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With my car in the garage for routine maintenance I was at the service desk filling out the necessary forms for the hire car.  £250 excess, check the condition of the car, check licence, you know the usual stuff.  The customer service manager then escorted me to the car park where a gleaming white Honda CR-Z was waiting - my car for the day.  Excellent.  Having hired many cars, this by far the most unique and not the usual hum-drum standard hatchback or saloon car.  I'm interested in the little Honda as it's rumoured (largely started by Honda) to be the world's first Sports Coupe Hybrid.  It boast a 1.5ltr IMA (Petrol Hybrid) engine with battery assist in a car smaller than the Jazz.  Having handed over the keys to my sports car, I was not expecting the little CR-Z to be a match and I was not surprised.  It isn't.

I was however impressed with the little CR-Z, it's a pretty cool looking car and gets plenty of attention out on the roads, although in its GT spec, costing £1 short of £20k it's no bargain!  I think you are paying for the kudos that comes with driving a Hybrid - you'll have noticed that many a celebrity have a Toyota Prius or similar to play the green card, no doubt with the air-conditioned garage at bursting point with Italian supercars!  So the CR-Z is not the quickest car in the world, but in sport mode, it does boast a decent slug of torque that other V-Tech Honda's lack.  It sounds fruity too when you rev it round near its 7k rpm limit.  In Economy setting it claims 70mpg and in its sport setting nearer 40mpg, whilst normal you should see it return 50mpg.

My issue with cars such as the CR-Z is that whilst the manufacturer would have you believe you are saving the planet by driving one, a modern small diesel engine emits less gCO2/km and often has a superior MPG.  More bad news is the carbon footprint of the battery units that supply the 'free' fuel via the electric motors (charged under breaking / coasting etc).  As a small coupe however, in Sport mode the CR-Z is an attractive proposition particularly to fleet sales and hire cars.  Given the choice, I would plump for a hybrid or similar if it was offered by car hire companies and the CR-Z delivers on the sporty coupe promised.

Posted: 9/23/2010 3:43:16 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

26th November 2003 was a sad day for aviation.  The world’s only supersonic passenger airliner was grounded on this day and has remained a tourist attraction since that day and very unlikely to ever he granted air worthy again.

The Anglo-French project, conceived in the late 1950’s was a joint venture between 2 nations keen to show the world their aviation and engineering pedigree.  With the space race well underway and the Americans and Russians engaged in a battle outside of the earth’s atmosphere, The English and French went about creating the worlds first supersonic airliner.   Of course when the US and Russians caught wind of the plans, they were soon on the band wagon and suddenly supersonic passenger aviation was top of all agendas.  There were many design and engineering issues to contend with and the Americans, mainly due to the pressure from Wall St. shelved the plans at mere full size model stage, reputed to have cost up to $100m.  The Russian effort was also shelved as their main rivals were out of the running and they returned to the space race.

The Anglo-French effort however was pressing ahead, however was under serious threat as the initial £150m budget was long forgotten and costs escalating (reported to cost nearly 10x the original estimate!).  The UK Government, with the French agreed to continue and in 1969 Concorde was born.  The government set about selling the fleet but in the 10 years since it was conceived air travel had moved on suddenly bigger was better with Boeing launching its 747 capable of carrying 4 times the passengers of Concorde (despite taking more than twice as long to reach a destination!).  Value for money was on the agenda and Concorde was not cheap to buy or to run.  Carrying only 100 passengers, its commercial viability was in threat.  With not a single aircraft sold, due in part the American states banning it from airspace due to it being too loud, BA and Air France took the fleet on and ran the planes.  With the US finally persuaded, Concorde was a long haul specialist, Heathrow to New York in  2 hours 52 minutes (normally 7 hours!) cruising at Mach 2 (1300+mph!).

It was and still is an aviation icon, however its 100% safety record was tarnished following the terrible crash in 2000 at Paris, Charles De Gaulle, where all passengers and crew were killed just 30 seconds after takeoff.  The cause of the crash to this day is not 100% certain, the official investigation lay blame on a piece of metal on the run way that fell from another aircraft just moments before, bursting the tyre and sending debris into the fuel tanks, rupturing them.  Concorde was grounded pending further investigations. Concorde returned to service but following the 9/11 attacks commercial air travel, the lifeline of Concorde was in decline and it was only a matter of time before Concorde was withdrawn from service.  

Concorde’s last flight was 26 November 2003.  All of the 20 examples built are not scattered around the world as tourist attractions.  I remember being taken to an airshow when I was about 9 and me and my dad watched as Concorde flew over, I’ll never forget the noise and sheer presence and will definately be dropping by my local Concorde museum to take another look.

Posted: 9/22/2010 2:57:38 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

Cyprus has long been a popular destination with UK travellers and for good reason.  One of the main reasons Brit’s take a summer holiday is to escape the rather dire summer weather.  August has almost become the ‘wet season’ in the UK now with the last few years rainfall challenging that of the winter months.  With Easyjet now operating from both Paphos and Larnaca airports it’s never been easier to visit the most easterly island in the Med.  With summer temperatures averaging 35-40 degrees and near guaranteed clear blue skies, it really is a hot spot with British tourists.

Hire a car in Cyprus and you can see all the sites that you otherwise might not get to experience.  Whilst package tours are great, their appeal is dwindling as people like the independence of exploring themselves and car hire is the best option here, not to mention the cheapest.  You can hire a car on the island from either of the airports, or various town centre locations for as little as £15 per day.  A 7 day rental on the island will set you back around £100 which lets face it, is pretty reasonable!  A family coach trip will probably set you back more through the main tour operators!

Paphos car hire is readily available and from your base you can easily access some of the Islands most beautiful spots.  Take a 20 minute drive east and discover Aphrodities Rock, a 1hr drive north and you’ll wind up in Polis / Latsi and its wonderful coastline.  For the more adventurous, the Trudos mountains are easily within reach and offer fresher and cooler air that Paphos due to its 1,900m above sea level peaks!  The islands Capital city, Niccosia is within 2 hours of Paphos and for  those looking for the islands nightlife hotspots, Ayia Napa is just 3 hours in the car.

Take care on the roads however, as driving in Cyprus is very different to the UK roads.  Whilst you’ll be delighted by the clear open roads when out of the city, keep an eye on your speed.  Speed limits are lower in Cyprus than in the UK and whilst the locals seem to tailgate you (or casually breeze past) if you do not drive fast enough the local police are often around willing to relieve you of 50 Euro for speeding!  The motorways are real hotspots, so my advice is to stick to the speed limits, despite what others might do around you!  As for the country roads, on the whole they are great, usually traffic free, but keep your eye out for pot holes and goats!  On a recent visit, we came across this herd of goats casually making their way across the road.  They were in little hurry, whilst we had to stop and wait for them to pass!

On the whole driving in Cyprus is far more enjoyable than the UK thanks to the traffic free roads, but I found that relaxing and getting used to the local driving ‘style’ did wonders.  Indicators are rarely used and rights of way seem to go out of the window, so keep your wits about you and you’ll see some of the Islands best parts, otherwise missed.

Posted: 9/2/2010 1:56:48 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments


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