Slow Cars Driven Fast
October 1, 2013
By Scott Lewis
Is it better to drive a fast car slow... or drive a slow car fast?
Think about that for a second. If someone handed you the keys to a Lamborghini and said you can have it. The only catch... you have to drive it every day. Wow! That's Awesome. Would you take it? Yea... until you realize how much work it is to drive a supercar in daily traffic.
The best Ferraris and Lamborghinis in the world do not make for good daily transportation. You have way too many compromises.
But what about other "sports" cars. I know people that drive Miatas everyday. And not just new ones, but ones that are well past there warrantee. And they have a blast driving them day after day. Why?
Quite simply... there is a lot of fun pushing a slow car as fast as possible in a slow environment. Cut the corner just right... even at 22 MPH. Slip between a couple of big SUVs... and take off. Take that clover off ramp at 50 MPH when the sign says 25 MPH. Whoo-Hoo!
Try doing any of that in a Ferrari and it pales in comparison. These tasks do not even come close to using what the Ferrari has to offer. Then again... unless the police block off miles of highway... you will never experience all a Ferrari or Lamborghini has to offer on public roads. Even Porsches are stifled by traffic. These cars need to be on a track to really enjoy what they are capable of.
Sure, a Miata or Subaru BRZ or Mini Cooper will be fun on a race track. But the speed you can reach with them on a track pales compared to all supercars.
Granted... having owned a 1993 Camaro Z-28 with 275 hp... I can tell you that there is a lot of enjoyment from peeling away from a light and catching second gear rubber (with an automatic). But then you have to let off or worry about killing someone or getting in trouble with a ticket or something. It has it moments... but those moments still don't reach the potential of the car. And those moments are few and far between.
This is one of the reasons enthusiasts sometimes like a high mileage car. Hypermiling can be almost as much fun. Here you are trying so hard to maintain speed. It becomes a challenge to not have to slow down. Brakes are bad... when trying to squeak out every last drop of fuel. Managing to navigate traffic without loosing momentum can be a thrill in itself.
Don't put down slow cars... as long as the car provides the driver the kind of feedback that makes driving fun. The sensation of the tires working under the car. Seats that hold you in place as you take an off ramp. Tires that grip a corner without squealing. These are not traits of your average Prius... but a Miata or BRZ/FR-S or Mini Cooper... yea... these cars shine here.
I have a Mini Cooper S, but I could see driving a base Mini Cooper... with a manual transmission... and having plenty of fun on a twisty mountain road and in traffic... all while getting mid 30's MPG. Not as good as a Prius... but much more fun... and every day.... unlike that Lamborghini.