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Are The New Cars Too Perfect To Be Fun & Exciting?

hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
edited October 2012 in Chevrolet
The closer to perfection cars become, the more appliance-like they are, in my opinion. Not too many years ago I could identify all brands and models. Not any more. This is especially true of the Japanese cars.

Also, for all the differences the auto magazines write about, the more similar cars are today. Since there are no more underpowered cars, the really powerful ones seem less least to me. With more and more speed camaras, speed bumps, radar and heavy traffic, what are you going to do with 500+ horsepower?

Do you share my feelings?

What could the industry do about this? Here are a few ideas, in no particular order:

Honda, reintroduce a real CRX instead of that hybrid fiasco. Also, offer a convertible version this time.

Toyota is on the right track with new Scion fr-s, as is Mazda's

Nissan, resize your Z to approximate the original 240 dimensions, and make it as affordable as the '70s Zs were.

GM, you need a spiritual successor to the '55-'57 Chevys.

Ford, how about a RWD spritual successor to your '30s V8s? And while you're at it, bring back that melodic flathead V8 sound, please.

Chrysler, you need to hit more home runs by updating your 300 and Charger. Also, convert your mid-sizers to stylish RWDs for middle class BMW 3-Series intenders. Your Italian engineers and designers can help you do it.

Audi, BMW, Mercedes, MINI and VW, stay the course. Your products are differentiated, and you're doing fine. But BMW, please replace those run-flats and add a spare. Make run-flats optional, if you must.

Formula: Differentiate looks, sound and driving dynamics more, like the cars we fondly remember in these forums.


  • texasestexases Member Posts: 9,539
    As right as you are, the industry is headed full speed ahead on the sameness express. More 'cooperative' ventures to build fewer kinds of engines and share them across different makes. So don't hold your breath.

    And I don't excuse BMW, they're getting blander with every new generation.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    I agree with you, but BMW keeps setting sales records. The 3er has evolved into the 5er, and the 5er has become a cruiser. The 1-Series is a good performer, but to my eyes it's a styling miss. I guess if you keep it garaged during the day and only drive it in the dark it's okay.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I think buyers are gravitating more and more away from "identity", and towards "amenity" when it comes to new cars.

    You couldn't hardly SELL a new car these days without power windows and AC and lots of other weight-producing, numbing gadgets. Even the 3 pedals are disappearing.

    The handwriting, as they say, is on the wall here.

    Contrast this with, say, the small private plane hobby--where you really ARE in control....
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 53,178
    I have a bad feeling about differentiated looks, as the design school industry seems to be very sycophantic - students doing what will be approved by a professor rather than actually thinking. Lately it has made for many borrowed design themes, with most of the different ones just being weird.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    edited October 2012
    I think the intrusion of the computer into design is partially responsible for that.

    In my opinion, any "software" is by definition limiting, having been proscribed by the intelligence and scope of the creator of that program.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 53,178
    That's very true. There seems to be a big difference in the period when designs were created by hand rather than on a screen.

    I do think creative thinking is being limited too, though. These days it seems the Germans do something, Japanese mimic it, Koreans mimic both, and Americans are off on their own tangent. And of course the French, nobody copies them and they copy nobody :shades:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    The Germans are the current trend setters in style and have been for some time, even since IMO the Audi shook off German stodginess in design in the 1990s.
  • berriberri Member Posts: 10,165
    students doing what will be approved by a professor rather than actually thinking.

    High school and college kids need to pick up on the teacher's leanings, especially in the fine and liberal arts if they want to up their grade points. Ironically, I always found liberal arts to be much more close minded than the stereotyped business conservative professors. The latter seemed more open to new approaches as long as you could back up your logic rather than just blow out opinion.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    edited October 2012
    Science is quite openminded regardless of politics, since the very definition of science is to disprove itself. Perhaps the observation of design is an opinion, but the science (and the art) of design has to justify itself in some fashion. Either your head hits the roof or it doesn't--that's not an opinion.
  • berriberri Member Posts: 10,165
    Either your head hits the roof or it doesn't

    That must be a Toyota with a sunroof!
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    Ftom AutoWeek...

    "Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ vs. Datsun 280Z"

    By: Rob Sass

    "My interest in cars remains stuck in the early 1970s--when I was spending most of my time trying to retrieve the copies of AutoWeek that had been confiscated by my second grade teacher, Mrs. Wilks.

    While my iPod may be full of downloads from the likes of Dirty Pretty Things, The Kooks and Grizzly Bear (and very little from Led Zeppelin, the Stones or Pink Floyd), my garage contains nothing built after 1991. And frankly, I like it that way.

    Not much in the way of new cars gets me particularly excited. But I have to admit to taking a huge shine to the totally hot 'Subion' twins, the FR-S and BRZ, probably because they remind me of the Datsun 240Z, 260Z and the pair of 280Zs that have occupied my garage from time to time. Naturally, I have to wonder how they'd stack up against the FR-S and BRZ as daily drivers in terms of satisfaction and cost of ownership.

    As a daily driver, the 280Z makes more sense than a 240 or a 260Z. The combination of electronic fuel injection, an available 5-speed (the last year and a half only), bumpers capable of standing up to a parallel parking incursions and really good factory A/C make it the most practical (if not the prettiest) of the first generation Z-cars.

    As expected, performance-wise it's not really close, with 0-60 times in the mid sixes for the moderns vs. the high-eights for the classic Z-car. Fuel economy? The comparison gets even harsher. Around town, I usually see about 17 mpg and 24 mpg on the highway in my 280Z. Not bad for a mid-'70s performance car but just pitiful in comparison to the moderns. The BRZ with a manual transmission is rated at 22 city, 30 highway and 25 mpg combined.

    While I view both the FR-S and the BRZ as extremely good-looking cars, I give the edge to the Z, which has so many styling cues cribbed from other great GT cars like the E-Type and Toyota 2000GT. I am, after all, terminally mired in the automotive past.

    Still, the exhaust note, the higher percentage of admiring glances and appreciation in value will make the Z a better proposition in the long haul, right? Probably not. It sort of depends on where you live: As rear-drivers, neither the moderns nor the Z-car can really be expected to do all that well in the winter without a set of Blizzaks or Nokkians.

    The real difference is the fact that neither the Scion nor the Subie will look like the remains of the Titanic after just two winters. Early Z-cars were rusters of the highest magnitude. And while you'll likely not spend much maintaining the mechanicals (early Z-cars are notoriously reliable), the super clean, low-mileage, rust-free 280Z that you might pay more than 13 grand for today (according to the Hagerty Price Guide) will likely be a three grand project car after a few winters of salt exposure.

    While it's too early to tell for certain, I would expect the FR-S and BRZ to enjoy Mini Cooper-like resale value. Sadly, if used as a daily driver in most parts of the country, the classic Z-car will cost far more to own over three or four years than the Scion or the Subie simply by virtue of its flimsy construction and nonexistent rust-proofing. This round of classics versus moderns goes to the moderns."
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    "I would expect the FR-S and BRZ to enjoy Mini Cooper-like resale value. "

    Let us hope so, but without Mini Cooper-like reliability issues. :P
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    Does the new generation MINI Cooper have as many reliability issues as the first BMW engineered one?

    Do you still have yours? Would you buy another one?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    yep, still have mine.

    would I buy another one? Not a used one without warranty, no.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    Your MINI fits right in with this discussion, then, assuming it's fun and exciting.
    Just kidding, of course, since unreliability and high maintenance isn't the type of differentiator I was thinking about when i opened this discussion. The MINI is one of the few late model cars that fits the bill in terms of looks and driving dynamics, though.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    yes, the MINI does create a wrinkle---it isn't too new to be exciting or fun, but it doesn't deliver the reliability one expects from a modern car. Quite frankly, it is plagued by the typical German car bugaboos--electronics, and trim pieces falling off, and grisly repair costs.

    But you know, with a code reader to keep shutting off the check engine light, and some double-sided tape, and friends in the business---I get by just fine--and the car is a whole lotta fun, so that's some compensation.

    I can't say that turning it in for an old car, and the privilege of doing my own repairs, is all that attractive an alternative. If I were driving a Camry, it might be.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    edited October 2012
    Okay, we're looking for fun to drive and differentiated, yet attractive styling. I'm wondering whether a new or recent model Civic coupe might be a better compromise than a MINI. Not quite as much fun as the MINI, maybe, but without the reliability issues. I say this because the specs for the Civic coupe are pretty close to the discontinued Acura Integra/RSX, and the price is lower. The Integra/RSX were considered fun to drive and reliable. What do you think, given that all cars require a compromise of one sort or another?

    I wish Scion had come out with an updated version of the xA, which you owned. It was a neat compact 4-door hatch. Of course, the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ might be the best substitutes for the MINI, since they're RWD. I mentioned the Civic coupe initially because, like the MINI, it's FWD.

    Your thoughts on these?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    The scion/subaru FR-S/BRZ looks quite interesting yes. Might very well become "the Mini that doesn't break".

    I don't think I could bear the Honda because the interiors are so cheap. But the Si does put out just over 200 HP, which is pretty good on a light car. Also it has the typical Honda generic looks, which is a deal-breaker for me at least.

    the xA was a great little car with a lot of utility but I can't imagine it being "exciting".
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