They, whoever they are, say that confession is good for the soul.
Even though I'm an atheist who doesn't believe I have a soul, I like the idea of confessing -- perhaps because I was Catholic for a short while as a child, and found the idea of being forgiven your sins for the small price of saying a few Our Father's and Hail Mary's to be way cool.
So here's my confession: I spend a lot of time on the Internet lusting after hot models... of cars.
Yet I'm happily married to my 2017 VW GTI, who I love a lot. That doesn't stop me from looking around, though. Fortunately, I have no indication that the GTI is bothered by me browsing automobile web sites and perusing reviews of models I find attractive.
During the first part of my driving life I viewed cars as utilitarian, a way to get from here to there.
But in the mid-1980s I bought a BMW 325ix (the "x" stood for all wheel drive). When I first turned the key, I was struck by an unfamiliar sound and sensation: powerful engine rumbling that caused the car to vibrate slightly standing still.
I was immediately infatuated.
That was my first relationship with a car that was super fun to drive. Other flings followed: a Toyota MR2, a Honda del Sol, a Volvo 850 turbo wagon, a Mini Cooper S, and two VW GTIs, one of which I drive now.
I've taken two car control classes, though in no way do I consider myself an expert driver.
One was at the Portland International Raceway with the Toyota MR2 where I was mildly embarrassed by being the only one to answer, "No, not really," when the instructor asked the class if they felt proficient with double-clutching.
So I was sent off by myself to practice, after which I got to race around the track in a quasi-competent fashion. The high point of the class came when I took a few laps with the instructor as a passenger. When he yanked on the emergency brake, spun the car around at speed, and managed to keep going in the same direction I was duly impressed.
More practical was a car control class I took with my daughter at the Willow Springs Raceway in California after she turned 16. I figured that if she was going to drive crazily at times (pretty much a given with teenagers), it would be good if she knew some basics of how a car handled.
I loved it when a skid pad was wetted down and we learned how to go around in a circle without moving the steering wheel, instead steering with the gas pedal, since the Toyotas we got to use were prone to understeer, as most cars are for safety reasons.
(Meaning, I believe, if you go into a curve too fast and feel like the car isn't going where you want, if you lift your foot off the gas pedal a bit, the car will move back into line without spinning out.)
Currently I've been pondering a couple of car questions.
Such as, is a Tesla going to come into my life, and that of my wife, at some point?
I suspect it will, since we're avid environmentalists and want to do our part to reduce carbon emissions. We've leased three Chevy Volts and like how they utilize plug-in technology with a back-up gas engine (generator, more accurately).
Our current Volt is entering the second year of a three-year lease. When the lease is up, it might make sense to get a Tesla. I've been aware that VW, along with most other car manufacturers, is emphasizing electric vehicles. However, a recent story I came across talked about how far behind VW is, electric-car-wise, compared to Tesla.
On the flip side, it concerns me some that so far Consumer Reports has loved many feature of the Tesla Model 3, while giving the car an overall mediocre rating of 65, in large part because of reliability concerns. And I don't like the idea of having to use a touchscreen to activate most of the controls of a Tesla.
I do enjoy watching videos of super-fast Model S Tesla's in Ludicrous mode bringing screams of glee, or panic, to passengers. And there's a lot to like about the regular updates/upgrades Teslas get over the air. It's always bothered me that a $3 iPhone app gets updated routinely, but a $30,000 car I buy gets zero upgrades, even though it is highly computerized.
When I think about divorcing my VW GTI and getting a younger model, I'm torn.
The eighth Golf/GTI generation is coming to Europe this year, though not to the United States until 2020 as a 2021 model, from what I've heard. It sounds great, but apparently there won't be a plug-in hybrid version, which I'd love to be able to buy.
Along that line, it's deeply irritating to learn about way-cool cars that are only available in other parts of the world. For example, the BMW X1 is about the same size as my GTI, nicely subcompact or maybe a smallish compact car. China is getting a plug-in hybrid X1 with 68 miles of electric range, more than our Chevy Volt gets.
But it's going to be made in China, and only sold in China. Which sucks.
In case I fall out of love with the VW GTI, recently I've been looking at the Hyundai Kona -- a car that had escaped my attention until I saw an article about it in the newspaper a few days ago. Like the GTI, it comes in a turbocharged model that has a dual clutch automatic transmission.
(Don't ask me to explain what dual clutch means; it just works great in the GTI.)
The AWD (all wheel drive) Kona comes in lime green, a color that I like. I believe only lime green Kona's have matching accents in the interior, which jazzes up the otherwise rather bland look.
(Note: my wife believes this color looks like baby poop, which is pretty harsh. Thus I'd face an uphill battle to have a lime green Kona in our carport, though there is a very slight chance my wife will develop color blindness. Or at least lime green blindness.)
However, I've become picky about what features I want in a potential car-mate. Two are rain-sensing wipers and adaptive cruise control, both of which my 2017 VW GTI has. Now that I'm used to these great features, it's really tough for me to consider a car that doesn't have them.
For some reason, the Kona lacks adaptive cruise control. I have no interest in going back to clicking away on up and down buttons to adjust the cruise control. Hopefully Hyundai will add this in the 2020 model year.
Lastly, my wife and I have ordered a 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid to replace our Highlander.
But as I wrote about recently in "Toyota's special order process for cars is irritating," our order really is just a desire to get a certain model in a certain exterior and interior color, with certain features -- since Toyota doesn't actually build cars to order.