31 March 2011

Update: 7,500 km after...

It's been some time since I last posted here and I figured that I ought to keep things updated.
I've clocked in more than 7,500 kilometers in the last couple of months and I am just as thrilled to drive this car now as when I first got it. The initial appeal hasn't faded away and the car make a lot of sense now as when I bought it. The spiraling uncertainty in the Middle East has sent oil prices at the pumps moving up, affecting every road user.

Thankfully I've been getting an average fuel consumption of between a dreadful 16.5km per litre to a frugal 21km per litre. The big disparity comes from the load of carrying a road bike on the back with my bike carrier and a heavy accelerator foot to a concerted effort to plan my trip to avoid road congestion and driving frugally with no sudden throttle blips and heavy revving. All in I'd say I'm still averaging about 18.5 km per litre. It took me awhile to get used to not having the brisk acceleration compared to the Subaru Forester that we have but it has definitely done wonders in improving the fuel consumption.

I've been using Esso 95 RON fuel for the most part and recently decided to use lower grade 92 RON fuel. The fuel consumption hasn't changed much for me to draw any definite conclusions but I can definitely say it hasn't made much difference in terms of pickup and smoothness. So lower grade 92 RON is definitely an option especially since we all want to save money.

02 March 2011

Hitting 34,000 km on the odometer

Was driving at night when I glanced at the dials... 34,000 on the odometer. It is so easy to chalk up the mileage when you're driving a cute little fun car.

04 February 2011

Fuel Economy

I've been driving my R1 for a few thousand miles now in a combination of urban and short expressway driving. In all that time, I've been monitoring the car's fuel consumption over the many weeks of ownership.

With a fuel capacity of 30 litres, the one thing to note is how often I make a fuel stop at the nearest petrol station to fill up. The frugal 4 cylinder 660 cc engine delivers a more than decent fuel consumption of 18.5km per litre of 95 RON petrol. That works out to about 5.5 litres of fuel per 100km. At present fuel prices of about S$2 per litre of fuel, that works out to about 10 cents per km travelled.

20 January 2011

At Jalan Besar

By coincidence, another weekend plate R1 parked behind my car in one of the small streets along Jalan Besar. Not to miss a photo opportunity, decided to take a quick snap with my Panasonic Lumix LX-3 that I have handy. It's rare enough to drive an R1 on Singapore roads, what more finding two parked together. Unfortunately the overcast weather made it hard to distinguish the black body color of the car at the back with the gunmetal color of my R1 in this photo.

The other owner changed his wheels and tyres but I don't think they do much to the car's looks. I still like the original factory fitted stock six spoke rims. One interesting fact about the R1 is that the stock rim size (15 inch) is bigger compared to the 4-door R2. The R1 uses a hard to find 155/60 R15 tyre which is almost impossible to find locally, so many R1s here get shod with rubber of different width and aspect combinations. I think the only other car that uses the same stock tyres is the SMART car.

For those unfamiliar with tyre sizes, using the R1's 155/60 R15 as an example, the 155 refers to the tyre width in mm, the 60 is the aspect ratio of height in relation to width, R means radial construction and 15 is the tyre's inner diameter in inches. There is also a speed and load rating (eg. 82S) but given how light the car is and the fact that the R1 isn't gonna be breaking any speed records, we can safely ignore this rating.

28 December 2010

The Design Is The Difference

Part of the Subaru R1's appeal has been it's unique styling and design. It's a breakaway from the familiar box shape and angular lines found on many small cars where design is an exercise in maximizing internal space. As a consequence, many small cars take on the familiar rectangular boxy shapes comprising of the engine compartment and internal passenger space.

The R1 takes it's inspiration from the ladybug and the body shape is reminiscent of the oval of an egg. This does have a practical safety consideration as well. Overall as a two door car, the proportions of the R1 make it stand out from many other K-cars. Hopefully this will give the car a greater visual longevity in the years to come.

10 December 2010

Huh, the COE is how much?

About a week after collecting my car, the big motoring news was the dramatic jump in the Certificate of Entitlement premiums. The COE for Category A (Cars 1,600cc and below, and taxis) which had been hovering at the already high $30K range took a dramatic spike in the first bidding exercise for December 2010 to a whopping $47,604.

The bids for Category B (Cars 1,600cc and above) and Open Category surged to a mind boggling $62,502 and $64,900 respectively. These staggering increases represent a 10-year high and certainly the prospect of higher car prices looks a dead certainty given the impending cut to the COE supply next year.

What does it all mean for me? In effect I just saved myself a bundle. Had I not committed to buy my Subaru R1 (which falls under Category A), I would most certainly have been caught up in the knock-on effect of higher COE premiums pushing up used car prices. By way of historical record, the COE premiums for small cars has never before breached the $41,008 mark that was set way back in July 1997, until now that is. It's become a ludicrous situation where the paper value of the COE far exceeds the actual value of the car.

Will the spectre of skyrocketing car prices have a direct impact on Singaporean's car buying and usage patterns? Most certainly it will mean those who booked a new car would have to cough up more money to factor the jump in the COE. More would put off buying new and instead either buy used or keep their existing cars longer. For the majority of motorists there will be a re-think on how to preserve and better maintain their vehicles as the replacement costs have become scarily expensive.

For those who have long aspired to own a car, that dream has somehow become a lot more distant because personally, I can't see any easing of the COE premiums in the near future, certainly not with a projected reduction in the vehicle quota for next year.

02 December 2010

Brand Preference

So how did I choose the Subaru R1? After all, there are a string of small cars from other manufacturers like Daihatsu and Suzuki to name a few. Perhaps it's because the other car in the family also happened to be a Subaru. I first saw the Subaru R1 up close when my wife sent her Forester to be serviced at local Subaru agent's service center at Toa Payoh. By chance they had a couple of pre-owned Subarus on sale and there in the showroom was a silver R1 for sale. That was the first time I had a good look at the car up close and I have to say I did walk away impressed.

The car is just beautiful to look at. Inspired by the Subaru 360 of old, the design engineers took the design inspiration from the ladybug and the oval shape of the egg. This makes it a firm departure from the rectangular breadbox shape common to other small cars. The compact and streamlined form certainly makes for a close connection between the user and the car in my opinion.

Thus far my missus and I have had a very positive experience with the brand after a string of Toyotas. Perhaps by chance or God's providence, we stumbled on the brand when we went looking at a replacement for our Toyota Vios. A while back, a young driver crashed into the rear of my wife's Toyota and even after an excellent bodywork repair, it didn't really give much assurance that somehow the structural integrity of the car had been compromised. My wife was on the lookout for an SUV and by chance stumbled upon the newly revamped 2009 Subaru Forester.

This new Forester was a complete departure from the earlier wagon style and even though it didn't get much attention, everything about it checked off the right boxes. A quick test drive and it was immediately clear that the Subaru was more than a match to the Honda CRV and Toyota Rav 4. The superior all wheel drive, great visibility and drivability, spacious interior and solid build quality made it an easy decision. In the time that we've been driving it, the Subaru Forester has proven to be a great drive, so it made an easy choice to consider another Subaru.

Side by side, the size difference is pretty obvious that the R1 is overshadowed by its bigger sibling, no doubt accentuated by the colour differences. The R1 still sports the "jet intake and wings" front grille first seen in the Subaru Tribeca and carried over to the second generation Subaru Impreza. The Subaru Forester shows the redesigned front grille that is similar to the current third generation Impreza. What remains distinctive is the oval Subaru badge emblazoned on the front grill. Personally I still like the older look as it somehow conveys an altogether friendlier look.