And for something totally different...

So yesterday I spent the day doing something different.  First, I bailed on work to go play, specifically to go play with cars oddly enough.  I know I've mentioned that my car is a Chrysler Pacifica and that it doesn't get used much.  For a while I toyed with selling it, but my wife and kids really aren't as comfortable on the scooter, particularly as the weather changes, so we still need a second car for those not so rare days when we are going in separate directions each with extras.  Because of this, I want to downsize the car to something more fun and fuel efficient, but also small enough to keep in a single garage bay with my scooter(s).

So a few months ago, I reserved a spot in line for a SMART so that if it was something I thought would work, I'd have the opportunity.  Yesterday, they had them here for test drives, so my wife and I took the day to go drive the SMART and the other vehicles I'm considering: MINI Cooper Convertible, Volkswagen Eos, Volkwagen Beetle Convertible.   Oh, should mention that there is a secondary motivator here.  Whatever car this is, it will be my daughters in 4 years, so that rules out some of the more powerful options, and they are all convertibles, which is because it's what I want :-).

So, how did it go?  The SMART is a great idea, with great timing, and if we were a family of 4, rather than of 5, this would be the vehicle.  It drives well, admittedly, a little rough and sluggish off the line, but not any more so than many of the 'subcompacts', nor of the hybrids.  Interior room is excellent, and in terms of seating, this is the vehicle that I had the most room in all day.  Well designed, with excellent fuel economy (40+ mpg).  Unfortunately, we are a family of 5, and so I need the an additional seat that the SMART cannot handle.

From there, we headed to the MINI dealer, and drove a Cooper Convertible.   I've loved the Cooper since I was a kid, and have lusted for a Cooper S since the came back to the US.  The drive did not disappoint, but the back seat did.  With me in the drivers seat, the back of the front seat literally pushed against the front of the back seat, there was NO leg room.  Not even a snug little kids space.  So, much as I like the vehicle, it is in the same category as the SMART.  Can't reasonably handle the extra child if needed.

From there, we headed to the VW dealership.  Now, before I bought the Pacifica, I had a 2000 Passat that was awesome, I traded it for the Pacifica when we decided to have a third child, which was, in hindsight, a mistake.  I like the VW style and driving characteristics.  So we took the Beetle out for a drive.  Not super powerful, cute, well featured, functional and fun.  Nothing really all that 'wow', but a lot of little 'nice' things.  Then we took the Eos out for a spin.  The Eos is a sharp car, but as much as I wanted to like it the most, it fails for me.  It's too much luxury, and not enough sport.  The biggest fail?  The drive by wire steering.  This actually comes as a bit of a shock to me, but the drive by wire lack of force feedback makes driving rough pavement feel 'vague'.  Interestingly, coupled with the smooth luxury style ride, I found the whole driving experience to be soft and overly refined.  

So, after all of that adventure, we concluded that the two options are keep the Pacifica for a couple more years (not my first choice, a 6 passenger vehicle is not a good 1st vehicle for a new driver), or the VW Beetle, which does have a workable rear seat (assuming you are under 5'6" 150 lbs and it's just you :-)).  So, it's in that mind that we are now thinking about a VW Beetle in Gecko Green with a tan top and manual transmission.   This could be interesting, but something tells me that my daughter could be getting a 4 year old car with less than 20k miles on it, because the one thing that the whole day reinforced was that I prefer the wide open feel of the scooter to a car.

Content by dru_satori, edited on a Mac using SandVox (because I'm lazy)