IN A couple of months, I’ll turn 40, something I’m entirely relaxed about, in general terms. If picking the battles you can win is a wise strategy in life — from the mess in the boardroom to the state of your children’s bedrooms — then it’s clear there’s little gain to be had in picking a fight with time.
Despite being seemingly pretty obvious, some people really do rage against time and its depredations. The number of people of a certain age, of the Waspy Cape Town city bowl variety I encounter — who have very clearly had “a little work done” — is quite surprising.
I don’t get it, but then I married my wife principally because she’s so much cleverer than me, and there’s nothing sexier than a big brain. The fact that she’s an absolute belter is just a bonus.
Be that as it may, age does announce itself in interesting ways. Much has been written about nose hair and ear hair and diminishing hairlines and I suppose that’s all fair and true.
But far more importantly, and with far graver implications, I simply cannot drink any more. In the old days at a party I might manage a bottle of wine by myself and carry on as though nothing had happened, but these days such an endeavour would be truly cavalier. Hell is the bloating and the headache; the day-long regret; the bitter self-recrimination; the terrible when-will-you-ever-grow-up self-loathing. It’s just not worth it.
I’ve also taken to that older person’s trick of wondering what the hell is up with the youngsters.
To be serious for a moment: what the actual hell is up with the youngsters? Why are they such entitled little s***s? Why must they expect everything free? Why are they such precious little snowflakes that they need protection from words and ideas — while at university of all places!
I mean, can you imagine the CVs? What will they boast? “I burnt some art and wore a revolutionary T-shirt!” Fantastic. “I’m a big deal on ‘woke Twitter’.” How impressive.
I’m sure Investec or BMW or SAB cannot wait to hire them.
WHY, also, do they say the most hateful things on social media and then, with a straight face, expect me to take them seriously when they e-mail me from their PR day jobs? To use the language du jour, I can’t even! So I don’t!
Another indicator of advancing age, I think, is that I appreciate my parents all over again. What phenomenal human beings they are. Sure, they have ridden the boomers’ wave of fortune like champions, but with integrity and style.
I suspect personal proximity to war and poverty gave my parents’ generation a steeliness and perseverance that the check-your-privilege-this-is-a-safe-space gang would find entirely alien. When my parents head off to Europe or Canada, or wherever this winter, I’ll feel a tinge of envy, but the way they steadfastly put their children first, means they’ve earned an extraordinary retirement.
But, probably and inevitably, the most alarming indicator of age is not any of this. There is no gentle way to say this, but it is best expressed in the fact that I really like the new Kia Grand Sedona. It is the cheaper and, in theory, nastier of the two South Korean car brands that come out of the giant conglomerate, Hyundai. It’s also, in this case, a seven-seater, diesel-powered multipurpose vehicle with an automatic gearbox. It’s front-wheel drive, too.
It is on paper, therefore, pretty much the worst imaginable kind of car — the kind you buy because it’s greatest competence is value. Have you ever heard anything so unsexy?
A closer look, however, and it gets interesting. For starters, this is by no measure a cheap car, with the absolute bottom of the range coming in at more than R500,000.
Then you look at it. It is vast, a proper kombi-sized thing, more than 5m long, but somehow not as huge as a Kombi. And it’s not unattractive. Note the twin sliding doors, both electrically operated for the endless entertainment of children, and the business-class seating for four adults in the two rows of passenger seats.
Note the fact that the seats and space happily co-exist with a large, very deep boot — the payoff is no spare wheel, a ghastly modern practice that I can’t stand.
To drive, the Grand Sedona is better than you’d imagine. The 2.2 diesel was a bit clattery but mated to a six-speed automatic, it just kind of bumbled about town in an inoffensive way. It’s quick enough, and is certainly fuel-efficient for such a large car. At highway speeds, it’s quiet and stable and would, I suspect, tow happily too.
I did find on occasions that the torquey engine could result in some torque-steer and that, heavily laden, grip from standstill might be a problem in the wet, but that’s a minor criticism. The steering is entirely lifeless, unfortunately, but this isn’t a Porsche 911, so I suppose it doesn’t matter.
WHAT the Sedona does so well is provide van-like space without some of the van drawbacks. So while it is long, it isn’t too wide, and neither is it too tall, meaning fewer squeaky-bum moments in underground garages. It also doesn’t rattle like a van.
Think of it as a really long estate car and you’re nearer the truth. And perhaps there lies the explanation for its attractiveness. You see, estate cars are better-looking and more practical than their sedan counterparts, and this feels more like a car than a van. My children just loved it, and, as ever, ask yourself how often you take your 4×4 off-road and, in these straightened times, whether you really need to burn extra fuel.
I’m all for a good sports utility vehicle. I love them. But it’s good from time to time to remind oneself that there are alternatives for families, and the Kia Grand Sedona is a truly compelling example, certainly something to consider if you’re in the market for a Kombi. This sentence might signify me bidding adieu to youth.