Opinion: It Ain’t Easy Buying a Car

That’s right. Especially if you are me.

For my father, it was simpler. Every three or so years he’d be in the market for a car. If he could afford it, and if it were practical and had a good aircon, he’d buy it. I’ve already written about some of his purchases, our two Elantras. But the frigid A/C requirement necessitated the ownership of a string of Nissans. We still own a Patrol and a Sentra. The Patrol is a UN-spec assault vehicle and the Sentra is a land yacht with a small cabin, but yes, they have aircons that belch Antarctic winters to your increasingly frostbitten face.

For me it’s different. I of course do not have my own money, so I would have to ask sweet Daddy-kins for a hand-out, much less a new car to drive. Also, given a choice, even subject to budgetary constraints, as an automotive enthusiast, it was going to be tough. And – this may be an important influence to my decision – I have been driving an Elantra for more than a decade. That doesn’t doesn’t mean I’ll accept anything and make do with it. It prolly means that I’m gonna have some weird tastes,dawg.

I thought I’d like to have car with the new-fangled CRDi diesel technology-thingy on the engine. It had to have a manual gearbox – six freaking speeds! And that’s about it. Because what I really had in mind was a Ford Focus TDCi. I’ve driven a race-prepped Focus diesel before, and even though the sports exhaust made the car sound like a jeepney in heat, I liked the power delivery and the inherent sportiness of the chassis. Or maybe I was delirious. I was fasting when I autocross-ed a Tuason Racing Focus in 2008.

Still, I kinda liked the Focus. But Ford decided to deep-six the row-your-own stick and slap in an automatic. A fancy-schmancy dual-clutch transmission, sure, but still a slushy Laze-O-Matic if you ask me. The new diesel Cruze that has come out is also automatic only. So the only car that fit my specific requirements was…

If you really know your cars, you’d know the answer. And yes, I agree with you. It’s like the car you drive when you have given up on life and decided that you’ll just coast through your remaining years with a dazed stupor on your face, not giving a damn what an awefully boring car you have. This car is so boring I’m itching to “enhance” it somehow, and the funny thing is, we haven’t bought it yet. Alas, they don’t make lowering springs for it – I’ve checked. But somebody makes chassis strengthening parts for it. Why, when you couldn’t even get a sports suspension for it? And furthermore, who in his right mind would track day this seven-seater muumuu machine? (I would.)

The car costs over a million pesos brand new, and you would be the biggest sucker in town if you’d buy one because the depreciation on the thing is immense. You can buy a low-mileage three year-old model for about half the price. I have test-driven such a car. Pity that the used car market does not price it higher. Yes, it’s as bland as a protein shake, but the car is comfortable, and I mean comfortable like a down pillow and a Tempur-Pedic mattress in a quiet room. You feel cossetted in the driver’s seat, the armrest cradling your arm as you change gear with the loosey-goosey yet short-throw shifter. The engine just wafts the car along, its diesel drone almost imperceptible due to superb cabin insulation and modern CRDi technology. You get interior space by spades and storage nooks and cubbyholes galore.

If you have a family of five plus two yayas, you can’t ask for a better daily driver than this. But I am a 23-year old bachelor who doesn’t have money to buy even a used one. Will I get one? I’m crossing my fingers. But in the meantime, I still have the Elantras to assemble drive.



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