Separation anxiety

The story so far: some unknown git cracked the rear drivers-side light assembly on the Prius, scraped the upper surface of the bumper at truck height, and disappeared quietly without leaving any insurance details.

So, the car is in for repairs. While they fix it, the insurance company (GEICO) are paying for a rental car. The temporary car is a Chevrolet Cavalier, the sedan model which starts at $15,175. We’ve got a deluxe one, with the optional CD player and automatic transmission.

Now, I’m no conoisseur of fine vehicles, but I have driven a Toyota Corolla ($13,680). And I have to say, the Chevy is a shitty little excuse for a car. As Edmunds puts it:

Despite various revisions, there’s no hiding the fact that this car was engineered more than a decade ago, leaving it hopelessly outclassed by nearly every other car on the market.

But let’s try for a more detailed review…

The Chevy Cavalier has extra-low “sports style” seating. This provides valuable stretching to the hamstring muscles, and helps toughen them up ready for dealing with the brake pedal. The ergonomic headrests in wipe-clean vinyl nearly match the seats, and are set back far enough that you can easily wear a crash helmet in the car, which might not be a bad idea given its lowest possible rating in crash test results and lack of side impact air bags.

The steering is subtly power assisted, yet still does an excellent job of transmitting the vibration of every road bump to the driver’s hands, providing valuable feedback on road conditions. At parking lot speeds the steering automatically stiffens up to provide you with a complimentary upper body workout.

Touch the accelerator and you’re away. The high torque engine gives you instant extremely rapid acceleration for that vital 0 to 10 mph stretch, then switches into a far more sedate mode for accelerationless cruising. Hills are no problem for the 4 cylinder aluminium engine; just hold the accelerator down, and after a couple of seconds you’ll hear a noise like a lawnmower as the car suddenly shifts into hill-climbing mode.

The braking is smooth and gradual no matter how hard you push the pedal, so go ahead and give it all you’ve got. Dashboard lights bothering you at night? Simply use the steering column adjustment to lower the steering wheel to a comfortable position, and it’ll block your view of the speedometer.

So hurry and buy a Chevy Cavalier now—they’re discontinuing it after 2005, it’s that good.