The other day I was asked one of the most common questions folks inquire of me once they learn of my automotive alter ego – “Driven anything exciting lately?”
Normally I jump right in and rifle off any number of makes and models that have graced my driveway in recent weeks and months.
This time was different though, this one gave me pause. Had I driven anything exciting lately, I wondered? If so, why is that answer not spilling forth from my vocal chords as has so often happened in the past? Have I become complacent to the automotive industry of late? Am I perhaps as guilty as the general public in turning my attention away from the vehicular environment? Oh my God, is the honeymoon over?
The answer is “No, but…”
I am looking over the list of loaners from the various press fleets in our region and of course in reality, there are vehicles that I have enjoyed driving and there are models that were pleasant surprises.
However, several of those came with their own caveats. Case in point, the new Honda Insight hybrid. Much better than the first Insight complete with modern styling, more power and four doors. But we could not fit some moderately bulky items into the rear hatch area.
It also seems quite a few interior designers have opted away from traditional style gear shifters in favor of a short toggle of some sort protruding from the center dash. Thank goodness the E-coupe we tested had a “real” shifter in the center console and not that joystick on the column that the Amazing Race team could not even figure out last week. Too bad the car did not come with the new Pre-Safe Braking feature that Mercedes has been touting. At least we got to see how this works in the last Volvo we tested. Fun to mess with your passengers it is.
And while I finally got the opportunity to drive the new Camaro SS with the six-speed manual tranny, I have to admit that I fear I had built up the suspense so much so that my experience did not live up to my expectations.
The new Lexus convertible came on a week mired in near-record rainfall, I sweated in the leather seats of the Honda Pilot, the Mazda3 was dropped off by guys driving a MazdaSpeed3 and Ford kept pulling scheduled vehicles due to “conflicts.”
I don’t seek pity, I am not asking for understanding, I just wanted to explain that blank stare on my face every time I am asked “Have you driven anything exciting lately?”
And that there is always next week.