So after mulling over for over 2 years, I finally got a car. Its a 2004 Mazda 6i, with TRS, ABS, sunroof, spoilers, sports suspension, 6 cd changer, bose surround sound system etc etc (these are not included in the base model).
I won't go gaga over the specs, I know as much about cars as my grandma knows about computers. There were plenty of reasons why I waited so long to buy a car (or for some ppl out there.. too early). I never needed it in India or in NY.. but the public transport in CA sucks (for the lack of a better word). Being a geek/nerd and all, having a car was never a priority on my list.. but waiting for random ppl to reply to my car pool pleas on meetup groups was getting unbearable, plus I was missing some serious action in the Linux community as I was always too lazy to make it to the meetups using public transport... Also I was hopelessly dependent on my friends for the "mandatory" weekend outing (not that I'm complaining.. but sometimes I just used to go to get out of the house.. and do mindbogglingly boring stuff).
Now comes the question of choosing the particular car, the model etc etc. Why did I go for it? As I said earlier, I know zilch about cars, so the main things I was looking in a car were:
- Is it trendy and kewl :P
- Does it give a decent gas mileage.
- Is it sporty enough
- Its not toyota/honda
Let me explain the last point first. Toyota/Hondas are one of the best cars available in the US. Infact I came to US dreaming of getting a Honda Civic someday (just because I cleared few rounds of NFS with it :P) . Even my analysis factoring the depreciation rate, fuel efficiency, rate of fuel increase, total cost of ownership, resale value etc rated them the highest of the lot... but ever other person in US drives a friggin Toyota or Honda, and I would rather not get a car than get those cars (yeah.. call me a non-conformist if you will).
Now American cars were out (ford, chrysler, chevrolet etc).. they are supposed to be marginally better than trash cans, Italian cars were way outside my budget (ferrari, bugati etc), Korean cars were just too crappy and simple for my taste, and I was not ready for a German car yet (although I came really close to buying a BMW).. they are infamous for their maintenance cost. Indian cars in US are too expensive too (little known fact.. Jaguar is now an Indian car :)). That left only Japanese cars..
Toyota/Hondas were out of consideration (I did consider Prius for the eco-friendly factor.. but dropped it later for its shitty shape and a puny 76hp engine).. this left Acura, Lexus, Nissan and Mazda. I test drove Acura RSX and really liked it.. but was not getting a good deal on them.. and frankly the dashboard looked like an oven counter with all those gaudy knobs. Next car I considered was a 2008 Nissan Altima Coupe.. I was hell bent of buying one.. but the insurance was taking a toll on me ( who knew that new drivers with almost new black coupes are statistically predisposed to be in an accident).
I spend the better part of two days haggling/bargaining the price of that Nissan, called about 10 friends, called my dad.. and finally decided that I should not go for it.. the exasperated and frustrated dealer showed me and asked me to test drive this Mazda 6i.. and in an instant I knew that it was to be my first car. It fit snugly into my budget, had sporty looks with power to match, had decent fuel efficiency and I really felt good driving it.. finalized the deal and paper work the same day and got the car+insurance the next day.
In retrospect, I might have paid a bit more than the car was worth, but you have to understand my condition.. I had been staring at code since 8 am that day, left work at 6 pm and was haggling with the dealer for over 4 hours. At that point I had lost all the care.. yes.. I know I should have gone the next day.. but no point now.. the deed is done. And believe me, you possibly cant get a really good bargains from a person who has been trained to not give you good bargains and is in business for over 20 years.
Bottomline, I love the car.. it's everything I needed in the car.. panache, power and style (and decent fuel efficiency).. so next time you are in the Bay area and need a ride, give me a call.. (no..I'm not starting a cab service :)