California Autos Examiner

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sitting on Scarlett Johansson?

When you look into the core meaning of a word, it's always good to have a nice example to pull out of the hat. That way, when you are explaining the word's meaning to someone, you can replace the crinkled look on their face with one that says "Ah Hah, I get it now."

With that preface, I'd now like to burnish in your mind a definition of the word metaphor, language that directly compares seemingly unrelated subjects, with this example: comparing the comfort of the seats in the three door Saturn Astra is like "sitting on Scarlett Johansson." What, pray tell, does that mean? Well, in the active imagination of Wes Grueninger at Motive Magazine, it means that the Astra's seats are firm without being uncomfortably hard and have a lot of bolstering. Fair enough, Mr. Grueninger, fair enough.

The review goes on to give the Astra kudos for being an excellent GM small car, but the Civic, Mazda3 and Rabbit best it in most categories. It's becoming a frequent refrain for Astra reviews: close but no cigar. Well, who needs a cigar? The Astra does have a higher price point and does not posses prodigious horsepower or torque ratings. If you buy cars based off of stats, you'll probably want to skip this one. Most people don't drive statistics to work. Instead, people drive something that appeals to their eyes when they walk out the front door. People want a nice interior to while away the time in, a place that doesn't make them wish that they should have studied harder in school. Some buyers also want something a little unique. A respite from sameness that greets their everyday lives.

Remember those International Coffee ads where the harried housewife would be whisked away from her suburban chaos with a sip of coffee? Suddenly she was at a cafe in Paris, enjoying the sights. I think the Astra is similar. Once your behind the wheel, taking in the sometimes foreign looking controls and basking in a very solid, quality interior you know you not in Spring Hill anymore (that's the Spring Hill of old, aka ION, not a slight on forthcoming products). I'm not saying the Saturn will transport you to the streets of Europe, but it's more European than any Saturn of yore and probably more so than any Saturn will be in the future. The next Astra will probably be a sedan, with more power lots of cup holders. The driver information display probably won't have a million different language options, if in fact there will be a display at all.

I could go on, but I think you get my drift. I know that I've hammered away on this car. In fact, some readers would probably say that I've covered the Astra too much as it is. But this car is important to me because of what it represents: a full fledged, high content European hatch. A particular breed of car that I happen to be very fond of. Whenever a new hatch appears in Europe, I read comments on blogs and forums that manufacturers should "bring it to the states" and "If it were sold here, I'd buy one." The Astra is one such car and it loudly asks to all those people who posted remarks out there "Here I am. Where are you?" If all GM hears are the echoes of its own voice, you can be sure that this is a close as we'll ever get. However, if the Astra does fulfill or exceed sales expectations it's a strong vote for similar cars to follow in its tire tracks.

You can read the review that inspired this article by clicking here.

1 comment:

Cherise said...

I'm curious; what, exactly, is the problem with a metaphor, when the feature in question is inaccessible to the reader?

Many people do, in fact, drive "statistics" to work, except they prefer the monikers "Camry" and "Corolla."