Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Personal New Car Field Narrows

Wheels Within Wheels

We went to the Fiat dealership to test drive a Fiat 500C as we begin to get Real Serious about trading in the old 2002 Kia van. But after waiting for a salesman to let us drive one, and never getting the chance, it looks like the Fiat 500C is out of the running.

We tried really hard (my wife tried really really hard) to keep liking the car. But my wife kept looking at the rear and mumbling about a pair of Labs and luggage, and when she had me climb into the shotgun position of a model she'd taken a particular shine to I found myself having to go through a bit of contortion just to get in. Once inside it was quite comfortable, but the getting in and out was a bit more work than it is with our other cars. At 6ft-4inches I have to be careful what kind of vehicle I purchase (or rent on travel, for that mater).

In this particular case what had happened was the selection of a car with "special seating". It was all the  special stuff added to the shotgun side seat that made it more difficult for me to get in. In a more downscale model (read cheaper) I found it easier to get in and out of the car's shotgun side. Interesting what a few inches can do one way or the other. And the final straw (for my wife) was how the price was creeping over $20K. She kept saying at those prices she should go back and look at the new Prius and Hyundai models.

Red Side Mirror
Vents

It wasn't as if we were impatient. I had more than enough time to wander around with my E-P2 snapping away like some mad little tourist. I was sitting and squatting and looking all around for interesting angles to photograph. I was a big kid with his toy trying to keep out of the way while my wife talked to the salesperson. This will be her car, not mine.

Shift

And we both loved this car. She especially loved the five-speed, calling it very smooth. The styling, choice of materials, fit and finish are all first-rate. Of all the cars I've seen I think the Fiat 500C is the best looking car on the road, inside or out. My wife feels the same way.

Steer
Seating
Rear Seating
Abarth

Over the last three months we've noticed that the Fiats are going "up scale". with more add-ons and features. That's pushing the cost above $20K on every one we saw today. In addition, the mileage is creeping down. That's a bit perplexing as gas is still close to $4/gallon all over Orlando and it's price bound to climb higher around Memorial day at the end of May. Gas prices always rise around the start of summer vacation.

But in the end the practical side of my wife overwhelmed her care-free girlish side trying to break free. If she were still single and didn't have the Labs to worry about, then the car would have been perfect for her. But mix two large dogs and an oversized husband into your life, and all of a sudden the cute fun car isn't quite so cute nor so fun.

So the field has now narrowed down to just two manufacturers, Toyota and Hyundai.The month of May will be interesting.

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