Dodge Caliber

Since I saw the first pictures of this car in a magazine, my thoughts were that this must be my next car.  It is a seriously good looking car with the high stance, big wheelarches, and 18" wheels.

And then when seeing it in the flesh for the first time, my thoughts were confirmed, and I decided to go drive it as soon as I had some spare time.  That happened on Friday afternoon.

As I got in the car, my first thoughts were that it feels a bit cramped after he space that I expected from its size.  The centre console is quite wide, and the driver leg space is actually less than in my Conquest.

The trim on the inside was better than what I expected after reading all the bad write-ups in the local magazines, but I'm used to a Toyota Conquest, the reporters are used to driving the latest and greatest.  Same can be said for the power and acceleration, it wasn't impressive, but certainly better than the expectation set by the reporters.

As I started the car, AC/DC Thunderstruck started playing on the radio, big coincidence, but still one of my favourite bands, so I got to test the impressive sound system.  It is seriously impressive for an out of the box system, with very clear sound across all the ranges and volume settings

As for the actual drive, as I said previously I was fairly happy with the power and acceleration, but what put me off enough not to buy this car, was the fact that you can't see anything from the driver seat.  You can't see the bonnet at all.  Yes, I could move the seat higher, but then my head would be touching the roof, so that was a no-go. 

The A-pillar is situated closer than any other car that I've driven before, in such a way that it changes almost every curve in the road to a blind-curve, you cannot see oncoming traffic at all!  Now in my opinion that is dangerous, and my first thought was that, as in the software world, where most engineers never get to test-drive their own products to see the shortcomings, this design engineer never drove the car, because I think he would have changed this had he driven it.

The last thing that seriously ticked me off, was the salesman.  From the time he introduced himself he seemed off, and it got worse.  It took him a full 10 minutes to find the keys for the car, now if there was hundreds of cars standing on the floor I would understand, but out of the 7 cars in the showroom there were only two Dodges, how difficult can it be.  Then, without the usual sales pitch about all the features, he handed me the keys with a frank "Drive it around the block" and walked off.  The block isn't very big, and there are speedbumps, so I decided to take it further.  Then upon getting back, he couldn't wait to get me out of the showroom, choosing not to even gime an estimate of how much they would give me for my car on a trade-in, only repeating "…it is big, it is american, and you should buy it."

Piss-off buddy, I'll find another car, and even if this one was good enough to buy, I would have gone to another dealer to get some service.

So, that means I keep on looking for a car, and until I find something spectacular, my paid for Conquest will have to do the job.

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