Wheels or no wheels?

I was slated to pick up my set of wheels today. But when I made my booking, Times Rental company had still been Mazda rental and as the latter suggested, only rented out Mazda cars – it was for this bloody reason that I chose this company.

The change of name however, is not incidental; the cars they carry are no longer solely Mazda(s) but an unholy mix of Nissan, Toyota and Mazda: in essence, the lack of exclusivity makes it like any other rental company. To my horror, an employee cheerily pointed at a Nissan cube when I’d been expecting a Mazda Axela, a car that I absolutely refused to take. Thankfully, he was nice enough to tell me that there was no charge for cancelling the rental there and then, though I’m waiting with bated breath to see if a large charge is still going to be placed on my credit card.

So I went next door to Nippon Rent-a-car to ask for a Subaru Impreza all wheel drive, which had been my original choice, eschewed in favour of a more fuel-efficient breed of vehicle.

The positive bits? Having a set of wheels is beyond liberating. The Subaru also comes with an English GPS, something that’s unexpectedly easy to get used to. In the past when I’ve rented other cars with travel companions, we’ve always looked to maps (with a healthy dose of common sense), believing that an over-reliance on the GPS tends to render a person direction-blind.

And the negative: without the Internet price special, I ended up paying an exorbitant amount for it. The solid-feel that comes with the Impreza is however, mitigated by its ponderous pick-up and acceleration. Admittedly, on roads which have the ridiculous speed limits of 40-50 km/hr, that might not really matter.

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After the adrenaline rush of seeing the Nissan cube faded, I took off into the hills of Biei and did some subaru-ing on the windy Patchwork and Panorama roads. Under a cloud-heavy sky and constant drizzle, the rolling landscape resembled and smelled like giant dung balls. Several flower farms, endless twisty roads, a few U-turns and christened trees later, I was ready to call it a day.

Mileage of the day: 105.2 km

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