Little big cars
Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong will preview the new Smart ForTwo at its 50 Po Loi Street showroom, in Hunghom, at 3pm on Tuesday. Available as cabrio (right, HK$169,000) and coupe (HK$139,000) models in Pulse and Passion styles, the new, larger ForTwo has improved safety and a newly developed one-litre turbocharged engine and five-speed automated manual gearbox, says the marque's spokesman, Henry Lau. Bravo Smart, but the old ForTwo's still a hottie when you get used to its nannyish gearbox and could soon be a second-hand bargain. Prices range from about HK$45,000 for a Year 2000 Pulse to HK$78,000 for a 2005 Coupe Passion, and that might leave you spare change for customisation.
This ForFun? (right) for example, has the body of a ForTwo mounted on an all-terrain Mercedes-Benz Unimog 406 series. Designed by Mercedes-Benz Greece, the ForFun? has a 5,675cc six-cylinder diesel engine, 26-inch rims, an aluminium safety cage, and special shocks for steep downhill slopes. Sounds ideal for school runs up Braemar Hill.
Change your tune
The next time you ask for a service, you might ask your garage to tweak your car into a cleaner drive. British firm Kwik-Fit has just launched such a service, Go Green, which it says is 'a convenient way of neutralising a motoring carbon footprint for up to six months'. The Go Green service, and Hong Kong's terrible fug this week, might inspire local dealers to offer similar deals. It costs #29 (HK$450) more than a normal tune-up, with 20 minutes of 'extra checks and enhancements that will turn your car into a green machine', the company says. The Go Green service consists of: a fuel treatment for a more efficient burn; a brake check to minimise fuel in slowing; and an emission check. The firm says it's also donating #10 to 'carbon offsetting activity'. Such a green deal seems so right for the Hong Kong Automobile Association, which recently revved up the Lamborghini-led spew of 129 cars on a 50km round-the-island fugathon - for charity, of course.
Cut the fug
While you wait for green service, you can still reduce your car's fug:
Don't jerk about like an old taxi driver: work the gears smoothly and confidently, and accelerate gently.
Keep a safe distance from car in front to avoid wasting fuel with sharp braking.
Check your tyre pressures often. A flatter tyre takes more petrol to roll.
Ease up on the gas. Reducing speed from 110km/h to 90km/h can cut costs by a quarter, boffins say.
Limit the air-con. We choked with the MX-5's top down this week, but the old Mazda has a lot more poke for less juice with the cooler off. So, why not open your windows, and take in the rich smells of our country parks.
Service your car to peak fuel efficiency.
Remove any unnecessary items from your car to reduce drag and weight.
Don't idle. Clear the Air is right to say switching off is kinder to your car.
Don't buy a car if you don't need one in Hong Kong - and don't buy a three-litre when a smaller-engined version will do. Clean and downsized is in, brmm is out. And today is No Car Day.