Beautiful engineering — It’s closer than you think

Winter

Even in Toronto, one of the warmest parts of Canada, the winters are not particularly gentle. In the last month, we’ve had an ice storm leave people without power for up to 10 days, and a wind chill temperature as low as -44 degrees Celsius. When you’re faced with conditions like this, you need the right machine for the job — enter the Little Brute.

The Little Brute is what I’ve come to call my father’s 2009 Suzuki Grand Vitara. The car and I don’t always get along. I’m not very pleased with the ride nor the steering, and it’s most certainly the polar opposite of a sports car. The A/C blower has also acquired the new habit of making an irritatingly loud noise whenever it’s in the mood, and since this is responsible for blowing warm air during the winter, it leaves me to choose between freezing to death or going deaf.

Now, I’m a pretty inexperienced driver. In fact, I’m the fear of insurance companies across the country — a teenage male. As such, I have to say I owe a lot to the Little Brute — winter driving would have been an utterly terrifying affair had it not been for the simply beautiful engineering that has gone into this car. Don’t get me wrong, the Brute is not the next big thing in automotive engineering. In fact, now that it’s coming up on its 5th year of life, it looks awfully basic in the eyes of a constantly-evolving automotive industry. But I think we’ve become a little bit spoiled by all our gadgets and gizmos.

Allow me to explain. Every time I drove through a curve this winter, snow pouring down and foot on the throttle, a four-wheel-drive system and four excellent winter tires were hard at work to make sure that if I lost grip, I would regain it before I even had the chance to notice. That same four-wheel-drive system worked together with the 221-horsepower V6 engine to get me up ice-coated hills while other drivers struggled frantically at the side of the road. Every time I had to stop, the anti-lock braking system was on standby to make sure that if I made a rookie mistake and braked too harshly, I wouldn’t lose complete control of the situation. If this isn’t beautiful engineering, I don’t know what is — and we’ve barely scratched the surface.

And yet, a friend of mine once said that he’d never spend more than $10,000 on a car — not because of financial reasons, but because he didn’t think it was worth it. Needless to say, I think he’s insane. When you stop to think about it, you quickly realize the engineering that goes into virtually every single automobile is just staggering, and the fact that we even have access to this kind of technology for less than $10,000 is amazing in itself. So, next time you get into your car, stop for a moment to appreciate it. Though it may have its shortcomings, it was probably designed by a team of absolutely brilliant people.

Photo Copyright © 2014 Igor Magun/The Blog of Cars

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