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Monday, December 9 Front Page >> Random Rants >> Buying a new car, Part Two
BUYING A NEW CAR, PART TWO

May 29, 2004, 8:45pm

This is a continuation of my car buying saga. Part One is here.

So today was another round of test drives. First up was me looking at Civics one more time.

I'll say this about Civics. They are probably the best econobox on the road today. Reliable to the point of being bulletproof. Good (not great) speed. A fair amount of amenities inside the car. Less options than most US (Canadian) built cars because many of the Big Three's options are standard on a Civic. Good range of colours. Even things like upgrades that don't suck, like better wheels, etc.

But today, while driving to the dealerships, I counted over 20 different Civics before I stopped counting.

That isn't me. Well, a Civic Hybrid would be me (rare car, makes a statement, only those paying attention would notice), but it's off my list. No oomph under the hood, and the gas mileage numbers are very deceptive - even more than a normal gas car - the numbers they post are for total optimal driving. I've read on some websites that some hybrid owners get 30%+ worse mileage than the claimed amounts. Depends on their driving skills.

I was gravitating back towards the Jettas. I had a talk with a friend yesterday and he didn't believe the claims I read about the Jetta TDI models being very emissions friendly, so I did more research. Turned up many things. This page has lots of hard and real facts about diesel and the TDIs especially. And it's based on the 2003 and earlier models - the 2004s have even better emissions.

And I read this quote: "The TDi emissions levels are among the lowest ever for Diesel powered engines. All TDi powered Volkswagens sold in the US meet so-called "Tier 1" emission limits. The TDi is often "cleaner" overall than gasoline powered cars. CO2 emissions are about 20% less than a conventional gasoline powered engine. CO, HC and NOx emissions are less than previous Volkswagen Diesels. Diesel fuel has lower evaporative emissions than gasoline. Diesel fuel also requires less energy intensive refining than gasoline."

So it's good all around. I want to find the EPA and Canadian Emissions numbers - haven't found them yet.

So today, I went and test drove two more Jettas. One was a TDi Sport Edition Tiptronic Automatic (with Electronic Stabilization Program (option), sunroof and side air bag curtains, both options as well), the other was the GLS TDi  Stick. I'm totally sold now on the Sports Edition. Here's some thoughts from today's test drive.

  • Noise At idle, standing outside of the car, it doesn't sound deisel-ish, but it still makes a muted knocking noise. Told this was standard with all car deisels. In the cabin with the windows up, no noise, but you feel the engine vibration, especially on the sports-tuned suspension on the Sports Edition - the GLS model had less vibe.

  • Seating in the Sports Edition is sweet - it's an upgraded seat with major lumbar and side roll support - the seat totally hugs you. Bonus for me and my girth - I fit... barely. I felt extremely comfortable in these seats - even more so than the GLS with its more open and "softer" seat.

  • Controls I love the layout and controls in the Jetta. Everything's easy to see, identify and use, except for the cruise control (which I didn't even try using) and the wiper controls - both are on sticks behind the steering wheel, and you can't see the witing on them from the driver's position unless you move around. But the other controls and dials - stereo, environment, power windows, locks, etc - all easy to use and see. Smart design. The 3 spoke leather steering wheel on the sports edition model blows away the four spoke pedestrian steering wheel on the GLS.

  • Power The sports edition isn't a different engine or tuning than the GLS model, but it doesn't matter. You can totally feel the 177 ft/lb torque and when the turbo kicks in, I couldn't hear it, but I sure could feel it, both in the pedal an in minor G forces as the car lurches ahead. On our test drive today, we took it to S.E Marine Drive and drove up the huge hill that Boundary Rd goes up. I was jetting, passing, not a single problem or complaint from the car. On 95, I was doing 110 in the right lane in fifth, doing 2100rpms, and decided to try a speed pass. I dropped to fourth, got it up to 4,300 rpms, quickly (as in within seconds) had it up to 145 to pass, dropped it back into fifth and cruised.

  • Handling I had three things working for me in this department. The sports-tuned suspension is noticably different from the GLS model. The bigger tires made a difference. And I tried the car with ESP enabled and disabled - it makes a difference in speed turns and also in dippy highway turns. On Hwy95, there's a fairly hard turn on the highway that is meant to be driven at 90kms. I took it at 125, no problems at all - the car seemed to relish the challenge. I even accelerated out of the turn and it was like the car was saying "yes please, may I have some more!".

Lastly, gas mileage. This means nothing really, but I put about 70kms on the sports model today. The tank was registering just a hair under half full when I left the dealer. When I pulled back in? A hair under half full. Sweet :)

So... end of month. Best time to get a deal from a dealer - they have quotas and all. But the TDIs are in demand now, being efficient on the juice. What to do. Sat down with the sales rep, had a long talk, then wrote a number down on paper saying this is my absolute top end payment, everything included (incl. taxes, freight, etc); Said that was my top price for the fully loaded, all extras included Jetta TDI sports model in Platinum Gray, Tiptronic. It was about $2,900 below "list price". They hemmed. Hawwwed. Went to speak to the boss. Twice. Came back said "we can do it for $250 more than your price". I said "So, start telling me about your used cars...". Went back to the boss a third time. Came back "Cash deal?" the sales rep said. "Yep. Me coming in with a big fat cheque.".

Tentative deal.

I left a $1,000 deposit on the car, now it's time for them to get it in to PDI, for me to do one final test drive on *my* future car and a final inspection; then I go to the bank, get the final loan done, and head to the dealer, check in hand, and an hour later, walk out.

So, if all things work out, looks like I may have a new ride by Wednesday.

Sweet :)

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