Good news, humans of Oversteer: The day is here, the moment has arrived, your life is now complete. It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for Ask Doug, your favorite weekly column wherein you write in and "ask Doug" a question, and Doug occasionally bangs out a response before taking one of his seven daily naps.
If you want to participate in Ask Doug, you can! Just email me at OversteerDoug@gmail.com, and I will almost certainly read your email, and possibly forward it along to my friends so that we can laugh at you, especially if you own an original Audi allroad.
Anyway, this week’s letter comes from someone I’ve named Sean, who writes:
I’ll start off by saying that I love your work and have followed you religiously ever since you drove a Skyline backwards in a drive thru, and I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if you every stopped writing.
Anyways I’ve been pondering this question for a while; are fast powerful wagons actually worth it? I feel you are the perfect person to answer this considering you now have a AMG E63 and have had other ludicrous wagons in the past ,and even a Nissan Cube. My main ask is one really better than two: Should I spend all my hard-earned dough on one hyper expensive car that can supposedly do it all or split it up into a family eco box to daily drive and save my aggressive roadster for the weekend.
First off, Sean, I’ve never understood why "Sean" is pronounced as "Shawn." What’s the deal with that? You’re going to tell me it’s Irish, or Gaelic, or something, but I don’t speak Irish or Gaelic, I speak English, and your name should be pronounced "Seen." So today that’s what I am going to call you.
Moving along from that, it should be noted that I took a bit of a liberty with the title of this one; the question Seeeen is asking is whether a fast wagon is "worth it" rather than just having two cars — one performance car and one family car. However, the question I’m responding to (in addition to Ceen’s) is a bit more pointed, namely: Why would you buy a fast wagon?
The reason for this discrepancy is that I took a surprising amount of heat from YouTube commenters when I announced last week that I had purchased a Mercedes E63 AMG Wagon. Normally, my videos attract car people, and car people like fast wagons, and it makes sense. But this video went into YouTube’s "trending" section, which attracts everyone, and most of those people think my new car is ugly and boring and stupid. Many people asked why I would want to buy a fast wagon. So today I’m going to address that with an answer that covers both questions.
And the answer is basically this: I live in a large, crowded city, and so I have only one parking space at my house. Just one. It’s small, it’s forlorn, and it’s stuck next to my neighbor’s Buick Encore. Adding additional parking is tremendously expensive, though I’ve done it: I pay $250 per month to park another vehicle four blocks away from my house. This means that every time I want to drive the vehicle that isn’t sitting behind my house, I have to walk 8 minutes just for the privilege. Sometimes it’s cold. Sometimes it’s really cold.
The result of this is that when I went looking for my next car, I really wanted one vehicle that could "do it all" — a car that could be a sports car, and a practical car, and a winter car, all in one. This is why I initially started looking at high-performance SUVs like the BMW X5 M and the Mercedes GL 63 and the Audi SQ5. I wanted a high-performance SUV because, truth be told, I can’t really do the "two car" thing. If I park the daily driver car behind my house, I don’t want to walk four blocks every time I decide it’s a nice day and I want to drive the fun car. And if I park the fun car behind my house, I don’t want to walk four blocks every time it rains or I need to carry multiple passengers. What happens is I end up driving whatever I park behind the house because it just gets too annoying to take the walk to the other car — and that means any money spent on the other car is wasted.
In the end, I got the wagon over a high-performance SUV in part because I think it’s cool that there are so few of them out there — and in part because mine has the extremely rare 18-inch wheels that I can use for winter tires, which should give me near-SUV capabilities. I also wanted the practicality, and the performance, and the tech, and this car has all of that — one vehicle that can truly do it all. Is it a little geeky? Sure. Is it the kind of car that only "car people" will appreciate? Of course. But I’m not trying to impress people. When I want to impress people, I simply say "Google me" and walk away.
And this brings us back to the question asked by Seein’: Would you rather do two cars or one fun one and one boring one? I’d love to do two cars — really — but I don’t have the space. If you’re in my situation, one car makes more sense. If you have room for one fun car and one not-so-fun family car, do that instead. And if you have room for one fun car and one fun family car, well, then, do that most of all. Find a wagon for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.