about the talking fish

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Writer. Wheelman. Occasional DIY mechanic. Walking collection of hang-ups. Hopeless romantic. Old-school. Analog soul in a digital world. I am all of these things and more.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

'Tis the season for mechanical curiosity

It's been a very interesting couple of weeks for a gearhead like me.

Because of a runaway piece of debris (concrete or dense wood, I'm not really sure what) snaking across the SLEX, one of Aibo's wheels had a very strong impact---strong enough to bend the rim out of shape and rip my Bridgestone S-02PP rubber along with it.

I had planned on replacing the S-02s---great tire with full tread depth, but due for replacement at seven years old---for a while now, and it seemed like the best opportunity to do so. After I had the wheel repaired, I raided the phone line looking for tires in my 205/45R16 size. Disappointed that the Yokohama S.Drives were out of stock just about everywhere, I decided to experiment this time with a brand that's not very popular here: Toyo.

After hearing about their great performance from overseas, I had already inquired about the Toyo Proxes T1R. They didn't have those in my size, so I ordered the Toyo Proxes 4 all-season radials instead. Armstrong, the distributor, even offered free dry nitrogen fillup for the lifetime of the tires. 200 kilometers in, I find the Proxes 4s quieter and more refined than the noisy S-02PPs, but are just as grippy and have a much longer treadwear rating.

The only downside to all this is the state of my Digo fund, which is now completely spent.

Yesterday saw me at Glorietta to check out the all-new GM-chassis Honda City. Unlike its GD forebear, the GM's styling no longer looks like a Jazz hatchback with a trunk (still at a capacious and usefully shaped 506 L) hurriedly grafted to its rear. Indeed, it's different enough that it doesn't share the GE chassis code of the new Jazz. The car is gorgeous, well-equipped and looks like a slightly smaller FD Civic; however, the price is not quite as pleasant. Its price encroaches dangerously close to FD Civic territory, and at PhP806,000 is even a few thousand pesos more expensive than the top-flight GE Jazz. The car itself is great, though, and deserves to succeed.


Finally I got not just one pleasant surprise, but two, in today's Jazz and City United monthly EB. Forced-induction pioneers Rico and Ken invited me to hitch a ride on their boosted rocket sleds. As Rico wound the engine to 5000 RPM, with 8 psi of turbo boost jamming into the cylinders and hissing like a vacuum cleaner on steroids, I was astonished at how the GD Jazz could handle such acceleration and speed. The sheer muscle these two silver hamsters had defied all my expectations---I had a hard time believing these started life essentially the same as Aibo!

We screamed along the Kalayaan flyover, dashing past cars with no need for downshifts, such was the torque of these blown L13A3 motors. Ken's Jazz sported TEIN Super Compact coilovers, one of my erstwhile dream mods. I got to sample their ride for the first time, fully expecting my backbone to be jarred stiff and silly...but it didn't happen at all! Even while seated at the back, a problem area for the GD Jazz, the TEIN dampers just kept the forces of the car's body at bay while delivering quite the supple ride. I daresay it even rode better than Aibo's stock suspension. Maybe I should reconsider getting these...

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