Random Thoughts

Test Drives

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Today, my dad and I went out car window shopping. I’ve had two cars in the past which I have bought on my own. Both have been used and in good condition but my father thinks I should have something a bit more respectable and newer. He wants me to have a more presentable car for driving to projects and just to have an overall good image. I’m pretty sure it’s more about him than it is about me, but I’m not complaining.

To remedy this my father set up an appointment for me to test drive the new Audi R8. The R8 is a street legal supercar which is amazing and breath taking. It is similar to the Audi RSQ Concept which was featured in the movie, I, Robot. and Audi Le Mans quattro concept car. The R8 is base on the Lamborghini Gallardo Platform, and pricing starts around $109,000 USD. It is equipped with a 4.2L FSI V8 400HP, and the one I test drove had a manual transmission.

Of course I will not be purchasing such a car but I do enjoy that my father went out of his way to get me a test drive.

This entire day I have been going from one car dealership to another, test driving and seeing what I enjoy. I have come up withth conclusion that if I am going to spend hard earned cash on a car I need to like the look, enjoy the style, enjoy driving it.

Before I got to the dealship I had a few cars in mind, the Audi A4, Audi TT, BMW 328i, BMW 3 – CoupĂ©, BMW 545i, Saturn Sky Red Line, Lexus IS 250, Scion tc, Saab 9-3 turbo, Volkswagon R32 (a fully loaded GTI) and the Volvo C30. After talking to sales reps and test driving them, I have narrowed it down of a few.

There are various things to take into consideration, such as insurance and cost maintenance, which quickly eliminated the BMW, Audi, Saab, and Volkswagon models. Even though I live in Studio City with my parents during the summer, most of the time I live in Azusa where I go to school. It’s not a hostel environment, but it not the best so I had to look at cars that are not so eye appealing to theft, or have security features built-in such as Lo-jack, On-Star, and a car alarm standard.

Final Choices are as follows:

Saturn Sky Red Line –
Pro’s- RWD, 2.0L V4 engine, 260 HP, turbo charged, 260 lbs. of torque, sport tuned suspension, great handeling and traction, convertible, Swiss design, basically a Opel rebadged car.

Cons – only a 2-seater, has some blind spots, no trunk space, will take time to get used to using the mirrors more. Choppy transmission. the convertible top could leak.

Lexus 250 –
Pro’s- RWD, 2.5L V6 DI engine, fined tuned suspension, traction and fun to drive Sedan, very fuel efficient for a luxury car, 6-speed manual transmission.

Cons – a bit pricey for a Toyota, Huge mark ups, very little of them are made in manual transmissions. Not fond of pedal shifters. Isolated steering feel, limited rear-seat space

BMW 328i –
Pros- great car, good susension, really is the best driving experience.

Cons – Pricey, Very Flashy, huge price difference from the IS 250 with very little options.

Out of left field:


VW TDI Diesel –
Pro- it uses Blu-tec diesel parts made by Benz, great gas milage. nice sensible car.

Cons- VW has a high cost of maintenance than most cars. Even though its a 2.0L TDI engine only produces 140 HP, not available until late summer.


Hyundai Genesis –

Pro – RWD 3.3L V6 264 HP. spacious sedan, all the features of a BMW 5 series and then some for the price tag of the IS 250.

Cons. I haven’t test driven it yet. Not available in manual transmission in the V6, only in the V8 which will be release in Spring of 2009 at which time the Genesis Coupe would be a better choice. to bad the coupe will not receive the 4.6L 375 HP V8.

Of course I will not just settle for just any car, I would greatly anticipate the test drive of the Hyundai Genesis, but will not be in the states until mid June. Maybe, I could barter with my family for a birthday present as the down payment of the the car.

As you have seen, I put a lot of emphasis that I really want a manual transmission car. This is mainly because I enjoy driving the car, not the other way around. Also, driving in a manual car you are more attentive to the road. Another thing that I have also seen is the car makers are returning to the RWD, which offers better handling, small but powerful engines, and better weight distribution.

Hopefully I will be able to have a much better perspective this summer when I will be more inclined to buy for the road ahead (no pun intended).For the time being I will keep on borrowing my father’s Benz CLK350.

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