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The driving life isn't always paradise, but could be much worse. As proof, here's a guide to what awaits the ill-fated souls who are condemned to Automotive Hell. Like Dante's underworld, it has nine infernal circles – but the traffic is worse, and the payments go on longer.

Circle 1 – The Grotto of Eternal Delay

After crossing the River Styx, you learn that you are getting a brand-new Pagani Huayra, one of the fastest, most exotic cars – and it's yours for free. If this is hell, things are looking up. The Pagani has a custom interior, hand-rubbed paint, and a carbon wing that provides extra grip at extreme speeds. Then you notice the Pagani has only two gears: first, and neutral. You will spend the rest of eternity driving your dream machine through downtown Toronto at rush hour, never exceeding three kilometres an hour.

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Circle 2 – Satan's Service Department

The good news: Satan has given you a free Ferrari. The bad news: It's a 1991 Mondiale. The further bad news: Like every Mondiale, yours needs a valve job and timing chain. This work can only be performed at Satan's authorized Ferrari dealership, which has a sign above the door that reads, "Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here." The service manager, who resembles a horned Charles Manson, says the bill probably won't exceed $300,000, but warns that when it comes to old Ferraris, all bets are off.

Circle 3 – The Vale of Buyer's Remorse

At the entrance to Circle 3, you are greeted by a beautiful succubus who talks you into buying a used Lamborghini. The price is surprisingly low. Only after signing the papers do you notice that the interest rate is 97 per cent, compounded daily. After taking delivery, you notice the Lamborghini's windshield is cracked, the left turn signal doesn't work and the navigation screen keeps flashing "6-6-6." You put the Lamborghini in the shop. When you pick it up two weeks later, the service manager informs you that he had to bring in a priest to perform an exorcism on the wiring system. The bill is $2.7-million plus tax. To pay it off, you must take a job loading barrels of napalm into the Flames of Hell. This position involves some shift work – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the Rest of Time. You realize that being condemned to the automotive underworld is much like exotic car ownership back in the world above, with payments that will stretch across several eternities.

Circle 4 – The Flaming Pit of Lease Return

As the demons cast you into the Fourth Circle, there is a strange sense of déjà vu – haven't you seen those knock-off watercolour paintings and vinyl sofas before? You suddenly realize that you're in an automotive lease-return department. A manager with cloven hooves and red pupils puts your low-mileage, perfectly maintained Honda Civic up on the hoist and spends four hours inspecting it. The manager congratulates you on how well you have cared for your car, and informs you that you will be getting money back. Then he notices a faint streak in your laborious wax job. Your refund is cancelled. The manager rechecks the odometer, and finds that you have exceeded your mileage allotment by 32 centimetres. You are ordered to pay penalties of $986,000 and spend 6,000 years in a pit of molten lava alongside Justin Bieber, who has just returned his Bentley with a cigarette burn on the rear seat.

Circle 5 – The Highway of Ceaseless Regret

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Your punishment is to drive a replica of the German autobahn for the next 10,000 years. This doesn't sound so bad. But as a coterie of pitchforked demons leads you to the ultrafast underworld highway, you are informed that your ride will be a 1986 Chrysler K-Car with a gunked-up carburetor, bald tires and a slipping transmission. You inspect your machine, only to learn that the Corinthian leather interior is actually vinyl, and that the heater is set to maintain a constant temperature of 1,200 C. Everyone else on the Underworld autobahn, meanwhile, has been issued a brand new, air-conditioned German sports car – your former lawyer and your ex-wife blast by in a new Porsche 911 Turbo, followed by Bernie Madoff in an Audi R8. The next 10,000 years are going to be long ones.

Circle 6 – The Defect Zone

A demon holds open the door of a Ford Pinto. As you slide into the driver's seat, the demon informs you that the gas tank has just been topped up with high-test fuel, and hands you a jug of barbecue sauce. You look in the mirror and realize that you're about to be rear-ended by a Hummer driven by a Three-Headed Hound in a flameproof racing suit. Moments before impact, you are informed that your Pinto has been fitted with recalled Takata airbags. "Don't bother buckling up," the demon says. "And you might want to slather on some of that barbecue sauce."

Circle 7 – Satan's Road Trip

A road stretches away into the distance. It's lined with green trees and sparkling blue lakes. A devil hands you the keys to a new Nissan Leaf electric car. You ask where you can plug it in. "Who said anything about plugging it in?" the devil replies. "I'll be steering. You'll be pushing. Hang on while I load up my family and this load of cinder blocks." As you enter your second mile of pushing, you see a sign that reads "Mount Sisyphus Ahead."

Circle 8 – The No-parking Zone

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The Eighth Circle is an endless line of beautiful restaurants, theatres and luxury stores where everything is free. You spot Kim Kardashian and Kanye West strolling out of a Starbucks. A satanic minion hands you the keys to a brand new Range Rover SUV. It's 5.8 metres long, so you'll have plenty of legroom. Then you learn that every parking spot in Hell is 5.7 meters long. You will spend the next million years circling the block, just like you used to in Toronto.

Circle 9 – The Dark Gorges of Debt Collection

The first eight circles were bad enough, but Level Nine is a true, hard-core hell: demons with pitchforks are casting thousands of eternally damned souls into pools of boiling oil. Saddam Hussein and Idi Amin are lined up next to a row of Nazi death-camp commanders and the inventor of the one-hour infomercial. You're relieved – these are all psychopaths who deserve their unending punishment. When you arrive at the check-in counter, you point out that there must be some mistake, since you're a law-abiding citizen who has never wasted anyone's time or killed anything more than a cockroach. "These guys aren't here for the genocides or that hour-long Ab-Blaster special," a fork-tailed minion announces. "They're here for missed car payments." As she says this, she unrolls the account statement for your long-gone Lada Cossack, which shows that you neglected to remit a $17 late-payment fee in 1991. The minion hands you a Speedo and tells you to prepare for your endless laps in the boiling oil pits.

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