From Hummer to S4

Created: Sat, Jan 20, 2001, 7:57 AM


As some of you may have know already, I'm a proud new owner of a 2001
Silver S4 quattro, with the brushed metal/Onyx & Silver Alacantra
(suede-ish) interior.  It's absolutely gorgeous inside & out, and I'm
quite glad I got it.

I'm in a fairly unique position compared to many people, I believe.  For
the past four years, I've had as my only car an automatic (they don't
make them in standard) 1996 Turbo Diesel AM General Hummer.  The
contrast in going from Hummer to S4 is night and day, in many ways (both
the obvious, and some unexpected ways as well).  Most people who buy
S4's are probably coming from some other kind of sports car.  Not me. 
The Hummer is about as non-sports car as you can get.

The Hummer is a beast.  You don't have to weave around traffic, because
people get the hell out of your way (especially when they see the dirt,
scratches, and dents on the side that were proudly earned taking it
offroad).  You also can't exactly outrun anyone (though you can run them
over).  In fact I think a VW Beetle beats is 0-60 -- I'm talking about
the OLD circa 1970 VW Beetle, not the newer ones, which would absolutely
clean the Hummer's clock.

The Hummer is also LOUD -- the "turbo" in "turbo diesel" doesn't have
much to do with performance as it does with filling the cab of the
Hummer with the whine of a jet engine turbine.  If you do manage to get
the Hummer up to 80mph (and I've done this on a few occasions, with a
tail wind, down a hill), you have to crank the music to obscene levels
just so you can hear it -- and because it's so wide, you definitely miss
out on the stereo effect.

Don't get me wrong -- the Hummer was a blast, and I had great fun going
offroad with it, racing it in rally's, and getting it airborne (7,000lbs
hitting the ground after a jump is a hell of an impact).  The attention
you get driving it is fun for about the first 6 months; after that, it
tends to wear a little thin.  OK, a lot thin.

That's one of the reasons why the S4 appealed to me -- a gorgeous car,
fast, classy, but also stealthy.  Not many people would come up to me
asking me how much I paid for the S4 (thank god), but yet I'd still be
grinning like a school boy when I mashed the pedal and the twin turbo's
kicked in.

I'm the kind of person who believes in using something to its fullest. 
When I got the Hummer, it took me all of a week before I was taking it
offroad, and beating the snot out of it.  After all, why spend that kind
of money on that kind of car if you're just going to ride it around
town?  There are many, many nicer cars for the money -- or better yet,
just get a nice Ford Taurus, and keep the extra money for a vacation.

Let's not even talk about tires -- for any of you who might complain
about how much it costs to buy a new set of tires, consider that for the
Hummer, it costs $500 per tire.  Yikes indeed.

One interesting contrast going from the Hummer to the S4 is the savings
on gas.  Despite the fact that I fill up the S4 with premium, and that
I'm a bit lead-footed with it, I'm still spending about 1/3 what'd I'd
spend each time I filled up the Hummer's two tanks.  Yes, that's right,
the Hummer has a normal 25 gallon tank, and then a second 17 gallon tank
(in case one of them gets punctured offroad) -- so filling up 42 gallons
each time cost... well, a lot, you do the math.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that by strapping myself into a stealth
rocket like the S4, my driving personality has changed radically. 
Instead of trundling along in traffic, I'm zipping through it (though I
do admit I miss being able to go over curbs with aplomb).  It's just so
incredibly hard to resist punching the accelerator on the S4, and
feeling the surge of power as you rocket ahead.  And who can blame me? 
It may look like an average sedan, but the S4 can smoke a Porsche
Boxster 0-60.

The one word that sums up the S4's driving characteristics, for me,
would be: confidence.  It seems that no matter what I throw at it, it
grips the road firmly, which inspires supreme confidence in the car's
abilities.  I personally also love that it's understated looks mask the
fact that you can dust just about any car on the road with it.   Truly a
wolf in sheep's clothing.

Amazingly, I don't miss the Hummer at all; I got it out of my system,
and am way too entertained by my S4 to even think about.  Instead of
shovels and tow straps in the back of the Hummer, I splurged on a radar
detector in the S4.  I guess I know myself well enough to realize that
it's in my nature to need such things to bail me out.


If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at:

|       Andrew Welch       |       Ambrosia Software, Inc.     |
|      Thaumaturgist       |    |