|BUYING A NEW CAR, PART ONE
May 27, 2004, 3:55pm
So for the last two weeks, I've been searching and researching the marketplace, thinking about a new car. It's been a long time since I bought a new car, but it's time.
As you may know from my rants here, I really dislike big gas guzzling, poluting SUVs. They are the bane of our driving lifestyles today in N. America.
When I decided it was time for a new car, I had four criteria
- had to have low emissions / amazing gas mileage
- had to have some power under the hood
- had to look cool, (to my eyes, not yours)
- had to have a reliable record, and relatively economical service life
I also have a penchant for European and Japanese cars and styling (more Euro than Japanese...). And I wanted a four door sedan. No hatchbacks, no two door "coupe".
Initially, I narrowed my choice down to the following:
The 2004 Toyota Prius has a lot going for it - a unique hybrid system (different from the Hondas), a drastically different styling, and some great reviews. But the price of the model I was considering (about $32K), and the lack of power under the hood, plus the greatly variable fuel economy (some reviews said it was as low as 35mpg city, depending on your driving style) turned me off.
Honda Civic Hybrid
My initial first choice was the Civic Hybrid; I drove a Civic LX last year (rental in Anaheim) and was impressed with it. The Hybrid has a bit more oomph under the hood than the Prius (not much 82 foot pounds at 4200rpms for the Prius, 87 foot pounds at 3300rpms, a bit more overtaking power) But the price (around $33K with taxes), and the still-lack-of-power and the whole "experimental" thing about the car scares me off a bit.
Honda Civic LX
The gasser Civic has some amazing gas mileage (upper 40s highway, low 40s city), and has some cruising power. It also has a low-emissions rating in Canada.
Jetta GLS TDi Sport
A turbo deisel - and only 2,000 of the "Sport" editions have been made - Canada exclusive... my next car?
Volkswagon Jetta TDI
Initially, it was the above three. Then a friend said to me "have you considered one of the TDi cars from Volkswagon?
So I did some research. A turbo deisel? Do they even sell deisel cars in Canada any longer? Well, yes they do. Volkswagon has a TDi Golf, Jetta, and Passat in Canada (the TDi Beetle is coming next year I think).
Initially, I was very impressed with the specs. The Jetta GLS TDi has a whopping 61mpg (imperial) highway, 52mpg (imperial) city. It has only a 100 horsepower engine, but it produces an amazing 177 footpounds of torque at only 1800rpms (zoom zooom zooooooom). I liked the looks. I liked the included amenitites (power everything, imobilizer, $300 electronic stabilization program option, nice interior, etc etc). The price was a bit up there, but still lower than the Prius and Civic Hybrid. And it ran on deisel, which is $0.20 less or more than gas in these parts.With its 55 litre gas tank, I could drive as much as 1100 kilometres on a full tank (4.8l / 100kms highway), or 900 kms of city driving between fillups. Wow.
I visited every website possible that talked about Jettas and the TDi models especially. One site of particular note is TDi Club, an enthusiast site for all things TDi from Volkswagon. Literally seven days of reading (about 3 hours a day) made me start to fear buying the car. Turns out the last few years of Volkswagons have had their bad points. Lots of QC issues with the car. Some disgruntled owners. Some expensive repair jobs.
And Volkswagon's customer satisfaction rating is low.
In the past four days, I've test driven six cars. A used Civic LX-G model (2002, with 34,000kms on it). I could have driven away from the dealer with the car for around $15,500. Nice car, fully loaded, clean, fast, efficient. But when I test drove it, I counted at least 14 Civics I passed in my travels. Blah.
I also test drove a new 2004 Civic, which seemed to have a bit more oomph than the used one. I test drove a Prius - that was an experience. It's eerie to not hear the car at some speeds. But it was clunky, slow, slow responsiveness, and I didn't like the interior.
I test drove a Civic Hybrid (that was a challenge - only one dealer in the lower mainland had one for test driving). Again, it was nice, and the amenities inside are almost identical the normal Civics. But it was slow and sluggish.
Then I testdrove three Jettas. I drove a standard Jetta GLI (gas model). I test drove a Jetta GLS TDi Sport model (stick shift), and the Jetta GLS TDi with the tiptronic shifting.
Gotta say. I loved the Jettas. The GLI is their high end, and a torquy, high horsepower model, but a gas guzzler. The GLS TDi Sport was sweet, with super snug seats, tighter "sport" suspension and better inside, but I'm not crazy about the stick shift. The GLS TDi with Tiptronic shifting? Absolutely loved it. If I could get the Sport TDi in the Tiptronic... I would have probably bought it.
And guess what. The Jetta GLS TDi Sports Edition, Tiptronic shifting (about $28.5K before taxes) is available. And is on its way to my local dealer for me to test drive next week.
I'm still wary of the car's service record and reliability. I'm continuing to do my research. But now, it's down to two cars. The 2004 Jetta TDi Sports Edition (in Platinum Gray, Tiptronic automatic), and a stick shift 2004 Civic LX model. There's a hefty price difference between them - $22K vs $28.5K. Civics are rock solid. Jettas have spotty service histories.
But there's heaps of Civics on the road. And the Jetta TDi Sports? Only 2,000 in all of N. America. Jetta resale values are higher than Civics, and even higher for the TDi models. And the Jetta would smoke the Civic on the highway - stock. Add a chip and a few other enhancements (tuning box, etc), and the Jetta would smoke most N. American cars off the road, including most sports cars. And the best part is, it's ultra low emissions, you can use bio-deisel, and you still get insanely great gas mileage even while you're drag racing that souped up Civic. :)
I still haven't made my choice. I'm going to get to drive the TDi Sports model for an extended period (about one or two hours, including some distance travelling) before I buy. And the dealer and I have already verbally negotiated a tentative price for the completly loaded version (which includes sunroof, ESP system and side curtain airbags) that is about $2,400 off list. And I will drive the Civic again, and speak to my reasonable, sensible friends about the purchase. But the Jetta's definitely in the lead.
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Photos from Algonquin Park
Photos from my trip to Algonquin Park this fall with my Mom and two brothers.
Making Snow for the Fortress
One of the worst jobs I ever had... till I got out.
Tools I Use
The tools I use to build websites and lead a tech life.
iPod and iTunes Offline
iMark's iTunes and iPod isn't iPlaying anything right iNow.
Most Recent Songs
Fiddlers Green by The Tragically Hip
Around The Bend by Pearl Jam
Here With Me (Rollo's Chillin' With the Family Mix) by Dido
With arms open wide by Creed
truffle pigs by Matthew Good Band
In the News
Burundi and Beyond - NY Times
Great article by Peter Meehan - provided some background.
St. Petersburg Times
Side mention in an article about good machines
AP Story on Espresso
Background and information provided
NY Times - Grinders Article
Especially proud of this one - got the reporter to focus on grinders
Globe and Mail
LOL - showing bad reporting, dude says I'm an American-based site!
The Olympian, WA
Talks about my love for the El Sal Siberia Pacamara
Seattle Times - Clover
Interviewed for comments on the Clover brewer
NY Times - How it Works
Background and information for various espresso machines
Time Mag Article
Just a brief mention, article about roasting beans.
Front page article about consumers getting into specialty coffee.
Quoted reference to what I wrote in an article at CoffeeGeek.
USA Today - Barista Jam
Intereviewed for my thoughts on what the epitome of espresso is.
The Wall Street Journal has interviewed me 3 times. This is the first time my name got in a story.
Interview with Reuters, Jan 2 - this is the USA Today version.
My Other Stuff
Launched Dec 22, 2001, this is THE online community for espresso and coffee fanatics.
It's all new, as of March, 2002. My personal coffee obsession site.
My company's site - needs an update!
Hey, if you feel the need to buy me something, check here!
Great gadget site run by the guy who used to do Gizmodo.
This is how I get my daily news fix.
The most active forums for digital photography online today.
Need my Daily Zen fix!
A blog about car stuff. Vroom Vroom.
An industrial design blog. Very cool stuff.
Friends and Family Plan
Beata's got her own blog! She updates it most days.
Riddla on Flickr
Matt Riddle's flickr account, updated regularly
Irdy, my friend from Jakharta, on Flickr
Canon EF 24-105 f4 L Lens
The best lens I've ever owned. Super sharp and quick.
A full frame dSLR, with luscious colour reproduction.
Alzo Digital Lights
Some amazing florescent cold lights for product photography
Canon Xsi dSLR
Amazing technology and image quality in a tiny package.
Latest prosumer camera from Canon - a much better upgrade than the 30D
Great 2.2lb computer that does most of my travel / writing needs
28mm f1.8 Lens
A great lens for closeup work and full picture photography
Finally got the right tools for freezing green coffee.
Canon 50mm 1.4
Most amazing lens I've ever owned. Produces stellar photos.
Super wide angle (full frame fisheye) zoom for my Canon 20D