigger than zx3.

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Old 11-03-2005, 12:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Algorhythm
I would want to try the cobalt in MTX.. driving an ATX of the SS (I know you did LS) would be like driving an automatic SVT.
The SS has a bigger engine 2.4 liter.... it's the same setup as in foci the 2.0 /2.3 Dura... But even the 2.2 has only 31 mpg.. which I think is another nail in its coffin

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Old 11-03-2005, 12:34 PM   #7
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So you are just wasting the salespersons time. Do not take this the wrong way.
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Old 11-03-2005, 12:50 PM   #8
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Originally posted by KS1SVT04
So you are just wasting the salespersons time. Do not take this the wrong way.
yup
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Old 11-03-2005, 12:57 PM   #9
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Do you think that is right? Remeber these guys get paid only if they sell something, you might have taken any of them away of a sale. Hopefully you did not wast much of there time.
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Old 11-03-2005, 01:08 PM   #10
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^^^^ I do not care too much... I want info and they are here to provide it.

Plus, I took each one away rom reading a paper in an empty showroom on a wednesday evening during rush hour during transit strike (i.e. everyone was sitting home or in traffic. there wer maybe 5-6 people among all 10 of those dealerships).. The salesguys got a good practice run with me I actually asked questions and considered each of the cars..


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