It was a rare occasion when I drove Project DC2 to the grocery store the other day. My fear of it getting stolen has pretty much alienated the car from any public parking areas, but without any other option, I left it by its lonesome as I bolted inside to buy a handful of groceries.
To my relief, when I came out it was still in the spot I had parked it. However, I couldn’t help but notice how small it looked compared to the brand-new Honda Accord parked to its left and the late-model 4-door Civic to the right. These two vehicles dwarfed the Integra, especially the Accord that resembled an SUV rather than a midsize sedan.
It’s no secret that automobiles have been getting bigger and bigger. Just look at any model’s history, and the upsizing trend is abundantly clear. Part of it has to do with safety and regulations, jamming 12 airbags (or whatever the latest number of airbags is at) and ample crumple zones into a car, but surely there has to be a breaking point? Or in a decade will a Honda Accord stretch to the size of a Cadillac Escalade?
And don’t get me started on fuel economy. Weight is the enemy, and here we are building portly cars. Project DC2 gets more than 32 mpg on the highway with a modified K20A2 and short gear ratio. Civics of yesteryear (early ’90s) can average more than 40 mpg with no batteries or variable valve timing. Can you imagine the fuel economy in a car with today’s powerplants that would weigh around 2,200–2,400 lbs? I’m willing to bet it would be damn near 50 mpg. Granted, that might mean we have to deal with a little more road noise or less airbags, but I’d be the first to sign up — maybe it will be sooner than I think.
Scion has been teasing us with its FRS concept car that promises to bring a light, compact package size to the market. If this vehicle succeeds at its mission, then I can only hope more manufacturers will follow suit and we’ll have nimble, lightweight, fun-to-drive and (I shouldn’t forget) fuel-efficient cars. Then I’ll be able to park my Integra without giving it an inferiority complex.
Now if only there’s something that can be done about those car thieves…
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