April 09, 2004

LIVER FLUKES! TRAVEL ADVICE! CAR TALK!

Iím in southern NSW, where out-of-towners are reminded that theyíve left Sydney by television commercials like this:

Itís liver fluke treatment time again!

Actually, Albury isnít all that rural, although the liver fluke commercial seemed genuine (it had cows). May I recommend the Albury Town House Motel to all interstate travellers? I stay here often. If youíre nice to the hosts, theyíll allow you free access to their excellent collection of British comedy tapes. Right now Iím watching Have I Got News For You -- never shown in Australia, and lamely replicated by Good News Week. Last time I was here: an entire series of The Office. This place is terrific. Plus, hosts Mike and Jackie are Welsh, so if you want to talk rugby union ...

A Ford Escape brought me here. The Escape is part of Fordís penitentiary-themed SUV range, along with the Ford Cellmate, the Ford Bilal, the Ford Awkward Shower Incident, the ultra-compact Ford Solitary Confinement and the maxi-sized Ford Conjugal Visit. Alas, the Escape isnít an altogether fascinating vehicle. Rowan Atkison, the comedian and car nut, wrote in a recent magazine column (not avaliable online) about an car show heíd attended at Earls Court:

This was a very unusual kind of motor show from which, basically, all boring cars had been excluded. The Daihatsu Charade, the Ford Mondeo and the Renault Megane were all conspicuous by their absence. As were the Daewoo Leganza, the Hyundai Sonata and the Perodua Kelisa. (Arenít these names fantastic? It seems that the less strong your brand name, the more you have to invest your model name with poetry and significance. BMW seems to need nothing more poetic than Ď525ií).

Atkinson wouldíve also missed the Escape, which suffers also for its age (I think the platform is getting on for five years or so; must check. May be more.) Look, itís a perfectly competent, reliable, roomy device, but way bland. And with annoying Added Irritation Extras, like:

ē Drum rear brakes. In 2004. On a car costing above $30,000.

ē Hard seats, with leather surfaces that gradually, imperceptibly, send you sliding towards the pedals. Drive a couple of hours and youíre staring at the bottom of the dash.

ē Column shift auto, largely missing from Australian-market cars for a couple of decades. Nothing against column shifts, but when combined with modern airbag-dominated steering wheels, your dashboard-displayed gear selection is often obscured. The Escapeís light shifter becomes a liability during three-point turns; you canít easily judge, without seeing the display, how many clicks youíve made between, say, ĎRí and ĎDí.

ē It isnít a four-wheel-drive. Itís a front-driver with four-wheel-drive sometimes, when things get slippy, or when you lock the system. So enjoy all that torque steer. Or, in laymanís terms, steering that steers you.

Iím only a few hundred kilometres into a 2,000km test. Letís see if things improve.

Posted by Tim Blair at April 9, 2004 01:42 AM
Comments

well i happen to like my Escape

Posted by: Tom Alday at April 9, 2004 at 01:48 AM

I spoke to Jackie just now; a lovely lady and very patient considering the hour. See you Saturday!

Posted by: Scott Wickstein at April 9, 2004 at 01:52 AM

Beautiful! I love it when people demonstrate their ignorance. Keep going Fisk, you make the case for Iraq with each letter you type. With enemies like you, we are all better off!

Posted by: JEM at April 9, 2004 at 02:16 AM

Albury Town House Motel

Complimentary breakfast....and they take senior cards too! Can't get much better than that!

Posted by: Wallace at April 9, 2004 at 02:19 AM

I think "fisk" is gunning for the elusive position of Deputy Blogparrot...Rawk! Iraq! Rawk!

Posted by: PW at April 9, 2004 at 02:23 AM

"The Escape is part of Ford’s penitentiary-themed SUV range along with the ... Ford Awkward Shower Incident..."

Somehow I don't see them featuring your review in their marketing campaign.

Posted by: Bruce Rheinstein at April 9, 2004 at 02:24 AM

Hey Tim: 137 to 77. Ouch!

Posted by: random_proser at April 9, 2004 at 02:29 AM

i've never seen someone so adamant to demand someone say something just so they have something to bitch about, kinda sad really.

Posted by: Tom Alday at April 9, 2004 at 02:36 AM

Fisk held the mass grave digging concession from Saddam so he's a little upset.

Posted by: BC at April 9, 2004 at 02:40 AM

he repaired the shredders, as well

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at April 9, 2004 at 02:44 AM

Fisk is on an Easter bender. Let's see how he reacts when I ditch all his comments.

Posted by: tim at April 9, 2004 at 02:44 AM


No a bender bLIAR. More like The Passion of the Tim. Just thought a little scourging would get you into the mood for tomorrow. Since you are such a good little Christian warrior, spreading peace, love, democracy and the rule of law across the world. Like it or not. Crucify some sense into the bastards, hey what. Never did anyone any harm. waorking well in Iraq. Seems like only yesterday when yer mate Steyn was telling us the resistance would crumble within 6 weeks of Saddams capture. Got that right at least.

Posted by: fisk at April 9, 2004 at 02:55 AM

Censor to your hearts content bLIAR. What was it you hated most ... "one man conga line of Bush suckholes"? That'd be it. Thought the blogosphere was the realm of free expression? Thing I really do like about it though is that it makes your cheer squad look even wierder than ever ... giving those stranges response to someone who is not there. By the ways, you out there, all cosy with this Stalinist practice of whiteing out comments Tim doesn't approve of? ummm ....

Posted by: fisk at April 9, 2004 at 03:04 AM

fisk:
Censor ... free expression ... Stalinist practice ...

You know, it's times like these when I'm kinda sad that the Usenet tradition of denigrating clowns like fisk as "free speach" (sic) activists never took hold in the Blogosphere.

Posted by: PW at April 9, 2004 at 03:17 AM

Fisk, posting billions of comments full of gratuitous rudeness is not using your right to freedom of speech, it is abusing it. You want a dialogue, act like an adult.

Frothing spittle all over somebody's blog and then accusing them of Stalinist practices when they try to do something about it does nothing but add to my determination to ignore those against the war, since so many of them act like you. I'd be much more inclined to listen to someone who uses non-insulting language, posts only to relevant blog entries, and shows some grasp of reason and logic.

Posted by: Alice at April 9, 2004 at 03:47 AM

fisk is awesome!! With quotes like "That'd be it" and "yer mate Steyn" I think he's getting ready for this.

Posted by: BC at April 9, 2004 at 05:17 AM

Ford Awkward Shower Incident

Does this involve a bar of soap, a cellmate (named fisk) and someoned named Bubba?

Posted by: Roger Bournival at April 9, 2004 at 05:47 AM

I second Alice.

MT 3.0 will (hopefully) take care of the fisks of the world.

On topic: drum brakes? Stupid Ford.

Posted by: Matt Moore at April 9, 2004 at 06:42 AM

Can you fit three across the front seats? If you can, the column shift is a bonus.

Talking about Fisk, I just opened up my email. Here's one from a much-loved interstate sister who knows little of my politics:

.......This is long, so wait until you have some uninterrupted time. Comments? Love, xxxxx.

> TRAVEL IN A LAND WITHOUT HOPE
> By Robert Fisk

Sigh.

Posted by: Byron_the_Aussie at April 9, 2004 at 10:16 AM

Apparently a Ford Escape is a re-badged Mazda Tribute? And here.

Man, bagging an "SUV" in time of war. Careful now, that Fisk chick is going to think you're going green!

Maybe you can reassure her of your manly commitment to the big-fucking-engine (and make your trip through Albury a shitload more fun) by shoving this Supercharger kit in your Mazda Escape/ Ford Tribute.

Posted by: Endgame at April 9, 2004 at 10:20 AM

I like this site, but it's disappointing that the topic of cars keeps coming up.

Posted by: david at April 9, 2004 at 10:25 AM

Sorry, fucked up two of those three links. Take two, shoppers:

Mazda Tribute/Ford Escape

The Supercharger

Posted by: Endgame at April 9, 2004 at 10:28 AM

"BMW seems to need nothing more poetic than Ď525ií".

Poetry? Rowan wants poetry?

Audi raises the poetical exhilaration bar a few notches with 'S6', or if you really want to wax lyrical, with 'RS6'

And then there's the A8....... if poetry be the food of love....enjoy !!

Posted by: Galen at April 9, 2004 at 11:06 AM

I like this site, but it's disappointing that the topic of cars keeps coming up.

On yer bike David.....

Posted by: Galen at April 9, 2004 at 11:08 AM

can U turn off da 4 wheel drive and lay big patches with da escape? Wat good is a car if U can not rip skids?

Posted by: Bilal at April 9, 2004 at 12:12 PM

The Escape dates from model year 2001, and has been marginally freshened since then. The US version, assembled in Kansas City, was remarkably troublesome during its first couple of years of production. The Mazda Tribute is similar - um, make that damn near identical.

Posted by: CGHill at April 9, 2004 at 02:09 PM

Ya see, if you wanted to get a decent soft roader you should have picked up a Forester. Subaru started the market back in '74 so they know a little about it.

Posted by: a at April 9, 2004 at 02:34 PM

Sorry, Tim old man. Seems I've lent you a leash rather than a set of keys.

Just close your eyes and think of the Toureg.

Posted by: Paul Pottinger at April 9, 2004 at 03:30 PM

Of all those car names, my favorite is Leganza which is a word Jackie Gleason used in his day as a body part euphemism.

Posted by: triticale at April 9, 2004 at 11:03 PM

CG,
Using the words "Ford product" and "remarkably troublesome" is redundant. Same goes for GM products as well.

Posted by: JohnO at April 10, 2004 at 12:39 AM

Are you telling me that Mr. Bean is now doing car shows?

Posted by: Brian J. at April 10, 2004 at 05:13 AM

Gotta say I love my Jeep Grand Cherokee, 8 cyl. with the all-wheel-drive option.

Ford - not who I would go to for an SUV. Except maybe the Explorer but I liked the Jeep better - I've taken it over small logs, through deep soft and and on bad ice/snow with no difficulty.

Posted by: rkb at April 10, 2004 at 05:31 AM

Motoring PR... er, journalism. A good ghetto for the also-rans to earn a nice easy living.

Posted by: Miranda Divide at April 10, 2004 at 09:09 AM

"A good ghetto for the also-rans to earn a nice easy living."

You mean like Mickey Kaus and P.J. O'Rourke?

Seems as Tim has pretty good company.

Posted by: Bruce Rheinstein at April 10, 2004 at 11:14 AM

Actually GM now only trails Toyota and Honda on quality indexes in the states. They did have their problems awhile ago. By the way - best SUV's in the states at all sizes are the GM fleet. Nothing like a Suburban to eat up miles and not wear you out!

Posted by: JEM at April 10, 2004 at 03:11 PM

Miranda, Miranda, Miranda ...

May I all you Miranda? You're hardly the most tightly packed sandwich in the old picnic hamper, are you? You know, a bit barking. To say nothing of a touch myopic.

What in the above post from our man Blair could in any way be equated to PR? Suggest you hold your reading glass to your good eye.

Posted by: Paul Pottinger at April 10, 2004 at 06:07 PM

Miranda, Miranda, Miranda ...

May I all you Miranda? You're hardly the most tightly packed sandwich in the old picnic hamper, are you? You know, a bit barking. To say nothing of a touch myopic.

What in the above post from our man Blair could in any way be equated to PR? Suggest you hold your reading glass to your good eye.

Posted by: Paul Pottinger at April 10, 2004 at 06:07 PM

Paul: Miranda is our resident blog-parrot. None of her squawkings merit any more attention than the average tame macaw's shrieks; just feed her some crackers. They stop up her blunt little beak for hours.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at April 11, 2004 at 03:56 AM

Pots, old man, you don't honestly expect me to believe that motoring "journalism" ain't nuthin' but convenient blobs of text around which your boss Rupert can place ads for car companies.

Posted by: Miranda Divide at April 11, 2004 at 11:30 AM

Yes, Miranda, it's not journalism unless - what? I've thought that you were kind of funny, and not always uninsightful, but this just reveals a whole new depth of stupidbitchery. Yay for you, you pissed off more people. Feel free to fap to this post as much as you like.

Posted by: Screamapiller at April 11, 2004 at 12:00 PM

MEMO TO "FISK" -

"I" before "E" except after "Seize" (and a few other even "weirder" words).

Posted by: Theodopoulos Pherecydes at April 11, 2004 at 11:14 PM

Awk! Ack. Rawkakakakakakrrr.... ACKACKACKAKAKAW! Krrr....

[In the interests of time and sanity the Parrot-English translator has been turned off for the evening. -- The Management.]

Posted by: Miranda Divide at April 13, 2004 at 06:07 AM

Tim, I reckon you are just fishing for Ford to lend you an SR8 or similar in order for them to get a better review.

Posted by: Razor at April 13, 2004 at 12:07 PM