Last month, I ranted on about the seemingly sad state of the import performance industry. I argued that if our scene is diminishing, manufacturers are the source of the blame. Companies just aren't making cars that compact car enthusiasts want and have ruined popular models by letting their size, weight, and price creep continuously upward while not necessarily adding to performance. This month, I'm offering these manufacturers some solutions.
Listen auto manufacturers, listen real good. I know that most of the people in your product planning departments don't know squat about cars, don't even like cars, and would rather be dreaming up cookies for the Keebler Elves to cobble up next week for all they care about the product, so I'm typing real slowly so they understand.
We want a good blank canvas. Don't try to make us what you think we want. We want a small, lightweight, normal, good-looking four-cylinder, front engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe with an optional fastback hatch with fold-down rear seats-a modern AE86 or S13 Silvia, if you will. Look to these good-looking cars for inspiration instead of your artsy-fartsy design departments. Make the base model sell for $18,000 and have an optional turbo model sell for $24,000. You'll sell a ton of them, especially in today's expensive gas economy.
Then, make us a small, lightweight, normal, good-looking, four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive car-not a cartoonish, disproportioned, goofy-looking B Segment like the Fit, Varis, or Versa, which might as well be named the Rectum. Look at the Acura Integra, Honda EG and EK Civic models for inspiration in styling and proportion. Make it a coupe or a hatchback with folding rear seats and four-door variants. Offer an SOHC base, a naturally aspirated, variable cam timing, high-revving DOHC, and an optional turbo engine. Sell them for $17,000 to $24,000. Leave out lavish interiors, fancy sound systems, add-on body kits, and glass moonroofs; we'll do those ourselves. Have strong six-speed manual trannies and LSD differentials as options. Give us multilink suspensions with good geometry.
Listen up manufacturers, do this and you might sell some cars in this market. At $5 a gallon, compact car performance will be back. Make us a good compact car again and we'll beat a path to your showroom doors. Listen Toyota, Honda, and Nissan manufacturers, you used to know how to do it right. Look back to your roots! Or maybe some Chinese company will read my rant and make knockoffs of your old cars. Heck, I'd buy one of those!-Mike