Sometimes our life go through some radical changes, but maybe most of the changes we experience are incremental, smooth or even not perceptible at the exact time. Another dimension of a change is how we come to actually like or dislike them, i.e. sometimes real outcomes doesn’t follow prejudgments. The changes of cars we choose to make (or are obliged to) can be analog to that. This is the story of a 2009 VW Voyage Comfortline, a change that was supposed to be a forward evolution on my automotive side of life. Perhaps it was a matter of excessive expectations, but for the first time for me a change of cars turned out to be rather disappointing.
In the second half of the 2000’s my life went to huge transitions in several grounds. First, a new job offer I accepted. Getting that new job meant moving back to my home town of São Paulo after more than 3 years studying / working away. A third change happened two years after I moved back: I went to live with my then girlfriend now wife.
When I moved back to São Paulo I owned a Chevrolet Corsa (see COAL here). Two years later when I moved to live with my girlfriend we decided one car was enough for our needs. It was faster and more rational to go to work by subway so the car would be used mainly at weekends. Also, all the expenses associated to a second car would be a burden to us, including the extra cost to lease an apartment with garage for two cars in the neighborhood we wanted to live. That sole car would be my Corsa.
But eventually these changes reflected in the automotive territory too. After one year we had settled together we decided to go for a new, bigger and more comfortable car. I’d been longing to own a more powerful car after more than a decade driving small hatchbacks with 1.0 liter engines. So it was going to be not just another change of cars but a change of paradigms, not to talk about a big lap of price level.
I had always wanted to buy a station wagon but the ones I really liked were more than 15 years old so didn’t check one of our requirements (see a 1992 Chevrolet Caravan Diplomata above… maybe one day I can grab me one). There were new station wagon choices available too, but above the price range we could afford. We made our mind about the four door sedans based on the smaller hatchbacks available on the market.
That kind of car has been getting a considerable market share in Brazil. They combine almost the same fuel economy, (theoretically) low maintenance costs and overall performance of the hatchbacks they’re based on, adding more trunk space for usually a little bit higher price.
For those not familiar with the Brazilian VW lineup, there’s 2 completely different Voyage. The original model was built between 1982 and 1994. That was the one exported to USA as VW Fox. The original Voyage had longitudinal powertrain and most of then were sold as 2 door, with only a few sold as 4 door. The 1995 Voyage sold in Brazil was imported from Argentina, but that was it’s last breath until rebirth in 2008 based on the new generation Gol.
We got one with the 1.6 liter top trim Comfortline. It was reasonably well equipped for a Brazilian car: power windows on all doors, power mirrors, flip key with keyless entry and locking, keyless opening trunk and windows, alarm, fog lights, fully carpeted interior and trunk, 195/55 tyres on 15 inch steel wheels (alloys where optional), A/C (optional, IIRC), and some other minor amenities.
Neither of these comfort features were available in any of my former cars. Another important distinction of the Voyage compared to my then current Chevrolet Corsa was fuel: the Voyage was “flexfuel”, i.e. could burn gas or alcohol in any proportion, the Corsa burned only gas. That would give me a reduction in fuel expenses because in the estate of São Paulo alcohol generally allows for a lower fuel cost per mile than gas.
The car was fast and stable on the highways and smart on city traffic. But it had it downsides, like the seats which were hard, pretty similar to the ones on VWs of the late 1990’s. Combined with the “sporty” suspension, that made for tiring long drives. That was not all: I had a few problems with electrical failures. The first was the rear doors windows electric engine, which broke less than 1 month after I got the car. It was fixed by the dealer under warranty, which let’s me to other big hassle in owning a new VW.
With around 2 years old one of the front doors power window engine broke. With less than 50 thousand km the Voyage was making more strange noises than my earlier car, giving a sensation it was not very well built. At the time we bought it I thought about driving it for a very long time, like 10 years, but that didn’t happen for various reasons.