Icelandic Rides

It may as well be another planet

My first ever true international trip (besides Canada and Mexico) was to Australia in 2005.  I first noticed that Nissan Skylines were nearly as common as the Mercedes S-class stateside.  I knew that only a small part of the world automotive output was sold here and my week in Reykjavik reinforced that idea even more.

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I already did a thorough review of our tiny Hyundai i10 rental.  When purchasing an i10, the 3 main deciding factors are price, price, and price.  It’s one of the least expensive new cars sold nationwide, but will still set you back about US$19,000.  If you’re only use for a car is with minimal cargo and passengers and to go from point A to point B, it fits the bill just fine.

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Would you want this intimidating truck barreling down on you with all those lights on?  I thought it looked near apocalyptic, but it was much smaller than the typical 18-wheeler in the states.  I would have like to ask the driver/owner what the Indiana placard meant.

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Electric cars are slowing catching on in the US, but they are EVERYWHERE in Iceland.  Since gas runs about (gulp) US$6.60 per gallon and electricity is abundant and super cheap due to geothermal plants all over, it’s the perfect place for the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, and this C-Class Benz just to name a few.  This exact model Benz C350e is sold here in the states, but I have yet to see one on the road.

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This Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is also sold in the USA, but I can’t remember ever seeing one at the dealership that’s barely 1000 feet from my house, much less one on the road.  These were by far the most common SUV in Iceland and Mitsubishi has been reporting much higher sales in all of Europe for 2018.  Stateside, the Mi-EV is more common.  Go figure.

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Wagons are nearly as popular in Iceland as SUVs are here domestically.  The only Honda branded wagon I can think of in the past 20+ years is the upscale Acura TSX wagon.  I loved this Accord wagon that slightly resembles a compressed Honda Odyssey.  Without even verifying the mileage estimates, I’m confident it is substantially higher than the CR-V and Pilot.  Stateside, we were cursed with the hideous Honda Accord CrossTour from 2010 to 2015.  Again, go figure!

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photo courtesy via bing

We were trailing a Civic Wagon for a bit, but I couldn’t get a clear picture since it was near sunset, but with this internet photo you get the idea it’s not the commonplace hatchback version sold here.   I’m curious if gas was $6+ per gallon in the USA, would people largely abandon SUVs and move back to wagons?

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Along the same lines as wagons, the Skoda Fabia is referred to as a family car.  It reminds me of a domestic Dodge Journey.

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One of my favorite rides in Iceland was the Skoda Octavia Estate.  The ‘wagon’ version of the Octavia outnumbered the sedan version an easy 10 to 1.  The Skoda hasn’t been sold in the USA since the 1950’s.  Volkswagen (Skoda’s parent company since 1991) is debating a return to domestic U.S. sales, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

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This Peugeot 207 wagon was older, but since no one has seen a new Peugeot stateside since 1991, the distinctive lion logo stands out.

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The Renault Scenic looks similar in size to our rental Hyundai, but it is actually in the same class as the BMW X2.  For this size vehicle, it has very unusual 20″ wheels optional.

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in the same size class as the Scenic, this little oddity is the Citroen C4 Cactus.  I’m not sure what the design staff was going for with the soundproof looking material on the doors, but this has got to be one of the most unmistakable rides in the world.

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This darker C4 Cactus is a little less polarizing.  Citroen hasn’t sold a new car in the USA since 1974.

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Another Citroen oddity, the C4 Picasso.  The C4 is in several varieties including the Cactus Hatch, SpaceTourer, and the 7-seat Grand SpaceTourer.

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I know I’m in the minority, but I think this Chevy Cruze wagon looks better than the Cruze hatchback sold in the U.S.  Although it does heavily resemble a Jetta.

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The Kia Cee’d appears to be a Kia Forte with extra cargo room.  The 2018 models are definitely underpowered by American standards with only 118hp, but who doesn’t love a 6-speed manual that’ll get 53mpg?

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The Toyota Hi-Lux has been in production for over 50 years, but never sold in the USA as such, but just as “Toyota Truck” until 1995 when the Tacoma name took over.  It’s a very crude workhorse type of truck with a diesel option that would have issues passing domestic safety and emission standards.  Toyota has sold 12 million worldwide since 1968 and in true Toyota fashion, they have legendary longevity.

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The Nissan X-Trail is a rebadged Rogue.  X-Trail just sounds more off-road capable, right?

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photo courtesy of autocarupdates.com

I saw a handful of these Mazda 6 wagons, but only in unfavorable light for picture taking.  The 6 wagon was last sold in the US in 2007.  Dear Mazda, please bring this beauty back!

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This older Toyota Corolla definitely didn’t win any design trophies when it was new and reminded me of an early 1980’s Mazda GLC hatchback.

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The Dacia Duster is a slightly odd, but forgettable design.  The Duster is a joint venture between Renault and their Romanian based subsidiary Dacia.  What was so striking about an otherwise unmemorable vehicle is that this was one of very few vehicles I saw the entire week with noticeable body damage.  Is there a law against driving damaged vehicles in Iceland or are they just very good drivers overall?  From our experience in Iceland, I believe it’s the latter.

Driving in Iceland was enjoyable in spite of the loud metal studded snow tires we had on our rental, but the quality of roads were a night and day improvement over a vast majority of the roads I travel daily at home.

Next week – the year in review!

 

 

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2018 Hyundai i10

Even smaller than it sounds

I had an amazing vacation to Iceland and this was our rental for the week.  Thankfully there was only 3 of us because the car was stuffed to the gills with 3 suitcases and 3 passengers.  I know all the pictures look like they were taken at sunrise or sunset, but this time of year, Iceland only gets a little over 4 hours of sun per day and we saw direct sun very little all week.  Add a mix of clouds and precipitation, and it looks like either early evening or 2am all the time.

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It’s tiny in every regard except the front legroom, but that’s only if the seats are all the way back leaving only several inches of legroom for the [hopefully] petite passengers in the backseat.

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I don’t think a car like this would fly at all in the US as the only attraction would be the price.  Size wise, the smart car is the only thing comparable, but it’s a 2-seater.  The prices of these start at 2.190.000 Icelandic Krona . . . translating to about US$18,000.  I talked with a local briefly about cars and he said that all autos are roughly double the price from the US.  That makes sense since this is one class smaller than the domestic Accent.  If you want a fairly common Hyundai SUV found here in the states, the base price of a Hyundai Santa Fe is $64,700 in Iceland.  Needless to say, every large vehicle on the road looked out of place!

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I don’t think it’s a horrible looking vehicle, but it definitely wouldn’t be on my short list to purchase either.

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Primarily the reason not to purchase is pictured here.  Powering the i10 is a 3-cylinder 66hp engine with a 4-speed transmission.  Luckily, it weighs just shy of 2100 lbs.  Hyundai’s primary focus was obviously the low-as-possible MSRP.  The jaunt from 0-60 can be an intimidating process if you are trying to merge into one of the many round-a-bouts in Iceland, but thankfully most of the other cars on the road are also tiny and slow.  I found a range of 0-60 times anywhere from 12.6 to 16.0 seconds, but I’d estimate the 0-60 was in the 14 second range as I can’t find an accurate count anywhere on the web in English at least.  It became clear at our first gas station fill up why smaller is definitely better since the only gasoline choice is 95-octane (!) and it’s about $6.70 per gallon.  The commonplace state-side Ford F-series trucks, Escalades, and V8 powered sports cars that we’re accustomed to are very rare.

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At about 55mph, the tiny 1.0liter is pumping out 3000 rpm, which translated to an abysmal 33.3mpg overall for our week with the A10.  The mileage was so low that I questioned if the tank was full when we got it, but the gas gauge looked identical at pick-up time and drop off.  Most of the mileage was from highway driving to the touristy stuff, so getting to 40mpg would seem to be a challenge.

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The ride wasn’t as bad as expected even with the loud studded snow tires.  I’m sure it’s a requirement of some type either mandated by the government or rental car agency that certain months of the year all cars need to have these installed.  My state of Kentucky allows unrestricted use of these road damaging tires, but 10 states don’t allow them at all and the rest have seasonal restrictions.  Luckily, the roads in Iceland were very smooth and well maintained.

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The dash was very well laid out and crystal clear, but it’s very generic.  A dearly departed friend from high school had an early 90’s Geo Metro for several years and similarities between the two were borderline comical.  It’d be very easy to complain about everything the Hyundai was lacking, but simplicity is probably best when driving in a foreign country.

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In a normal array of buttons and tech found in between the 2 front seats, all the i10 has is an extra power outlet.

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The stereo was bare bones and no CD player or satellite radio either, but there was an unusual number of radio stations and 103.9 FM was an especially good one.  They played music on there that I hadn’t heard in years and missed hearing.  A very pleasant surprise was the heated front seats.  A huge disappointment was the lack of A/C.  There’s probably only a handful of days where cooling the inside of a car is necessary, but on more than one occasion we needed it to defog the windows.  The windows eventually cleared every time, but we were baking in the cabin until the inner glass was warm enough not to have inside condensation.  Use of an a/c compressor would have removed the moisture without baking the passengers.  We only saw snow 1 day and it was in the mid-30’s to high-40’s the rest of the time we were there.  Aside from the day of bone chilling 50mph winds(!) it wasn’t the stereotypical trip to the far north Atlantic.  Besides the auto transmission, I’d confidently say that heated seats were the only option on this car.

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The driver’s seat was only tolerable for short trips.  There was zero lumbar support and the only useful adjustment was the recline, which would intrude noticeably to anyone in the back seat if the driver was over 6 feet tall.  The steering wheel mute button for the stereo was useful and unusual in the other rental cars of this size I’ve seen.

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When we picked up the car, the data sheet said room for 4 adults and 1 suitcase.  I thought it was a joke, but we instantly learned that it was indeed a single suitcase trunk.  After adding a small backpack to the right, the trunk was as full as possible.  This car would have been impossible with 4 adults + luggage.

This rental car and trip in general was proof positive that Americans are definitely obsessed with bigger vehicles than necessary.

Things of note:
Huge difference in performance with extra passengers and luggage
66hp for a 4-wheeled passenger car would NEVER be ok stateside
It’s lacking a lot, but you get what you pay for.

Buy it? Rent it? Avoid it?
If I ever had the need to move overseas, the i10 would be near the bottom of my shopping list.  It’s borderline acceptable if you never plan to have passengers or the slightest inkling of cargo, but how can any car buyer guarantee that?  I’d be curious to see what the gas mileage would be on a 5-speed manual.  Even if money is tight, I’d opt for a larger rental or a used car purchase that has a little more oomph.
Hyundai if you’re listening . . .
The company must be doing something right because the i10, i20, and i30’s were all over Reykjavik, but a 6-speed manual or automatic would do wonders for fuel economy and performance.
On a scale from 1-100: (1- nay / 100- yay)
Buy it now – 10
Buy it later at half the current price – 20
F.E.D. (Fun, Efficiency & Desirability) – 15
Oooh and ahhh factor – 40 (due to it’s perplexing small size to this foreigner)
Recommended to rent – 30