I have relations who are going to find this surprising. I grew up in a family full of engineers; cars and tinkering with them were, well... the norm. Heck, even my little sister is an engineer. I'm the sport--literature, history and... good lord... theology too, now?
I've never been about cars. Not the normal American guy who read car magazines and wanted to rebuild the engine or restore a classic car. Oh, I could maintain one; I kept an old Dodge Dart running and road-safe for years. But I didn't care that it was a Dart, or how it looked. It was transportation. Automobiles--all of them--have always been just transportation, to me. In a distant way I can appreciate the aesthetics of some, in about the same way that I can distantly appreciate the aesthetics of the ensembles that some designer has models strut down a walkway. And with about as much interest (read: minimal).
All that's ever interested me were transportation and user value. Enough space to transport stuff. Enough comfortable (enough) seats for the people who would be riding in it. Safety. Reliability. Economics. Efficiency. (I did say I came from a family riddled with engineers, right?)
So I'm sitting here marveling that I've gone and put down a deposit on a car (as opposed to going out and looking to buy one when I actually needed one, and had to get one (I live in not-urban core SoCal; public transportation is only beginning to maybe be meaningfully available to me... and only enough that I could use it some of the time). No, this one's not even going to be available to anyone until late 2008, and ours won't be available to us, in all probability, until 2010 (we're #3017 on the list).
The aesthetics of it, I can see, are quite modern and very, very functional. My younger son's reaction? "Want!" (Ok, so he's part of the mainstream genepool of the family...). Me? It's the insane level of efficiency that grabbed me. I've been tantalized by the Prius of a friend and it's 45-50 mpg; it's so much more fuel efficient than my van. But this? 230-300 mpg makes a Prius look like a gas guzzler. At last I'll be able to get green transportation.
Of course, it's not going to replace the van. I'll be watching closely to see when they start building a four seater model.
I did say I came from a family of engineering geeks, right?