I recently spent a week with a Maserati GranTurismo Sport. During my time with it, I dreamt of ways to find the necessary funds to buy one. I was so taken with the curvaceous Italian coupe, I did – for a brief moment – think it might be the perfect car.
After all, it seats four in comfort and style, has one of the best engines I’ve ever experienced – with an incredible Ferrari soundtrack – and insulates you from the outside elements, while simultaneously delivering a superb driving experience. But it also achieved 18 mpg at most, and it’s so large you can’t park it in a normal parking space and expect to be able to exit the car. The trunk space is also tiny, and I’d need to own another car to transport my dogs. And it costs $130,000, so it is beyond my budget.
The Maserati has its flaws. And so does any car you might suggest. The question, therefore, should be, “does the perfect car exist for me?” (With “me” being me, you or anyone.)
Each person has an infinite array of needs, wants, desires and budget for their car. Often, you have to compromise and buy what you can get that is the nearest fit for these myriad factors.
I have a wife, 11-year-old son and three dogs. I want a car that can transport all of us at once, plus the occasional bulky item. I want an involving driving experience, a powerful, yet economical engine, an interior devoid of cheap plastics and a good sound system. So I bought an Audi S4 Avant.
On paper, the Audi sounds perfect. But it isn’t. Yes, the engine is massively powerful and makes the right noise. Yes, the interior is mainly devoid of cheap plastics. Yes, it is spacious and can accommodate all of us. No, it is not economical – it averages 20mpg. No, it is not an involving drive. The steering feels wooden, as do most Audis. And I’ve even gone off the shape, after initially loving it. I now want a coupe. But you can’t fit dogs in the boot of a coupe.
My perfect car doesn’t exist. If it did, it would be a strange shape to accommodate my desire for a coupe with lots of space and the engine would have to defy the laws of physics by being both powerful, economical and most definitely not sounding like a tractor – i.e. I won’t buy a diesel.
Each and every one of us makes compromises when buying a car. A friend (who is a professional test driver) said to me he believes most people would buy a different car if they had thought about what they were looking for beforehand.
In order to do this, you must think about what you want, analyze what’s available, read reviews (both professional and by owners) and buy the most suitable car for your budget.
But you will still make compromises and you will still not find the perfect car. I don’t know of a single person who is completely happy with their current car. Indeed, I recently asked what annoyed people about their car and the response was huge. Even those who said their car was almost perfect came up with a list of minor niggles, such as the piano-black dash attracts dust, or some piece of the interior is perfectly placed to bang against their head or knee, or the cupholder doesn’t actually hold any cups without them falling over.
The new car market is vast. New niches are created all the time to fill consumers’ desires. But no-one will ever hit on that most elusive of things – the perfect car.
In my opinion, the car that would suit most people most of the time would be the BMW 330d xDrive Sports Wagon. It’s spacious, economical, powerful, looks good, can drive on snow and doesn’t cost a fortune. But it still involves compromises. The interior will be too small for some, the price too high for others and it isn’t exactly a great car for image conscious younger drivers. Also, the diesel isn’t available in the US and xDrive isn’t available in RHD countries. So you can’t actually buy such a thing at present. The nearest in the US is the 328i xDrive Sports Wagon, which uses a 2-liter turbocharged engine.
Actually, I have found the perfect car. I bought a 1986 Porsche 924S. It looks great, handles sensationally and returns 40mpg. I’ve finally got everything I want from a car – in two cars.