As I alluded to earlier in the week, I'm in the process of shopping for a new car. Basically what it boils down to is I woke up last Saturday sick of my car, and decided to go buy something else. I can be maddeningly spontaneous like that. I'm a bit impetuous at times...
So the car search began. I live just down the street from a Chevy dealership, and I had $1000 in free money built up on my GM card, so I started there.
THE CHEVY CAVALIER
The dealer I went to, H&H Chevy, could not have been more friendly. Good people. I test drove a sunburst orange 2005 Cavalier that had 6 miles on it. This car was a real piece of crap.
Segments of the dashboard didn't seem to snap together right; there was even an exposed screw on the glovebox panel. The transmission seemed to slip -- common on an engine with 100,000 miles, quite concerning on one with 6 miles. And the engine itself: noisy, and not as powerful as the 2.2L 140HP would indicate.
I really wanted to like this car. The dealer was so friendly, and the car looked so bad-ass from the outside. But it was just too crappy. Not pleasurable to drive.
THE TOYOTA COROLLA
The dealer I test drove a Corolla treated me like a punk kid with no money. So I'm not going to name them.
They were condescending and acted like I must have been out for a joyride. The stubborn side of me almost wanted to buy the damn thing just to spite them. But then I remembered I would be stuck with the car for 2-4 years -- not a decision to make just to spite someone.
The Corolla is a nice little car. Its not news that Toyota makes great cars that hold up well; nor is it news that their cars are more luxurious than their competitors. The Corolla to me felt like about 7/10 Lexus, which is great.
If I was 35 and married.
This car made me feel neutered, like the wife had worked on me for a few years to tame my crazy fun side, and the result was buying this car. Much much too nice. I need a car with a little spunk, a little attitude. The Corolla says "I'm a responsible adult that drives a car with a good safety rating and will hold its value". That shit is not for me.
Which brings me to...
THE VOLKSWAGEN JETTA GLS
Now this is a car. German engineering for the younger hipper crowd. I sat behind this car, and before I put it in drive I was ready to buy it. Its that cool.
Sharp exterior body lines. It has a lot of the Toyota's features: heated seats, chrome grill, great safety rating, nice engine.
But it also has a youthful exuberence that seems to escape the Toyota. I think it starts with the Monsoon Audio System, standard on all Jetta's. 8 speakers, amplifier, CD and Cassette, and hookups for a CD changer. To quote the sticker on the dashboard: "To make it as cool-looking as possible, we made it match the blue and red instrumentation panel, too. Now isn‚Äôt that just like us?"
You shouldn't buy a $25,000 car based on the literature and promotional items. But if I did, its would be this one. Check out these actual lines from their brochure:
"See how the restyled trunk lid turns up slightly? And how that adds emphasis to the horizontal line? And balances against the sloping contours of the fenders? You do? Our designers live for things like that."
"New chrome accents on the front grille allow birds to see how cool they look as they pass overhead. They also provide rain drops with something attractive to aim for. We also like to think they draw the eye and let it linger for a moment, before sweeping over the hood, like air."
"The primary function of a taillight is to be noticeable. The notion that it can also be beautiful is an idea that not all automakers have fully embraced just yet. Until they do, we‚Äôll continue to lead by example."
As a designer, I appreciate those statements. I identify with them. Its as if, you know, the car speaks to designers and says, "I'm well designed; buy me!"
I've bought products at the grocery store just because the packaging was cool, sometimes paying more for them, and sometimes when its a product I don't even need. No surprise my decision making process would be the same on a car.
That kind of youthful VW attitude is something, as a 26-year old bachelor, I need in my car. I don't need grown-up sedan quality and luxury. I mean, I'm not driving the kids around. Its just me. Might as well have some fun now before a crazy woman comes along and makes me drive a Toyota.
I need hip, I need cool, I need a car that screams, "wow". I think the Jetta is the car that fits my qualifications. Sorry, Toyota, maybe in a decade when I finish growing up