30 Oct 2014

Have You Bonded With Your Car?

I drive new cars regularly. Sometimes the car has everything I or the consumer would expect it to have, and do everything just as it should. But often, when thinking back and writing the review, I feel a nagging sense of coldness about it. It might have been a great car but I didn't bond with it.

A car is just a collection of metal, plastic and other materials bound together in a package that enables us to whizz around whilst being entertained. Cars interact with us via our senses but many fail to provide all the sensory needs we complex, carbon-based beings require in order to become at one with an inanimate object.

Music comes in many and varied forms. Some provides a pleasant background noise, some pains our ears, some offends our brain and some affects us in such a way it makes us happy.

Cars are the same.

My own car is a 2005 Audi TT and I have bonded with it. We have become one, a symbiosis of man and machinery whilst on the move. The heft and certainty of the controls, the power of the V6 engine, the grip of the quattro four wheel drive, the predictability of response to changing conditions, the clarity of the sound system are all attributes that make it an easier car to bond with but aren't necessarily the ultimate reasons for it to happen.  That requires a dose of je ne sais quoi.

I can overlook it's foibles and faults because of that bond, the gear lever that is an inch too far forwards, the front bias of the power delivery, the lack of storage space. Just like in humans when the magic of a perfect relationship over-reaches the faults in that union we can learn to forgive and forget the niggles and flaws in each other.

So it is with cars. How and why we bond with some cars is impossible to predict.  Some cars are sprinkled with a magic dust that makes us feel good, that brings us closer together.

This is true of all cars, old or new.

I have driven expensive cars that have left me feeling cold and I have driven cheaper cars that made me feel warm and fuzzy, and I didn't want to give it back to their owners.

I have bought cars and sold them shortly after because they gave me nothing other than the ability to transport from location to location. I have regretted selling cars that, in hindsight, I shouldn't have.

I feel for the drivers who spend all day in their car for their job yet dislike it. I could happily drive all day every day in my TT or an F-Type, GT86, Boxster S, Megane 265, S1, Range Rover or Evora but to do the same in an Outlander, Superb, Mondeo or S3 would have me asking my doctor for some happy pills.  Similarly if I was forced to listen to One Direction in perpetuity I'd wish deafness upon myself but a constant soundtrack of Pink Floyd would be extremely pleasing.

To bond with a car is a wonderful thing, to be ambivalent towards it can be hell.

By Matt Hubbard