Archive for July, 2009

Simple Pleasures

Posted in Auto Articles with tags , , , on July 13, 2009 by consortiumoffools

There are varying levels of joy to be had in an automobile. The typical iteration of joy described in most car magazines and high school computer labs nationwide involves huge horsepower numbers and quick 0-60 times. The idea is that the faster the car, and inevitably more expensive, the better it is. Driving such a beast (740 whp cammed C7 Z06, for example) is extremely fun and fulfills all of the hype associated with such cars. This particular brand of car fun stems from intimidation. You feel the raw power as you tap the accelerator and hear the engine howl. You respect a car that forces its driver to assertively and smoothly engage the clutch, or face the immediate consequence of stalling.

The supercar appeal with speed at the forefront of features is certainly viable, but the opposite kind of car can be extremely entertaining in the right situation. Fast expensive cars are known for their power, but also their impeccable handling, quality interiors, and stylish exteriors. I recently drove a brand new Infiniti G37S with a loud exhaust system. It sounded pretty cool, had plenty of power and looked great in black. It didn’t really stir my bones too much. Its feel was stale. It could be that the G37 is just like the G35, and I’ve grown more than sick of that car.

After the Infiniti, I drove a new Hyundai Accent. These little cars are predictable and cheap. They handle poorly, sport plastic interiors with tiny seats. All these so called drawbacks and I had a hilarious time! With 85 horsepower and a light tinny shell of a chassis, the Hyundai feels like a fat go-kart. I punched it around a corner, experienced understeer, then yanked the hand brake which successfully whipped the rear around into a fluid slide. With a tweak of the wheel in the opposite direction, and releasing the handbrake, the rear returned to its rightful place. The lame suspension of the basic Korean machine made for a body roll experience not unlike a minivan. ‘Topsy turvy’ almost describes it.

hyundai-accent-20-250x250 I had a much better time experiencing inertia dynamics in an economy car than straight line acceleration in a finer vehicle. Small cars are perfect for tiny race venues such as autocross and larger race cars are fit for wide, several mile long tracks. Each is entertaining in its own right. But then again, I can have fun in any car!