But not in the Trading Enterprises Honda showroom on Airport Road a couple of Saturdays ago. Beloved Wife and her Goat dropped into the showroom to investigate the possible availability of an irresponsible little open-top car. We were politely greeted by a female assistant and we explained what we wanted to discuss.
Trading Enterprises: "Our SUV range, the MR-V, the..."
Grumpy Goat: "Er no thanks. we don't want an SUV. We're after an open-top car."
Trading Enterprises: "But the MR-V..."
Grumpy Goat: "What about the S2000?"
Trading Enterprises: (after going to find someone) "I'm not a salesperson. The S2000 is not available. We have no information. The 2008 model isn't due for at least three months. We don't know how much it'll cost. Bananas are marsupials. Cars run on gravy. Salmon live in trees and eat pencils."
I can answer the last point. They were all crowded in a big group in the middle of the showroom, watching their team getting defeated at cricket. And not doing any work: something that really impresses the customers.
Yet even this level of attentiveness shines out like a beacon of excellence compared with what happened 24 hours later. I spent half an hour in the Liberty Automobiles showroom in Sharjah failing to get any attention at all from the sales staff. So the Invisible Goat turned and left.
Customer service alive and well, I said? Yes, actually. The nice lady in Sharjah's Jeep showroom was polite and attentive, although was unable to offer a car that suited our requirements. And over at Festival City, Trading Enterprises' Volvo sales were nothing short of excellent.
A test-drive of a Volvo C70 put this car definitely on the shortlist. We were a little bit concerned about the performance. The test drive was in the turbocharged version which, as predicted, went like a scalded cat. Unfortunately the T5 was prohibitively expensive, so a week or so later we test drove a different Volvo; one with the normally-aspirated 2.4 litre engine. Although a lot less powerful, it was still reasonably brisk, and was of course quiet and comfortable.
I also courted the Peugeot dealer, and was reasonably interested in the 307cc. At about half the price of the Volvo C70 T5, it looked like a realistic alternative. The salesman was helpful and friendly, and arranged a test drive. What as disappointment! Beloved Wife and I both found the driver's seat excruciatingly uncomfortable. It's apparently designed solely to suit beanpole-thin Frenchmen. It was impossible to see any part of the car in front of the windscreen, which would make parking an interesting Braille exercise. And the engine was appallingly gutless. Acceleration was dismal, and this is as compared with the Goatmobile, not against the Volvo. Finally, Beloved Wife vetoed the idea. "I'd rather keep the Jeep."
By this time, we'd decided against anything with a fabric roof, so no Honda S2000, no BMW Z3 and no Audi TT. The Saab and anything with a three-pointed star were rejected on the grounds of cost. But the Volkswagen Eos looked promising, so we dropped in for a chat and a test drive. Once again, the sales staff were helpful and attentive, becoming more so on our second and third visits. "Hmmm, customers must be serious..."
Both the Goat and Beloved Wife enjoyed driving the Eos. Its 200BHP turbocharged two-litre engine, (faster than a speeding ticket...) provided the required level of irresponsibility, the car had loads of whistles and bells, and it was comfy and civilised. Except for the horn which, I discovered when getting cut up on the test drive, was raucously cacophonous. Brilliant!
Now all we have to do is sell the Wrangler.
The Volkswagen Eos FSi