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Thread: 20 years car development - huge leaps and small backward steps

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    HEXUS.timelord. Zak33's Avatar
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    20 years car development - huge leaps and small backward steps

    Hello all

    A few months ago I inflicted a 19 year old VW Polo upon myself.

    Having spent way in excess of 20 years of driving new cars every day, changing them more often than any regular member of the public could possibly do, i hooked up with a well looked after old Polo and I have lived with her every day since.

    40 miles each way commute, Motorways some day, & others I choose cross country routes, I've done enough miles since early summer to honestly miss some things from modern cars, and utterly enjoy other things from an old car.

    The old Polo doesn't have ABS. I've had to relearn cadence braking. This was a "thing". In a modern car, under emergency braking you need to push HARD and not let up. You need to push and push more. Let the ABS and the ESP do their thing... that was NOT the way non-ABS cars were ever driven. That invokes immediate front wheel lock up, no steering, sliding straight on and into things. It takes time to relearn. Sometimes it involves empty quiet wet roads and practice. It has to.. because old cars don't have the grip of new cars.

    This brings me to chassis design, shock absorber quality, bushes and anti roll bar developments, multi link suspension, and .. frankly.. Chalk and Cheese.

    It's not that they're worn out. They're in prime condition actually.. similar to new....but they were rubbish when new.

    A modern car grips like velcro on your mum's jumper compared to an old car. It's not a tyre thing. The Polo came with excellent condition Uniroyals, very new and in pristine condition. It now has all seasons on the front axle. Neither of these are the reason it's not as good as a modern car. It's just that modern cars grip so much better. Everything about a new small hatch invokes different levels of grip.

    So .. I miss ABS and grip!

    But I don't miss a lack traction control or ESP (Electronic Stability Program) or it's sister systems. I hated modern cars cutting out my throttle inputs- I hated it. Utterly. And now I have none and it's soo much better. It's not a quick car, but with the lack of front end grip from crap caster and camber angles as descrbed above, it's so much nicer to guide gently out of tight corners. When I pull away a tad sharply, the front tyre spins up and it's up to me to sort it out. It's called driving. I enjoy that.

    The electric windows broke. I cant open them. I miss opening windows... talking to a person on the kerb... paying at a car park entry... I miss that. Now clearly this isn't old vs new.. this is shagged out vs working. But I do miss manual window winders. Because to fix the elec windows costs more than the car's worth. I know I miss manual ones because the manual sunroof works and it works well. Manually for the win.

    I have working electric mirrors. Both work beautifully... but I don't need them to move electrically often. What I DO miss is electric heating. Man .. oh man.. I miss electrically heated mirrors.

    In the hot hot summer we had, I was stuck in traffic, surrounded by Air Con cars and buses, vomiting out hot air, from under their engine bays.. while I sweated it out in the old Polo, sunroof open to help the air flow and catch some rays on my dehydrating head. Do I miss Air con? Not really....Honestly... it WAS horrible but it was only horrible for a few days.

    I certainly don't miss the bloody uselss "Climate Control" that moderm mid range cars come with... cos it doesnt' work properly and never has. I like to turn the tempo dial myself and decide if it's ok.

    Little cars warm up fast. I like that. It still applies. Modern or otherwise.

    I miss headlight on warning buzzers. Why on earth it doesnt' have it I have no idea... but I have left my lights on lots of times, luckily spotted by colleagues and saving me from the jump leads of shame. I have learned to turn the headlight control everytme I leave the car. It's automatic now.

    I don't miss adjustable intermittent wipe and I certanly don't miss rain sensors. This has non-adjustable intermitant and 2 other speeds. And they work like a charm. The rear squirter is below the widow, squirting up and so it never dribbles down after wiping. That's a "thing" that works, that is.

    I miss reach-adjustable steering wheels. I don't mind it just going up and down to fit knees under.... ...but reach is so important. I miss that. A lot.

    I don't miss tiny boot space. This Polo has a vast boot. Not very long but WIDe and DEEP. Old cars all have larger boots because they have less padding, less box sectioning, less carpets, etc. The Polo boot is deep and large.

    I like mechanical power steering. It's not electronic. It runs from a belt and pump from the engine. It never stops being Power Assisted Steering if the engine is running no matter how much elbow twirling is occuring.

    I miss the size of modern small cars on Motorways. This car is genuinely small... and it's not the smallest of it's era. But compared to modern small cars, it's tiny. I'm not sure what it would be like in a biggy on the motorway... not pretty I think. But I cant have it all......

    I'm happy with the Fuel Consumption. It's an old 1.4i and I get an average of 47mpg from it with no effort. If I focus on MPG it will exceed 50mpg. That's a size / body weight thing which I was slagging off only 1 sentence ago. Cant have it all.

    I don't miss washing it. I don't miss worrying about hedge rows and scratches. I don't miss parking it miles from everyone to keep it mint. I just dump this. It's a very freeing feeling..... branches sticking out of hedges hold no fears. The tank of fuel is worth more than the car......

    but that's the thing. It's not really.

    The car is worth a fortune to me now. It's old, it's dirty but it's really quite... competent. It's easy to drive. It re-teaches respect. It pulls aways on wet junctions really really badly. It occassionally understeers like a bitch (on Continentals or on all season budget brand)... but it poodles along at 70 with a whiff of throttle.. a boot full of stuff. I value stpping distances now more than the Merc driver who just slipped in the safe space. If he stops hard now I will hit him... I literally wont' stop as fast as him and I will be to blame. I displike that. I have to keep recreating stopping spaces and then they get taken.

    I'd like some more grip laterally, under id steering lock... but the rear is soooo secure.. it understeers so much,.... it's doing what it was invented to do. Bore your pants off and not kill you.

    20 years of devlopment has been, frankly, immense.

    I'd like ABS, I'd like reach adjustable steering and I'd love heated mirror glass please. Some small front grip increase would be neat too. But much of the rest is.... oddly better than a modern car.

    Go figure.
    Last edited by Zak33; 17-11-2017 at 01:29 PM.

    Quote Originally Posted by Advice Trinity by Knoxville
    "The second you aren't paying attention to the tool you're using, it will take your fingers from you. It does not know sympathy." |
    "If you don't gaffer it, it will gaffer you" | "Belt and braces"

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    Re: 20 years car development - huge leaps and small backward steps

    How skinny are your tyres?

    My wife had a 1996 FIAT Punto with the 1.2l 85bhp engine in it, and the thing stuck like glue on the corners. Honestly, it was kind of dull to drive as you could chuck it into a corner and it just sort of stuck. Before then she had an Uno 45 with skinny little tyres which slid around all over the place even in the dry which was much more fun

    I don't think car handling has changed that much apart from the lack of cheap rear wheel drive options these days (I had a Chrysler Sunbeam as one of my early drives). Perhaps you just need a better handling old car

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    HEXUS.timelord. Zak33's Avatar
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    Re: 20 years car development - huge leaps and small backward steps

    176/65's

    it's not the tyre size, I assue you. I've driven plenty of rally cars on 175's with plenty grip.
    but your Fiat comparison is a good example of chassis improvements. Uno 45's were floppy horrible things,.. Punto was a good chassis all round!

    Quote Originally Posted by Advice Trinity by Knoxville
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    Re: 20 years car development - huge leaps and small backward steps

    Traction control... I got used to it, being able to drive like an idiot around corners without having to worry. I was slightly surprised to find myself facing the wrong way hugging a crash barrier after buying a car without traction control. What's wrong with the option of having it on or off? Not having it means people like me will just crash it.

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    Re: 20 years car development - huge leaps and small backward steps

    Quote Originally Posted by Zak33 View Post
    The old Polo doesn't have ABS. I've had to relearn cadence braking. This was a "thing".
    *Looks over at motorcycle.
    Wonders what ABS stands for.
    Shrugs shoulders and goes off for a blatt.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zak33 View Post
    But I do miss manual window winders. Because to fix the elec windows costs more than the car's worth.
    What's broken on them?
    Might be a cheap 2nd hand part... Did my own window reg for about £15, VAG model like yours.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zak33 View Post
    What I DO miss is electric heating. Man .. oh man.. I miss electrically heated mirrors.
    Quick squirt of de-icer. Works faster than my heated mirrors, certainly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zak33 View Post
    I certainly don't miss the bloody uselss "Climate Control" that moderm mid range cars come with... cos it doesnt' work properly and never has. I like to turn the tempo dial myself and decide if it's ok.
    Woah, careful now... ISTR getting burned at the stake for those exact same sentiments!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Zak33 View Post
    I miss headlight on warning buzzers. Why on earth it doesnt' have it I have no idea...
    Neither do I. I've known even cheap cars that had those from the early 80s. Is your microswitch broken? That's another common VAG one - The microswitch is in the driver's door unit, which also affects the door light (aka the red/white puddle light) and the covenience light in the roof. Bit involved to get to, but easily replaced with a generic part.
    Or could just be broken wiring/buzzer....

    Quote Originally Posted by Zak33 View Post
    I value stpping distances now more than the Merc driver who just slipped in the safe space. If he stops hard now I will hit him... I literally wont' stop as fast as him and I will be to blame. I displike that. I have to keep recreating stopping spaces and then they get taken.
    I feel your pain on that one, I really do!

    Quote Originally Posted by Zak33 View Post
    20 years of devlopment has been, frankly, immense.
    Not sure I'd have used that word... soul-destroying, perhaps. Cars just have no character any more. They look and feel like generic piles of expensive junk-plastic Nanny State approved PPE, with an iPad stuck to the dash.
    I might go install my CB in the car this weekend, just to feel better about myself!!

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    Re: 20 years car development - huge leaps and small backward steps

    Your chances of surviving a crash are dramatically reduced.

    But also, they're worse now than when that Polo was new. Because the car which hits you is a modern 7000lb behemoth. You'll bounce off.

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    Re: 20 years car development - huge leaps and small backward steps

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonatron View Post
    Traction control... I got used to it, being able to drive like an idiot around corners without having to worry. I was slightly surprised to find myself facing the wrong way hugging a crash barrier after buying a car without traction control. What's wrong with the option of having it on or off? Not having it means people like me will just crash it.
    Traction control itself I can take or leave. I'm capable of easing off it the wheels are spinning up. Stability control is rather more useful as it stops you spinning the car. I had a potentially interesting moment this morning as I accelerated off a roundabout and the car started to oversteer. VSC caught it before I'd had the time to do much more than wind a little lock off. Could I have caught it myself? Maybe, a dab of oppo and a bit less throttle might have settled it, but I'd rather not chance it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ttaskmaster View Post
    Quick squirt of de-icer. Works faster than my heated mirrors, certainly.
    No so good when they mist up while you're driving though; drive into cold fog and it can happen, without it being freezing.

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    Re: 20 years car development - huge leaps and small backward steps

    Quote Originally Posted by Zak33 View Post
    but your Fiat comparison is a good example of chassis improvements. Uno 45's were floppy horrible things,.. Punto was a good chassis all round!
    I don't think that is down to when the car was built though, the Uno simply slid around a lot even by the standards of the day. Judging by the mods done on the Uno Turbo I expect it is beyond wheels and tyres and down to excessive cost cutting.

    Compare that to the 1976 Lancia Beta Spyder I once had, the handling on that beast was really good despite being 10 years younger.

    The thing that has really changed is driver aids that kick in when you overcook it. There are modern cars out there that clearly can't handle the bhp they put out, whereas I remember being amazed in my mum's old Tigra that the chassis was so bad it would torque steer despite the engine apparently not having any torque. These days they would just turn up the electronic aids to keep it going in a straight line giving it the illusion of ability without actually spending money making the suspension up the the job.

    On a very positive note, I once owned a Morris Ital Estate. I don't believe a car like that would be allowed on the road these days, so some things have come on

    Quote Originally Posted by Butcher View Post
    No so good when they mist up while you're driving though; drive into cold fog and it can happen, without it being freezing.
    Actually did that this morning. Driving by the river the road and surrounding fields looking very pretty with all the mist, but door mirrors were starting to white out so I just hit the defrost button.

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    Re: 20 years car development - huge leaps and small backward steps

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    .

    Compare that to the 1976 Lancia Beta Spyder I once had, the handling on that beast was really good despite being 10 years younger.
    you are a lucky man.. I had it's mid engined sister which was the scariest car I have ever had the misfortune of nearly dying in...over and over.

    the Monte Carlo.

    horrible horrible thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Advice Trinity by Knoxville
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    Re: 20 years car development - huge leaps and small backward steps

    Quote Originally Posted by Butcher View Post
    No so good when they mist up while you're driving though; drive into cold fog and it can happen, without it being freezing.
    Never had it happen. I expect there's a film left behind that stops the condensation forming, as it was the same with my bike mirrors.

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    Re: 20 years car development - huge leaps and small backward steps

    Quote Originally Posted by Butcher View Post
    Traction control itself I can take or leave. I'm capable of easing off it the wheels are spinning up. Stability control is rather more useful as it stops you spinning the car.
    I'm not really sure on the terminology and which is which: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electr...#Product_names

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    Re: 20 years car development - huge leaps and small backward steps

    Quote Originally Posted by Zak33 View Post
    you are a lucky man.. I had it's mid engined sister which was the scariest car I have ever had the misfortune of nearly dying in...over and over.

    the Monte Carlo.

    horrible horrible thing.
    Oh but they looked so pretty! Shame about the complete lack of brakes

    Again, these days they would just let the ABS sort the braking problems out and not worry about it. Electronic brakeforce distribution is one of the driver aids I do agree with, so much better than the old valve on the rear axle that turns the rear brakes down on hard braking, when it feels like it.

    Edit: I think quite a few of the surviving Monte's have now been stripped down to fix the rust and then turned into Rally 037 replicas. At first I thought that was a shame, then I figured the Monte was such a liability it was probably a good idea. Amazing to think a rally monster could come from something that couldn't even stop in a straight line.

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    Re: 20 years car development - huge leaps and small backward steps

    Quote Originally Posted by Ttaskmaster View Post
    *Looks over at motorcycle.
    Wonders what ABS stands for.
    Shrugs shoulders and goes off for a blatt.
    Every new bike bigger than 125cc has to have it fitted now, it's the law!

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    Re: 20 years car development - huge leaps and small backward steps

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonatron View Post
    I'm not really sure on the terminology and which is which: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electr...#Product_names
    In my mind, traction control stops you wheel spinning when you accelerate. Stability control stops the car chassis rotating when you start to slide the car due to lack of grip.

    They also vary a lot between cars. Mine are fairly benign; you can get a bit of wheel spin and it cuts the power quite softly, likewise the stability control isn't too intrusive.

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    Re: 20 years car development - huge leaps and small backward steps

    Quote Originally Posted by Butcher View Post
    In my mind, traction control stops you wheel spinning when you accelerate. Stability control stops the car chassis rotating when you start to slide the car due to lack of grip.

    They also vary a lot between cars. Mine are fairly benign; you can get a bit of wheel spin and it cuts the power quite softly, likewise the stability control isn't too intrusive.
    That sounds right to me.

    Bit odd in my current car though, I usually drive in the "Dynamic" setting where driver aids are dialled back (but supposedly still there) so if one wheel spins the software kicks in to act like a limited slip diff, but if both wheels spin it pretty much just lets you spin them Apparently that does help when driving in snow compared to the all weather mode, which isn't intuitive to stick the car in the sporty mode in the snow.

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    Re: 20 years car development - huge leaps and small backward steps

    Mine has a handy no traction control until you hit 50 kph setting for pulling away on snow (at traffic lights, etc. ). I've also had a bit of wheel spin on gravel and like with traction control fully on, so it's fairly slack in its engagement.

  19. Received thanks from:

    MLyons (04-12-2017)

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