I went out and drove cars last night. I hadn’t done this before now for exactly the reasons I’m feeling right now: Want. There is always a bug in the back of my head to have something new and shiny, but that can often be alleviated somewhat by not playing around with what ever it is.
It was fun. I drove a 2005 Scion xA, a 2006 Honda Civic EX, and a 2005/6 VW Golf GLS and had a pretty good time with all of them.
The Scion xA was fun, but I’m really thinking it’s maybe not quite the car for me. The automatic transmission was kind of doggy (not a surprise, it’s a tiny engine) and I’m not sure how much a manual would fix that. I did leave my name and number so that if a manual does come through I can go drive it and see what I think. The big issue though was that I think it’s designed for people 3-4 inches shorter than I am. There was plenty of head room, but the roof line was really low AND the seat does not have a vertical adjustment. It drove really well, was fairly responsive, and had surprisingly good suspension but I always felt like I was driving under a bridge because of the roof line. The mileage though is very good (32-38 on a manual), but only aftermarket sunroofs are available. Oh, and price: $14,000 base, plus accessories.
2 big problems with the Civic: 1. No more hatchbacks. 2. I’ve never met a Honda sales person I would stop for in a crosswalk. As soon as I mentioned that I might be buying as late as the end of december, the guy switched OFF. The “test drive” was a euphamism for a spin around the block. I talked him into letting me do the strech of 494 between 2 exits, but mostly I think that was because I was driving and he wouldn’t be able to stop me. That said, it’s a nice car. Really very pretty to look at and it has all the options I would like at about $21,000. Mileage is very good at 30-38, though a hybrid will be available sometime this fall and add 5-10mpg on top of that, but will be more expensive as well. It really is sort of tempting in a lot of ways even without the hatchback, if only I could find someone that I would like to give money to.
The Golf GLS was like liking walking in new shoes that I knew perfectly. The controls were basically identical, but improved. The responsiveness and handling was basically identical, but improved. The
interior was basically identical, but improved. The mileage was, well, still horrible at 24-31. It’s also still based on the old A4 platform (that Sig’s Beetle is based on) and the new A5 based Golf is due out in ~6-8 months and is a big change. Except for the mileage. But it’s an excellent car. A really, really excellent car at a very good price. If I came in next week I could probably walk out with the exact car I drove for just about $19,000 plus a good financing discount for being an existing VW owner (Though if things go to plan, I’ll be paying cash with the proceeds from the sale of my house). But the A4 has a kind of iffy reputation, and there’s the gas mileage, and there’s the problems
I had with service after my warranty expired on my existing Golf. Oh, and the sales guy was great. Had answers to questions, didn’t shut down when I told him I was thinking about waiting maybe till year end, and even gossiped a bit about “fringe” stuff like converting VW’s to use E85 and fun things like that. Or maybe I’ll look into getting a
I think I want to drive a few other cars too. There’s the Toyota Matrix, Echo, and Prius and the Mazda 3 (Similar performance to the Golf, better mileage), and maybe the Subaru Impreza.