Quick car review finder - select below

Shoe-string motoring fleet update

Shoe-string motoring fleet update Shoe-string motoring fleet update Shoe-string motoring fleet update Shoe-string motoring fleet update
Published on: August 14, 2012
Published on: August 14, 2012

Shoe-string motoring fleet update

I've done it. I've sold the Puma. While I was sad to see such a clean and low mileage car leave my fleet, it was not being used and so makes sense to sell it on.

Of course that leaves a void to fill in the fleet. What could replace it? Well, in the interests of my running reports, I figured many of the sub €1,000 cars are bought as first cars after passing one's test or cheap economical second cars for the family. So that's what I did; I bought a tiny little car with equally tiny running costs. Feel free to have a guess at what it could be and I will reveal all in my first report on it next week!

Meanwhile the Lexus remains as comfortable and reliable as ever. In fact the fuel gauge has started working again, even after a couple of partial fill ups. But I have spent some money on it - I replaced the worn out and smearing wiper blades for new ones. On that note every car I have bought has needed new wipers. If you often squint or think your windscreen smears when it's raining change the wipers; it's a cheap and often neglected part of annual maintenance on many cars.

The Clio has continued to astound with its breath-taking pace and aural assault. In fact I swear it has become even louder. Sadly, unlike the Lexus, the 'little' idiosyncratic issues remain and I don't have much hope of them 'fixing' themselves. I'm still unsure if taking the fragile and temperamental Clio on a 1,000-odd kilometre round trip would be a wise move. If nothing else it will give me smiles all the way, tinnitus once there and a nervous disposition at every small noise and warning light.

The Lexus would be the default, obvious and sensible choice. But this is a road trip and road trips need adventure. Maybe the new addition could stand in. It's a decision I will probably end up making days before I actually leave.

Not having had chance to report on the Puma before, it's only fitting I immortalise it here, on its last run with me. The alloy wheels unique to the 'Black' limited edition still look good once cleaned up. The metallic black paintwork glitters with the metallic flecks once cleaned and polished. The 1.7-litre engine was developed by Yamaha and equipped with variable valve timing produces a respectable 125hp and revs cleanly through the rev range. For a 16-valve engine it is really smooth and does have a slight kick after 5,000rpm due to the variable timing. The gearchange is rifle bolt accurate and the clutch light. With so many road testers already stating how it has one of the best front driving chassis I will just concur. In real world driving it never gave less than 34mpg (8.3 litres/100km), usually in town traffic and traffic light grand prix starts. It averaged over 40mpg on a run with a steady throttle.

All the usual Puma faults were gladly absent, so no rusty rear arches, shot suspension bushes or worn wheel bearings, scored front brake discs or accident damage. I always get a Cartell.ie report on every car I buy, as for the sake of a few euro you get peace of mind and can confirm the details, mileage and that there is no outstanding finance or that its been nicked.

Some of the typical Puma foibles that you can't escape though are the feeble air conditioning (where fitted). Also, the projector headlights on these look great but give an awful light spread on the road. I had the adjustment checked and even purchased some 'Super Brilliance' brighter-than-normal headlight bulbs. The performance was still pretty bad. Combined with worn wipers, night driving was a white knuckle ride for the first week of my ownership.

In the 12 months I owned it I only ever had to replace consumables like tyres, brake pads and gave it a service. In between services it could use a few litres of semi-synthetic oil though, so you had to keep an eye on the level and keep it topped up, especially if regularly enjoying that smooth performance. In fact the only real issue that arose was the washer jets became blocked, hardly a first world problem, but a minor inconvenience all the same.