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True Driving Experience - Parts & Labor

More than sales brochure information

Nov 1, 2008
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Statistical Slide Rule
We barely got all the i's dotted and t's crossed on this issue and we are already working on a comparison of European V8 sedans for the next. We are putting in hundreds of miles, burning up plenty of rubber, and buying barrels of gas in an effort to bring you the best story we can. The amusing part, to me at least, is that some of our readers will just flip to the stats at the back of the article and pick their own winner. They will compare horsepower, torque, and performance numbers and decide for themselves who the winner is without any consideration of experience. I have already seen the arguments online about which of these cars is the best, and without fail, it comes down to data racing.

Those of us who do this for a living realize how much more there is to a car than just numbers. If numbers were the only things that mattered, then why do you bother reading a magazine in the first place? Hopefully our driving impressions and thoughts on the car give you an insight you wouldn't normally find in a sales brochure. We want to take you inside the driving experience and let you know what it's like to live with one the cars as opposed to just what you can expect from a quantitative point of view.

We realize how few people get to drive cars like this, much less three of them back to back for a week. While we may have slightly different individual taste in cars than each of our readers, hopefully we can relate enough of the cars idiosyncrasies to let you know what each one is all about. Just please don't judge them solely on numbers alone.

The way I hear people talk about cars I have to wonder how many of them are working in an office during the day and street racing triad gang members for money at night. Is it really that crucial that you can get to 60 a tenth of a second faster than your neighbor? Maybe it is because I am fortunate enough to drive truly fast cars on a regular basis. Maybe I'm getting old, or maybe I just have different priorities than other people. However you look at it, all the experience I have tells me that numbers aren't all that matter.

I just returned from a trip where I got to drive a mid-engined supercar on a track back to back with a station wagon. You guessed it: The station wagon was far more fun. It did exactly what I wanted it to do, when I wanted it to. The supercar is a fantastic car, but it just wasn't as involving. That is the ultimate goal isn't it? To make the driver feel like they are part of the machine. To find that Zen-like state where everything else melts away and total clarity exists.

If finding your Zen involves arguing about tenths of a second and redlines then you're missing the point. We consider steering feel, braking consistency, the feeling of security the seats give you, stuff that numbers just don't convey. A reader can look at acceleration numbers to determine how fast a car is, but it won't convey how the power comes on, how it feels coming out of a corner, this is what really matters.

I will admit, that when I was a kid I argued numbers until I was blue in the face. Road & Track, Motor Trend, and Car and Driver would provide all the fuel for the fire for verbal shootouts. Once I got older and began doing more driving something clicked. Hopefully one of our reviews will flip that same switch for some of the readers.

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