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Caoimhe and a day in Châteaubriant

After patiently waiting for the registration document to arrive, I got into Caoimhe and headed out to go to Châteaubriant.

  • Remember, Caoimhe is pronounced "kwee-va".

Two things were immediately noticable. Firstly, Caoimhe is a lot harder feeling. I've never slept on a water bed, but I can imagine it would be like Felicity's suspension. The newer car... had harder suspension so it bounced around more on uneven roads.
To counter that, though, the larger tyres meant that things that were a problem for Felicity were not so notable in Caoimhe. A naff road repair where the join doesn't line up was a mere 'dunk' rather than feeling like driving over a brick at speed.

The second thing was how utterly differently Caoimhe handles, especially given that it is basically the same mechanism under the hood. For a start, Felicity was quite nippy. From a standstill, she could get up to operating speed fairly rapidly. Caoimhe, on the other hand, feels quite sluggish in comparison. It takes a fair bit of effort to maintain a speed, because she can pick up a fair bit going downhill (my GPS started beeping at 55, so I eased off the accerator to drop down to a more sensible speed), but going uphill is an entirely different proposition. Floor the accelerator and if I'm lucky the car will manage around 42. Makes me dread the idea of going "down south" because there's a steep prolonged hill just before Ancenis, and an even worse one on the other side of the Loire on the Liré bypass. The Liré one is why we (mom and I) used to put 98 octane petrol into the C1. With the usual 95 octane, and it's larger amount of recycled corn gloop, it suffered on that hill. So if a real car can suffer, I think it would be a problem in a Playmobil car.
There's absolutely no resistance to pressing the accelerator. I could probably operate it with my little finger. Makes it... interesting to control.
Something I never understood with the Aixam manual is that it says you should drive with one foot to avoid pressing the accelerator and brake together. This was ridiculous as letting the accelerator up too quickly would be dumping kinetic energy into the engine, so I needed to ease up the pedal while gently braking.
Caoimhe behaves entirely differently. I mean, like completely. I did a test with easing up on the pedal from a driving speed. I was doing about 36kph by the time I lifted my foot entirely off the accelerator, so I could then use the brakes to drop speed. I think that's how it is supposed to work, and Felicity was... odd.

So, I went to Châteaubriant, and swung around to the HyperU to use the toilet before I wet myself. Well, my fault for drinking three mugs of tea while impatiently waiting for the postman!
I picked up two 2 litre bottles of milk, and noticed that there wasn't any Bridel other than those few 2 litre bottles.

I then went to Action and got some seed kits.

Seed kits
Seed kits from Action.

The next stop was to park in the new covered car park of the Leclerc. I walked over to Maxi Zoo and got some treats for Anna.

Special cat food
Special cat food.

The cat food? On the left, chicken and cheese. On the right, tuna and prawn. In the middle, kangaroo. At the back, wild boar, duck, and reindeer!
All staples of cat food, right? And since this is the expensive stuff (what you see cost €15), it wasn't the rubbishy 4% meat and 96% don't ask. No, the kangaroo was 72% kangaroo. The rest was water, and a tiny sprinkle of added minerals. There's a short video on my YouTube channel - Anna definitely approved.

I put that into the boot, all nicely hidden, and then went into the Leclerc to pick up some ready meals for work (makes a change from all the same-same at my local SuperU). i noticed that there wasn't any Bridel milk at all. Like the shortage at my local... has something happened? Are the cows on strike?

For the journey home, I went to the big roundabout to look at the proposed site of the new Burger King. Nothing there yet. There's only four months until it is supposed to open, they're already advertising for positions (60 part time, 4 managers, if I remember) in the local press, so... better get on with it!
I turned down the Path of Liberty and picked up the bypass at the next roundabout. It was a gamble as it is usually a nightmare on that roundabout, and having a burger bar there isn't going to help... however at quarter past two on a Saurday afternoon, there weren't so many people around. So I went that way, and cut out about five kilometres. Oh, and I didn't go past McDo. Oh dear. ☺

The journey home was uneventful. I noticed that I was taking roundabouts at around 35kph and didn't feel like the car was going to roll over. I don't know if this is because Caoimhe is balanced differently, or if Felicity's soft suspension made her tip on the turns?
Aside from the oddities and the constant varying of the accerator, it was a comfortable ride. The seat was comfortable. The mirrors were better placed so I could see out of all of them (in Felicity, if I sat up properly, the main mirror was useless). The steering did seem to require less effort, but it wasn't anything like power steering. Just a little less turning.
Overall, Caoimhe felt more stable on the road.

I got home, dropped off the shopping, and then went over to Alison. She liked the car. I must say, I'm really undecided on the spoiler at the back, the design just screams "trying too hard". Which is a shame in a way, because while Felicity looked "cute", Caoimhe looks like somebody has put attention into making a little car that can rival its contemporaries in looks. The black upper half, the red body, the lines and design - it's really quite smart. Inside and out. Okay, it's mostly plastic, but this is a necessity in order to keep the weight within legal limits. That, and the spoiler aside, it's a smart and tidy design.

I took Alison to the local Super U (a few bottles of regular Bridel, so maybe the cows are on go-slow) in order to get some grated "cheddar" (word used loosely), and also to take her out for a ride. I took Alison back to her home, and after a chat I went back into town because it is where I work, so rather than going home cross country, I went by way of the normal journey home.

Which all came to a little over 100 kilometres. Which meant about two and a bit hours of driving.
Which showed up another oddity.

How far did I actually go?
How far did I actually go?

On the left dashboard display, I did a rather nifty exactly 112km. Or, according to the GPS, I did 102km (it doesn't show tenths). Now, the GPS is correct, as has been confimed by numerous roadside speed displays. The speedometer, on the other hand, is wrong. I'm going 30 when the needle is between 30 and 35. I'm doing 45 when the needle is at about 50. So it looks as if Caoimhe's readout is about 10% too fast. It's not just the speedometer (I know some intentionally read fast to discourage speeding) because the trip counter is overreading, as is the odometer.
Still, if this has always been happening, it implies that my 42,672km car has done 38,862km. That's a difference not to be sneezed at!

No video, sorry. I just wanted to see how she handled without too many distractions. But I can one thing - she's a lot quieter. I could listen to my music (I had my '80s playlist on) and, when Alison was with me, turn the music down to background and talk. Talking was hard in Felicity, as I'm not a loud talker. I'm more of a non-talker really. But in Caoimhe, I barely had to raise my voice.

The radio is pretty naff though. I had my phone hooked via the headphone jack to the radio's AUX input. I think that'll go when my next pay comes in. I trust it has standard connections wired the standard way. But, yeah, the speakers were okay and the quieter car meant that I could better appreciate (read "hear") the music. Even much of the beginning of Telegraph Road (live version).


Final thought... 100km and I'm still reading six bars on the fuel gauge. I think it'll drop down soon, but it implies an autonomy of at least 500km; and a stop at a petrol station will instantly give me that capacity again. So I think there will be pushback against electric cars if governments legislate aggressively to try to remove combustion cars from the roads. Battery technology isn't mature enough, charging takes time, and public charging points are expensive.



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Gavin Wraith, 28th February 2021, 13:18
A car's handling depends on so many factors: steering geometry, weight distribution, damper behaviour, tyre characteristics. It is a complex business. But deserves a lot more attention than it gets, especially as it is a major factor in safety. Before computers, designing good handling was a black art. I believe Lotus were pioneers in this.

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