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Learn to love your car again

Is your car losing that new-car smell/feel/taste?  Are you simply bored with it?  Have you lost appreciation for the subtle nuances simply because you drive it every day?  I have a great way to learn to love your car again.  Drive something worse for at least a few hundred miles.  That's all it takes!

While in Paris, we decided to rent a car and go bomb around the countryside.  We visited numerous chateaus, putted around quaint towns and circled about 60% of Paris.  Renting through Europcar, we were graced with a fairly-new (~6,000km on the odo) petrol Peugeot 206 5-door.   Some highlights:
  • 75 horsepower!
  • 0-60 in just under 15 seconds!
  • 44 MPG!
Filling up in Europe is deceptively expensive.   "Oh, hey, somewhat over a euro per liter, under four liters per gallon, not terrible!"   This is sort of like the "Roughly how many piano repairmen are in Chicago?" type problem; estimates here and there can compound how far off you are from the true total.   After driving about an hour and a half, the refueling bill was about $70 USD.  This is for a sub-compact!   I looked a less-efficient cars in awe for the rest of the trip.  I saw a GTO a day after my return to the States and thought to myself  "That car gets 16 MPG; my equivalent fuel bill would have been almost $200!"

When I slipped behind the wheel of my car, everything was right with the world.  The clutch wasn't a hilariously-light affair with a three-inch engagement point.  The steering wasn't so light that I felt as if I was steering with a soggy baguette ring.   The engine could accelerate!   Acceleration is banned in France.   I like accelerating.   I really did enjoy the shifter in the 206.  The 6-speed Getrag in my car is getting a bit notchy at only 50,000 miles.  

My car is nowhere close the the optimal configuration for automotive enjoyment.  It's an open-diff, nose-heavy FWD with a funky rear suspension (Ford ControlBlade).  If I was coming home to a mid-engine RWD vehicle, my appreciation would be that much greater.

Americans do have it lucky. Big engines, big power, cheap gas.

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