Saturday, April 18, 2009

More car talk

Today we went looking for cars again, and this time we test-drove a Subaru Impreza, a Toyota Prius, and the Honda Fit again. It looks like we're going to have a Fit (ha ha).

The Subaru Impreza is quite nice to drive, but we weren't very imprezzed by its declared fuel economy, nor by its price (about 1.9 mil. yen). The new tax breaks for 'eco cars' apply to the Impreza, but they don't result in spectacular savings. The Impreza shown in this rather pointless snap also had the new car smell at a level that most normal people would find alarming, and which caused the young master to hold his breath (and mysteriously expostulate on the chemical stink at the same time).

The Toyota Prius we drove was the highest grade of the current version, and it's a very nice car in many ways. The quote for the soon-to-be announced EX version was 2 mil. yen as near as dammit, although sundry desirable maintenance offerings would push up the price a bit more. Also the missus wants to dazzle other drivers with diffusion headlights, and the pleasant but slightly robotic Toyota salesman didn't recommend installing a non-Toyota brand kit.

But we're not big drivers, and since the Fit is significantly cheaper, we figured we'd need to drive the Prius for ten years before it paid off the difference in price from savings in petrol. The 'Highway' version of the Fit is on offer for 1.5 mil. yen, and it comes with diffusion bling lights, a built-in ETC highway card system, and rain dissipating windows and mirrors. Also, it has the jolly, dodgem-car like handling typical of a kei-car which I really like. The new tax regime favours it almost as generously as a hybrid, making it something of a no-brainer. (Once one has become acquainted with the very unexceptional Fit body, one can't help noticing that there are an awful lot of other people with no brain too. They're all over the roads and supermarket carparks.)

It feels disappointing to be buying yet another petrol vehicle, particularly at this juncture when EVs are finally supposed to making a reappearance after an interval of about a century. But they're going to cost 4 mil. yen, and be largely unavailable anyway. While hybrids are attractive in many ways, they seem like technical overkill for limited driving. However, we take some solace from the fact that the new wheels should get about twice the mileage of the current set.

We also test drove a pair of Harleys* with extra small fuel tanks and little pig figurines on the disk brakes, but they had nowhere to put shopping and rice husks.

* This is not actually true.

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