Thursday, December 27, 2018

The New Steviemobile

I sulked for a week or so after the insurance company handed me a check for the defunct-over-a-piddling-issue Steviemobile, then Mrs Stevie got cross and told me I had to do something about getting a new car because she was fed up with collecting me at the station and driving me around in Chauffeured Luxury™.

Mrs Stevie had a co-worker who had suggested we look at what might be obtained from Hertz used car sales, giving their used cars a thumbs up and explaining that although they typically had high usage they had been well-looked-after for their entire life with Hertz.

So, on the next Sunday I took a look on their website and discovered a Nissan Altima of this year's vintage with only 14,400 miles on its clock.

This looked too good to be true so when Mrs Stevie returned from Defensive Lutheran-Fu classes I swung over to Smithtown, about twenty minutes away from Chateau Stevie, and asked for a test drive. The nice man brought out the car, which was listed as "Storm Blue" but was charcoal to my eyes. He swore it was the right car so I climbed in, with Mrs Stevie in the back seat for comparative experience reporting and back seat driving tests and prepared for driving.

I think the nice man was waiting for me to ask how to start the car, but I had driven this very model while in Florida in the summer1 so knew about pressing the brake and pushing the button. I did, however, spend about five minutes checking all the controls to ensure I knew where such things as door locks, window winders, mirror adjusters, headlight and so forth were located. Not doing this in Florida had brought on fiasco when we were rear-ended seconds after leaving the hire car lot, and I couldn't open the door to jump out and be properly outraged.

The engine burst into life and we hurled out of the carpark on what proved to be a convincingly nice test drive.

In about ten minutes I parked in front of the showroom and we went inside to say that yes, we'd like to buy the vehicle.

When I bought the Steviemobile 15 years ago I clearly remember that the process involved a three day wait so that plates and paperwork could be completed. We bought the car on a Saturday and picked it up on a Wednesday night after work.

So you can imagine I was quite impressed that although it was Sunday, the nice man could not only get the financing sorted out but could register the car to me and fit the plates, even as we insured it over the phone with Geico.

Mrs Stevie went out at one point and searched the other Altimas in the lot to see if she could locate a handbook, the one for this particular car being AWOL, and she found one2. I hadn't even thought to look for it. It took less than two hours from walking into the place to driving out to get lunch in our new car, which was clearly charcoal-colored even though both Mrs Stevie and the nice man swore blind they could see the blue in it.

And what a happiness-inducing car it is.

The engine is 25% larger than the never-to-be-sufficiently-damned SULEV unit fitted in the Steviemobile, so it goes rather more like my old TR6 than the Steviemobile (which was speedy and quick off the mark when needed). The new car seems to be accelerating slower than the old Steviemobile but is in fact very nippy. I think it is the difference in the transmissions that is the deceptive thing, along with the added comfort of the ride. The Nissan shifts at much higher RPM than the Steviemobile did. Should that shifting be too conservative for the driver, I discovered after three days driving that there was a "sport" position for the gear shift that caused the transmission to linger in lower gears during acceleration for a more racy, trouser-ruining experience.

Inside it is a quantum leap above the basic fixtures of the old Steviemobile. The (leather) seats are heated. The steering wheel is heated. There is a rear-view back-up camera that comes on when reverse is selected. There is a bluetooth gubbins that alllows me to sync my phone with the radio and play music or make calls. Calls can reliably be made by just speaking the name of the stored contact. Touch the button on the steering wheel, say "Call Mrs Stevie" and in seconds you too can be harangued vituperatively as you drive.

The car has a remote start so it can be fired up from the living room of Chateau Stevie while I make my coffee and be all defrosted and warm when I am ready to leave for my train. It is like driving a starship, and I can pop the trunk either with the remote or manually if I have the remote in my pocket. In fact, I can operate the entire vehicle if I have the remote in my pocket, since all the locks and controls work when the fob is nearby.

Downsides? Well there are some. The heater has a habit of selecting "fresh air" instead of "recirculated air" when the demister button is pressed, which is okay sometimes but totally pants when passing an odoriferous recycling station or driving home during one of the neighbors' heavy weed intake sessions3.

The curve of the hood is such that I can't see the front of the car as clearly as I'd like and I've scraped the front spoiler a couple of times as a result. I am looking into a forward view camera, and have to make an appointment with a bodyshop to touch-up he minor damage.

There were a couple of very minor dings in the trim, and the nice wheels had been curbed several times to judge by the scrapes, but that just means they won't get lifted by the Wyandanch Wheel Gnomes while I am at work.

That's about it.

The only problem, such as it was, was that because the car was a rental there was only one key-fob, the other being gosh knows where in the Hertz network. The missing one also had the all-important tag that held the serial number needed by a locksmith to re-engineer a new fob should both go missing somehow. I shrugged and made a mental note to obtain a fob from a third party supplier ASAP. Before I got round to that the nice man called me just before Christmas and said the other fob had turned up so I have them both now, along with the number tag.

So it is all good, car wise.

  1. The Mrs Stevie surprise Trip
  2. She is good at thinking of these things and achieving them
  3. A downside of legalization – the whole place reeks of weed at certain times of day Can't abide the stench of Special Smoking Mixture these days