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time to kick them tires

February 26, 2016

This weekend my hubby and I are off to test drive a new car. Now, you may not know this about me because 1) most of my Instagram posts are about cats, makeup, and pizza; and 2) because I'm much more a pedestrian than a driver... but I'm a gearhead.

 

Yup.

 

I've loved cars since I was a wee tot, and I think I built my first model when I was about 6. Had favourite Indy and F1 drivers by about then too (Mario Andretti folks!). I went to my first drag race when I was 7, and my first stock car race when I was about 8. I'd dissect engine parts and figure out what went where. Here's my sis and I hanging out in the trunk of one of our family's vintage cars back in 2008 (for you car buffs, it's a 1967 Corvair Monza).

When I was about 10, I announced to my parents which car I wanted to buy when I grew up because, as I explained to them at the time, it had awesome handling and was well engineered. And in 2009 I bought that exact car, what a feeling that was! 

 

So cars. They're fast, they're fun, and they can certainy be both practical and pretty.

 

My hubby and I've had our current baby for nearly four years and she's been good to us: roadtrips to Savannah, Charleston, Washington D.C., Prince Edward County, Toronto, countless trips to New York and Montréal, trips to see family, trips to the cottage...

 

She's always had our backs. When a tree came down in front of us during an electrical storm in Toronto, when we thought we'd lost a tire to a massive pothole in Queens, or frankly as we tackled this week's snow and ice... she got us through. 

That's the hubs and I the day we picked up our current car back in spring 2012. She's been a trusty little workhorse!

 

But we're leasing folks because that's what works best for us, so every four years we hand back one car and pick out another. And it's getting to be about that time. Our current car is a 2012 BMW X1 crossover, and it's the best car I've ever driven. It's great on gas, has the most responsive brakes I've used, has amazing pick-up with no turbo lag, and sweet Jesus, can you ever pack a lot of shopping bags into it. Which of course is crucial for NYC trips. Crucial. Hatcbacks are glorious!

 

BMW's updates to the all-new 2016 version of the X1 (below) look impressive, but I've also been researching options by VW, Mazda, Mercedes, and Subaru. So we'll see what we come out with!

As a youngish woman, I sometimes find car salespeople will talk down to me, assume I have no idea what I'm talking about, or think the only thing I've decided on is the paint colour. Doesn't matter if you're a car freak, if you're making a purchase this big you should be treated with respect and professionalism. So show 'em you know what you're talking about!

 

Here are a few tips in case you're car shopping:

 

  • Know your needs, and be ready to sum them up to the salesperson quickly and clearly. This will keep you focused if they start throwing fancier options at you. Extra bells and whistles may sound pretty swell but they're expensive. Stick to your guns.

 

  • Know at least a few details of each model of car you're considering, and certainly the ones you want to test drive. Horsepower, torque, fuel efficency, and warranty are good ones to remember. 

 

  • If it's a used car, be sure you've checked the mileage and any remaining warranty. Research any major issues for that model year, and ask about its history, maintenence, and how many owners it had. Consider ordering a Carfax report, especially if you're not buying from a dealer.

 

  • Be tough but respectful in your negotiations. Crunch the numbers in advance so you know what you can afford. And be straight up with them if you like: "This is the budget I'm working with and I'm not prepared to go above this number. What can you do for me? Can you match Mazda's financing? Can you give me a free month like VW offered?"

 

  • Be prepared to walk away. This is a tough one, but critical to making the right decision with such a big purchase. If they think they've got you, they probably do. There will always, always be another car so if something doesn't feel right or if you're unsure, walk away. Even if it's just long enough to leave the dealership and get a coffee, you'll have the chance for a sober second thought without the salesperson staring you down.

 

It's been a fantastic four years with our trusty X1, and she still looks as good and drives as well as she did the day we picked her up from the dealer. That's her below before she'd even seen the outdoors! 

 

We'll see if we find something new this weekend. But like I said, we'll also be ready to walk away.

UPDATE: new wheels!

 

We bought a car! We met with our dealer, went for a test-drive, crunched the numbers, compared models, negotiated hard, and took the leap. Meet our new baby, Brunhilde! She's the 2016 BMW X1 xDrive28i with 228 horsepower, 258 poud feet of torque, and she does 0-60mph in 6.3 seconds. She's also got a best-in-class 505 litres of trunk space for all my shopping bags (#sonecessary). That's her below! Ain't she pretty?

 

Of the three cars my hubby and I have purchased together over the years, all have been Bimmers. We honest to goodness thought we'd go for something else this time but BMW's updates to the redesigned 2016 X1 are both fantastic and exhaustive, and they fixed the niggly things that bugged us about our 2012: poor interior storage, some strange interior design quirks, that sort of thing. Based on exibit A above (our 2012) and exhibit B below (our new 2016), I guess you could say we know what we like. ;)

 

Brunhilde's being built in Germany as we speak and she'll arrive in Canada at the end of April. Just 8 weeks til we pick her up! Then it'll be time for our new car tradition: hit the Gatineau hills and cruise for some celebratory ice cream. Can hardly wait.

 

 

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