So, Lina the Mazda3 stranded me and dropped another $500, and was close enough to needing new tires that she essentially ate all the leftovers from Christmas. I posted a few bits on Facebook if you wish to go read the drama at the time of occurrence. Needless to say, the several rules sort of coagulated into me going “Time to retire Lina” because she is just too close to two of the thresholds (Costs more than financing a cheap new car with a warranty to keep going, doesn’t bring me joy) and irony suggests she’ll cross both at the same time.
I started quietly shopping her around and a family member who gets right of first refusal suggested a me-financed solution that I am okay-with which basically boils down to me getting the private-sale, excellent-condition car value plus about $800, and when a huge part breaks (The clutch is original with 195,000 on it and tends to run about $800) I’ll pay for it. Also, because said family member is waiting for an incontinent dog or a generation-older hand-me-down car to die… I’ll hold onto Lina the Mazda3 and keep her in good condition until one of them passes (probably later this year).
Thus the phase I have with Lina is a somber “You’re not my car anymore”. Which is sort of sad… but after some discussions with Eric who helps me steward such decisions, I’m going finish-paying-off Amelia the Miata, daily drive her when Lina moves… and I’ll likely start searching for a new Daily Commuter. *Has that “I’m single again, baby, YEAH!” moment from Austin Power, The Spy who Shagged Me*
Now, this of course means the rolling slot machine of cars worth purchasing comes to a stop… and I found that my take one which car I want next is turning out like a Frosted Mini Wheat’s commercial:
The adult in me is looking at the Volt. While it’s Not Quite A Leaf (only goes 40 Miles on a charge, can’t do over 80 without getting the gas engine involved, still requires oil changes and fuel system stuff and and and) and not quite a Prius (only gets 35 MPG once the battery is depleted, costs way more than a regular hybrid because the battery pack is so damn beefy, only seats 4 people…) it’s perfect for me as a commuter as my job is only 15 miles away and unless I wake up really early I tend to average about 45 MPH in stop-n-go, slow-n-go traffic… and I can still take those semi monthly road trips to Charlotte/Charleston and Yearly road trips to Austin/DC/Orlando/What-Have-You. I also know I can buy a 2-year-old fully loaded one for about 20 grand from CPO or Carmax… and if I just have to have a new one, the dealers will be anxious to get rid of the 2015 models on the lot in Sept/Oct/Nov when I go shopping to make room for the shiny new 2016 Volt that goes farther and has better mileage and more seats and looks less weird. So I might be able to swing an insane deal on a new one.
Meanwhile, the kid in me still is obsessed with the Mitsubishi Mirage. I swear to Goodness, every time I see one in the wild I squeal with glee. I know it’s a weird pug-ugly little thing and auto journalists hate it, but every review I’ve read NOT by auto journalists seems to say “This is a great little car for the $10-13,000 I ended up paying for it! Hasn’t had any problems, gets the advertised 41MPG, is adequately powered, actually rides pretty nicely and quietly, holds acres of stuff despite being tiny.. and the steering and handling are fine for something to toot back and forth to work and on errands. Those Auto Journalists have their head up their ass about what most Americans do with their cars: Sit in them for maybe an hour and a half each day driving around on autopilot.” I think it settles my lust for a French car that we can’t get in the states: Weirdly Perfect, Perfectly Weird.
Of course, I don’t know what I’ll get until I’ve gotten it. I may just decide to daily-drive the Miata. Or I might give up the whole bowl of frosted mini wheats if Mazda doesn’t take forever to release a decent…
The Mazda2… if these come out near the end of 2015… and they have a skyactiv-G drivetrain that gets ~45+ mpg and they don’t trade too much style for usability (IE, I can sneak Cairo’s folded crate into the back without having to put seats down or remove the folded tonneau cover) I’ll consider it heavily. I already love/trust Mazda and I like the tech they’ve been putting in their cars… and I would love it if they applied it to a car the size of the 2. There are even rumors that Mazda is working on an electric mazda2 with a wankel range extender. My fear is that MazdaUSA has found a groove that is making them money and they’re gonna get stuck in it like they did back in the 60’s with Rotary engines: They’ll keep selling the Skyactiv-G in the 3/6 and the CX-5/9 and the MX-5 until they are woefully out of date…. and spend all their new money chasing after dumb, trendy markets like super compact CUVs (“Hey, we won’t sell you the 2, but we’ll sell you the CX-3 which is like a jacked-up, heavy 2 with crappy gas mileage and AWD!”). Then when no-one wants to buy their stuff because they want electric drivetrains, Ford will buy them again and go “oh, no, Mazda… you make small car platforms and fun drivetrains we can rebrand and we’ll keep you from going bankrupt. Again”.
We’ll see by the end of the year, but I’m worried Mazda USA is going to just give the Mazda2 to Toyota to be sold as the next Yaris which Toyota will make sure will have no personality. Meanwhile, I’ve already driven the 2015 mazda3 and, well, it’s not my car: It’s a shrunk-down 6 that basically handles a bit better but isn’t that much lighter and doesn’t get better mileage and holds less stuff.