Anybody else finding that current new cars have become too powerful, comfortable and refined? I know even today’s family cars can handle a slalom better than the old spors cars, have more power than anyone needs and have all the creature comforts, yet they just aren’t as nimble and fun to drive as a barebones subcompact with skinny tires, a decent gearbox and 100 horses. One of my favorite cars of all time was a 1990 Accord, but even today’s Civic just feels like someone else is driving.
And what is with everything having to be “soft touch” anyway? Is it a car or an inflatable companion?
It’s what the buyer wants.
Modern cars are appliances, made to get from A to B and do it well. They have no soul, though. Driving them is a bit boring, albeit very safe.
If I need to be reminded how badly vehicles used to handle, I’ll roll my 52 pickup around for a while. It is kinda fun to have to think about how to stop, wondering whether it is actually going to and what to do when making a turn. Since it doesn’t have power steering, I even get a workout in the process.
While I like my old cars, you won’t hear me complain about our new cars, though. I’d hate it if I had to commute using the old beasts to work every day.
I think a Mazda 3 Sport is about as good a combination of real feel, safety and fun to drive as you can get. You sound like the owner of an Austin Healy Sprite that I used to work with. He said his car was a real driving experience based on it being noisy, uncomfortable, close to the ground, no power steering and under powered. That car was a real seat-of-the-pants experience.
He was right; a horse is an even more direct feel transportation experience.
Ha, I just sold a Mazda3 s, albeit an automatic. It was one of the few cars I liked when I was shopping for a $15,000 car a few years ago. I sold it to buy a $3,000 car because I didn’t like having a depreciating asset that I rarely drove. I still felt it was a too refined.
Also. I prefer riding my bicycle to driving. My ideal car would be the love child of a Wrangler and a Miata.
I do miss the simplicity of the old cars. However I don’t miss their need for constant tender loving care.
In truth, I think a lot of what drove cars to be bigger and snazzier was the mandates for safety systems. 5mph bumpers, door beams, crush zones, airbag systems, emissions systems, rollover regulations, all of that adds size and weight. That drives up the need for horsepower and drives up cost. Folks generally feel that high cost on a small and basic vehicle is unfounded…and a bad deal. So to get the profit margins, the cars have to be made bigger and fancier.
Let’s see how the Fiat 500 does in the marketplace. That might be a good indicator of whether or not my theory has merit.
One of the reasons I feel for this insulation of the car from it’s environment is the IPod and other electronic devices whose uses in noisy, cramped quarters is near impossible. Trust me, if regulations said it was ok to play your Wii in your car, they would come standard with big screens, black out curtains and stand up room in the back. This insatiable appetite for electronic entertainment “drives” much of interior car isolation. Handling has long since become secondary to good bass response.
Car stereos and digital technology are far too good too. Bring back the 8-track! And electric lights are far too bright–we should all use candles. And who needs central heat and air conditioning? We should all go back to living in caves while we’re at it. And science? We understand far too much… let’s go back to utter ignorance.
Oblivion…you get no arguement from me. My days of taking corners on two wheels(other then a bike) are over. Give me cruise control, boulevard ride, great sound system, comfy seats, climate control etc…you can keep your Miata. I’ll take my thrills on the golf course and on the water where I can collide with something soft. Keep the driving safe, uneventful and boring…please.
“on the water where I can collide with something soft”
You’ve never come off a wave-runner at 70, have you? lol
2010 saw the fewest road fatalities in the US since 1949. Cars today are just fine the way they are.
Want soul? Build a Miata autocross car and drive it on a track, or get a Wrangler and do some “Muddin”.
I’d have to contort myself to fit in a Miata. Those things are barely larger than my rollerscates when I was a kid.
Today’s cars are very good, no doubt, and extremely safe.
Features like heated seats, heated sideview mirrors and autodimming rearview mirrors are really nice to have. It is great to have a car that auto adjusts the seats for me when my much shorter* wife has driven my car. AWD and positive traction is a feature I look for nowadays.
Not sure about that autoparking parallel parking feature some of them have. You know someone will screw that up.
It is hard to foolproof anything since fools are just too ingenious.
*read “Miata fitting”.
Oh, the cars that parallel park themselves strike a nerve with me. How lazy and bad at driving have people gotten that they can’t even park their own cars? If you can’t park your car, can you be trusted to drive it at 70 mph on the highway? I parallel park daily and watch with disbelief at how many botched attempts there are at it. I’ve seen drivers try and try again for 5 minutes to get into a spot with plenty of room on all sides, and eventually get flustered and drive off.
CCC, you made me chuckle. There’s no way I’d want to pay for this automatic parking feature, but I wish the law required anybody parallel parking in front or in back of my car to have it.
I sat in the driver’s seat of my (then) brand new '86 Toyota van once and watched in amazement as a lady from Mass intentionally used my front bumper and the rear bumper of the car in front of her as “bump stops” to park her car. I got out and said “lady, what ARE you doing?” I learned some new adjectives frome her that day…cannot repeat them here. Not only do many drivers lack parallel parking skills, many just plain do not care what they do to others.
That’s why they call MA drivers Massholes!
I’ve never seen those autopark in action and can only imagine how much of a pain that is to make happen by the designers.
One feature that intrigues me is that anti collision feature they advertise on Mercedes. A little scary, a car that can decide to jam on the brakes all by itself because it thinks you’re about to rear end somebody. I wouldn’t trust it.
Anyone have one of those things?
I’m with you about the computer-actuated brakes, Remco. Almost glad that I will never be able to afford a Mercedes.
HAH, you guys are so right, now if you want to know me, I can’t even use the cruise control, freaks me out to watch the engine rev up and down on its own. I have had it one 3-4 times in my life and that has only been to test the system in a used car I am buying.