Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Kübler-Ross Model: Mazda

ABSTRACT:  Party one (1) (heretofore referred to as "Mazda," or "The Subject,") and party two (2) (heretofore referred to simply as "Ford,") concluded a romantic relationship last year.  The purpose of this study is to examine Mazda's reaction, specifically in reference to the Kübler-Ross Model of the Five Stages Of Grief.  We will examine Mazda's denial ("I'll be just fine without Ford"), anger ("Goddammit you sonofabitch, I'll do what I want!"), bargaining ("please, I'll do anything! Just don't take away my Duratec!"), depression (heavy alcohol consumption accompanied by repeated Taylor Swift music), and acceptance ("Skyactiv's the limit!").


STAGE ONE: DENIAL:  In the initial stages following the incident, The Subject displayed "Trophy Wife Syndrome", frequenting cosmetic surgeons specializing in botox.  This resulted in an unnatural grin from "fender to fender."  Subject then named its own face "Nagare."  This strange behavior lead the research team to believe drug use was involved, but no evidence of such has been found.

STAGE TWO: ANGER:  Subject began heavily drinking race fuel and acting erratically, including the rejection of its own love child (named "Tribute"), and racing every weekend.  Subject then displayed homoerotic behavior, racing with Playboy as a sponsor.  Tribute has since displayed rejection syndrome, its throttle getting stuck wide open.  Tribute has been recalled and, at this point, no one has been hurt.

STAGE THREE: BARGAINING:  Apparently feeling remorse over the rejection of tribute, The Subject begged for Ford to allow the continuing use of genetic material from Ford's horse (named "Mustang").  Displaying even more bizarre behavior, Subject named the bastard child with horse parts "CX-9." Despite this, CX-9 has overcome its odd upbringing and become quite mature and strong.  Mazda continues heavy alcohol consumption.

STAGE FOUR: DEPRESSION:  Alcohol consumption reaches critical levels.  Subject shows strong affinity toward country music, particularly that of Taylor Swift.  Subject's botox smile inverts whenever Ms. Swift's "Never Getting Back Together" starts playing.  This causes inordinate amounts of drool, as subject's face (Nagare) is rigid due to unhealthy amounts of botox.

STAGE FIVE: ACCEPTANCE:  The Subject begins mumbling nonsense, such as "Kodo", and apparently intentionally misspelling words, such as "Skyactiv."  Subject dons what appears to be a lab coat and locks itself in a lab for days at a time, emerging only to shout "Zoom-Zoom, bitches!" at passers by.  Despite this behavior, subject shows signs of recovery.  Weeks later, new products emerge from said lab, showing no signs of Ford heritage.

CONCLUSION:  Subject showed all signs of the Kübler-Ross Model, recovering in a normal fashion.  This study shows a strength of The Subject, and we hypothesize that The Subject will have a bright future.  We will continue monitoring their progress.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Impressions From the Portland Auto Show

Yesterday I went to the Portland Auto Show.  It was a big year this year, there were a lot of big time releases that I was getting my first chance to see in the flesh and I was able to reinforce some of my opinions while blowing some of my opinions completely out of the water.

The first thing that greeted me as I walked through the door was the elegant, sexy and very high class 2014 Mazda 6.  Where I entered was unintentional, but there she was; the car I came to the show for.  It was so good in person.  It looks and feels like the first gen on the inside with the material quality of the second gen.  In other words: it was good.  I had the chance to talk with the owner of a 2003 Mazda 6 V6 who was seeing it for the first time with me.  He asked me what my complaint about it was.  I told him "No V6".  "Amen brother" was his response.  We both agreed that it wasn't really worth our purchase without a V6, especially since we were both over 100,000 miles on our cars with little to no problems.  Verdict: Great interior, great exterior, Y U no V6?  We also took a very close look at the CX-5, now available with 2.5 liter Skyactiv and after viewing the rest of the options available at the show concluded that it is simply the best deal you can get on a CUV.

The next area of note was Ford, the most disappointing stop of the show.  First, Ford couldn't be bothered to bring a Fusion to the show that wasn't a hybrid so I didn't even bother.  At least four people I talked to said that the Fusion was great from every angle except the front.  Fish face was unliked.  At one point, I convinced my brother to troll with me and we got ahold of the MyFord Touch tester car which was a Taurus with the Ecoboost four.  After multiple attempts to actually get the car to boot, we finally had it up and running.  The thing I noticed first is that most attempts to hit something with my finger on the screen was difficult at best and most buttons required at least two attempts to hit.  But it did not break.  We successfully paired my brother's phone to the Taurus and managed to use Bluetooth to blast "I'm Sexy and I Know It" out the speakers of the Taurus.  Compared to CUE, it had similar functionality but was definitely slower and the touch boxes were difficult to find.  I almost felt like I was pushing around the screen buttons rather than right on them.  The Recaros in the Focus ST were unforgiving and I ended up sitting on the bolsters rather than in them.  The clutch had a great feel as did the shifter however.  My brother removed the engine cover from the Focus engine to reveal that, in fact, Ecoboost is MZR.  The engine appears identical to the engine in the Mazdaspeed 3.  Escape was EXTREMELY cheap looking and the 1.6 was returning lower EPA estimates than the 2.5 CX-5 for $6,000 more.  Yes, that's a 1.6T Escape for $38,000.  NOPE!  Verdict: Ford was a joke while (even though I didn't talk about them) Lincoln had a great showing.

Cadillac.  I'm sure people that know me are expecting something completely different than what is about to be written.  Cadillac blew me away.  CUE made Lexus, Infiniti, Hyundai and even BMW in car systems seem cheap and last generation.  It was fantastic.  Great haptic feedback.  Easy to push buttons.  The digital dash in the XTS was completely mindblowing.  I so want one.  The whole XTS was just fantastic.  It was huge everywhere it was supposed to be huge and it was littered with easy to use technology.  The only gripe I have is that the steering wheel buttons had to be pressed before I could understand what they were for.  ATS.  I've been trolling this car hard but Cadillac really tried to make this a vehicle that wasn't for Grandpa.  The price tag is still for Grandpa; it isn't cheap.  The inside of the car is a great place to be however unless you sit in the rear seats.  It definitely did not feel bloated like many other Cadillacs did.  CTS Coupe is still ugly and compared to ATS and XTS, CTS is started to feel very dated.  Verdict: Cadillac is improved and was better than the refreshed Lexus at the show.  Still mainstream and not attracting the attention of the Douche market.  I used the phrase "ATS still isn't as fast as the Douche Rocket (335)" out loud.

Some shorts.  Hyundai is so damn dated.  Equus and Genesis are a freaking joke.  Equus was actually carrying a Hyundai badge now but they just look like old Mercedes.  I broke their infotainment system.  Lexus cars were all cramped and every single car had an "F".  Even the CT200h.  The styling is more appealing in person.  Drove the Subaru Crosstrek.  It felt like a Toyota.  Drove the FR-S.  It was much better than expected but still felt like an economy car.  All the kids wanted to drive it but none of them wanted to buy it.  Audi, what does "T" even mean?!  Overall I was impressed with the things I expected to hate and hated the things I expected to impress me.  Interesting show.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Direct Injection Turbo Sucks

I realize that my current opinion is not the popular one but I think that the current batch of direct injection turbo engines are an atrocity and I cannot wait for naturally aspirated engines to return.  Sure, they might look good on paper, but they all went "oppa Hyundai style".  They return sub-standard performance, sub-standard MPGs and wheezy, narrow powerbands.  They promised to be the next generation of engine but they were ruined just like hybrids because the automakers tried to make the turbo engines feel like they weren't turbo engines.

Of course, my primary target for this criticism is Ford's Ecoboost line of four cylinder engines.  The Ecoboost V6 is an exception because they started with a Duratec engine and ended up with a motor that could actually make power past 6,000 RPM.  The Ecoboost fours are a different question.  It used to be that only trucks would make maximum power at 5,000 RPM but now we have a 1.6 liter that tops out at that RPM.  That is just wrong.  A tiny motor like that should be able to rev to insane levels.  But when you're trying to make diesel like torque with zero turbo lag, you get a diesel like narrow powerband.  "But it makes it's peak torque at 2,000 RPM!"  Whatever!  You realize that your powerband is the same size as VTAK Honda boy who doesn't VTEC until 4,000 RPM and revs to 7,000 right?  Is that a "narrow powerband"?  Is that bad?  The really sad thing is that Honda boy probably gets better gas mileage too.  It's no surprise to me that Ford is having issues with people meeting their MPG estimates.  The key to making good MPGs in a turbo engine is to stay out of boost and Ford has designed an engine that boosts instantly.  "But it has no lag!"  The turbo lag is what used to help people stay out of boost.  It's not a bad thing, it's part of the charm of turbo engines.  Ford has designed an engine that is no better than the old 2.3 they put in the turbo Thunderbirds.

But the truth is that the 1.6 doesn't rustle my jimmies.  I was never going to buy such an engine anyways.  Sub 200 horsepower is so 90s.  It's the 2.0 turbo engine that upsets me because it was supposed to be the engine that replaces the V6 and is allegedly better.  It's so much better that the Fusion can't even break out of the 15s with it.  In other words, it's pathetic.  I can outrun a Fusion with my first generation Duratec that only has intake VVT.  Saying it's equally fast to the fat, AWD Fusion Sport with horrid Ford automatic from the last generation is a cop out.  It should have been a LOT faster than the old Duratec, especially considering that the Fusion is a smaller, more expensive car.  Basically we've given up displacement and added more moving parts for no additional performance.  "But MPGs!"  Bitch please, nobody wants MPGs in the top of the line engine.  It's made even worse by the fact that GM already has a better 2.0T because they just added direct injection to the old Cobalt SS motor.  Ford just got left.  Good thing that the new Malibu is a dynamic disaster or people would have given zero fucks about the Fusion.  It's bad enough that Honda just made the Accord look like a Lexus and a Hyundai, hopped up the motors and walked past the Fusion.  Yes, Honda boys, oppa Hyundai style.

So is this the future then?  Do we all want diesels so much that automakers are going out of their way to make gasoline engines have diesel powerbands?  What's next, are we going to start compression firing gasoline?  Ugh.  Wake me when the second round of the 80s is over.


I said to myself this weekend that I was going to start writing here again, but to do that I needed to face what caused me to not want to write here anymore.  Part of it was that I didn't have the urge to write anymore.  I guess it was the wrong mindset or I was just in a bad part of my life or whatever but I've decided to change that.  I want people to read my junk again, which also meant that I needed to face what made people decide to stop reading the blog. 

Part of that was that I think my writing just wasn't that interesting to people.  I kept writing about video games and I don't think people found that topic particularly popular.  But additionally, I think too much of the focus of the blog was on the character of RedChocobo.  Sure, RedChocobo is what brought so many people to the blog initially because he was popular.  But when he decided to blow up and be a little drama queen, it hurt traffic to the blog.  But RedChocobo is in a good place right now.  He can troll as much as he wants however he wants with no expectations.  So that leaves myself in a good place to write freely about cars.

So here I am, Matthew Berg, to write about whatever.  You can expect a redesign during a week and possibly even a new name after I've had some time to talk it over with my partner in crime, Topheezy.  What you can not expect this time will be guess blogs and other such.  I want to get back to what this blog began as and what it was meant to be.  Kinda...

So upcoming later today: Why I hate direct injection turbo!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Have We Become Desensitized?

You always hear of people complaining that video games cause normal, non-violent folks into killers.  Like average Joe gamer is sitting there eating his cheerios, playing Doom, then he just snaps and shoots up a hot dog stand.
While Joe's frank tirade is a scary thought, there is a much darker problem: limited edition games.
Two decades ago, you could go to Target and say "I would like to purchase Super Mario World," and the employee would sell you just that for $40.  While that seemed expensive at the time, we were still paying for piece of hardware from an industry that was still in its adolescence.  We were paying for a silicone circuit board covered in hard plastic, neither of which are cheap to manufacture.
Today, you go into Target and ask for the latest Halo or Call of duty (providing you've made it through the gauntlet of challenges explained later in this post), and you already know that you're going to be in this game for $60.  And for what? A DVD in a flimsy plastic box.  DVDs are stupid cheap to manufacture, and every DVD box is the same.  So because of the economies of scale, you're paying 60 bones for something that cost probably less than $1 to manufacture.
Obviously, it's what's actually on the disc that you're really paying for.  So what does $60 get you today?  Well as our very own red bird explained in his latest post, you're paying for an incomplete game.  You're paying for about 60% of it.  Most likely, the store in which you bought the game had the $60 version in with the sea of games in the regular games section.  But before you set foot in that section, you see a display slightly larger than the Eiffel Tower, shamelessly displaying only the $100 Limited Ultimate Mega Super Lucky Collectors Edition, and the $400 Mega Super Limited Unlimited Ultimate Sacred Collectors Gift Set. You try to go to the regular games section, but just as you walk past the display, you get pelted with eggs, and a dwarf throws the Collectors Edition game at you, while peppering you with paintballs.  At this point, most gamers give up and fork over the Benjamin and go home with the Limited Edition.
Continue on, and you are faced with a wizard of unspeakable power who proclaims with a thunderous "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" and throws the Gift Set at your head.  Dodging this with an action roll, you remember that the wizard needs food, badly.  As you come out of the roll, throw a sleeve of rice cakes at this wizard.  He will disappear.  If you forget one step here, you end up spending every last Rupee you have on the Gift Set and go home with a large box of things that will later find their homes at various thrift stores.
If you manage to pass this second test, you are faced with the pitfall of the Special Super Mega - you get the idea - Controller.  This controller operates exactly like your six-year-old white controller, but it has skulls on it!  Right when the wizard disappeared, so did the floor between you and the games section.  Here, you must know the proper spelling of "Jehovah" in Greek.  Speak the letters aloud and a light will come on overhead and make you sneeze.  As you sneeze, the mist of saliva will land on an invisible bridge over the pit between you and the games section.  careful crossing this bridge, as arrows will shoot up at you from below.  At this point, most people end up going home with the $100 game, the $400 Gift Set, the $60 Sculltroller, and a puncture wound or two.
If you have successfully made it past this gauntlet, you are one of the few and proud who can go home without paying ridiculous amounts of money.  But you still know in the back of your mind that you could have gotten that treasure chest with the keychain, bobblehead, die cast spaceship, and certificate of authenticity that proves that you spent way too much cash.  Oh, and don't forget the special avatar item that shows the rest of those on the interwebz that you're a bad ass high roller and sprung for the Limited Edition.  Dumb ass.