FAIR WARNING: LONG-ASS RAMBLY POST
A bit of background: Back in the early '90s (including my second stint in Worcester, which was after dropping out of WPI in '92, and about which the less said the better overall), I had a 1966 Volkswagen Beetle. Unfortunately, no pictures of it seem to have survived, but here is a representative example. Mine did not have the roof rack, but was the same colors, interior and exterior.
Now, I will freely concede that the original Beetle had certain disadvantages when weighed as a daily driver in the northeastern United States. It was air-cooled, which was fine in mechanical terms, but meant it had no useful way of heating the cabin. Oh, there was nominally a heater, in the form of a duct that ran up the middle of the floor and had a couple of levers that supposedly controlled the circulation of exhaust, but this had a few problems. For one, it was designed to bring exhaust gases into the cabin, with only the outer skin of the tunnel to prevent said gases from actually getting all the way inside where the occupants would breathe them. For another, it didn't have any way of warming the windshield, for defrosting purposes, other than by generally raising the temperature in the cabin. And for a third, it really didn't do that.
The 1960s Beetles were also cramped, had not-very-comfortable seats (they were stuffed with horsehair!), tended toward a certain electrical wonkiness, and were comically underpowered and slow. Mine was actually a hot rod of sorts; instead of the 50-horsepower, 1300-cc engine that came standard in 1966, it had been retrofitted at some point with the 1600-cc engine from a '70s Super Beetle, which had 60 horsepower! Wowwww. As my friend Josh once put it when we were merging onto I-290 in Worcester, "Oh look, it's trying to accelerate! That's so cute!"
They also included a number of obviously deliberate but somewhat questionable design choices. For instance, possibly to save weight and/or complexity, there was no pump for the windshield washer fluid. Instead, the fluid was pressurized by the spare tire. The obvious downside there is that if you wash your windshield a lot, your spare tire goes flat. Also, there was no external fuel filler door. To fill the tank, you had to open the trunk (which is at the front on the original Beetle, because the engine is in the back) and plug the nozzle down a pipe up near the front bulkhead. This routinely flummoxed service station attendants and was always good for a giggle, but was a bit of a hassle in winter, what with the trunk lid's tendency to ice up and freeze shut.
As you can see from the photos, the cabin was pretty bare in 1966. Apart from an aftermarket cassette deck, mine had a grand total of two instruments:
1) a speedometer-odometer;
2) a fuel gauge that did not work reliably.
There was also a directional signal control, and a hazard lights knob that, when pulled out, would make the car signal a right turn. To get all four of them going, you then had to signal a left turn in the usual manner. Seriously, I'm not kidding you, that was how you did it. I'm not sure if that was intentional, or just a quirk that my particular one had. It did have a certain electrical instability; once when I was driving back to Worcester from Providence at night, the instrument lights failed, leaving me in the interesting position of being able to answer truthfully, "Well, no," to the age-old question, "Do you know how fast you were going, sir?"
Anyway. No matter. I loved mine. Because of its tendency to be a bit perverse but come through in the end, it was named Hagbard, after the character in the Illuminatus! trilogy. I sold it reluctantly when I took the Leading Edge job and moved back to Massachusetts, because it was impressed upon me that I would need something a bit more... commutable... and I was persuaded to take my grandparents' old Pontiac instead. Always kind of meant to get another one someday, but never got around to it, and now they're stupidly valuable on the collector market, of course.
Fast-forward a couple of years, and along came the Beetle Concept, which then entered production as the New Beetle in 1998. I never quite cottoned to the New Beetle. I mean, I like the "retro-modern" car thing generally; I'm quite pleased with the way that sort of styling sensibility has gone down with the Formerly Big Three's '60s muscle car revivals (Chevrolet's Camaro revivals, the recent Ford Mustangs, and the new Dodge Challenger), and I like BMW's take on the Mini more than its mechanical reliability and build quality (which are woeful) deserve. I'm also pretty taken with the current Fiat 500, though I didn't look seriously at them this time around because the nearest dealer is 200+ miles away.
Anyway, I never really took to the New Beetle in the same way. I didn't hate it, but I didn't want one, either. Its styling seemed a little too self-conscious, and a little too bulbous. It felt like they'd been trying too hard to get onto a specific subgenre of classic Beetle fandom, that California surfer/hippie thing, and I wasn't part of that stripe when I had my own classic Beetle. Like the Chrysler PT Cruiser, it over-retro'd itself into almost immediately seeming dated, and when I test drove one 10-15 years ago, it wasn't particularly fun to drive, either. Not terrible, few modern cars are genuinely terrible to drive these days, but not interesting either. So I passed.
Dissolve to this past February, when I got a letter in the mail from American Honda informing me that my CR-Z had been swept up in the ever-expanding shit-tide of the great Takata airbag recall. This, if you're not aware, is possibly the greatest clusterfuck in the history of cars, vastly exceeding the Exploding Ford Pinto scandal in scale-of-deployment (if not, so far, body count), in which the world's leading manufacturer of airbags has been selling defective units to multiple manufacturers for more than a decade. These defective units have a habit of going off like hand grenades when triggered, so that in addition to being punched in the face by an airbag, the driver and front-seat passengers are also sprayed with hot, jagged metal shrapnel. This is not ideal in a piece of safety equipment. The only upside, if you can call it one, is that they're only doing it in situations where the airbags should be deploying, not just blowing up at random.
Jillions upon jillions of cars are affected by this problem. We don't even know for sure how many yet, because Takata has until the end of 2018 to even finish disclosing all of the affected models to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and I forget how many more years after that to finish providing all the necessary replacement parts. (And then there's some uncertainty as to whether the replacements are themselves entirely safe. Seriously.)
Anyway, Honda's CR-Z eluded the dragnet through the first few waves, but the recall finally caught up with it early this year, and the letter I got contained the... unique... combination of information that
1) This defect could kill you, and if you're not OK with that, you should not drive your car until it is fixed;
2) Replacement parts will be available this summer.
This was in February.
I called my sort-of-local Honda dealer ("local" is a relative term in my part of the world) and ran that interesting paradox by them, discovering that Honda already had a procedure in place for it. "Bring your car down," they said, "and we'll keep it here until the parts come in. In the meantime, Honda will rent a car for you to drive."
As it happens, the Honda dealership in Bangor is part of the same company as the Ford dealer there, which also operates a rental company, so I found myself driving a last-year Ford Focus for a couple of months. And it was pretty good, the Focus is a nice car, but I was really annoyed by the whole situation. It bugged me to be driving somebody else's car, not on my own license plates, etc. Then, one day in April, it suddenly occurred to me that I've got a decent-paying full-time job for the first time since (depending on whether you view my job as a newspaper editor as "decent-paying) either 2005 or 2002, and I could, if I felt like it, actually buy a new (or newish) car.
There followed a lengthy period of research, shlepping to dealerships for test drives, and so forth, which I'll omit here because it wasn't really that interesting to me, let alone anyone else. The upshot of it is that in mid-May, I traded in my CR-Z on a new Civic EX-T coupe. (I would pretty much only have been able to trade it in on another Honda at that point, since with the recall outstanding, it would have been effectively worthless to any other dealer.)
And it was cool! The new Civic is a good-looking car, particularly the two-door. The interior of the one I bought is a bit relentlessly black, as many new-car interiors are these days, but it has a lot of nifty little features. It does this when you turn it on, for pity's sake.
Then, as I was driving it home, I discovered something else it did that wasn't as cool: the fancy newfangled all-touchscreen AV head unit in the dash (which debuted this year as part of the Civic redesign) couldn't seem to get to grips with my iPod Classic. It played one track—badly—and then did the in-car touchscreen radio equivalent of crashing to reboot, in the process bricking the iPod so hard I initially feared it was actually dead. (I was able to resurrect it by plugging it into my PC at home and resetting it completely.)
Well, shit, I thought, and—naïvely—chose to believe that this happened because the cutting-edge new unit couldn't hang with an item as antiquated as a last-generation iPod Classic. On the premise that what you do with a technology problem is throw more technology at it, I broke down and bought an iPod Touch to replace it for in-car duty...
... and it didn't work either. It didn't brick like the Classic, but on the other hand, it needed to be unplugged and plugged back in three or four times on every startup for the deck to even recognize it was there, and then it played back like this, which I think you may agree is completely unacceptable.
So I took it back in, and their service people looked it over, scratched their heads, and then offered the following suggestions:
1) You're doing it wrong.
2) You should get an iPhone.
3) My iPhone works fine with it, look.
4) Use Bluetooth.
5) You should get an iPhone.
Eventually I made enough of a fuss about it—there's a button on the source menu for iPod, why is it there if you're not supposed to use an iPod with the system?—that they took it in to get someone from Honda Corporate's tech group to come and look at it. In the meantime, they provided as a loaner another new Civic EX, without satellite radio but otherwise with the same AV unit.
Which worked (or rather didn't work) exactly the same. (For bonus points, check what the screen is doing. That's not even the title of that audiobook, it's one of the Undocumented Features audio tracks elsewhere in the iPod's music library.)
At this point, someone from American Honda's central customer service office called me up and somewhat forcefully reiterated the original points that the dealer's service department had originally made. She insisted, vehemently and I might say a bit cuttingly, that the problem was simply my insistence on using a separate Apple music device instead of "the iPod built into your phone" (n.b. there is no such thing), and that if I would just get with the program and switch to an iPhone everything would be fine, and that if I wouldn't do so then there was nothing anyone could do for me. It was as if I were obstinately insisting that I should be able to play eight-tracks with a CD player. She seemed personally offended that I would even want to have an Android phone paired to the system with Bluetooth and then plug an iPod in with USB, let alone expect such a cockamamie scheme to actually work (like it had in, oh, every other car I'd tried it in over the course of the adventure).
For even more bonus points, here is the relevant page from the 2016 Civic owner's manual, showing how one would set up an iPod via USB:
Please note the illustration, which clearly shows not just any iPod but an iPod Classic being connected to the system via USB.
Oh yeah, and all the while this was going on, I was being bombarded by smarmy marketing emails from Honda congratulating me on my all-new, all-innovative Civic and exhorting me to fill out web surveys telling them how much I was enjoying it. Oh really? You really want me to do that? Take a seat. I hope you packed a sandwich.
Anyway, at that point enough was enough; I called up the dealer and told them they could have their all-new, all-innovative Civic back, as I no longer wanted one. I tried to make it as clear as I could to my salesman (who, awkwardly, randomly happened to be an old family friend from my childhood) and his superiors that they hadn't screwed up, Honda had—but all the same, the deal was off. And somewhat to my surprise, they took it back. Heck, they even rushed the recall work on my CR-Z (which was still on the lot, since they couldn't sell it in its present condition) so that when I un-traded it in, I wouldn't have to get back in a rental. No complaints there.
Anyway, that probably would have been that, except that my father was suddenly in need of economical transportation, on account of he went out and bought an enormous turbo-diesel Ford F-350 megapickup to haul his 5th-wheel camper trailer, and then discovered somewhat to his dismay that commuting to his various obligations with it was both expensive and, given the size and unwieldiness of the vehicle, a bit frightening.
So, to avoid making a long story even longer, I gave him the CR-Z on an extended loan (paying back a small multitude of similar arrangements he's made for me over the years), then went looking for another car without using the CR-Z as a trade-in. Which is fine, as it turns out, because even with the recall work done, the CR-Z has the interesting distinction of being one of the only Honda models in recent memory to depreciate like it fell off an aircraft carrier.
About the only thing I knew going into Version 2 of the car search was that I wasn't going to buy another Honda; I still like their product line overall, and a used CR-V or Accord from a year or two ago would serve perfectly well in the AV department (I know because I've tried it), but given their customer service department's performance in the Civic debacle, it would've been too much like rewarding failure. I nearly bought a second-hand Lincoln MKS, a large and very comfortable car indeed, but it sold before I regained my financial mobility (it took the finance people a week or so to un-do the deal on the Civic so that I could apply for another loan). I seriously considered a Ford Focus, like the one I had been renting. They're really quite good. The only real problem with them is that Ford no longer makes a two-door Focus, and wedging my fat ass in and out of the tiny, tiny doors of the four-door model got old real fast in my time with the rental. I even kicked around the idea of getting one of Ford's C-Max Energy plug-in hybrid hatchback things, on which they are currently running some bangin' lease deals, but they drive kind of weirdly and also have the Tiny Doors Problem.
And then, as I was leaving the Ford lot in defeat, it suddenly dawned on me that they sell Volkswagens as well. I had vaguely been aware that they'd redesigned the Beetle (and dropped the "New" from its name) a few years ago, but hadn't really taken a close look at one, and there happened to be one—a convertible, no less—sitting right outside the dealership door as I was leaving. And you know what, the new not-New Beetle is a good-looking car. They sort of mooshed it down a bit for the current generation, made it lower and wider with a much less silly roofline; it actually looks less reminiscent of the original Beetle than of early Porsches (which were heavily informed by the Beetle) and the old Karmann Ghia (a '60s Beetle with an Italian-designed sports body on it). Very nice.
Now, VW has had its own share of bad press lately, and unlike Honda and the Takata airbag fiasco, it is of their own making. If you've been under a rock, basically what they did was go to extraordinary lengths of engineering to devise a system by which their diesel-powered models, which have been popular with greenies for years because of their mileage and their much-vaunted emissions performance, would lie about said emissions performance when they noticed that they were being tested (as is done as part of the safety inspection protocol in some states), and then go around burning diesel as dirtily as they liked the rest of the time. This has Morally Outraged a great many people around the world, caused a massive bloodletting among the company's executives, and is likely to cost VW billions of dollars by the time it's all said and done.
I'll be honest, though: I don't really give a shit about diesel automobile emissions. Even in Europe, where they're more popular than in the US, passenger cars make up such a minuscule slice of the global diesel-powered motor vehicle market compared with commercial trucks, buses, etc. that, in practical terms, I seriously doubt whether a few million VW Golfs have been lying on their SATs makes any difference. In North America, where only VW and maybe one or two other European manufacturers even offer diesel engines in their passenger cars and practically no one buys them, it's even less of an issue. And as someone who was routinely dicked around for years by corrupt emissions inspectors in both California and Massachusetts, while driving a nearly-new car that can have had nothing wrong with its emission control system, I speak from the heart when I say, fuck those guys anyway.
So yeah. The Diesel Scandal (I decline to use the "-gate" suffix on these things out of pure contrariness) did not impact my willingness to buy a Volkswagen. That probably makes me a bad person, but it is what it is. Heck, I even looked at a one-year-old Beetle TDI someone with greater moral fiber than I have had traded back with barely 2,000 miles on it, and probably would have bought it except for VW's odd insistence on placing the clutch pedal on manual-transmission Beetles in the center of the driver's footwell instead of over on the lefthand side. (The result of this is a driving position a bit like I've heard the old Lancia Stratos had, where you're sitting sort of canted 10° or so toward the centerline instead of parallel with it.)
I was about 70% locked in on the convertible I'd originally spotted, because a test drive reminded me how keenly I miss having a convertible since I lost my beloved Saab, when I noticed a new arrival at the end of the row: a black Beetle hardtop. At first I thought it was the Beetle TDI I had tested, which was the same color, but a closer look showed that it was a different car. Intrigued, I asked the salesman what the story was on it, and he said it had just come in on trade. I looked it over, took it for a drive, got the dealer people to crunch some numbers, and decided well, hardtop or not, it would be stupid to let this go by. It's just too good a deal for this much car.
So, after all of that build-up, here's the new arrival, already bug-flecked and dusty because that's how cars end up after a hundred miles or so in Maine in the summer:
This is a 2013 Beetle 2.0T Fender Edition, which was a special edition trim level for the two-liter turbo gasoline model.
That's Fender as in the guitars-and-amps manufacturer, makers of the Stratocaster. VW has been using Fender as its premium speaker vendor for a few years now, the same way that high-end GMs (for example) feature Bose speakers, Mercedes-Benzes have harman/kardons, and so forth, but the Fender Edition package takes that up a notch with some unique trim features, most notably:
Recognize that wood accent? You should if you're at all familiar with Fender's product line, because that's their signature Three-Tone Sunburst finish (as seen on, for example, Mio's Fender Jazz Bass in K-On!). I'll be honest, it's a feature that adds absolutely nothing to the experience of actually driving the car, but when I got in and realized what it was, it was a definite shut up and take my money sort of moment. :) The only way that could possibly be any cooler is if they had their premium deal with Gibson and that was a Les Paul Heritage Cherry Sunburst panel.
(Again, apologies for how dusty it already is in there. Around here in the summertime, especially living as close to the main road through town as I do, the gods themselves struggle in vain against road dust.)
Here's the office:
It's a bit less bare-bones than its predecessor from 50 years ago. :) (Although also, I have to admit, a bit less welcoming, somehow. I miss the font that '60s speedometers were numbered in, and the jauntiness of the old-timey steering wheels. It'd be a nice touch if they'd put the Wolfsburg crest on the wheel of the new ones, like they were in the '60s, instead of yet another VW logo. The car's already got six of those on it, I'm not sure it needed another one. But that's a minor matter.)
Also note the mildly silly bonus gauge package on top of the dash. From left to right, those are: an oil temperature gauge (because oil temperature is apparently Very, Very Important in this model, like more important than water temperature; between that gauge and the multi-function display in the speedo, there are two separate ways to get informed about it), a stopwatch (no, seriously), and a turbo vacuum/boost gauge. The stopwatch, in particular, cracks me up. I always think of Jeremy Clarkson talking about the similar one fitted in Porsche 911 GT3s. "Now you can keep track of your own lap times and compare them with your friends'! What a thing! What a tool... you'll be." :)
The Fender Edition doesn't have navigation (which, annoyingly, means that head unit won't support a rearview camera), but it does have satellite radio and it will talk to either of my iPods just fine. (One annoying thing about VWs before the 2016 model year is that they require a special proprietary cable to interface with media devices, they don't just have a USB port somewhere; but mine came with the classic 30-pin iPod cable already, and the parts department hooked me up with one for the newer Lighting interface as well.)
It's full of nice little touches, stuff that automobile marketing people collectively label "surprise and delight" features. The plug in the 12V power socket, which would have been a cigarette lighter in earlier times, isn't just a chunk of plastic (though it did come with one, it's in the glove compartment); it's a little flashlight that keeps itself charged off the 12V system while it's plugged in there. There's accent lighting around the speakers in the doors that can be set to a couple of different colors. You can't turn or leave the fog lights on by mistake thanks to the way the headlight control is designed. If you forget and leave the windows and/or sunroof open when you get out, you don't have to get back in to close them but can do it from outside. Little stuff like that.
There are also bigger features, such as the pushbutton start (another irrational love point in a car for me nowadays), the accompanying "car unlocks if you grab the door handle while the key is in your pocket" thing, and the high-intensity headlights, which are kind of scifi spooky. When you start the car up, the headlight lenses fidget slightly, like the eyes of a curious robot focusing on a nearby item. I'm not 100% sold on the Christmas-tree-light look of the daytime running lights (which, in a style VW have inherited from Audi of late, are in the form of rows of white LEDs partly surrounding the headlights), but they work quite well, I have to acknowledge that.
This model has the previous generation of VW's long-running two-liter turbo engine, which was just updated for this year and gets slightly better mileage now than the one I have, but from all I've been able to find online, it's a well-established power plant known for its longevity. VWs do have a habit of needing a new timing belt at around 100,000 miles, which can be an expensive job, but if you know it's coming and plan for it, it's not a catastrophic problem. It's a consequence of using a belt instead of a chain; they stay in tension better along their lifespan and so require less futzing with, but eventually wear out and have to be replaced altogether. Six of one.
It's also got a DSG transmission (I forget what that stands for, some German phrase that translates to "direct shift gearing", I think), which is basically two three-speed manual transmissions with what you might think of as a pair of robot clutches between them. One of them handles even gears, the other odds, making the overall unit a six-speed plus reverse. It can run in either of two different automatic modes (one is configured to be a little more aggressive than the other), or you can bang the lever sideways out of D and into "Tiptronic" mode, wherein you can dictate shifts manually, either by waggling the lever backward and forward, or by using the almost-obligatory-these-days F1-style paddles on the steering wheel.
Full disclosure: I am crap at selecting shift points in Tiptronic mode so far, and generally I just leave it in automatic mode. However, when I have tried it out, it's been pretty fun. Not as satisfying as stomping a clutch pedal and moving a lever around, no, but pretty good, ad also harder to screw up apart from picking the wrong gear for your current speed and lurching around at some untoward RPMs for a bit. The computer won't actually let you blow up the valve train, so there's no harm in experimenting. I just haven't practiced with it enough yet to get good at it.
One fun aside about the DSG system is that it's mostly deployed in German cars, and so is often touted in the motoring press as a typical example of Cutting-Edge German Technology, but it isn't. It's American, developed by BorgWarner in Michigan. VW also uses BorgWarner turbos, I believe.
It's not 100% perfect, I will grant you. The robot clutch is a trifle dimwitted at low speeds, such that the car tends to lurch slightly in low-speed maneuvers (like patrolling a parking lot)—uncannily simulating how I drove a stick shift when I was 17, as it happens—and when you're pulling away from an intersection there can occasionally be adventuresome moments when the turbo comes in when you weren't expecting it ("Not now, Cato!"), but not to a dangerous degree; it's just slightly bemusing. I find myself talking to it like it's a mildly twitchy horse. "Easy there, now."
Other faults, while I'm finding them: the seats have Sporting Pretensions, which means fairly aggressive side and thigh bolsters, which is not perhaps as comfortable as it could be. It's not anywhere near as cripplingly uncomfortable as the seats in the Accord I test-drove during the first go-round, though, where I actually had difficulty walking for a little while after I got out. Brutal. Like flying economy. The Beetle is not in that league, but one of the days I may look into ways of softening the experience a bit.
It's a bit noisy, though I think a lot of that can be laid at the doorstep of the OEM tires, which are Hankook Optimas (not exactly famous for their quietude). I had some Dynamat sound/thermal insulation put in the doors last weekend, and that helped a bit as well; may go for some more in the floor and on the firewall in a later pay cycle as well.
(It also requires the expensive gasoline, because it's a German turbo, which made my mother give me the bugged-out-eyes "is it too late to get out of this" look when the salesman mentioned it as I was signing the papers. But then it burns it at a fairly reasonable rate, so it's not that big a deal. I mean, it's not a 6-liter Jag, it's a Beetle. :)
The interior of the Fender Edition is kind of very dark, I admit, but the sunburst dash accent makes up for a bunch of that, and I have to admit it fits with the overall theme of the package.
Oh yeah, the OEM tires lead me back to an item I neglected to mention earlier. I noted that this car is a 2013 model; it's unusual to find one of those on a lot that still has its original tires. In this case, however, that's perfectly understandable...
... since when I drove it off the lot, it had 7,990 miles on it.
Yeah. Somebody bought that car brand new in April of 2013, then basically just put it away somewhere before trading it in last month.
It would normally be off the bumper-to-bumper portion of its warranty and onto powertrain only, as VW's standard full coverage is 3 years/36,000 miles, but because of its virtually unused condition, the dealership certified it in spite of its age (they normally only do that for cars that are two years old or less). This tacks another two years or 24,000 miles onto the factory full warranty and extends the powertrain-only segment a similar distance, so it'll be fully covered for another 22 months unless I go completely berserk and manage to drive it 52,000 miles before then. That seems unlikely.
Between that and the price they were asking for it, I couldn't really justify paying full freight for a brand-new convertible with less equipment on it, however much I yearn for that 93 million miles of headroom. Maybe next time. (This one does have a sunroof, and a really-quite-enormous one at that, but it's not the same. I don't much care for sunroofs, generally. They seem like a cool idea, but in practice they're mostly just another place for bees to come in.)
Anyway! The current-model Beetle. It's a really nice car. Acres of front legroom. I actually have to move the seat slightly forward and raise it up a little to reach the optimal driving position, which is pretty much unheard of for me, and it feels like there's room for a pickup rugby match in those footwells. The mild stupidity of the robot gearbox aside, it's a lot of fun to drive; the 2.0-liter turbo had 200 horsepower in 2013 (the new version has 210), which means that even for a car that weighs about twice as much as its 1966 predecessor, it is plenty capable of getting out of its own way. Trunk space is, unsurprisingly, nothing to write home about, thanks to the restrictions dictated by the Beetle's distinctive shape:
(cheeky rear shot from my front stoop, with post blocking the license plate :)
but really, if one were interested in cargo space as an overarching priority, one would presumably get a Golf Sportwagen anyway.
In that same vein, I can't speak to the rear head or legroom, but I expect they're not very good. The Beetle coupe is definitely what they used to call a "2+2" configuration and not a proper four-seater. Then again, my previous car didn't have a back seat at all and I never once found myself wishing it did, so it's unlikely to be an issue for me.
This was a longer and more agonizing car hunt than usual, only partly thanks to the ordeal that was the Civic experience, but in the end, I'm satisfied that I've made a good deal on a good car. VW have had their problems recently, and in terms of buying accessories they're a little like Apple (they'll do me a version of that head unit that has navigation—for just $2000! so clearly they don't want to sell too many of those :), but they make a good product and, critically, have not so far attempted to gaslight me into believing that expecting an iPod to work with a car stereo that says it works with iPods is somehow unreasonable. Smiles all around thus far.
Benjamin D. Hutchins, Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & Forum Mod
Eyrie Productions, Unlimited http://www.eyrie-productions.com/
zgryphon at that email service Google has
Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam.