Oh! Soul-oh! Me-oh!

IMG_0002On car buying and losing weight…part two. This is a cautionary tale. When you sign a lease for the car, pay attention to those mileage limits.

So I’m weighing (no pun intended) my options and I discover that I’m already over the mileage limit on my leased Kia Optima. Sort of snuck up on me like those daily calorie counts. I take off to the Kia dealer to see if I can negotiate. But, no. If I buy elsewhere, I owe the last 6 payments, 20 cents per mile over the limit (already racking up at $540 and on its way to a gut-wrenching $1870 by August) plus a $400 penalty for early termination.

I’m sitting there in a morose mood, waiting for the finance manager to work out what the deal would be if they pay off the leased car for me and I buy a new one from them. Enter stage left…Dante, an amiable low-pressure sort for a car salesman, who asks if I’ve ever considered a Kia Soul. Well, I’ll admit, color freak that I am, I’d had a slight hankering for the boxy little chartreuse green (aptly named Alien II) charmer. I gave a moment’s thought to the Solar Yellow which is almost Corvette-ish but makes the Soul look like a Stingray that got smashed between a brick wall and a semi and morphed into a pudgy yellow cab.

feature_soul_2014_18-alloy-wheels_S--Kia-600x-jpgSo off we go on a test drive in an Exclaim (!) version with all the bells and whistles and the snazziest 18″ alloy wheels I’ve ever seen. I’m a sucker for wheels…and a few other things in life!

I found the 2.0 L engine was powerful enough but a bit sluggish on the acceleration as the car mags say (okay, I shoulda gotten the Porsche Cayman and attached a trailer for the little ones….but then there’s the arrest and jail time, etc.). The three driving modes took me from cushy comfort to hard-driving sporty, the high end audio system had speakers that glowed different colors and vibrated with the music (and just who is looking at their speakers at the bottom of the side doors while they’re driving…maybe the young have better peripheral vision), and, compared to the Mini I had been salivating over the day before, one can actually put five full-sized adults in the car without first shrink-wrapping them. Also, because it rode a bit higher (reminding me of my long-deceased 1972 Chevy van) and with windows all around, I had the visibility that an old person like me needs in order to avoid making a squishy mess out of pedestrians and splintered relics out of telephone poles. I suddenly realized that I could have semi-sporty, major cute, even that stand-out-in-a-crowd vibe, and have a way out of that onerous lease.

Then the part I dread…the deal. There was $400 off for this and $1000 off for that which sounded fair to me, but I knew I needed to consult my daughter first–the one I had not consulted when I signed that lease. Mom, she muttered with great annoyance and authority, get out of there right now. We need to comparison shop. On my obedient way out the door, the finance guy, in Superbowl warm-up mode, almost tackled me by my ankles and offered another $1000 off, but out the door I went.

Later in the day, my daughter took me to another dealer–who ended up quoting $1800 less on the exact same car (they would bring it up from the first dealership I had visited). But my daughter escorted me out that door as well. She gets on the phone to the first dealership and closes the final deal. If I come back in–by now it was nearing their Sunday 6 pm closing time–I could have it for $2100 less than their morning offer. SOLD AMERICAN…or should I say Korean.

IMG_0003The moral of the story…take along whomever among your family or acquaintances can function as a premier wheeler dealer if you are ever car shopping. And keep your mind open. Your car is out there. I found mine…c’est moi and it matches the lime and pink Fragonard fabric on my couch.

On losing weight and buying cars…

I know that other women get serious about losing weight when they start to salivate over a slinky new dress or want to look gorgeous for an upcoming wedding or be presentable at the beach. But not me. I think about whether I can fit into the car I want to buy. Right now I have a perfectly good KIA Optima which has plenty of room, sort of an automotive version of Not-Your-Daughter’s-Jeans. For those behind the times, NYDJ is the upscale très cher brand sold at Nordstrom’s with enough spandex woven in to bridge the gap between what size you think you are and what size you actually are.

MercedesI’ve never quite gotten over the fact that at age twenty-two, I owned a 190SL and could easily slide my then svelte body into its red leather seats and drive from San Diego to Illinois along Route 66 without a care.

Now I’m almost fifty more years down the road of life and I want a sports car again.

Honda S2000So off I went last week to look at a Honda S2000 which stopped production in 2009. It’s like a Miata’s much better-looking older sister with a tiger under the hood. I eyeballed it carefully as the salesman escorted me to the lot. Then I gingerly lifted one leg and squeezed myself into the seat. You know how bucket seats have raised edges–well, those protuberances felt like spikes sticking into my ample derriere, threatening to set off a major bout of sciatica. I extricated myself as gracefully as possible, relieved that the car’s battery was dead–my excuse for not taking a test drive. I’m sure the salesman had a momentary scary thought that he was going to have to bring in a crane.

2007_porsche_cayman_coupe_base_fq_oem_4_500But back in the showroom was a charcoal gray 2007 Porsche Cayman, with all the dangerous moves and fast-snapping speed of its namesake, the caiman alligator. It appeared roomier and I took the chance. Sliding in comfortably and with the smell of leather in my nostrils, I took to the highway. It sprang to life, although the dark tinted windows all around made me feel like I had just joined the subterranean world of drug lords. Aveline & Estelle April 2014

Price was right but the little upturned faces of my two and four-year-old granddaughters flashed before my eyes. They would want to ride in Mimi’s car but would be denied. How could that ever work!

MiniSo today I found a compromise. A brand new 2015 MINI 4-door hardtop. A entirely new model this year for those wanting easier access to the back seat without the clunky appearance of the Countryman. And in my favorite color Volcanic Orange with a black top plus a sunroof, automatic transmission and enough power, especially in Sports Mode, produced by its 2.0 Liter 4-Cylinder Engine with MINI TwinPower Turbo 189 HP engine to make you believe you’ve got your foot on the pedal of a sports car. Would have snapped it up on the spot but my daughter stepped in and brought me back to reality. I had gone in thinking I would take advantage of a real deal–but that was, of course, on the 2014 models. Isn’t it always true that you think you’ll buy the stuff of sale but see the new stuff and succumb? So although they were willing to deal, I need to wait 6 months until my lease is up on the KIA–big bucks to get out of leases early.

And, in the meantime, I can lose a few more pounds so that this smart and sassy little Volcanic Orange MINI will fit Mimi like a glove.