April 06, 2017

Horse 2255 - Children & Motor Cars (A Buyer's Guide)

This blog post is mainly for the benefit of my sister, who will at some point in the future, bring forth a small human in what I understand to be an extremely painful and not at all pleasant medical procedure. This human who is currently under construction, will necessitate a change of motor vehicle because carting around the paraphernalia required to give them an adequate state of comfort, apparently can not be done in a family sedan. I personally don't understand the logic behind that but whatever. This is not my human child.
As someone who has no children, I am eminently qualified to dispense advice about said children. Put them in a box, fill them with Mars bars and give them a copy of The Economist look at. That's how you look after children, right? Not that it matters much because by the time that they have reached the age of two years old, their brains will have already pruned out many millions of connections between synapses and be vastly more efficient; so they won't remember it anyway.  That should be enough to prove to anyone that I have about the same sort of parenting skills as Winnie The Pooh and he is a fictional character and a toy bear at that.
No, really the only thing that I should be allowed to say about children is the suitability of the kind of motor vehicle that you intend to put them in; and on that subject, my advice is as whimsical as it is impractical.

Do not ever use the term 'minivan'. There is nothing remotely mini about a seven seat bus. Unless you intend on getting a Fiat 600 Multipla, then the correct term is either 'van' or 'bus'. A Mitsubishi Starwagon Space Gear is a van; as is a Toyota Tarago and a Nissan Urvan.
The second thing to note is that they are mostly not cool. There are exceptions to this, such as the original Volkswagen Kombi van or those tricked up Yakuza vans with body kits and spoilers but in general, owning a van is an admission that you have given up being cool forever. At this point, trakkies are acceptable to go to the shops in, and walking around a shopping centre without combing your hair is also acceptable.

I have written about SUVs in the past and again in general, they are not cool. Land Rover Series 90, Toyota Land Cruiser 70 and the Nissan Patrol are the exception; as are Mercedes-Benz G Wagens. If you can drive across arctic tundra, then they aren't SUVs but proper Four Wheel Drives and they are acceptable and you should immediately go camping at every single opportunity.
SUVs that never leave the black top and that are jacked up station wagons, are uncool and should be left to the myriad of other sheeple in the car park crusades. SUVs such as the Mazda CX-3, Ford Ecosport and Holden Trax are basically just taller versions of hatchbacks and Ford made no secret that their Territory was basically the Falcon except that was a bit chunkier and had less useable space because the taller suspension towers intruded further into the boot.
As with all of these things there are exceptions and one of them is the Nissan Juke. This is a car so outrageously bonkers that although it can not cross soggen fields, it can cross the lines of common sense. Depending on who you talk to it either looks unbelievably stupid or unbelievably cool. This car is like putting both spaghetti and pineapple on a pizza because it really doesn't care what you think at all.

Station Wagons
Once upon a time, station wagons were unjustly maligned as being uncool but now all of the sheeple have wandered off into the fields of the SUV, station wagons are cool again. Station wagons are bought by people who need the space but don't need to look like everyone else.
Small station wagons like the Toyota Corolla and the Mitsubishi Lancer are utilitarian and dull and able to blend into the world. Wagons like the Holden Commodore and the Ford Mondeo are sensible choices and indicate that not only have you not given up on life but you've still got all of your little grey cells singing together in harmony. The Mondeo in particular is the normal car of detectives in the UK and if Batman was British and returned to his detective roots, then that's what he would probably have.

I will go out on a limb and say that there has never been a definitively uncool hatchback. The Volkswagen Golf and the Toyota Corolla have frequently strayed into meh territory but meh is still acceptable if unexciting. You will note that even the Hyundai that I had, which was made from paper clips, rubber bands and the automatic choke was literally a cardboard box filled with wax, was badly put together and which was a pile of rubbish with wheels on, was still cool.
You might not think it but hatchbacks are like ladies' handbags and the TARDIS, in that they are bigger on the inside. I suspect that a wee Mitsubishi Mirage will be more than capable of carrying the paraphernalia required when you acquire a human child. Your desire to get a Nissan Cube says to me that you've thought through this properly and still want something cool.

For many years this was the default choice. Four door sedans are so ubiquitous that when you say the words "family car" that's the default thought and with good reason. Although not as practical as a hatchback (they do not pass the washing machine test, hence why I would never buy one through choice) they are sensible. Your Camry is a family car and is already equal to the task and the good thing about that is that through inactivity, you already end up with a car which fulfils your needs.

Just don't.
Coupes, be they hatchbacks, utes or sports cars are cool but within about ten minutes you will learn the hard way why they will be a terrible idea. It will be a pointless game of Rubik's Car every time you try to get your sprog in and out of a capsule or a child seat. Getting to the back seats warrants folding the seats forward and you still have the B-pillar in the way. With a rear doors, it's just a matter of opening and closing them.
Unless you want to take up yoga and become a contortionist, do not under any circumstances get a coupe until your child can get in and out by themselves.

While the Nissan Cube is a good choice, the best choice for you would be a station wagon with slightly more boot space. If you can make sufficient noise, then maybe you might be able to get a Holden Commodore SS Sportwagon with the 6.2L V8. Your child will not thank you now but when they are in Year 5 and you get caught for laying some big fat 11s in the carpark and get hauled into the principal's office, then you can open your handbag, slap down a meat pie on his desk and give them the one word explanation of "STRAYA" (actually don't do this - why waste a perfectly good pie?)
Sure, I don't have children of my own and that's probably a good thing because I'm not sure that the world needs a person who is half like me but if I did then we'd be keeping the Mazda 2 or progressively replacing it with hatchbacks and station wagons. Once you've had a hatchback, the benefits are obvious and a station wagon is a slightly longer version of that.

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