Thursday Snippets

Ok, time for another quick rant on Consumer Reports. As long-time lurkers here will know I don’t necessarily agree with their methods or their findings.

First, watch the video on this page.

For those of you that couldn’t be bothered, the video is about developments on cars that aren’t quite developed enough. One of the things they think should go back to the drawing board is the cruise control switch on the Mercedes R-Class. The cruise control lever is located just above the indicator stalk, and the contention is that you could mistakenly speed the car up by lifting the cruise stalk instead of the indicator stalk.

Sure, it wouldn’t hurt to put the cruise stalk somewhere else, but did Consumer Reports consider the following: Should you be using your indicators at all whilst you’ve got cruise control on? And won’t it only speed the car up if cruise is actually engaged?

CR contend that a mistake could occur where you speed the car up instead of signalling a right turn. Ok, you may have cruise control engaged and need to change lanes on a highway and speed up a little by mistake, which should be easily recoverable if you have a heartbeat and your eyes are open.

But if you’ve got cruise on and you’re looking to do a right turn with cruise still engaged then you probably shouldn’t be driving. It’s not the location of the cruise stalk that’s dangerous, it’s the fact that you’re on the road at all that’s dangerous.

I think there’s a limit to how idiot-proof cars should become. If you’re that much of an idiot then being licenced to drive shouldn’t be automatic. Being licenced is a privelege, not a right.


The 2008 Saab 9-3 comes with a lot of significant developments, chief among them being the new twin-turbo diesel powerplant and the development of XWD.

The cost?

These are also going to be available on the Cadillac BLS. report that both the TTiD engine and XWD will coming on their BLS from next year.

I guess we’ve got to keep the delusion running that Caddy has a future in order for Saab to have one, so Go Caddy, Go! Go anywhere but here!


This is the Saab Expressions website as viewed on a Safari browser today:


Seems like there’s some code problems there, folks. I know just the guys to fix it, and maybe refresh the look a bit too.


You might remember Tim from my Sweden photos. He had the blue coloring in the his-n-hers color coded Viggens.

Well, knowing that there’s some people interested in aviation hanging around Saabs, I thought those of you with a mind to do so might like to follow Tim’s adventures as he trains to get licenced for flying the Airbus A320.

He’s at a flight school in Brussels at the moment and is documenting the process in photo, video and blog format. The main site link is here and apparently the A320 is “almost impossible to crash”, which is good to hear.

One of Tim’s own pilot jokes:

How will you know if there’s a pilot in the room at a party?

Don’t worry, he’ll tell you.


And speaking of Sweden, a note to Rickard……

I saw my first Australian 9-5 Griffin yesterday, just one block from my office right here in Hobart!!

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  1. The issue with the indicator would occur on a freeway or multilane carrageway, where you are simply chaning lanes to overtake the car infront, wich in most cases the cruise would still be set. But in saying that most cruise controls have a lag in the acceleration and they do not have an explosive takeoff when you press the increase spead button, so I think you would notice an let go before getting in any danger.

    As a second issue, why does merc have the cruise on a third stalk anyway, this is so nineties and usually only found on very cheap imports.

  2. What on Earth is GM doing allowing Cadillac to use the TTiD engine and the XWD on a car that nobody in Europe clearly wants? Cadillac’s belong in North America – not Europe!

  3. GM will keep the Caddy going on in Europe, even the sales are much lower than the expectation. They sold les than 3000 Caddies in Europe, but they insist to keep them on the market… :((

  4. Until keeping Cadillac in Europe will cost more than pulling out and scrapping plans, they’ll stay put. I think Cadillac would be great in Europe if GM would drop the BLS and add diesels and hybrid/flex-fuel options on all Caddy models. That will at least bring the mileage and engine options up to par with Mercedes and BMW.

    Also, the whole CR thing reminds me of the guy that counted the stitching in his Porsche 911 seats and complained that they weren’t the same on both sides…obviously, these people are focusing on the wrong things in their cars.

  5. I am with CR on this one but it is not a big deal irritating, rather than dangerous. BM,Audi and Merc all put the cruise on a separate stalk and I do find that I occasionally knock the cruise switch in the BM. This makes the car “resume” speed and in a turbo diesel it resumes quite rapidly. I think active cruise is much better – although more of more use in crowded European motorways or single carrigeways than the US.

    As for Caddy, no one is buying them so I can’t see it hurting sales.

  6. However CR characterized them, those are terrible designs that deserve to be pointed out and ridiculed.

    I’m not sure why we’re concerned about Caddy having those choices. It’s not like the 2.0L and 2.8L are indigenous Saab. Sharing heavily is the name of the game for the large makers.

  7. I didn’t mean to sound inconsistent with my long piece a couple of days ago. Instead of “concerned” I should have said “surprised”.

  8. My wife’s 2005 E320 wagon has that cruise control stalk, and it is annoyingly close to the turn indicator stalk.

    When I go from the 9-5 to the E320, I almost always try to use the cruise control stalk as a turn indicator, then I remember that the turn indicators are down lower, and everything is fine.

    This is one of those things it only takes about 10 seconds to get used to, once you realize what’s going on.

    Not my favorite feature, but hardly a design crisis that requires government intervention, either.

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