By Miranda Lightstone-Styker
Could it be that the ways of Facebook have crossed over into the blogging world? It seems to be so. I have been tagged* in a recent blog by fellow car enthusiast and uber blogger funnymanMr. Shev. It looks like I’m “it” and I’ve been tasked with telling you, oh faithful readers, what I consider to be my perfect car… or not.
I’ve been staring at the blank Wordpres.com “Add New Post” content box for quite some time now. Writers block seems to have evaded my blogging life, until now. Thank-you Mr. Shev for bringing it all rushing back in one big white, blank frustration.
But, it’s not really Mr. Shev’s fault that I can’t produce an article talking about my Perfect Car in a flash like I normally would — not at all. The problem is the auto indsutry. And I’m sure, oh faithful reader, you all suspected this. But I invite you to hear me out (as usual) because I think my conclusion on this matter will shock you, just a bit.
1. It has to make me laugh.
My Perfect Car has to bring a smile to my face, maybe make me giggle a bit when I take a corner and it clings to the road like leeches on thighs in the cottage lake. I have to be happy to approach it in the parking lot. If I think back to recent test vehicles I’ve had, the car that made me smile/laugh/giggle the most was the MINI Cooper S Camden. This is a special edition in commemoration of MINI’s 50 years in North America. While the base for the car is fantastic enough (the Cooper S), it’s the gadgets that really make it “fun.” The Camden has an onboard computer that talks to you. That’s right; the car responds to your driving techniques and maneuovers, and it’s really quite amusing. And it can be turned off. (Bonus.)
2. It has to be geeky.
Car technology is so far advanced these days I’m often surprised I can’t pour myself a coffee in the dash of the latest and greatest automobiles on the road. From voice-activated entertainment systems to laser-guided cruise and City Safety, cars today are loaded with gizmos to make your life easier and your drive safer. Now, I’m all for the tech-y bits and pieces in cars these days, but in a way I hope they kind of put a cap on it at some point. The more they add, the more there is to go wrong while you’re on the road. Recently, the techiest car I drove was the Volvo XC60. And I say it was the techiest because of the City Safety. I thought it was quite useless until it saved me from rear-ending a car. To me, that’s an amazing advancement in vehicle tech.
3. It has to be tough.
Flimsy cars are stupid. I’m sorry, but they are. If I get into a test vehicle with a few thousand kilometers on the odometer and the glove box randomly opens on its own while I’m on the highway, there’s something wrong with that picture. If the automatic windows stop working suddenly after my husband kid-tests them (pushing the up down button repeatedly), then that’s just not good enough. I was incredibly impressed with the Porsche 911s we took around a track in Niagara, Ontario. These cars were put through the ringer by us journos as well as professional drivers on a converted runway strip course. It was fantastic to watch them flying around the course, knowing those same cars would be driven back to the Porsche headquarters later that day and be none the worse for wear.
4. It has to like kids.
Obviously your car isn’t going to befriend your children (at least I hope it doesn’t get to that point because that would be a bit creepy), but it has to get along well enough with them to make the comfortable and give them an enjoyable ride. I’ve been in many a car with a “back seat” that’s simply unusable — unless you have amputee children. Practicality is a major dealbreaker in most car purchases, and it’s a shame that performance and practicality rarely go together. However, car companies are starting to catch on to the trend that people who have children also want cars they actually want to drive (not mini vans they park in the shadows so no one sees them getting in or out of them). While it is a bit extreme and on the pricier side, the X5M comes to mind. It’s an SUV with some serious grunt. And if you don’t mind cleaning up your kid’s juice boxes/snacks from the floor/windows/ceiling everytime you head out for a spirited drive then this is the car for you.
I’m not going to lie: Our gas prices suck. I know it’s worse in the USA and possibly even worse in Europe, but here in Canada they blow. When I first got my license I would freak out if gas went above .70 cents. My poor student salary as a toy store clerk just didn’t cut it when it came to filling my Nissan Sentra and I often drove with the gas light on, willing the car to continue on fumes (which it very often did). As gas prices rise, I find myself more and more attracked to the idea of hybrid vehicles and transmissions like the CVT (Continuous Variable Transmission). Most cars these days are equipped with mileage readers and I find myself checking all the time. I was quite impressed with the 2011 BMW 528i I had last week that mantained an even 11.3L/100km all week — quite impressive for a vehicle that size. There are so many options out there right now for fuel efficient cars that it’s hard to pin-point one. And I won’t even get into the electric ordeal … I’ll save that for another post, oh faithful readers.
6. It has to make me proud.
Kind of like the first reason, my car has to make me proud. I have to want people to see me in the car I’m driving. It sounds vain, but it’s not really. As I’ve mentioned before, a car is an extension of yourself and if you’re ashamed of people seeing you behind the wheel, then it’s clearly not a good fit. Take, for example, this week’s tester (Nissan Versa SL). I don’t dislike the car, but I have no pride in it. I don’t particularly want people to recognize me in the car or think that it’s mine. The Versa is not a good fit for me. However, my Subie WRX is something I am very proud of and I enjoy driving it because of that.
7. It has to like “footie.”
My Perfect Car has to like some throttle play. If it can’t handle a little gas, then it has to go. I want and need a car that has some soul, and a car that has soul has the ability to respond to the driver in any given situation. The Porsche Panamera Turbo was, perhaps, the most responsive and fantastic car to drive. Everything about the Panamera’s transmission was straightforward and immediate. The PDK made for flawless shifts and everything about the car’s driving system was spot on. Now, of coures, that’s a heavy price to pay for a car that likes “footie” but if I had the coins, I wouldn’t hesitate.
8. It has to be the right size for me.
I’ve driven all shapes and sizes of vehicles over the years and I’ve come to the conclusion that if we ever buy a second car it will have to be something small. I’m a measley 5’3″ and when I drive the Ford F-350 SuperDuty or a Land Rover LR4 something just doesn’t click. However, if I get behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta or a MINI Cooper, it just works. And it’s not that I don’t enjoy driving the F-350 or the LR4, far from it. But it just doesn’t work with me. Now, I realize this might hinder point No. 4, but I think there are ways around that with crossovers and the like.
9. It has to be affordable.
Some cars come with a premium. Take MINI for example. I adore these cars (if you hadn’t noticed) but I hate the price. Because they’re owned by BMW and the are “MINI” you pay the price. Like designer jeans vs. Wal-Mart jeans you’re paying a premium for the designer label when the product is made from exactly the same material. Kinda dumb. So, the more I look at cars the more I look at price tags and realize that you can have a nice car for a reasonable price these days. Take Subaru for example. Many people disregard Subaru thinking they are too expensive, but they really aren’t. And for their great prices you’re getting a complete package (AWD, A/C, power windows, power locks, etc.).
10. It has to be a Jedi.
Really, I have no explaination for this. If you hadn’t noticed by now (or clicked through to Mr. Shev’s blog entry, shame on you) this list is a blatant rip-off of his Perfect Man requirements — but it got me thinking.
My perfect car really would have to be like my perfect man. So, now I’m thinking, what kind of car would my husband be?
*As I’ve just learned thanks to this call-out, being tagged in another blog means you’re given a topic from another blogger to write about. I hope I did your topic suggestion justice Mr. Shev. Now, to keep the blog-tag ball rolling, I’m going to call out a few bloggers who I really enjoy reading. Warning: They aren’t all WordPress users *gasp*. Shocking, I know:
Lori Dyan: I absolutely love her style and her posts always have me dying of laughter at my desk at work, even though I don’t have children. I’m sure she’ll come up with something amusing to talk about.
The Highly Uninteresting Misadventures of Average Girl: This blog is fantastically funny and full of average topics that we can all relate to. Fabulous.
WordAddict: A former work colleague and avid writer/blogger, this is a girlie-girl blog if ever there was one. I’m not particularly girlie, but every now and then I indulge.
Talk is Cheap: A car colleague and fellow blogger, he might not update often but hopfully this will awaken his inner writer and get him blogging a bit more. We share similar views on all things auto and life related, so of course I like reading his work.
six degrees experience: Now, I don’t just love these guys because they’re close personal friends, but their work is incredible. I have a soft spot for wedding photographs and videos, especially if they’re done as well as they are by six degrees.