PART TWO, THE TEST DRIVES, pt.2
Thanks for bearing with me, I know I’m terrible but they’re here now no more waiting for trash. Also more post spam yay.
EnryGT5 - AVS AR1 GS-A
After that it was quickly off to the AVS dealership, another smaller building with their car on display outside, making it look a bit like a scene straight out of the 80’s. A few seconds later he was inside and getting to know the AR1 GS-A a bit better, it looks about as odd as it did in the brochure, though there was one extra detail which he didn’t notice before; the badge. Ags? Did the designer get the decal the wrong way around? It gave him a slight chuckle as he eyed up the tyres, 155/70R13’s fitted to every corner in some slightly softer compound supposedly meant to help with the ride or something. Taking a peek under and it’s another case of front disks rear drums that look a little on the cheaper side, and suspension that could be following suit. A peek through the window revealed 4 full size seats, a radio with obvious CD player and an interior that looked like it was a step above everything else he’d driven so far. A few minutes later and he was sat inside this, key spending no extra time outside the ignition, engine coming to a not so smooth idle compared to the inline 4’s he’s driven earlier, though it’s so quiet! If it wasn’t for the gentle vibrations he wouldn’t know the thing is even running, you could hear a mouse far on the parcel shelf and it’d be deafening. Slipping the auto box into drive starts it off creeping gently, joining the traffic effortlessly, and keeping up like it was right at home. It can crawl slow enough, first doesn’t overstay it’s welcome nor leave too soon, and despite it being maybe a little slow and dumb (Maybe it’s a cheaper unit, who knows) it shifts alright and doesn’t make a meal of driving. The fancy electric steering helps with the comfort though it’s quality is questionable, it felt a little bit grindy around most corners like they’d cheaped out, though some is better than none. Out the city it’s another foot down run, it got up to speed though was a bit slower doing it, though considering this is definitely geared towards comfortable, easy driving, that’s forgivable. It’s a similar story in the corners, despite it’s comfort orientation it still feels much more capable than it looks, or has really any right being, there’s not too much body roll and it doesn’t feel unwieldy. The right though, woh, the ride. Whilst the radio did feel a little out of place that was only because it was surrounded by this interior that was punching way above it’s weight, like you’d see on a car that cost a lot more, and it’s not cheap feeling either! The suspension tune did help this as well, coupled with the gearbox and torque this wasn’t just the most comfortable car he’d driven yet, it was also the easiest! He didn’t bother with the brake test this time around, he’d already experienced far more than enough of this car to have a solid opinion on it, and instead opted to head back to the dealer straight away. He handed the keys over and thanked the man, wandering off, this was definitely up there on his list.
Phale - Adenine Asante
Next up was a short ride around to the Adenine dealership, it was another smaller place but this time the car shown off in the window make the place feel much less dated than the last. Inside and up close the Asante looked again about as it did in the brochure, very wide and deceptively short from the front, while the rear makes it look much taller. This particular one was fitted with some 145/70R14’s that were definitely up there with the thinnest he’d seen today, a peek through the rims also reveals a slightly out of place setup of drums both front and rear though they looked relatively alright, as did the suspension. A few minutes later he once again had the keys and was sat in the driver’s seat, the engine started up and was very surprising, that inline 4 was both smooth and quiet. He slipped the automatic into drive and let the car creep forward until he joined the heavy traffic, this was another car that handled the city well, not as good as some others but the automatic more than helped make up for that. Though more concerning was the noise the power steering was making, and the fact that some of the assists seemed to occasionally flash up on the dash for seemingly no reason before fading back away, whilst the steering felt connected, the power steering was off doing seemingly it’s own thing whenever it felt like it, grinding and crunching uncomfortably. Out the city it was more foot down action, again it felt a little below average getting up to speed though it was still plenty quick enough and was more than alright given how easy to drive this had been, it was almost like a dream. Around the corners it was the same story, it handled about average, maybe a little bit slower than others but again that’s more than offset by how god damn easy this thing is to drive, I swear you could put a dog or a child behind the wheel and they’d be more than capable of getting you back from the pub while you’re absolutely plastered. Sadly, despite being easy to drive, it wasn’t the most comfortable place to be and the lack of a radio was very noticeable with the quiet running engine. A quick stand on the brakes to finish things off revealed a bit of an oddity, the front tyres locked up straight away for a good half a second or more before the ABS kicked in and calmed them down, despite this thing being packed with assists it seemed they weren’t exactly the best quality. Pulling back around to the dealer he handed the keys back and set off on his way again, it was a good car and he remembered it being one of the most economical options available, definitely one to keep on the shortlist and have a further think about.
Leonardo9613 - Ikkonagashi Box 1200B
It was finally time to visit one of the last dealerships of the day, Ikkonagashi. Another small dealership but the Box in the front window in that very pale blue made the place seem quite happy, and up close it was a nice car to be around, happy and innocent. This was again fitted with 145/75R13’s on each corner that did look a bit small but not too small. A quick peak underneath revealed a seemingly pointlessly advanced setup of vented front disks and drums at the rear which looked good quality along with the suspension. A final peek through the window and he could see 4 full size seats with an interior in line with the rest of the cars he’d looked at so far, however this was again one of the cars where he could clearly make out the radio with a CD player built in, a nice extra touch at this price range. A short while later he had the keys and was in the carpark right next to a showroom-spec Box, he hopped in and fired up the engine, it was a slightly louder than average affair though not deafening, and it was about as smooth running as the rest, gentle vibrations being sent through the cab at idle. This was another one of them cars with a sequential box, for some reason, impressive that this thing was less than a tank of fuel over budget and still managed to cram in vented front disks and this box. A flick of the paddle into first and it was away they went, joining traffic easily but keeping up was a bit of a nightmare, it was another car that suffered from a first gear that felt a bit stretched out, you had to slip the clutch a lot to keep slow enough for the traffic which wasn’t a fun experience, and the lack of power steering wasn’t terrible but didn’t help it’s case compared to the other cars out there. Out the city he got a chance to open the car up, and again it was one of those cars that felt a little below average, though that sequential box did make it quite fun to drive considering it was a little hatchback at the end of the day. The corners again were about the same, it felt average if not a little below when you pushed it, though the gearbox and the relatively low-body roll did help make the car feel quicker than it probably was. The ride inside was quite alright, the sequential made driving take a little bit of getting used to but the interior was good quality and the CD player was a nice addition to have at this price range, and the suspension wasn’t too firm either, bumps were cushioned relatively well making this car about average, maybe a little below in terms of driver comfort. This was another car where he decided to forgo the brake test in favour of getting back to the dealer a little bit quicker, handing the keys back and setting off with a smile. He liked the car, but couldn’t help but feel slightly let down by the gearbox, an automatic or even a manual would have been a nicer fit without too much compromise, but he still kept it on his shortlist, it’d be an extra thing to think about.
He took his bike to a small cafe and sat outside in the mid-afternoon, sipping away at a coffee as he thought and thought about what choice to make. First up was the Pulo Bibi Sport, the styling was a non-issue, he would gladly daily this car. It was slightly above average on fuel economy which was a nice small bonus and it was one of the nippiest cars in the final which was a nice to have. It was also more comfortable than average but one of the more difficult to drive thanks to that short ratio gearbox. The galvanised steel chassis would also mean it’ll last a nice bit longer and the whole package was reliable and they’d avoided cutting costs on important parts of the car to a degree, it had to stay on the list for now. Next up was the Znopresk, the styling was again nice and something he’d definitely daily, and it had tied the best fuel economy out of every car he’d looked at which was a big bonus. It wasn’t the easiest to drive but only slightly below average, it was above average in terms of comfort but not the best, just generally a very mixed bag and the lack of any kind of rust-proofing or corrosion resistance didn’t help it’s case along with the oddly advanced high-flow cat that would potentially make replacements and such more expensive and generally felt out of place on a budget car, though it did help with the economy, with the 5 seats and that economy being strong pluses. He ummed and arred about this for a bit and decided to put it just above the Pulo, whilst it wasn’t as fun to drive or potentially as long lasting it was just as reliable, more economic and easier to drive, and the option to seat 5 people was reassuring though he knew he’d never really need it anyway. Next up was the LHE Li-C, and he had to be honest with himself, the styling was definitely on the weaker side out of the cars he’d looked at, and it’s fuel economy was the second worse out the bunch though it did make up for this with it’s ease of drivability and it’s above average comfort, coupled with a quicker 0-62 time. Though it’s engine was quite rough at idle, it was one of the quietest which helped with the comfort, but supposedly a cheaper bottom end was reducing reliability in the long run, and the gearbox, according to the internet, was slightly lower quality for them to be able to sell it at this price. It had to sadly make it’s way to the bottom of the pile, the comfort and the ease to drive didn’t quite make up for the bad economy, and the looks doomed it just that bit further. Next up was the Pradaj, and when looking at the set of finalist cars it was quite easy to make a decision, the reliability was one of the worst thanks to the very cheap bottom end, and generally it was quite clear where the engineers had to cut corners to fit the car within the price range. It’s closest competition was the Komodo and that was better in every way except for comfort, so sadly it had to be shuffled down to the bottom of the pile, it was a nice change but sadly it just wasn’t good enough. Next up was the Komodo, it wasn’t a hatchback, it looked good and god did it give the hatchbacks a run for their money despite being much bigger. It was one of the easier cars to drive despite it’s size, was above average in terms of economy and was one of the more fun cars to drive, especially given it’s quick time to 62mph, though it wasn’t the most comfortable and wasn’t the peak of reliability thanks to the again slightly cheap bottom end used in the engine. It was clear the engineers had put time and thought into the car, there weren’t any corners cut in production and it was something that he just wasn’t expecting. It was a tight toss-up between this and the Znopresk. One was nicer to drive and quicker while the other was more comfortable and economic, and unfortunately at the end he was a sucker for that fuel efficiency and the easier city driving. The Komodo got it’s self nice and comfy just behind, a wonderful car that if he was looking for something a little different he’d have probably pounced on. Next to think about was the AVS, styling that was definitely a little too far towards the dates side despite it having the most comfortable ride by far and one of the easiest drives out there, but that was about where the good points ended, it was one of the least reliable cars on his shortlist and it was quite clear where sacrifices had been made to make the car so comfortable, with nearly all the running gear of the car being cheaped out on to get it within budget. Sadly that coupled with the worst in class economy meant it had to go, and he shuffled it just above the LHE’s brochure in his little pile. Up next was the Adenine, it had some funky styling that was honestly beat by some of the cars in the line-up, the top end of the engine was ever so slightly cheaper to fit it in budget and the brakes/aero had been cut down to help with the money situation too, but sadly the lack of a radio, worst comfort out of the shortlist and the the full set of assists who’s quality was equivalent to something from the early 90’s were big kicks, big enough to drop it out of the top spot, and instead above the LHE it went in the pile. Finally up was the Ikkonagashi, the styling was nice and happy and up there with some of the good cars, it was very reliable, had corrosion resistance for both chassis and body panels, was easy to drive though a bit below average in terms of comfort, and very average in how it handled. The engine was the loudest out the bunch sadly and it was a bit slower than average, and that $30 over budget got him a sequential gearbox instead of what could have been a manual, which would have made the car much cheaper and maybe even meant they could fit in power steering as standard. Sadly this was the biggest nail in the Box’s coffin, if anything went wrong with that box who knows how expensive it could have been, and whilst it does have a nicer stereo than the Znopresk the lack of power steering makes it a bit less liveable as a daily driver, so sadly it nustles up just behind. With that, he finished off his drink and set off to the one dealership he’d yet visited.
Epilogue - Scat time
It didn’t take him very long to get to the MM dealership. There was no time spent waiting around as he left his bike in the car park, sending a quick text message to his friend before wandering in and requesting a test drive of the Scatola. The dealership seemed to be quite busy, he was handed the keys and asked to wait by the car for a few minutes until a sales rep would be available to join him. A short saunter outside and he was at the car, and with no sales rep around he clambered into the central front seat and checked his backpack, it was still there. He wasted no time in firing up the car and hearing that turbocharged motor roar, a slightly ginger and careful start from the carpark into traffic, things were starting to die down, perfect. His first stop off was the Znopresk dealer, parking up and heading inside to put in an order and fill out all the paperwork to get himself a brand new 1.1 Prima. About half an hour later the paperwork was his, and he would be informed when his car was ready to collect, though he wasn’t quite done for the day. Back into the Scatola he got and back into the traffic he went, the ride slowly feeling as if it was destroying his spine on the less than perfect roads, but soon he was at his next location, the Alstrena dealership. He pulled the Scatola up in an easy to get to place and left it running, heading inside the dealer to request a test drive, unlike the MM dealer this place was empty and quite understaffed by the looks of it, he was handed the keys after he’d dubiously filled in some paperwork and asked to wait for a colleague to join him. Hah. He legged it outside to where the test drive car was, jumping in and starting the barge up, aiming it directly at the big glass store windows and sticking it into second, he opened his backpack and took out the brochure, rolling it up tight and using it to wedge the throttle wide open. Deep breath. Go time. He dumped the clutch and bailed out the car, watching it squeal the tyres and slowly claw it’s way up to speed, heading straight for it’s target. Before he could think he grabbed at the door of the Scatola and ripped it open in a hurry, the door handle and entire aluminium door coming off it’s hinges. Fuck. He threw the paper thin door in the back and jumped in, flooring it out the carpark as quick as he could, not wanting to stick around to see what kind of damage he caused (though he hoped it was enough to save the people of that city ever buying such American rubbish as that, his disdain for such a company was immeasurable). The Scatola’s mix of idiotic power and go-kart tier handling let him escape the city in record time, foot to the floor as he pushed the car to the limits on the straight roads, the speedo climbing past 100mph causing the body panels to rattle, flex and shake with the wind and road speed. A few minutes later he turned sharp off the main road onto more windy back streets, the Scatola and it’s 215/35R12 semi slick tyres clinging to the roads for dear life and making him feel like he was driving a race car, the vented disks front and rear meant the car lost speed at an insane rate, though after a few minutes of being pushed they were starting to lose their magic. The car wasn’t up to the repeated cornering, though, the remaining door visibly coming away from it’s hinges though his destination was in sight, a friend’s house tucked away in the middle of nowhere, the garage open for him to drive straight in. He cut the engine and wiped some sweat from his brow, taking a second to catch his breath and calm down to the ticking of the engine. He unclipped his belt and climbed out, shutting the garage door behind him to a clatter. He turned around to the last door laying on the floor, slowly rocking in place. He went and walked into the house, feeling like he’d aged 80 years, he needed some rest. A day later there was an eye-catching headline in the newspaper, supposedly some vandal had gone and crashed a car through the front of a dealership, the crash caused the fuel tank to rupture and the whole place had gone up in flames! People reportedly saw a small yellow car leaving the scene and police were searching for a stolen yellow MM Scatola Scatenato. Terrible people these days, damn vandals. He chuckled, then winced in pain, he should really get his back checked out at some point.