View trip computer data during a phone call in a Fiat with Blue & Me

One of the annoyances of Fiats equipped with Blue & Me infotainment system is that during a phone call you can’t view the trip computer data. This is particularly annoying when you are having a long phone call and driving on a highway for example where you constantly need to check your trip computer (to monitor the distance you have traveled or maintain an average speed for example).

I kept tinkering with my car till I found a very simple solution for this:

  1. During a phone call, turn cruise control on. You don’t have to actually engage it, just rotate the stalk to turn it on.
  2. Turn it off again quickly.
  3. While the information screen is still saying “Cruise Control Off”, press the trip computer button.
  4. You now have full access to your trip computer data while you are having a phone call.
  5. Enjoy and promise me you are not going to buy another car that uses Microsoft software.

Shopping for a new hot hatch – Ford Fiesta vs. Seat Ibiza SC

Choosing a new car is always confusing and takes a lot of time, but it’s also a hell lot of fun. I have been checking a lot of cars in the past few months and I have narrowed my choices to 3 cars: Ford Fiesta, Seat Ibiza SC (3-door “Sports Coupe” model) and Opel Corsa, then later excluding the Corsa which I wasn’t a big fan of.

In this post I will be doing a detailed comparison between the 2 contenders based on facts about them and also based on what I’m feeling about each one, but I will leave the final verdict to you.

I will also add my current ageing Fiat Grande Punto to the comparison to see how it fares against its modern rivals.

Engine/Transmission

The Fiesta has a 1.4L engine that generates 96 hp and 125 Nm of torque that is mated to a 4-speed automatic gearbox with sequential shifting control. Seriously, who still uses 4-speed automatic gearboxes in 2012?!

The Ibiza is definitely the winner here when it comes to both the engine and transmission. It is equipped with a 1.6L engine that generates 105 hp and 153 Nm of torque, mated to VW’s hi-tech 8-speed DSG gearbox.

Ibiza’s 8-speed DSG gearbox

The Grande Punto comes with a lazy 1.4L 8v engine that generates just 77 hp and 115 Nm of torque. The moment you step on the gas pedal you will feel that the car is underpowered and you will always have to work the engine hard by shifting above 4000 RPM to get half-decent acceleration. My Grande Punto has a regular manual transmission so nothing to talk about here.

Exterior

Both the Fiesta and the Ibiza look fantastic. The Fiesta is more on the cheeky cute side while the Ibiza has an angry looking front and back with some bold lines going across the car. I like both so much but I think the wide rear end and the lower roofline of the Ibiza won my heart.

Ibiza SC angry looking rear lights

While the Grande Punto looked gorgeous when it first came out in 2005, specially with its Maserati-ish front, it looks outdated now.

Grande Punto’s Maserati-ish front end

Interior

The interior of the Ibiza is very disappointing compared to how good its exterior looks. While everything is well-put together, the materials are on the cheap side and everything feels so plasticy. Also most of it is gray which makes it even worse.

The interior of the Fiesta is much better. Actually it’s a lot better than I would expect of a car in that class. I fell in love with the dark red soft-touch dashboard with silver accents around the instruments panel and the center console, and soft lights above the glove compartment. Also the trim of the door and the seat matches the red color of the dashboard which looks quite cool.

Fiesta’s interior

The Grande Punto falls right between the Fiesta and the Ibiza when it comes to the interior. The quality is good with some soft-touch parts on the dashboard. And while some parts feel plasticy and cheap, the overall feelings is good.

Equipment

All 3 cars are generously equipped with safety features and gadgets. ABS, EBD, driver and passenger airbags, 15″ alloy wheels and cruise control all come standard on all of them. The Fiesta also has side-impact airbags and a driver knee airbag.

Ibiza’s large sunroof

The Ibiza is equipped with a big-sized sunroof but lacks bluetooth and voice commands which are available on both the Fiesta and the Grande Punto. Also the Fiesta has climate control which isn’t available on the Ibiza or the Grande Punto.

Price

The Ibiza is the most expensive here at 140,000 EGP followed by the Fiesta at 133,000 EGP. My Grande Punto cost me 91,000 EGP but it wouldn’t be fair to add it to the comparison since it doesn’t have an automatic transmission like the others and also because I got it 2 years ago and cars got a lot more expensive since then.

There’s a 7,000 EGP price difference between the Ibiza and the Fiesta, but which do you think offers a better value for money? Leave your opinion in the comments below.

Creative ideas to do while stuck in #CairoTraffic

Most of us get stuck in #CairoTraffic for several hours everyday. We tend to get bored sitting in our cars, so here are some creative ideas you could do instead of just sitting there staring at your car’s windshield:

  • Sound the horn repeatedly for 2 minutes while wondering why it isn’t making the traffic move any faster.
  • Rant about it on Twitter.
  • Start a conversation with the person in the car next to you.
  • Pick your nose.
  • Read a newspaper.
  • See how far you could drive between 2 car lanes without hitting other cars’ wing mirrors.
  • Drive between the same 2 lanes and count how many mirrors you break.
  • Park your car in the middle of the street and go have a drink.
  • Stare at the person in the car next to you.
  • Wait till the person you are starring at notices you and pick your nose while continuing to stare at them.
  • See how close you could get to the car in front of you without actually touching it.
  • Have a meal.
  • Pick a fight with the driver in the car in front of you because they aren’t close enough to the car in front of them.
  • Try to change lanes as much as you can. Whenever a spot is empty in any lane, it’s yours!
  • Get out of your car to check if you have a flat tyre. Get in your car and wait for 2 minutes. Repeat.
  • Write a totally useless blog post as I’m doing right now.
Going through traffic is much easier now, right? You are welcome. But wait a minute, people don’t need all those ideas because that’s everything they are already doing!

Stream audio from an Android phone to a Fiat equipped with Blue & Me via Bluetooth

If you have a Fiat equipped with a Blue & Me infotainment system you have probably tried to stream audio from your phone to the car. That’s not possible because Blue & Me doesn’t support A2DP, the protocol that enables audio to be streamed from one device to another (which is really stupid from Fiat and Microsoft since that could be enabled just by a software update). Fortunately there’s a work around for Android phones, just follow these simple steps.

  1. First you will need to grab BTmono from Google Play
  2. Make sure your phone is connected to the car
  3. Turn BTmono on and start playing any audio file on your phone

Blue & Me will start playing the audio as if it’s a phone call and the multifunction screen on the dashboard will display “Private Number”. Unfortunately the audio quality is really crappy, so it might not be good for playing music but at least it’s good enough for listening to audio books.

Update

It’s a bit frustrating that “Private Number” will be stuck on your screen and you won’t be able to access any other functions. Fortunately, I found a solution for that. Turn on cruise control (just rotate the stalk, no need to engage it), then quickly turn it off again. While the screen is still saying “Cruise Control Off” press the trip button and the screen will get back to displaying trip data.

5 most beautiful classical cars of all time

You don’t consider yourself a true petrolhead unless you have a lust for classical cars. I admire classical cars mainly because of how beautiful they look. The unique styling will immediately make you forget how unreliable, uncomfortable and sometimes downright horrific these cars were.

Here’s my list of the 5 most beautiful cars of all time.

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO

5. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO: Originally designed to compete in GT Racing, has a 3.0L V12 engine. The GTO became one of collectors favorites. In 2010 a fine example of the GTO was sold for 18.8 million USD.

 

1958 Chevrolet Impala

4. 1958 Chevrolet Impala Convertible Coupe: 5.3 meters of hot American exotic design with it’s unique deeply sculptured rear fender. The first generation Impala will always remain my favorite as Chevy seemed to go for more conservative styling with each new generation. I know the Impala doesn’t have the pedigree as other cars in this list, but remember this is more about the design than anything else.

 

1957 Chevrolet Corvette

3. 1957 Chevrolet Corvette: The revised version of the first generation Chevy Vette is strikingly beautiful. Named after a type of small, maneuverable warship, the Corvette was the first sports car ever to be produced by Chevrolet. Hand build and only available in short supply, the C1 Corvette is a true collectible with a very respectable racing pedigree.

 

1963 Jaguar E-Type

2. 1963 Jaguar E-Type: The E-Type has been an icon since day one. On its release Enzo Ferrari called it “The most beautiful car ever made”. In addition to being beautiful, the E-Type was a high performance piece of engineering equipped with the latest technologies of its time. The E-Type got so many awards over the years and is still getting more till now. Top Gear also had a special tribute celebrating 50 years of the E-Type, in their usual hilarious fashion.

 

1957 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing

1. 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing: No words could describe how beautiful and unique the 300SL Gullwing is. Initially introduced as a racing car, then a road model was build later on. The distinctive gull wing doors which are only available on the Coupe version are utterly unpractical which makes it even more special. The 300SL has a 3.0L engine generating 222 hp and had some technology firsts like direct fuel injection.

 

Bonus

1965 Aston Martin DB5 Vantage Convertible

Aston Martin DB5 Vantage Convertible: This one didn’t make it to the original list because (quite embarrassingly) I forgot about it!  The strikingly beautiful DB5 was introduced in 1963 and only 12 convertibles were originally fitted with a factory Vantage engine which makes it very rare. The DB5 has a 4.0L engine that produced 315 hp which was very adequate for its time. The DB5 gained its popularity from being the first car to be used in James Bond’s movies and has remained as the most recognized car in all of his movies.

No, your car doesn’t have 10 air bags!

It has come to my attention that a lot of owners of Jettas, Octavias, Astras and other mid-range cars claim that their cars are equipped with 10 airbags. No, they are not. Let me clarify why. Most mid-range cars nowadays come with 6 standard airbags, that’s 2 frontal-impact air bags, 2 side-impact airbags and 2 curtain airbags.

People mistakenly count the number of “SRS Airbag” labels spread throughout the car to know the number of airbags. Because curtain airbags cover the whole side of the car, they have to be deployed from 3 different spots, A, B and C-pillars, so they have 1 label on each pillar, but they are actually one airbag. So those 6 “SRS Airbag” labels on all 3 pillars on both sides are for just 2 airbags, not 6.