This is the first day in a fortnight when I actually feel like it's my day off. Normally, the main reference for working days is the printed roster in the flight planning room copied from the Chief Pilot's desk. The haphazard scheduling was induced when I asked for two days off to run down to the city for an old batchmate's son's wedding, an invitation I could not say no to. This rendered the roster as no longer the main reference as unpublished amendments were in force. From then, together with the Raya hols, I have been plugged into the company's mailroom to watch for the latest e mails on flight schedules, but it appears that the e mail has been compromised somehow as I no longer receive any notifications from it. The back-up notification is the en masse text messages, which only pop up at night and sometimes in the wee hours of the morning, so a true vigil it has been.
Over the past three months, ever since my workmates found out that I am purchasing a Hyundai Elantra, they started calling me K-Pop. My puzzled reaction to this garnered their superficial but wholly self-convinced explanation that since I was buying a Korean car, I now belonged to the K-Pop group. Though I didn't buy a word of their thinly disguised insult, I secretly hoped that being tagged as K-Pop had the emphasis on K and not on pop, which is treacherously close to gramps.
I have driven her through two months now, and the trip down to KL was to be my honeymoon with her and to see what she was made of. At Brenda's sagacious behest, I agreed to impoverish myself down to the margins of affordability and buy the 1.8 litre full-spec GLS.
I have since grown to love autocruise. Yes, I love all the bells and whistles on the Elantra. Maybe I could use a periscope or external cam on the front fender to facilitate the hypnosis-inducing climb and descent on the spiral ramps adjoining carparks. The old Levin would wind herself up and down like a top without batting an eyelid, almost in 2Fast 2Furious style. Other than for that, and the lack of auto-lock doors, the vehicle delivers on its word.
|Brenda and I on a ride to Kuala Selangor circa 1990|
The GLS has 148 horses on tap, which isn't a mighty lot compared to my workmates' Audis and Mercs. It overtakes with confidence, albeit without that eye-searing, blistering haul of the Levin's 165 horsepower with an 11500 rpm redline. Neigh (sic) this dame pulls steadily with her exhaust note whinnying sweetly up to her 6700 redline without getting guttural. One reviewer complained about this, but whither the fanfare when the goods are delivered? It reminded me of my old Suzuki GSX400f, and how she would race ahead with a wail instead of the turbine roar of the Kawasakis. Sweet, reliable delivery.
|Down the basement of SFX church, a few days after I bought this baby|
The suspension is good even when employing basic torsion bars for the rear, and the full load of five passengers does not faze her. Everybody is comfortable, and ploughing through a thunderstorm shows what traction control does for as long as we do not encroach too much into aquaplaning speed. The rain sensor may be a tad late on realising that the drizzle has broken into a menagerial thunderstorm, but it speeds up to a frantic rythm faithfully once it has paced out of the intermittent stage.
When you have been up and down from daybreak till dusk suggests a good dinner as you walk towards the car that takes you home, you don't want to get into one that has an iffy airconditioner, or that wallows when you corner aggresively to avoid the simians that are rioting after your windscreen hoping to scavenge food from you as they have been trained to by other drivers. There are days when you just want to be cradled home, and these Nappa leather seats, speedy dual zone air conditioning and great music wash off the labours of the day and deliver you to the best faces any man who toils can hope to see at day's end.
My days with the Levin are past. I do not regret them.
This is one you can buy with confidence.