Thursday, November 24, 2011

Aha and Pandora Fixed for Pioneer

Both Aha Radio and Pandora are fixed now. Neither worked properly in IOS5 using the Pioneer AVIC930BT and other Pioneer devices, but the latest downloads fixed the issues. Aha reports there was a Pioneer bug. Aha Radio works better than ever on the iPhone 4S now, compared to my iPhone 3, which experienced many application crashes, making it a neat idea that really didn't work.

As for Pandora, it wouldn't work at all before, and now seems to be fine. There may still be pausing issues, but I haven't used Pandora enough to test it thoroughly.

Here's the Aha Radio blog post about the fix. Supposedly there's a massive update coming soon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'm On A Boat!

For the second time in a year, the GTI was on a boat (it had to get from Wolfsberg somehow). It's also one of the rare times I can legitimately take family photos with the car without it seeming too ridiculous. We traveled along Highway 1 to Newport Beach and then Balboa Island. The idea of a car going on a boat led to squeals of delight from the small child.

One thing I noticed in Southern California is the car is pretty average in power compared to the speed racers of Orange County. This is especially true on the wide, long, surface boulevards that are often faster than the freeways. I can see why a SoCal driver would want to chip it. I had to work to keep up. Other observations: It's the city car of choice in San Francisco, as opposed to the car of choice of the monied of the Berkeley/Oakland hills, the Audi A3.

Monday, November 21, 2011

101 Road Trip

We drove the GTI down to Southern California over two days. Our first stop was in San Francisco for breakfast (photo above - my wife has a handicapped placard, in case you were wondering exactly what kind of jackass I am) and then we took the 280 to the 101 for most of the way down. We spent the night in San Luis Obispo (great food at Mo's Smokehouse Barbecue) and then drove into Orange County after another stop at my favorite restaurant in the world, Philippes. Lamb French dip sandwich, pickled beats and a banana cream pie that was straight out of the 19th Century. But I digress.

What you want to know is how did the car do? My main pre occupation as we left was the annoying, and new for November, passenger side B-pillar rattle. It's infamous on the forums at this point and can be caused by anything from a loose seat belt assembly to the will of the gods. My wife put a rattling marble game in the side pocket in a kind of shamanistic sympathetic magic move (or maybe just to annoy me). Regardless, the rattle disappeared later in the day. More than likely it was the change in humidity as we approached a pretty big storm, or maybe just the rough roads through San Jose. Driving in the storm turned out to be instructive in how this car handles itself.

It's sure footed, which was a nice surprise. It is pretty heavy, which plays a part in this. The car came with the Pirelli P-Zero Nero all season tires, which helped. Not only did the GTI feel planted and resisted wind buffeting, but the smooth power delivery of the turbo kept me from having to see a flashing traction control light as I later navigated some crazy stop and go LA traffic. I also learned the GTI has speed sensing windshield wipers. I've seen rain in this car, but this storm was in my top five ever.

When stopped in traffic, the wipers slow down and then speed up again when the car speeds up. Clever and unexpected, especially after all the forum whining about not having rain sensing wipers (they want to delete this option, of course). I've had rain sensing wipers on a BMW and it's not something I cared for. I'm the kind of guy who mixes his own washer fluid and wipes down his car with microfiber towels. Do you think I want the car deciding when to wipe my windows? As we know, for every feature, there's a jackass willing to spend a fortune to reverse it, even if it's better than what came before.

Another side note is the ridiculous way the rain water channels into the car when you open the doors. It's the absence of that kind of design that you notice on more up market cars, like BMWs. Hey, look at that! The car is trying to keep me dry! Combined with a cloth interior, water streaming into your car might raise your blood pressure a bit. Then again, I love the rubber, honeycomb floor mats the dealer extorted me into buying. Great for puddles of water (I sense some compensation for a design flaw).

I have to say I'm sore from the drive, but it's mostly from the increased stress from driving through the storm. Plus I'm in horrible physical shape right now. I've done this same drive before in the dry without even noticing it physically. I look forward to the drive back later this week, hopefully in the dry, if the weather holds.

Fuel Economy was around 29MPG at 8,500 miles on the odometer.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

7,500 Mile Observations

  • Getting coolant for the car is a challenge. It's really a dealer only option, so hope you don't need any on a Sunday or after hours. You can also get it online, but shipping is as much as a bottle. My coolant is at the "normal low" level at the moment with a road trip planned for the end of the week, so I need to visit a dealer (probably in Walnut Creek, since I vowed not to go back to Oakland).
  • Scootability sneaks up on you. There are fast cars and there are small cars, but if you haven't had a fast small car before, it can be a bit intoxicating. It's true that the GTI isn't as small as it once was, but it is still the kind of car that doesn't require that you suffer fools gladly. The word "squirt" is often used to describe how cars like this can easily jump out and pass at will. There's a reason why this car is a top ten acquirer of speeding tickets. As I've mentioned when comparing it to my Mazda 6, the question becomes "why not" rather than why. It's just that easy.
  • Tire rotation is on my mind. It's often recommended you rotate them at 10,000 miles, which for me is in a couple months. However, those who rotate often report serious road noise problems afterwards. I'm inclined to not rotate them, as crazy as that sounds, and just replace the bad ones as they wear out. 
  • APR Stage 1. If I had the money, getting the car chipped on my first oil change would be a no brainer.If APR or an installer wants a detailed review in exchange for the upgrade, let me know. I'm your shill.
  • Pioneer. Also on the list of stuff I want but can't afford is probably the Pioneer traffic monitor system that integrates with the navigation. It's about $100 plus installation. For some reason I thought there was a monthly fee, which is why I didn't get it on installation (there isn't). I would also re-route my iPhone cable to the center console while the work was being done. No more problems with the Pioneer, by the way. My general feeling is the connections were loose from the installation.

My nav splash screen.