Love Was in the Air

A super super super test on a spring day in Berlin with a few thoughts about interpersonal relationships. Though frogs play a not entirely insignificant role in this story as well.

  • Text
    Wladimir Kaminer
  • Photos
    Matthias Mederer · ramp.pictures
Love was in the air. Nature was awakening from its winter slumber, stirring up our hormones and emotional worlds. The first swallows were returning from their southerly haunts to breed in our latitudes, and winter was reluctantly packing its bags. Spring fever was driving people outside, lifting their spirits. We, too, fell prey to a certain restless feeling.

To mark the start of the new astrological year, we met in Berlin for a special super super super test with a selection of cars that I had the pleasure of experiencing for the first time and which couldn’t have been more different from one another. The sporty blue Toyota GR Supra Legend Lightweight with six-speed manual transmission could easily have won the title of Berlin Party Girl of the Year.

1/3

Toyota GR Supra Legend Lightweight

  • Engine
    twin-scroll turbocharged ­inline-six
  • Displacement
    2,998 cc
  • Power
    335 hp (250 kW) at 6,500 rpm
  • Torque
    500 Nm at 1,600–4,500 rpm
  • 0–100 km/h
    approx. 4.6 s
  • Top speed
    250 km/h

The avant-garde-looking Genesis GV60 Sport Plus AWD with two electric motors and all-wheel drive could cut a fine figure as a company car at the next futurological congress. With its Crystal Sphere in place of a gearshift and the digital side mirrors, it looked like a tourist on a journey through time from the future, and the five monitors gave me a view of the city from every conceivable angle inside the car. There even is a facial recognition function capable of recognizing the driver from a distance, like an old friend, so the car can automatically open the door for you just by glancing into the digital mirror for a moment. That made me suspicious; after all, we didn’t even know each other yet – and still the vehicle seemed to know who I was. The third car in the bunch was a Polestar 2, an electric car with an advanced design of its own and an interior made from vegan materials. These three vehicles have all the features that people used to love in their cars: -coziness and comfort, safety and performance, reliability and good looks. But as is often the case, love suffers in the shadows of doubt. Are we willing to trust our feelings? Is a romantic, long-lasting love affair still possible in these times of plenty and the trend towards sharing? After all, if we wanted, we could drive a different car every day, no matter how good we think they are.

Genesis GV60

  • Powertrain
    two electric motors (front and rear axle)
  • Battery capacity
    77.4 kWh (lithium-ion battery)
  • Power
    483 hp (360 kW)
  • Torque
    700 Nm
  • 0–100 km/h
    approx. 4.0 s
  • Top speed
    235 km/h

Even interpersonal relationships groan under the multitude of possibilities; -relationships today are digitized and set in motion as “matches” by unfeeling -algorithms.

I know this from my son. These days, you don’t meet new people the analog way anymore, in a pub or at the disco, you meet them online. The internet, however, seems to have more people in it than the analog world. And new people are being added every day. The choices on Tinder and the other dating apps are virtually endless, as my son tells me. And how are you supposed to decide on a specific person, a Peter or a Mary, when a new Peter and a new Mary pop up on the screen almost hourly? How can you know if the old Peter wasn’t the better Peter after all and whether the new one won’t be eclipsed by the even newer one still? Of course, you could just trust your feelings and stop searching, though that would mean agonizing for the rest of your life over the possibility that you chose the wrong Peter at the time. This accursed abundance paralyzes our feelings and leaves us feeling uncertain. And the new year won’t make things any easier for us.

From an astrological point of view, the new year will be dominated by the planet Mars, with everything that goes with it: passion, impatience, impulsiveness.

From an astrological point of view, the new year will be dominated by the planet Mars, with everything that goes with it: passion, impatience, impulsiveness. Under the glow of Mars, astrologers believe, our planet spins faster, people make decisions more intuitively, we act more irrationally and abandon reason more often. Perhaps the new year will put us back in touch with our emotions, perhaps we will recognize the world of feelings again, perhaps our old love will come back, even our love for cars. A car was once the most valuable thing a worker could afford.

There was a time when the car was a highly respected member of the family, a friend for life, or at least a long-term partner with whom you could go through thick and thin together. The car triggered desires in people: jealousy, pride, tenderness. Old, white-haired men told each other jokes about how irreplaceable their car was; they had elevated their vehicles to symbols of freedom and extolled them as a favorable alternative to the opposite sex. On weekends, men would say to their wife: I’m going to visit some friends. To their friends they said: I have to stay home with my wife. And then they would head off to the garage.

Polestar 2

  • Powertrain
    two electric motors (front and rear axle)
  • Battery capacity
    82 kWh
  • Power
    470 hp (350 kW)
  • Torque
    740 Nm
  • 0–100 km/h
    approx. 4.2 s
  • Top speed
    205 km/h

Over time, cars lost their unique appeal, they became an interchangeable object. A car was no longer chosen for life, but could be leased, shared and rented; you could go out with a different, new car every day if you wanted to, and save money while you were at it. On top of that, there was the constant guilty conscience, as if motorists bore sole responsibility for the poisoning of the planet, for climate change and global warming. The automotive trends of the last few years have been dictated by reason and rationality, cars have had to become less conspicuous and more unobtrusive in order to cause as little irritation as possible among the climate activists. Drivers in Berlin have recently had to watch out for fresh-faced Greta followers from the Last Generation who have been gluing themselves to the streets. Even where I live, in the quiet, car-loving suburbs of Brandenburg ( . . . )

→ Read the full story in ramp #61 "Love Is in the Air".

Wladimir Kaminer

Wladimir Kaminer

Columnist & Bestselling Author
Wladimir Kaminer was born in Moscow in 1967, where he trained as a sound engineer for theatre and radio. He has lived in Berlin since 1990. He sees himself as a citizen of the world and says he is Russian in his private life and a German writer in his professional life. With his collection of stories "Russendisko" and numerous other bestsellers, he has become one of the most popular and sought-after authors in Germany. And the ramp columnist who traditionally writes the Super Super Super Test.
ramp #61 Love Is in the Air + Porsche LeMans-Special

ramp #61 Love Is in the Air + Porsche LeMans-Special

Ein blauer Himmel, der Duft des frischen Grases, Sonne und die Wärme des Augenblicks, vor allem Licht. Das Licht der Sonnenstrahlen, erklären die Wissenschaftler, ist der entscheidende Faktor, wenn uns zu Beginn der warmen Jahreszeit ein flotter Gute-Laune-Mix aus Glückshormonen energisch in den Sommer lockt.

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