My current car is a 2002 Grand Am GT. I bought it for $16,000 in 2004, when gas was less than a buck a liter, with 46,000km on the odometer. It represented great value at the time; it was loaded with features like a sunroof, Monsoon stereo system, 16″ chrome alloy wheels, and ram air V6 power that delivered plenty of torque for impressive launches. The headlights would turn themselves on automatically, the traction control would keep me out of trouble, the oil life system would advise me on when it was time for an oil change, and the beefy sway bars with the wide tires would keep everything in order even during the hardest of cornering. It has a practical side as well; with four doors, it’s a decent family sedan that takes regular unleaded and gets okay gas mileage.
Over a decade after I bought the Grand Am GT and with 210,000km on the odometer, I can’t really complain too much; it’s been reliable, but it’s not the car it used to be. The foam on the back speakers has rotted, and being a Monsoon system, are not standard, so are expensive to replace. The power mirror switch is broken from its mount, and one of the non-replaceable map lights built in the rear view mirror has burned out. The body cladding has kept it looking great, but the inevitable rust is starting to show through in places. Not having done anything to the car the entire time I’ve owned it, I’m aware that I’ll need to do significant work to keep it roadworthy; things like replacing the water pump, radiator, and all the engine seals are probably going to be the tip of the iceberg. The headlights are hazy, the trim along the windshield, having lifted out, is now being held in with an adhesive, and occasionally the turn signal decides not to work. That said, it still starts and runs good and strong, but let’s face it: It’s an old car, and things aren’t going to get better. With gas well over a buck a liter, the “Okay” gas mileage isn’t okay anymore. I think I’d like to end my relationship with my Grand Am GT while we’re still on good terms.
Other things in my life have changed since I bought the Grand Am GT. The economy has become less stable, so I find myself driving longer distances for work. I am going to downtown Toronto a lot more than I ever have since owning my last Micra for my career. Given the instability of the economy, having reliable transportation is an absolute must. The price of gas right now is hovering between $1.20 and $1.30 a liter, so fuel economy is becoming more important to me than ever. I still want a car that’s good for my family; I need a back seat with its own doors, and, given that my son is now the tallest in his class, headroom and legroom in the back seat is important. I also need a trunk with the ability to carry large, bulky items from time to time. I need a car that will continue to be reliable and trouble-free, and would like to keep my on-going maintenance costs as low as possible. It’s no wonder I’ve been having dreams that I still have my 1990 Micra stored in my garage; over the past year, I’ve found myself waking up from those dreams wishing that I could still buy a car like that.
My recent trip to the 2014 auto show confirmed that the 2015 Micra will be an even better value than my 1990 was. It has all of the good characteristics of my old Micra, like generous headroom and legroom front and back, a solid, all-aluminum engine that’s accessible and appears reasonably easy to work on, a tight turning radius, a small size, and, starting at $9,998, has a purchase price lower than anything else in its class. In fact, it’s priced cheaper than many used cars. In addition to this, it’s a thoroughly modern car with features like ABS brakes, plenty of air bags, vehicle dynamic control system, rear floor heating ducts, and options like cruise control, heated mirrors, 4 speed automatic, and even a backup camera. The Micra never had it so good!
So, that just about sums it up. I’ll be buying a new car this year, and if the test drive goes well, it looks like it’s going to be the Micra. I can hardly wait!