When I was going through my snow photos last night, I saw some other photos that made me very happy. I am going to write a post about those photos. It will probably be boring stuff for you guys, but it is something that makes me happy, so I am going to write about them anyway.
I am going to write about the rental cars that I have driven when I was working in America!
People think engineers are rich. While that might be true in first world countries, that is definitely not true as far as Malaysia is concerned. Here, fresh engineers drive small and cheap cars.
When I first traveled to the States back in 2010, I was driving a Perodua Kancil SL (Super Leggera) back home. For the international readers, it is basically a 660cc tiny car that has the top speed of a snail.
When I arrived at the car rental place near Denver Airport, I was told that I am going to get a Mercury Grand Marquis. I did not know what a Mercury is, we didn’t (and still don’t) have that in Malaysia, so I just nodded, got the car keys and went looking for my car at the designated lot.
Well, this is the Mercury Grand Marquis..
To be honest, I was less than thrilled when I saw the car. It looked like an old man’s car! And it was bloody long! I was used to driving my tiny hatchback, so I was worried if I will crash this car, especially when we are going to drive on the opposite side of the road..
My trepidation was quickly vanquished the moment I got inside the car. Leather seats, formidable looking steering wheel with buttons, hand type gear lever..
And there’s automatic two dimensional seat adjustment (up-down, front-back).
I actually spent close to 30 minutes figuring out most of the buttons before I mustered enough courage to drive and leave the car rental place.
It was a wonderful experience. The car actually has a 5.5L V8 engine, or in simple language, a very very very big engine. Needless to say, it was fast. I drove that car for two weeks, and I can say that I have never discovered the top speed for this car. The fastest I have ever been with this car was 100 miles per hour (160km/h) and it was still ultra smooth.
On my second trip to the States, I got another big car. This time it was a Chrysler PT300. Now this one I do know. At that time (it was 2011), Naza was selling this car for close to RM 400k (US$ 130k). So when I was told that we are going to get this car, I was properly excited.
This one has a 3L V8 engine. It was not as fast as the Mercury, but it was infinitely more luxurious. The leather trims were classier, and there was seat heating!
I liked these cars, but they have 2 major flaws that are what American cars are famous for. You cannot turn a corner with these cars without feeling that anytime the car is going to overturn. And they are freaking fuel guzzlers so they are very bad for road trips.
On my third trip, I was traveling alone, so I did not need to get a big car. So when I checked in with the car rental place, I requested a small car that was fuel efficient. I got this car, a Dodge Avenger.
I loved this car! It doesn’t have a super big engine, but it goes like a rocket! I was able to hit 130mph (210km/h) for a bit with this car.
Oh, by the way, in some states in the US, if you are driving on the Interstate (expressway) and you saw a car speeding, you can follow that car on the same speed from behind, and you won’t get a speeding ticket. The ticket only goes to the car leading in front.
Ironically though, my favorite car in America is not any of those American cars. It was this Japanese car, the Nissan Rogue.
We don’t have this car in Malaysia. Here we have the sibling model, the Nissan Xtrail.
One of the reason why I love the Rogue most is because it is a sturdy SUV with AWD (All Wheel Drive), a very important feature when dealing with slippery road surface.
But the main reason is how it handles in corners. With those American cars, I can go very fast in a straight line. But when I reach a corner, I have to slow down to almost a standstill. If you try turning a corner at more than 20mph speed, you will get that feeling that there is a 90% chance that the car will overturn. With the Rogue, you can’t go very fast, it will only remain stable at speeds below 90mph even on a straight. But, you don’t have to brake when you turn. I know because I tried. When I was driving on the highway and had to turn at an exit, I maintained the speed of 70mph while turning, without braking. I turned corners at 110km/h speed without any troubles at all!
Then there is also that very nice feature on the dashboard. It has a real time fuel consumption indicator to remind you if you are going heavy foot and wasting more fuel than necessary. I really like this feature and hope Malaysian cars will start to adopt this feature soon. It helps train drivers be more conservative and efficient.
I loved this car so much that I promised myself that I will buy this car when I decide to get an upgrade in the future. Well, not this car, the Xtrail then…