Some of you may remember that I was once very much in love. With my Mercedes S-500. And you may recall the tragic ending of that love affair: I had to sell the Benz when we left for Italy because Italian roads are six feet wide, and so was the Benz.
I sold the Benz which I loved above all cars I've ever owned. There was just a hint of sickness to the whole relationship, I must admit. It was a very quick car. Fast. It was very powerful. It was big as hell but nimble. And when I drove through Prius-loving Chapel Hill with a fat stogie* stuck in the lower third of my massive bald head** I just knew that a quarter of the decaffeinated, granola-masticating population thought I sold guns to the Janjaweed.
It was a good feeling. As you can imagine. If there's something really wrong with you.
So, we bought a Toyota RAV4 to take with us to Italy. In Italy a RAV4 is an Escalade. It's about as big a private vehicle as you can comfortably drive on the dinky streets of Tuscan villages. It's the six cylinder engine and it's fast and fun to drive and as agile as a top-heavy SUV is likely to get. The seats are shitty -- Toyota insists on making seats for a short-legged people. I think they should offer a Gaijin seating package for people whose legs may be longer than Gimli's.***
I like the RAV. It's easy. It works. And it's red. But it is not cool. College coeds contemplating a switch from a Communications Arts major to a career as a fat guy's mistress would not target me when I'm driving the RAV.
So, anyway, after getting through US Customs (motto: we make Italian Customs look like FedEx) we got the RAV4 to join us here in the OC. This was nice. But we needed a second car because we have children who must be driven to ice skating, gymnastics, swimming, bowling, tennis, the beach, paddleboats (WTF?,) movies, Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, Wet and Wild World of Amoebic Dysintery, optometrist, orthodontist, pediatric dentist, pediatrician, Claim Jumper, Borders, Claire's, Limited Too For Tiny Trollops, the Apple Store, anything involving Hannah Montana including a toilet that may or may not have been peed in by Hannah/Mylie, and the other 18 trillion**** things they need to be taxiied and or dragged to.
So we needed a second car. Our criteria were 1) Crash test numbers, 2) Would I feel sufficiently cool driving it and thus feel that my manly manitude had been validated, and, 3) Hmmmm, I guess it's just those two. And thus, after obsessive bathroom reading of various ratings magazines, it came down to the Honda Accord or the Audi A6.
The rational economic choice was clear. But we went with the Audi anyway. In a soul-wracking compromise for the sake of both mileage and the ever-fragile environment, I forwent the 8 cylinder and stuck with the six. No: I won't let you call me an eco-hero. Seriously, stop, others have given up so much more for Mother Earth.
Herewith my review of the Audi A6 3.2 Quattro:
-- Fast enough, but not the Benz.
-- Great, great, great seats.
-- Lovely brakes, kind of like the Benz.
-- Great looking.
-- Joke cup holders. I mean, goddamn, if the Japanese can offer the Gaijin Seat option could the Krauts not try a little harder to indulge our need for automotive Starbucks? I mean, who won World War 2, anyway?
-- Beautiful but absolutely useless navigation system.
-- Big-ass trunk.
-- Nice handling, zoom zoom zoom and very little lean.
-- So quiet I can hear a kid fart in the back seat. (It's best to have some warning.)
-- Top crash-test numbers. Not yet tested by driver.
-- Stupid, obnoxious, over-engineered, piece of crap MMI "control system." Jesus Christ in a taco, just stick some fucking buttons on the dashboard.
-- Ludicrously undersized side mirrors. Blind spot? No, blind crater. Mirrors don't see anything smaller than a tandem semi.
-- Very cool iPod interface.
In summary, is it worth the money? No. Is it worth the money if some drunk rear-ends me? So they say. Is it perfectly-calibrated for a successful writer living in the OC, neither as dickish as a BMW, nor as smug as a Prius? Yes.
You know what's weird, though? I often choose to drive the RAV.
* I'm favoring Macanudo Golds at the moment.
** Seriously. I have, like, alien DNA or something.
*** That's right, an LOTR reference. I'm already married, I don't need a woman.
**** Trillion is the new billion. Million is the new nickel.