If you've had a car obsession you'll probably understand what I'm talking about here. I was finally in a position to update my car and I wanted it to be "the" car. Up till now all the cars I've purchased, while being great cars they were always compromises. And so they should have been, I am your typical Aussie family guy, the previous cars were practical first and any concession to driveability and performance were a distant second.
You know the drill, my wife would say, it has to have plenty of room, it's got to have four doors, it has to be able to fit all our stuff if we go on a trip, seat five adults comfortably and the list goes on. While a lot of true performance cars can fit those criteria now, none were in my budget or the ones that made the grade my wife put the kybosh on, giving me the, "you can't have that car it doesn't suit a family".
So the years went by and the cars changed and though I enjoyed them all I was still left with that longing for the car that would put a "smile on my dial" every time I drove it (or as James May puts it "the fizz"). I was starting to worry I'd never get that car or by the time I did I'd be too old to enjoy it. So come update time again we did the family thing my wife and I and talked about the new car. I said it was high time that I got the car I really wanted rather than the car that was needed, my youngest son is older now and the family considerations weren't as important. She knows how much I love cars, she thinks they are purely contrivances to get from point A to B and can't understand why I get emotionally invested in an inanimate object.
Even though she doesn't get it, she relented seeing my need, realising it was the "time". Her only stipulation was that it had to have four doors, actually quoting her it was, "I don't care which car you get as long as it's got four doors", I said, "ok, so I can get what ever I want as long as it's got 4 doors and it's in our budget? She said, "yes, that's right".
Inside I was jumping up and down for joy, screaming "WOOHOO, YEEHAR, YEAH". On the outside I was cool calm and collected I didn't want to come across too excited just in case that put a hex on it, she might change her mind. She is the boss after all, well the common sense one in our relationship and I knew she could talk me out of getting "the" car by throwing reasons at my why I shouldn't get a performance car.
I went into overdrive doing the research on just what it was I was going to get for the money I could spend. I wanted the "best bang for buck" but I also wanted to connect with the car as well. Did it appeal to me, did it have the presence that made me go, "that's what I'm talking about".
So my short list went like this and it's quite an eclectic bunch.
Holden Commodore SSV Redline Edition
Volkswagen Golf R
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X
Audi S3 Quattro Sedan
Subaru WRK STI
So with the Holden SSV it definitely had the looks, value for money without question, the current Commodore is probably the best local car Australia has ever produced. It's a shame we won't be making them anymore but at least Holden local car production went out on a high. So why didn't I pick the Holden, at the end of the day it was just too big, more the muscle car, when it came to the twisty bits, while very capable for a large vehicle it just didn't cut it for me.
The Volkwagen Golf R, that was an easy decision, performance, tick, value for money, tick, dynamics, tick, appeal, BOOOORRRRIIINNNNGGGGG! As good as the Volksie is I just couldn't get past it's boring exterior, no excitement for me there what so ever. Engineered to within an inch of it's life, ergonomically fantastic, build quality as you'd expect from a German manufacturer but it didn't give me the fizz.
Now for the Mitsubishi EVO it wasn't so clear cut. It is undoubtedly a great car, brutal performance, great dynamics, it had the visual appeal there's no mistaking its intent. It met the budget but I had two issues with it, it was too small (I'm starting to sound like Goldilocks) and the interior, for me what an abortion. To me it was all,cheap plastics, dodgy controls, crap ergonomics and not that different to a base model Lancer. Now don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with your run of the mill Lancer but I want something better when you're spending 3 times the price.
The Audi, oh the Audi, I was hooked, I wanted it. It ticked all my boxes, it would of even made my wife happy there was just one hurdle. The price, at $80K I just couldn't justify the price compared to what I did end up buying.
As you've no doubt worked out by now I ended up getting the Subaru WRX STI at $60K on road. The Audi as good as it is, is not $20K better than the Subie, from a dynamics, performance point of view they are virtually identical and most importantly the Subie gives me the "FIZZ". Put in Sports Plus mode, give it the beans and it never fails to give me an adrenaline rush.
So there you have it.
I had two weeks to familiarise myself with the car before I actually took my wife out for the first time. I of course nearly wet my pants with excitement over this car, gushing over my new pride and joy and foolishly hoped my wife would see the appeal. I kept the drive low key and drove what I thought was as reasonable as possible trying to impress.
The dead silence did not bode well. Upon returning to our drive way I got the stare and then it started, the seats are uncomfortable, the ride is too harsh, it's too loud, you spend this much money you expect comfort. And here is the kicker, "it's just not a family car".
As you can imagine I just wanted bang my head on the steering wheel, apparently buy what ever you want doesn't mean buy what ever you want.
My wife now calls it the "Bobble Head" car and she'll only drive with me as long as I have it in Normal Drive Mode, or what I call Nana mode.
My wife hates my car and that's ok.
Feel the love.