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TOP 10 — DRIVING MYTHS

March 29, 2008
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     Halo everbodySmile,
 
 
 
 
                             We all love to drive car. However we are more concerned with speed and comfort. The most
 
important aspect of car driving is the safety feature which is left to the manufacturer and the government. It is high
 
time that we as resposible citizens come forward to grasp it. After all Safe driving is the major feature of driving
 
the car.
 
 
 
    

Top 10: driving myths

 

Dan Trent's biography
 
 
March 27 2008
 
 

Think you know everything about driving? You’re not alone. But it turns out a lot of the common assumptions about cars and how to use them have become distorted and skewed. Indoctrination – both legislative and cultural – is often to blame but often it’s just simple misunderstanding that’s to blame.

Here we debunk 10 myths that, by one means or another, have passed into accepted motoring lore. Have you got any of your own?

You shouldn’t cross your hands on the wheel

 
 
Driving myths (image © Motoring Research)
 

Remember when you first drove a car and crossing your hands on the wheel felt so intuitive and easy? And how your driving instructor instead forced you into that clumsy wheel shuffling motion required to pass the driving test? Well, there’s the reason all trackday instructors have to do the opposite, and make people keep a firm ten-to-two grip on the wheel, crossing hands if necessary. Of course, what works on the race track doesn’t in all situations work on the road but if you really want to feel what the steering is up to you need to forget what your driving instructor told you and trust your instincts.

 

 

Four-wheel drive gives you more grip
 
Driving myths (image © PA)
 

Yes, all-wheel drive helps you put the power down. But there are those blinded by hype and of the opinion it also magically improves grip in ALL situations. Um, no – you still have the same number of tyres as everyone else. And in the snow that means your 4×4 is going to slither about just like any other car. And no, Mr Impreza driver, you’re not immune from understeering off roundabouts if you go in too fast. You can get on the power harder and earlier than those with two-wheel drive and you’re less likely to get stuck in mud or snow but all-wheel drive doesn’t equal immortality.

 

Fog lights are necessary
 
Driving myths (image © PA)

Just when are the roads ever deserted enough that you might actually need to switch on your foglights? Yup, hardly ever. Here’s a clue: if the traffic is bunched up so close you can read the guy in front’s Tom Tom through his back window you probably don’t need your mist piercing, retina scorching foglights switched on. Ditto in town, under streetlights – anywhere apart from deserted, horror movie set back roads really. And front fogs? Well, sorry to break it to you but the old sidelights’n’fogs combo remains as irritating as it is illegal.

Real men switch the ESP off
 
 
Driving myths (image © PA)
 

You’ll often hear car hacks talk disparagingly of ‘electronic nannies’ with regard to traction control and electronic stability systems. This is macho nonsense of the worst kind and back in the real world these systems do a very good job of keeping us on the black stuff. Over the years the black boxes have got steadily cleverer and less intrusive too, meaning there’s less and less reason to reach for the off button unless you’re out on a trackday. And if that’s not enough some manufacturers are now fitting mid-way ‘hero’ settings to their systems, for those juvenile moments you’re not grown up enough to contain yourself.

‘Driver’s cars’ have to be rear-wheel drive
 
 
Driving myths (image © PA)
 

Rear-wheel drive will always be the purist’s chassis set-up of choice. But some maintain that a proper driver’s car (whatever that is) absolutely, positively has to put its power down through its back wheels. Oh yeah? Try telling that to the hot hatch driver who just left you for dead on that back road. Or the rally rep that left your over-tyred supercar foundering in the rainy conditions. Rear drive has its place but there are plenty of front-drivers – from the Lancia Fulvia to the latest hot Clios – that count among our favourites, not to mention four-wheel drive heroes like the Audi RS4 and assorted Imprezas and Evos.

 

Smaller engines use less petrol
 
 
Driving myths (image © PA)
 

Accepted wisdom has it that the smaller a car’s engine is the less petrol it will use. As ever though this is a simplistic notion that fails to take into account huge variables such as weight, aerodynamics, driving style and traffic conditions. Not convinced? Try filling a small engined supermini with people and luggage and compare your motorway fuel consumption with that of an understressed luxo-barge, or indeed your spec sheet’s ‘official’ figure. The obsession with CO2 emissions clouds the issue further, with some supposedly green cars actually proving surprisingly thirsty outside of their unrealistic test cycles while supposed gas guzzlers prove more frugal.

 

Manual gearboxes are always better
 
 
Driving myths (image © PA)
 

Manual gearboxes are more involving for keen drivers, no question. But actually better? That’s becoming more difficult to argue. Traditionally autos were slower, more sluggish and thirstier than manuals. But modern self-shifters have got smart. For example, most Mercs equipped with the latest 7G-Tronic gearbox are, like for like, faster and more frugal than their manual counterparts. And the DSG gearboxes seen across VW-group cars shift so fast and so smoothly it makes choosing a manual seem like the Luddite’s choice. Add to this that you can more easily left-foot brake two-pedal cars for smoother, faster driving and the case for the old stick shift looks shaky.

You need an SUV to be safe
 
 
Driving myths (image © PA)
 

"But it makes me feel safe!" plead the 4×4 drivers. But is it really the case? Of typical family hatchbacks the VW Golf, Peugeot 308, Ford Focus, Renault Megane, Citroen C4 and many others all get five NCAP stars for occupant protection, many also getting four for child protection. And the SUVs? Well, the X5, Touareg and XC90 all get five for occupant protection but then so do superminis like the Fiat 500 and Mazda 2. And the supposed improved view from a 4×4? Try telling that to the people who’ve reversed into small kids without even seeing them behind their tall SUVs.

 

You have to go fast to have fun
 
 
 
Driving myths (image © PA)
 

We’ve extolled the benefits of underpowered cars here before. But as speed limits become lower and ever more rigidly enforced you need to look beyond horsepower to make your driving fun again. Cars like the before-its-time Smart Roadster for instance. Its 80bhp and 10.9-second 0-62mph time didn’t sound that impressive but on any given road it could put a grin on your face like you wouldn’t believe. Warm hatches like the Ford SportKa and even the open top Daihatsu Copen are capable of the same trick too, all without the need for licence killing numbers on the speedo.

 

There’s no replacement for displacement
 
 
 
Driving myths (image © PA)
 
 

Big cube engines like AMG’s 6.2-litre V8 used in the C63 might be fun but increasingly look rather outdated by the latest crop of small displacement motors. Need proof? Porsche’s 409bhp 911 GT3 isn’t exactly slow, and that makes do with a mere 3.6 litres. Others have employed turbo or supercharger technology (in some cases both) to give smaller capacity engines a bit more oomph, notably VW with its 1.4 TFSI motor and BMW with its mighty 302bhp twin-turbo 3-litre six used in the 135i and 335i. Across the board engines are getting smaller and more powerful, not to mention more efficient, to the benefit of all.

 

 

 

 

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