Fuel consumption boils down to how you drive



Should I go for a Nissan Dualis or get a Subaru XV? You have never reviewed the Subaru XV. How is this car’s performance and how about its fuel consumption?



Hello Mutuku,

I have never reviewed an XV because I am yet to drive one. Sometimes promises of one being availed are made, but yeah. Anyway, this or the Dualis, yes?

Performance: I feel like ignoring this part because asking  me to compare these two cars’ performances is like asking which is the better weightloss diet between spaghetti alfredo on a bed of fried cheese and creamy cake with extra sugar washed down with powdered juice.

You are barking up the wrong 4-cylinder tree here. To be honest, I can’t even be bothered to check their 0-100 times because they are not worth the effort.

Both cars come in 1.6 or 2.0 litre limp-wristed petrol form, or with a burpy diesel crowned by a small turbo to make your head nod briefly as you remember that once upon a time, you read the words “narrow torque band” in this column. Performance, really? From these two? Give me a break.

Fuel consumption: Now we are getting pertinent, but since we are in the spirit of repeating things over and over, let me “repeat again”: Fuel consumption boils down to how you drive. I’ve seen people misinterpret my response when I say a vehicle is “economical”, and they proceed to hammer these cars until the cylinder heads bend and the valves crack, thinking they can still do “Nairobi to Nakuru on a thousand bob only”. You won’t. Also, learn to use the correct consumption metrics : mpgs and km/ls and such, not fractions of a tank or currency values.

These two will have the exact same economy figures because they are the exact same car, only one has a horizontally opposed engine, and for the other AWD is optional, not standard.

For the sake of propriety and good manners, I should at least provide a conclusion: I’d get the XV. It’s ugly but that is what makes it a Subaru… that and the AWD.

It is a handy lifestyle device good for light weekend activities – and speaking of weekend activities, I have found a new addiction. Watch these pages for a car review highlighting my new and rather expensive interest.

The EyeSight system has a host of features that make driving

Hi JM, 

I’ve come across an Outback 2011 3.6R with EyeSight that I’m interested in. Still on sale in Japan. Leather interior, sunroof, etc. Kenyan market has lots of Outbacks but the 2.5. What’s your advice on the 3.6R.



Hi Mike,

The R goes like stink while burning fuel proportionate to expectations from a near-4.0 litre six-cylinder. Really, short of the nuclear STis, the 3.6R is easily the quickest Subaru out there, and will outrun a lot of things. To it add limitless practicality and exemplary go-anywhere ability, and why do I get the feeling I have said all this before? I seem to be discussing the Outback here every week.

Subaru EyeSight® technology sounds like the kind of stuff that gets aged dinosaurs like me frothing at the mouth about how increasingly complex engineering is making car ownership more punitive while pushing the emerging crops of drivers to the outer fringes of competence; but hold on a minute. Let’s read the fine print.

The centerpiece of the EyeSight system is a pair of cameras cleverly positioned behind the rear view mirror continuously “scanning the road for unanticipated dangers or, in other words, doing what the instructors at the driving school told us to do. Strike one.

There is adaptive cruise control, which maintains a constant following distance of your own choice, which you preset before engaging the system. This is technology that Leonardo Da Vinci first installed in a Mercedes-Benz S Class around 383 years ago, technology which has finally found its way into a Subaru. Once the following distance is preset, the vehicle will either brake or power up by itself, depending on what the vehicle you are chasing is doing. In other words, pegging your life on the actions of a stranger you just met on the highway. Strike two.

There is the Lane Keep Assist and Sway warning, and I must say this is a handy little feature, having encountered it in some BMWs and Jaguars I drove recently in South Africa.  The feature is handy, it prevents you from being a road hog by telling you when you are hogging lanes on a narrow two-way; and if you start wandering all over the place, the steering wheel vibrates to jar you back into wakefulness before you wipe out an innocent family with your supersized Subaru wagon.

I’ll admit, I’ve never driven a Subaru with EyeSight (except my own pair of ophthalmic devices at the front of my face) so I don’t know if the steering vibrates, but I do know an alert is issued when you start driving like my film director at the Motoring Press Agency (dude, just follow the lines painted on the ground, easy).

The last two facets are both pre-collision setups: pre-collision braking in case you ignored


For a first car, think comfort and space, not speed

Dear Baraza,

I will cut to the chase. I am a planning to buy my first car and am torn between a Subaru Forester turbo (local) and a Golf Variant 1.4 litre or 2.0 litre.

I love speed ,comfort and space.

James Gachie

Hi James,

Speed should not be a priority in a first car. Comfort and space might be, so for that reason, perhaps a Variant is not such a bad place to start. Expect anything, though; used Germans can harbour some nasty suprises.

Petrol engines are easier to maintain than diesel ones

Hi Baraza, I am torn between three contenders: the BMW X5, Merc ML350 and Lexus RX 350.

Please comment on the following:

Diesel (X5 and ML350) versus gasoline (all) versus Hybrid (Rx450H, ML350) in terms of reliability, maintenance, and spare parts availability. While at it, do you know of reliable shops sitting between jua kali and dealerships (able to comfortably sort out the gremlins some of these cars tend to suffer from, especially when more than five years old) but won’t charge an arm and a leg.

I will value your response, more so from a local perspective, since most of the information available on the Internet is not applicable to our unique motoring circumstances.


Hello Paul,

Petrol engines are better when it comes to reliability, maintenance, and generally parts availability. Diesel engines will punch you in the kidneys as far as maintenance is concerned (especially if turbocharged and abused by a previous owner) while parts availability, while a moot point in this era of the worldwide interwebnet, does not augur well for the hybrids, more so battery packs and drive systems.

There are a few garages around but vetting them is best done on social media, not here. You are more likely to get ready and honest reviews on sites like Facebook (until the day someone is bright enough to start an app like TripAdvisor for garages and autoshops. IT gurus, there is your opening. Take it).

To remain safe, avoid night driving and

Hello Baraza,

I cannot stress enough how important your articles have been to most, if not all of your ardent readers. Keep up the good work!

Carjacking is currently the fastest growing crime in the world, and especially in America.

What are the simple things that one can do to stay safe in their car?


Hello Benson,

You are right: my articles are important, but also, carjacking can be quite the traumatic experience. If it happens to you and you survive to narrate the ordeal, the first instinct is to head over to the CID, acquire a permit, equip your vehicle with the most powerful compact firearm you can find (a .357 Magnum packs quite a punch but it is not compact and the recoil is terrible, making it hard to point accurately, but it will stop an elephant at 30 paces, if you manage to hit the elephant) then daring those sons-of- [redacted] to “try me now”.

Don’t follow this path, carjacking elephants or not.

Simple things to stay safe:

  1. Avoid operating like a cockroach and love the daylight.

You are less likely to be accosted in bright sunlight than you are in pitch dark where you won’t see what hit you until you find yourself riding in your own trunk, contemplating buying a weapon, if you survive the ordeal.

  1. Avoid deserted stretches of road, especially those far from social amenities, places that share a slogan with prisons we see in movies: no one can hear you scream.
  2. This might be a bit extreme, but also avoid popular and common brands of cars, if you can. This is a catch-22: The brands are popular because they excel in one way or another, mechanically or practically, but they also excel in providing anonymity and the cloak-and-dagger manoeuvre of disappearing into the crowd. If your white Fielder is stolen, it will be hard to isolate it from a sea of other white Fielders.
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