4.18.2009

Dude, I'm so torn.

Beg your pardon ahead of time if this isn't exactly concise, it's been a long and thinking-involved day so my brains are the consistency of silken tofu right now. But this is a post that's been long in coming, and I've been eager to get brain to keyboard or else lose the muse forever more.

So...I've been researching cars. A lot. Ever since my car's drive shaft decided to come unglued sometime in January-February of this year. And thereafter I learned through dedicated research, that Ford (Mercury) had "collaborated" on the undercarriage and based it off of the Mazda 6 (fail). Had I known, I'd left screaming from the dealership immediately two years ago. Never mind that JD Power and Associates rated it #1 car in 2007, nor that Consumer Reports still rates it a must buy. Them jus' stupid folk. It's like a mumu, in theory it works, but in practice it's like a monet. I'm really into engineering, performance, and cornering and I ain't got none o' dat.

To be honest, ever since the drive shaft fiasco, there's no such thing as too soon for me to change to a new vehicle. *palm face* It's been months now and I'm awfully antsy. Particularly after my stick-shift class, I just fell in love with in-the-moment driving and cannot wait 'till I get to take loooong summer drives on Illinois' roads with a stick. Alas education trumps car, so it'll be at leasttttt....one more year. ugh. *pain*

So what should the JeDa21 V4.0 vehicle be? What alignment of special pre-requisites, requirements, and standbys make up this list of lucky few? Well...lots o time means lots o research. And there's little that JeDa likes more than Internet research, so...there's a couple contenders and lots of info to be undug from the Interwebs. But first, it's important to review the basics that I like to call "Musts" and "Would Likes" for this much anticipated V4.0 .

Musts
  • stick shift/manual transmission (!)
  • traction control
  • stability control
  • ABS
  • front-wheel drive
  • remote key-less entry
  • power windows
  • power steering
  • AM/FM
  • 6 CD in-dash
  • auxiliary plug-in
  • A/C and heating
Would Likes
  • leather
  • heated seats
  • AWD
A Word on Transmissions
In reviewing today's transmission choices (manual, CVT, automatic), I've opted not to dive blindly--or not unlike a Lemming--into a continuously variable transmission (CVT) because, in all honesty, I'm totally pulling a snob attitude here and saying that it's the lazy-man's stick shift. Seriously, why on earth would I want to change gears on the stick (or the levers on the steering wheel, where available) while not using a clutch?! What's the use? Where's the fun in that? Good grief.

So Many Choices, So Many Deals
Yes, there's a TON of options and choices, and there's almost as many deals these days as car dealers are absolutely in sweet agony right now, hurting bad for your tasty greenbacks. It's like they've been forced to go cold turkey off their favorite controlled substance, and want to backpedal as fast as they can after the fact. Wait, that's what happened...

So here's some of the front runners for V4.0:
  • 2009 Nissan 370Z (plus here and here)- if this were a person I'd court them mercilessly. It's gorgeous, it's stunning, it's...really fast...and it makes me start sounding like Jeremy Clarkson ^_^; And never mind the heavy heart pounding. Truly a tell-tale heart. So what are the drawbacks? Well...for starters it's got a stupidly shrunken back seat, it's got exceptionally bad rear visibility, and can be noisy and hard ride (though some pretty good things in life are best when hard). It's also pricey beyond the basic model. It's tricky to find a basic model in the deeper gray that I so love though. Premium fuel. bleh.
  • Volkswagen
  1. EOS (and here) - gorgeous stylish coupe, though I find it a little girly or overly feminine for some reason. The best word I can find to organically express what it looks like is the Japanese term "moe." The best of the deal is that it's a strong, European engineered beauty, that comes with every safety precaution/measure/trick for logical prices. You pay for what you get here. So what are the drawbacks? It's considered one of the priciest coupe (hardtop) convertibles around. And...well, cute.
  2. CC (and here) - this is a "fancy" version of the VW Passat. It's actually quite close-looking to a Mercedes. The interior is one of more gorgeous ones, featuring two-tone leather upholstery. All the usual VW refinements are present and accounted for. So what are the drawbacks? Pricey, a bimbo in the VW line--that is to say, all looks and not much else (luxury nor sportiness).
  3. Jetta GLI - Speedier version of the Jetta, said to be fun fun fun and sporty, for an excellent price and with all the usual VW quality accoutrements (though it features a funky tartan upholstery...). So what are the drawbacks? Well, according to Edmunds the only fault is a bland exterior *insert palm face here*
  4. Rabbit (and here) - aww it's so cute and sporty, and...and...and...well, European...BUT there's a study that says that small cars are more likely to get you maimed or killed in an accident vs. a medium-sized vehicle (much less a megalon Saudi-friendly SUV). They say it has space to make it useful when moving "stuff" around or to-and-fro. So what are the drawbacks? It has impressive safety results from crash tests, as all VWs do. It's also well-equipped, as...most VWs are. It's zippy and roomy.
  • Volvo C30 - pricey and premium fuel, in a luxury wrapper. Cute, appealing, and Edward Cullen's (movie) ride. I liked this little guy even before the movie, when I saw one in rush hour traffic about a year and a half ago or thereabouts. So what are the drawbacks? According to Edmunds it's not as sporty as its competitors...did I mention it's pricey?
  • 2009 Mustang GT - awesomely aggressive stance (this is very appealing), and gorgeous bit of American muscle car. Though it's a Ford (!). The black one is as stealthy and fast as they come--I was privy to one speeding along East-bound I-88 yesterday and I loved it! ^_^ So what are the drawbacks? Bad fuel economy and unimpressive power. Cramped back seat (Are we seeing a trend here? me thinks yes.)
  • Mini Cooper S - everyone keeps saying these are fun to drive, do they mean in a bumper car type of way, or seriously serious fun driving? I'm confused and leaning towards the latter. Premium fuel ticks me off, as usual. I also imagine it must have a terribly cramped rear seat, to say the least. Though visibility and maneuverability seem to be pretty high. So what are the drawbacks? Surprisingly, a Canadian test drive comparing this with the C30 and the Rabbit had the C30 #1 and the Rabbit at #2...must have been the harder ride but reactive pedals. Kinda pricey for the small package.
  • SMART - I first read about SMART cars in 2001 when I read a logistics case study at my current employer. I then proceeded to go to Italy and I absolutely fell in love with the concept, and the practicality of being able to maneuver and park it anywhere in Europe's old or new roads. However, although I was hugely excited that the line was coming to the US, I kept asking myself, but what if it gets devoured by a Saudi-loving megalon SUV? Or a semi-truck? Or just a Camry? It is quite adorable and practical, so it has both left brain and right brain abuzz. So what are the drawbacks? Surprisingly pricey, but do you mean besides the safety concerns, and that it requires premium? Probably the fact that you must chose whether to leave your significant other at the grocery store or bring home the groceries...cause you won't have room for option A and B together...compared to how much more (but cheaper) car you get with Asian imports these days, people are going to be very wary of the SMART. What shocked me is that it's hard or impossible to get it with a stick in the US, they automatically shove an automatic on it. Dumbified I guess. but the EPA MPG rating is #1 or #2, so that speaks volumes for this lil guy.
  • 1999 Mitsubishi 3000GT - Then there's my fantasy girl (or guy). This car's been discontinued for approximately 10 years now. It's absolutely gorgeous and owners are very careful with it, you can tell from seeing the shiny and well-maintained specimens *wipes drool* driving around my general area here. I looked on ebay motors but, alas, there's no stick shift versions around at the moment. So what are the drawbacks? You mean besides there not being any available in good condition? And not knowing where to go to get maintenance on expired parts, et al? Not much else besides that...
  • Audi TT - I've been madly in love with TTs since 2001 and have had to resign myself to long-distance admiration. This could change though. But not if they keep ENLARGING the Audi models to sizes bigger than Jason Statham's biceps. Another thing that irritates me is that Audi makes a really silly looking cherry red. I wish they'd offer a deeper red for those of us who like stylish colors, not just toenail polish colors. However, it's got a gorgeous body and the 2009 model reminds me of a leaner Porsche Cayman (a.k.a., without the Porsche's awkward child-bearing hips). I've taken the A3 off the list because it looks like a cheap version of an Audi, and the rear is too rounded, so much so, that I subconsciously start sneering as soon as I spot one. So what are the drawbacks? Expensive and doesn't handle as well as competitors... overpriced. Fuel consumption, premium.
So as you can see, I've been keeping busy drooling and ogling, and no decision can be arrived at until approximately, at least, one more year. I will sigh continuously like a love-sick puppy teenager until I get my stick shift. And believe me, I will! mwahahaha ^_^