There are untold scores of new cars for sale in Canada, but the list of two-door cars that you’d want to drive year-round in Alberta is seriously limited. For those of us who live in this winter wonderland, the AWD Coupé is Automotive Nirvana: the place where a single car can drift us through knee-deep snow while maintaining the youthful irreverence of two-door transport. If you’re even pickier than that, if you also want eye-widening style and one of the finest engines for sale, well, you’re about to find yourself behind the wheel of the 2013 Audi RS5.
Last week, when I was presented the opportunity to drive what is arguably the hottest new car from Germany’s hottest luxury automaker, I leapt like Jesse Owens when he found out the 1936 Olympics were in Berlin. I wouldn’t have more than a few hours with the car, but I was intent on translating this condensed experience into thousands of individual packets – each completely satisfying in its own right – in an effort to find out if the RS5 is really as exceptional behind the wheel as it is on paper.
Across the tracks at the Trento, Italy train station, two black eyes locked into mine. She peered for three seconds longer than it is suitable for strangers, so I shyly returned to the safety of my book. The pages glowed and my back was warmed by the mid-afternoon sun high above blue mountains behind me. A breeze carelessly flipped my place backwards.
I looked again: she was chewing gum and bouncing her white Adidas on the shadowed cement. A small backpack occupied the spot beside her. She was playing the role of Bored Teenager better than any Pizza Hut commercial portraying a stilted family dinner I’ve ever seen. Schoolmates milled about the platform, sharing earbuds, and laughing sarcastically. Her apathetic gaze returned, this time more curious. She reminded me of when zoo animals inexplicably change their attention from immediate surroundings to those on the other side of the glass: the gawkers, the tourists. I immediately understood why, as I stuffed my too-large novel back into my pack; I didn’t fit in. No, it wasn’t so much my clothing that gave me away (on this trip I made sure not to bring the usual tourists ware: wide brimmed hat, fanny pack, last year’s running shoes). It was simply my expression—perhaps punctuated by a Tolstoy beard. I have, after all, been told that I’m no good at hiding my thoughts.
As a fan of CarEnvy.ca, your tastes run into the more eccentric, fun, and obscure realms of automobilia. You’re also very smart with your money. In short, you’re pretty amazing. Almost as amazing as ING Direct spokesman Frederik de Groot, also known as Mr. Save Your Money, seen above.
While your friends are buying the latest and greatest, you’re biding your time until depreciation strangles some poor, unsuspecting dude and leaves you with a bargain-priced gem that is a bit special, rewarding to drive, and easy on the wallet. If you’re looking at driving a brand-new car off the dealer lot, your Canuck Bucks can’t do better than a $15,094 3-door Hyundai Accent. For that tidy sum, you’re treated to roll-up windows, no A/C, a design that’ll look dated by next month, and a lifetime of heartache and woe.
But as you already know, that 15 large will stretch a lot further if you take the time to browse Kijiji and eBay Motors. So let’s pretend that you really do have $15,000 and that you want to make every penny count. What are the best cars you can buy?
1. 1999 Porsche 911
The first of the water-cooled 911s, a blasphemous smudge in the company’s history books, can now be yours for only $13,910! For that kind of money you could either have a Hyundai Accent with roll-up windows or you could have the quintessential rear-engined sports car in your driveway. The history of the 911 stretches back 50 years, which in car lives makes this first water-cooled model like the student entering high school: a little unsure of its identity but growing up fast. Through a series of relentless improvements, the 911 has matured from a terrifyingly charming curiosity into a more civilized instrument for everyday use. This automatic-equipped example will ensure that your daily grind is as uneventful as home room. Sure, this particular example has 143,000 miles (230,000 km), but that just means that it has a vast depth of experience to share with its new owner: you!
But that’s not all, five (5!) more sub-$15k used cars are after the jump!
Getting started is always the toughest part. It’s pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. Putting your head down and powering through. Whether it’s starting a new job, a new workout routine, living in a new city, or starting a new business – it’s a (rewarding) grind. Starting something new, especially something challenging, is a long, arduous, and often thankless path. In the car industry – as brands like Saturn, Mercury, and Scion have shown – it’s a whole lot tougher than that. And those brands started under the umbrella of existing organizations with all of their existing resources and knowledge. But how difficult is it to start from scratch?
Currently, there’s a lot of hoopla surrounding Fisker Automotive and its far-too-recently-delivered Karma, and when you look at it on paper, it’s easy to see why. It’s electric (even if it gets terrible mileage), has Henrik Fisker’s peerless seal of approval, and might even come out with a wagon body style. Someday. Maybe. But probably not.
As we’ve seen with Tesla, it’s really incredibly unimaginably stupendously tough to make couture electric cars for only $100,000 and to return a profit while doing so. Especially when you’re a start-up company with no factories, tooling, or even expertise to handle such a monumental task. At $100,000, making a few hundred or even a few thousand cars does not a strong business case make when you don’t have an entire line-up of profit-producing cars to fund your project. Companies like Porsche have bread und butter models like the Cayenne und Panamera to stuff their coffers with cash, allowing them the freedom to develop the most amazing $100,000 car in the world: the 911. Compare this to Tesla’s funding model, which relies entirely on investors injecting cash (private, public [TSLA], and the US government) rather than sales profits.
Electric cars are being hailed as the future. No, it’s not 1901, but 2011. Over a century ago, gas-powered cars fought for early adopters of horseless carriage technology against electric-powered cars. Yes, what’s old is new again. Except gas won last time. Now, it’s all a bit murky.
Half-upstart/half-vapourware shillers like Tesla and Fisker, as well as old guards like Morgan, are tripping over themselves to electrify your driveway. Despite compromises such as limited range, heavy batteries, and tortuous charge times, car makers (with a little nudge from government regulators) aspire to wean us off petroleum and reduce the carbon emissions from our tailpipes.
And it’s easy to see why. It’s where the money is. Governments are investing in the crucial infrastructure needed to charge the hobbled beasts by installing electric charging points and giving out massive loans to companies who promise to build electric cars in their country. The government has picked a side, which means that you will too.
But there are alternatives, and not just corn-based ethanol – that grotesque shell game that subsidizes American farmers so that they can grow fuel that would otherwise make perfectly good food – but Hydrogen. Yes, it’s a bit combustible (see Hindenburg) and it requires extremely high pressures to be kept stable, but it also allows for refuelling in 5 minutes, a lot less than the 5 hours an electric car currently needs. If Hydrogen received the same kind of government support, it could prove to be a more viable alternative to plug-in electric power. The only way to find out is to invest. Just like these companies are…
Artist Taras Lesko is an artist in every sense of the word.
He doesn’t sing or act or paint, though, he makes paper models that twist the traditional Japanese art of origami, plucking the 17th century art form out of feudal Japan, and in doing so creates something contemporarily relevant.
Here he has taken 285 sheets of paper and formed 750 entirely unique parts. Two hundred and forty-five hours later and voilà, a stunning replica of Audi’s new 4-door coupe: the A7.
Audi is trying everything in their power to polish the not-very-turd-like VW Polo into a gleaming, MINI-beating distillation of their larger cars.
The marketing for the Audi A1 has thus far been youthful, clearly expensive, unconventional, and (not so) surprisingly unsuccessful in moving units.
Let’s take a look at the Top 5 Audi A1 Commercials to see if we can pinpoint exactly where Audi is going wrong. If we can do that, perhaps we can shed some light onto Audi’s reluctance to sell the A1 here in Canada.
As Mark Twain put it, “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.” I guess that means Audi’s small thing just needs a little better advertising.
5. “The Next Big Thing”, starring Justin Timberlake.
This is a weird one. The whole premise of a mini web series featuring a Hollywood A-lister to promote a car is tenuous at best. I understand that celebrity endorsements are big business, but I’m not sure that the execution is there with this series of webisodes. JT must’ve used up all his acting aptitude on The Social Network.