The Nissan Vespa, Varsa, Viagra, Versatile, errr

I’m sitting here listening to not only the rain falling on a pecan ridden roof, but also “Wildwood Weed” my Jim Stafford, two of my favorite things. Rain, it purifies, it cleanses the soil, it makes the flowers bloom….and the song, well, it’s just ridiculous. The repetition of the word “weed” is just sort of ridiculous. Of course it’s a reference to drugs, the line “take a trip and never leave the yard” is one of my favorite, but that’s not the point. It’s four am and I’m awake, more awake than at any other time of the day, and am contemplating life – as always. The song bleeds into “don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys” and I wonder what the hell I was thinking by creating this particular Pandora station. Titled “David Allen Coe Radio”, I look at it and try to remember the state of mind that I was in that I thought it was a good idea. Do I like hillbilly radio, sure, do I feel like I need a Pandora station devoted to it, nah, probably not.

This is the situation with the Nissan….grumble….whatever the hell it’s called. They say “Versa”, I say Vespa, but they didn’t ask me to name it and besides that name is taken anyways. Coming from a girl that has been spoiled with a left pedal for a few years, the CVT transmission was a bit baffling to me. Wait, you can just hammer down on the right pedal and go fast? Wait, this only has a 1.6 L engine. Wait, this car is made from the cheapest material and is supposed to be the cheapest subcompact car with the most value for its buck in the United States. I didn’t chose it, it chose me. it was the last car on the cheap ass lot, and I was happy to accept it. It was ugly as hell from the outside, and on the inside the ambiance didn’t change much. I was in a rental car, it is what it is.

For a full spectrum of rental car history, I’ve always been spoiled with pretty ridiculously awesome rental cars, starting with the Insignia that got thrashed around four (or more) countries in Europe, the Jetta that I drove through a blizzard, and my personal favorite, the C Class that we parked in the ghetto in Prague. Rental cars and I have a pretty good history. The worst (and that’s a loose statement) was the Chrysler 200 that was used for one day (and one day only) to attend my Grandpa Fabers funeral.It was a fine car, it had four fucking wheels and a few seats, but there was, somehow, a metal form of currency stuck in the door panel of the drivers side door that rolled around whenever acceleration or decelleration occurred. It was annoying, but at the same time, it was a pretty groovy ride. If someone were to offer me a 200 in exchange for the Civic, I’d decline, but at the same time, it’s seemed like a killer car. Good body lines, good off the line torque, excellent ride quality…but really, technology was way behind the times.

Which leads me back to the Nissan Vespa, oops, Versa, it was a Versa, I get it confused, because it might as well be the same thing. My rental car, after the Shark decided to take a shit, was to grab something cheap and easy. Cheap for me is “how close to free can I get”. After analyzing the online sources, I was offered a “subcompact” for 17 dollars a day. Fuck yes, I can wing that, I mean how bad could it be. I mean, a mode of transportation that would only take me two and a half work hours to pay for a day out of my seven hour day.

That’s not the point, me showing up for work is more important that dinero in the bank….I digress.

I picked up the Nissan Vespa…errrr..Versa…fuck it, we’ll just call her Vera. I picked up Vera from the rental agency with the grand expectation of getting a Hyundai Accent. To be totally honest, I was excited. I spent almost five years of my life driving an old Accent and I loved that car for everything it was, not everything it wasn’t That car took me ridiculously cool places like my first road trip with my sister to my voyage to South Carolina to set up shop  My Accent was special, the fenders didn’t match, the hood latch didn’t work so it had hood pins, there was no heat, the passenger door didn’t work, there wasn’t much to say about the car except that it ran down the road and played music.And…there was only one instance that it had an off road adventure, that that wasn’t even my fault…I digress, again…

The fact that I got into the the Nissan Vespa (grumble, it’s hard to call it anything but that), I had this negative connotation to the gearbox. My smarter half in a past life had to rent Nissans at least twice a month due to the fact he was the engineer at nissan a couple of states away. To keep up appearances, he always showed up in a Nissan of sorts, but after return the complaints about the CVT transmission were abundant. It was confusing, it was aggravating, and for one you never know what gear you’re really in. I believe the exact quote was something along the lines of “it’s like being on a moped with four wheels and technology. You go, that’s about it.”

I had this negative connotation with this “CVT” transmission, I got into the Nissan, whatever the fuck you call is, I still call it Vespa, and you are entertained by the fact you have to choices of gear selection.

D for drive

L—for those that don’t understand what manual transmissions are all about.

I shook my head, expected disappointment, but was pleasantly surprised. The thing about this “CVT” transmission is that you go, and you have no control over it. The machine, the technology, the gear box is smarter than you. It anticipates what you have in mind and responds accordingly. If you want to really surprise yourself get on an onramp that is on an incline and anticipate passing a semi that’s still lingering in the right lane. You’ll have no problem, it’s almost like the CVT says “Oh shit, we’ve gotta do something, and we’ve gotta do something quick.”

That, in essence, is a valuable asset to have if you’re less than attentive at driving. I, particularly, found myself getting lazy while driving, for the simple reason that the car thought for me. Not only did the car think for me, it tried to find the fastest route between point A and B. The scary thing is that  you might not always way to get to point B that quick. Therein is the problem. Automation, is it really your friend behind the wheel.

I loved the CVT transmission, and it’s a big statement for me to say because I was told to hate it. Without ever driving one, my senses has predisposition to hate a transmission that delegates no human output. Right pedal go, we’ll take care of the rest. I was sold on the fact that the Continuously Variable transmission was evil. The CVT was nothing more than a moped motor in a car…I should hate this riding set up…

For the only reason that someone I knew hated it.

How does that work, do we really base all of our connotations on what other people perceive to be the “BEST” I listened about how terrible the “slush box” was and how it was like driving a moped through rush hour traffic, at the same time, I saw something different. That was only, however, that I decided to think for myself. I rented a Nissan with a CVT, I rented it, not because I wanted to be cheap, but because I wanted to experience this “slush box” first hand.”

In comparison to the poorly running shark, this thing was an oasis, but not a very luxurious one. Sure, it was lacking all the USB ports, Bluetooth, and other technological nonsense the shark had, BUT, it had the CVT. The Shark, in it’s iling state, was struggling to get into whatever gear you needed it to be in. In certain circumstances I found myself going 40 mph up an interstate. That, of course, is not only illegal, but unsafe. That’s when the Shark had to take a nap and let me work on other things for a while. A large boulder of pride had to be swallowed at that time, but I knew it was the only route I had out. The Honda wasn’t going to be done for another four days and I still needed to travel.

If anyone wonders, the Nissan vespa, Virtual, Versa, whatever the fuck it’s called can haul. Think of that transmission. It’s 100% based on your imput. If you tell it to “plow fucking field” it will, and trust me, it will. I had a healthy run against a Mustang. I understand that the engine under that glorious bonnet of his was way bigger than mine, the fact that he didn’t know where his shift points were was laughable. I didn’t even have to thing about it. It was almost as if I told the Vespa — alright, you’ll have to deal with that as it’s name– “okay, go.” and she went. Not only did she “went” but it was seamless. The transfer through gears was so fluid that I didn’t notice that not only had we passed our buddy, but we were going a speed that was way over the limit.

In the Civic, I’d still be wondering which gear would get me past quicker. It’s a learning curve, I’m sure, but at the same time the ease of smoking the guy in the mustang was precious. My rental Vespa…errrr..Versa…will kick ass and take names if you’re not sure how to work your machine.

When Senna comes back tomorrow, however, I’m going to be working on getting my gear adjustment as close to the CVT I enjoyed in the…whatever the hell it’s called….

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