Buying a Car: Step 4 Hiatus
The time has come to call a time out and reflect. Here are the recent developments.
Fiat 500: Still hanging on by a thread, bedeviled by a slew of “if”s. If the car arrives in time in volume, and if the price is at MSRP, and if I can stand the American car dealer ambience of the sales staff (at least what I have experienced so far), and if I can stand to take a deep breath and hope for an organized and fully functional dealer distribution and parts availability system (from an Italian manufacturer)… The sheer number of “if”s indicates that I really, really want to like the car despite an abysmal marketing performance from the company and dealers alike.
Ford Fiesta: Lacking in appearance and “gotta have it” lust, but undoubtedly a
fine car. Price should be reasonable, and better than reasonable as
fall morphs toward 2012 and a host of tasty competitors appear in
this hard-fought market. Stick shift transmissions are rare, and
seem to be almost an afterthought to the dealers – a car they would
rather talk you out of. Dealership sales and e-mail performances have been stereotypically horrid – a literal reality horror show of what’s wrong with car dealerships.
Ford Focus: Simply too enormous – which reads as a bit odd when describing what is still a small car. The current edition is probably much more marketable than my beloved 2000 Focus, but all of the things that are “right” with it – longer wheelbase, more electronic driver aids and a lot of techno-connectivity between the car and the driver’s impressive array of music and communication gizmos to virtually eradicate any notion that you are actually driving the car – all of those assets are exactly what I do not want in a car. Could be saved by a 2 door RS version, but that is exceedingly unlikely as that car will probably arrive too late and be too spendy for my penurious soul.
Honda Civic Si: Has shot to the top of the list! The 2012 version boasts an amazing
22% increase in torque, which is less amazing when you stop to consider that the current version has – er – none. Of equal (to me) importance, the boy racer wing I despise is to be replaced with an flat lip of a spoiler extending the trunk line – which I very much like. Do I go with the traditional red, or the metallic blue that looks blah on the web site but sparkles with class on the road? It seems I will have to hold my breath until October when they arrive. After that, a road test to confirm the mental lust is be supported by the seat of the pants, and then decide if I want to pony up the required funds.
Kia Soul: The default choice I may yet opt for. A terrific car, albeit a little
lacking in pizazz and stomping power. An excellent salesperson at Lee Johnson deserves the sale. This will probably be choice if the Honda Si is more bucks than I want to spend and the new Chevy Sonic fails to impress.
Kia Koupe: Out. Not enough headroom, and the new Si will stomp it into
kimchee at a similar price and with better looks.
Chevy Sonic: The new kid on the block. Who woulda thunk Chevy could
produce a small car that was actually fun to drive? All the road tests of this new model rave, but then road tests are there to create excitement, because excitement sells magazines. On the other hand, this is a 4 door that looks like a 2 door, as the rear door handles are almost completely disguised in the blacked out window surround. A six speed, good power, and excellent mileage.
My guess is the Chevy will screw it up (old habits usually do more than die hard – they persist until the host dies). Ever tried to “build your own” on a Chevrolet web site? There are so many options and competing packages that you eventually lose track of what you were trying to build, as the cost spirals put of control. Then there is the formidable task of trying to buy a car at an American dealership.
Still – this car, like the Civic Si, has to be worth two months of anguish and impatience to see and drive in the metal.
Last, a slew of potential new competitors rushing toward the 2012 model year in a cornucopia of goodness. Time to show I am more sensible than Romeo and Juliet (OK, not tough, that one) and…wait.
Copyright 2011 David Preston