Birdful

It’s beautiful out today, so I took my meditation bench outside for a bit. The sun, the breeze, the birds, the birds, more birds.

There are all sorts of birds all over my neighborhood. Songs fill the air.

This also explains why there’s always poop on my car.

Sherpa

As the tongue weight of the Veloster’s hitch is a paltry 100 pounds, I used it as an excuse to replace my ~50 pound Yakima Holdup with a ~30 pound Kuat Sherpa 2.0. The new rack is light and pretty and solid! Zero rattles, unlike the Holdup.

Kuat Sherpa 2.0

Not sure I want to leave the rack on all the time, though. I love the Veloster’s backup camera too much.

Stupider

My SiriusXM trial expired today. I am glad.

I am glad because as long as I have a subwoofer and satellite quality pop and hip-hop at my fingertips, I will choose that. I will choose that because it’s short term ear pleasing satisfaction. I will choose that over NPR and a slew of really interesting podcasts.

After 3 months of nothing but SiriusXM pop drivel, I feel stupider. I’ve been looking forward to today.

Stitcher Radio, please take me back!

The Velosteraptor Gets Hitched

After buying a maintenance package for the Veloster so I could stop wasting my time wrenching on things in spaces too small for wrenching, what do I do? I decide to install a hitch instead of paying someone to do it.

I went back and forth on this for a while before deciding. Ultimately, I don’t want to not know how to do things. So I wiggled under my car to wrench in a space too small for wrenching. It was a giant pain in the butt. There was drilling, fishwiring, alignment, more alignment, hydraulic jack aided alignment, and finally several rounds of tightening in a space too small for torquing.

Aaron helped with the alignment; there’s no good way for one person to lie on the ground and maneuver a 30 pound piece of steel 2 inches above their face and align 4 holes 5 feet part in 3 dimensional space with no sightline to both ends at the same time. That, and there was enough resistance from existing parts that it was more shoving than maneuvering. I literally had to yoga bridge the final hole into place while Aaron and the jack held the rest of the hitch in two other places.

Having said that, I’m glad I did it. There’s a certain satisfaction to doing something yourself (with help).

Hitched!

Big thanks to Aaron for helping, and for undoing the fishwire. Speaking of fishwire, I should have read my MS3 hitch post before I started on this. That’s why I do these writeups, right?

Pay attention, future self.

Matte Paint Life

Episodes #237, #356, and #401.

#237 – When most people see my car for the first time they exclaim something about the matte paint, then proceed to rub it with their hands.

#356 – At Sea Otter last weekend we all had to park in wicked tall rough weeds. The splitters are jacked now.

#401 – I accidentally whacked the butt end of my hockey stick against the rear bumper a couple nights ago. Matte paint is brittle.

These aren’t so much complaints as they are my attempt at documenting my matte paint paranoia. It’s pretty amusing reading my posts about the GTI; I suspect these posts will be similarly amusing in a few years.

Velosteraptor, April Edition

It’s been a few weeks since my last Veloster post. Time for an update!

The handling is great. Surprisingly so. It’s as good as if not better than the Mazdaspeed 3. Whatever Hyundai did to stiffen up the Rally Edition, they nailed it.

The tires are crap. I cannot wait until I wear these ones down so I can have tires that grip.

People keep saying things like, “This car is fast, huh?” Actually, no. It only looks fast. The Mazdaspeed was way faster, but no one ever asked if it was fast because they all thought it was a Mazda 3.

It scratches easily. Actually, I’m not sure if it scratches any more easily than a non-matte car, but my unbuffable paint paranoia causes me to notice every scratch.

Having said that, I’m still enjoying the ease of washing… even if I have to do it myself.

Parking Lot Cavemen

This past year, I noticed a disturbing number of scratches on my Mazdaspeed, on the paint right behind the driver side door handle. Disturbing, as in, it looked as if it had been scratched about a hundred times. I’m not un-careful when I open my car door. But the car was old, so I chalked it up to wear.

I’ve had the Veloster for three weeks now. I’ve been careful never to touch the paint behind the door handle. And yet, the paint there is scratched. Several times.

I’m realizing now that there are people trying to open car doors in hopes that they will find one unlocked, probably at the train station where I park most weekdays. I suspect this because my Mazdaspeed didn’t get scratched up like that until I started parking there.

Fine, that’s what locks are for. But gawd, show some respect, open carefully! Freaking cavemen!

Clean

The Veloster got its first wash today. I don’t think I mentioned this, but the matte paint requires hand washing with Special Chemicals. Gone are my days of automatic car washes. I can’t even take it to a regular hand wash place.

They’re serious about this. My car came with a Dr. Beasley’s Matte Everything and More cleaning kit.

Washing is no different, but instead of wax I use their Matte Paint Sealant. To my surprise, I LOVED IT. No white wax residue everywhere, no meticulously drying the car before buffing, buffing, and buffing some more. You just wipe it on after washing while the car is still wet, then wipe it off with a microfiber towel, drying your car in the process. SO EASY. WOULD SEAL AGAIN!!!

Gave the inside a freshening up too, i.e. I removed all those annoying stickers inside the windows. I don’t care that my car is alarm protected, has roadside assistance, and Sirius. No one needs to know and those stickers are ugly. Razor blades and Goo Gone are my friends.

Finally, I mounted my license plates, which came today. Annoyingly, the plates were too big for their holders. (Or vice versa; at this point I don’t care which.) I could get away without the holder on the back, but not the front. Two files, a Dremel, and 30 minutes later, I’d made enough room in the holder for Giant Plate. I didn’t even lose any fingers!

Happy to be rid of the LOOK AT ME I’M NEW!! dealer plate. And the ugly window stickers.

Clutch

It’s taken me a while to get used to getting the Veloster going from a stop. I know the clutch point and can get the car to speed without throttle, but the throttle opens in such a way that I’ve found it difficult to get a smooth launch. Specifically, when you step on the gas pedal, it goes from no throttle to enough to kick the RPMs from ~700 to ~1,500. Nothing in between. This means I’ve had to over-rev, let it catch, then bog before it gets going.

I tried letting it catch right as I gave it throttle. That worked great… for stalling out.

I tried letting the clutch out slowly. That felt like a great way to burn it out, and took a lot longer than I wanted to get going.

Really slow launches are no problem, but those are neither practical nor fun.

Today, my clutch foot finally figured it out. There’s the catch, followed by an immediate modulation of clutch pressure. Having said that, I realize it’s conceptually not that different from all the other manuals I’ve driven, but every car has its own characteristics and I’m happy to finally have figured this one out.

Hooray for stop signs and light weekend traffic.

Rally

Today marks one week with the Veloster. Time for some first impressions!

Naturally, I’ve been comparing the Veloster with the Mazdaspeed. So let’s start there.

Power – The Mazdaspeed wins. Hands down. But I could have told you that from the numbers. It’s still fun to floor it, but it doesn’t put a grin on my face like the Mazdaspeed did. Every time.

Horn – When I got the Mazdaspeed I remarked on how pathetic the horn sounded. I used to joke that a carful of clowns would run out of my vehicle if I were to honk. Well guess what? The Veloster’s horn is worse. I honked it and a carful of midget clowns came running out.

Seats – I liked my GTI’s heated leather seats. I liked my Mazdaspeed’s fabric bucket seats with red trim. I like my Veloster’s leather bucket seats with blue trim. Maybe I just like seats?

Speakers – I am sooo happy to have a nice sound system again. I missed having a subwoofer when I switched to the Mazdaspeed. The one in the Veloster is not quite as beastly as the one I had in the GTI, but it’s still plenty of boom.

Inputs – In addition to radio, aux, and a CD player, I now have SiriusXM, Bluetooth, USB, A/V aux, and some magical direct connection to Pandora through my phone. SiriusXM and Pandora sound really good. I haven’t had a chance to try aux and USB, but I trust they will sound decent as well.

Trip Computer – Finally, I have a trip computer again! I missed that with the Mazdaspeed. It prompted me to log every tank in a spreadsheet, which actually gave me some fun data to munge. But having a trip computer with live MPG reminds me to go easy on the gas, which in turn results in better MPG. It’s kind of like a game. Actually, the console comes with a couple games specifically for this purpose. Seems dangerous.

MPG – One of the first things I noticed when I got the Veloster was the trip computer range. It read something like 423 miles. Compared to the Mazdaspeed, the Veloster has a larger tank, better gas mileage, and runs non-premium fuel. I spent over $18,000 on almost 5,000 gallons of fuel in the ~7 years I had the Mazdaspeed, which had a paltry range of ~270 miles per tank. I expect to spend way less on gas with the Veloster, and way less time refueling.

Shifting – The gap between 1st/2nd and 2nd/3rd is still too big. I’m adapting, but the extra half second I have to wait before dropping the clutch again feels like an eternity. And it is, in 0-60 time. This is ironic because the Rally Edition comes with a sweet short shifter. I get to shift really fast, then wait to drop the clutch.

Looks – I went from cute red hatch to anonymous black hatch with my last vehicle change. I’m no longer anonymous with this matte blue spaceship. Spaceship. My friend’s word, not mine. But I like it. Looks were what caught my attention when the Veloster first came out, and it’s what’s held my attention enough for me to get one.

Rumble – No rumble. My neighbors probably like that. It sounds pretty good from the inside, but kind of crappy from the outside. Not rumbly like the Mazdaspeed or refined like the GTI. I’ll just keep my windows up.

Key Fob – Separate from the key. About on par with the Mazdaspeed’s. I was spoiled by the GTI’s one piece keyfob.

Aside from a phone mount, I haven’t started to accessorize. I probably won’t do much aside from tint and some way to transport my bikes.

I did try to get wide angle side mirrors and a fancy dead pedal, but alas, the Veloster isn’t popular enough to have tons of aftermarket accessories.

Reading the above, I don’t sound all that excited about the Veloster. I don’t mean for it to come off that way; I like this car a lot. But at the same time, I know how neurotic I get when I really like my car, so I’m making an effort not to attach. They say attachment brings grief. I know this to be true.

Funny that I’m using my new car as a lesson in detachment.

Here it is, my Veloster Rally Edition spaceship:

Funky Butt

Or, as Secret Weapon calls it, the Velosteraptor.

Rawr.