Eating out is certainly an event especially if I take my squeeze with me. Being a stingy (or I should say “cost effective”) nature I look for something that does not require me to take a mortgage to pay the bill and at the same time I steer away from fast food or franchises as it always serves the same thing under different name. The true enjoyment is to find small mom’n’pop eatery where food does comes with something special – something that leaves a long term bookmark in memory. Sometimes there is a shock when hole in a wall serves delicious food that could be honored in five star restaurant. The shock is even magnified if place has some unusual decoration, design accents that makes me thinking “why other don’t do it”? Somehow we got used to see similar eateries, serving fancy named dishes that provide insignificant taste and forgettable flavors.
When driving in any city in Canada and US I see plenty of insignificant mid size sedans with forgettable shapes and and cookie cutter engineering: front engine, front wheel drive automatics with uninspiring under steering and heavy nose. I will skip here SUVs as they are subject for a different rant. Seeing so many distinguishable cars sadly lower down my expectations – I do not expect anymore any American producer to design small lightweight fun to drive cars with manual transmission. Although there are some exceptions they are not more than drop in a bucket and they are all imports: Fiesta (euro-design), Fit and Micra. GM sells Spark and Sonic things designed by the same committee that gave us Aztec: “Hmmm, we need a city car. I know! lets install lawn mower engine to a shoe box, pair it with anemic automatic shifter, fit it with seats made out of melted plastic bottles, and let’s call it a city car!”. Producing small nicely designed car for city driving is beyond capabilities of GM or Chrysler. Mitsu Mirage is a pitiful attempt, Fiat 500 has questionable reliability (well, it is a Fiat…) and Smart is a fashion accessory rather than a car.
On the other hand observing road traffic in Rome and Warsaw is a delightful experience. Small cars with manual transmission zipping in narrow streets. Small cars that are designed to be not only functional and economic but also pretty. Cars that were certainly designed by one person rather then an undecided committee. I felt like I got a surprisingly good dish. Most of cars are obviously FWD since pairing motor with manual transmission makes it easier to assembly. Looking through offers of different manufacturers led me to shocking discovery. Some of those pretty go-cards are RWD! My dish turned to have great unexpected flavor! I had to read specs twice to check if I did not misread something. For example Twingo (in the past it was heavily influenced by Polish car Beskid) is a small RWD city car with manual stick!
I felt like Indiana Jones discovering hidden treasure! It is possible to make good looking small RWD car! What does Renault know that GM/Ford/Chrysler does not know? What Renault can do that GM can not do? Why I cannot buy this pretty little thing in Canada? Why do I have to choose between cars that are big like oil rig, ugly like school bus and handle like piano falling from stairs?
Who said we can not have in North America small pretty RWD cars? I will leave this question open… and I will continue eating pierogies with cranberries….