Your comment made me smile, Zippy. True, if you can afford one of these you're probably already killing the planet with other foms of overconsumption! OK, perhaps that is a generalization, but not one that's too far off. I suppose the specialty cars are meant to be just that. And they probably don't actually get driven very much anyway!
I tend to think a bit like John, my main thought isn that for anybody who can afford any of these vehicles, which probably nobody would insure, that the cost of fuel would be a trivial item. Like the sign in one store said, "if you need to ask the price, you can't afford it", and I have walked into stores like that a few times. I look at the prices and know that I don't belong there.
I was in the boot store at Mall of America, and I asked a sales person to direct me to thye less expensive boots. I saw none of then under about $200, and decided that I ceratinly was in the wrong place.
The target market for the cars in this article is not people who want to enjoy the comfort and performance of their cars. It's people who want to stand out from the crowd and hang their chequebooks out in public view, to announce "I'm richer than thou" - the same crowd who will pay 10 grand for an ugly wristwatch or a 4 figure sum for a simple purse or handbag. There's money in this market, but I'm not sure there is much job satisfaction in catering for it,. When it comes to fun, of all the vehicles I've driven, it was a Toyota Hi-lux with a diesel engine that I enjoyed the most. Each to his own.
The car publications and TV shows that I read and watch are all raving about the modern day American muscle car wars! ...not cars with the best miles per gallon rating. The same is true at the local Southern California car-culture hang-out spots where folks show-off their nice and unique special cars...muscle cars rule!...not economy. Of course all the older and powerful American muscle cars are also great for weekend cruising and looking.
The power levels of the current late-model Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger with V8 engines is astounding, as is the performance level. The special models have even more power and performance. The base model V8's actually get decent fuel economy when driven easily (such as 18 mpg city, 28 mpg highway). I also find it incredible the good manners of the modern-day Hot Rod muscle cars; smooth and quiet idle, but with nice throaty exhaust sound when given a few RPMs.
My older pristine bone-stock 1998 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 (305 HP 5.7 litre "LS" V8 with 6-speed manual transmission) will still turn heads when cruising down Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach, California, while I'm absolutely invisible when driving my 2012 Honda Civic. When I'm done with a hard week of work, it's very enjoyable to get my Camaro toy out of my garage for a weekend daytime jaunt...enjoy a few zero-60 mph in 5 seconds acceleration runs. My Camaro gets 15 mpg city, 26 mpg highway when not driven aggressively. My "daily driver" "grocery getter" geeky Honda Civic gets 26-27 mpg around town, and it does 40-42 mpg at 80 mph on long freeway runs.
"Performance" isn't a one-size fits all thing. There's lots of ways to define it. Lots of power, good handling, good fuel economy, hauls lots of stuff, attracts lots of shallow pretty girls, or some combination of the above. A famous race driver once said "It's a lot more fun to drive a slow thing fast than to drive a fast thing slow." I believe that statement. Your example of the Miata is a perfect embodiment of that. It's really any a fast car, but it handles well and gets okay mileage. It's downfall is that isn't not very practical at all. It's a two seater coupe, not a sedan, with a tiny trunk, and it's a terrible winter car for Wisconsin. I need 4 doors that works as a daily driver for myself and my family year-round and I want to have fun doing it. Subaru makes some great options, all of which fall just short of your somewhat optimistic mileage expectations. I wonder if you and I have different ideas of what a "fun car" is.
For the record I drive a 2005 Mazda6 hatchback with a 3.0L V6. My everyday average combined fuel economy is only around 19-20 MPG. I bought this car used and paid $9000 for it. It's got a great blend of performance and practicality, though fuel economy isn't the best and I wish it had a bit more power. On the highway it'll get up to 27 MPG, but my daily commute is mostly city driving so I only end up averaging around 19-20 MPG. Newer versions of the engine I have are making better fuel economy at similar or slightly better power output, but I can't justify the expense on a new vehicle for only a 10% increase in fuel econ. It'll never pay off by the time I'm ready for a different car.
Here in Wisconsin, FWD, AWD, or 4WD vehicles are generally preferred if you need one vehicle for use year-round. Most FWD vehicles are poor performers handling wise because of their propensity for one-wheel spin, wheel hop, torque-steering, and they usually tend to understeer more than I like. In deep snow, this creates a tendency to plow while trying to turn. I had a RWD Pontiac G8 before this car and it was rather good in the snow once fitted with aggressive snow tires. Unfortunately, it got totaled after being rear-ended by an inattentive driver in a Jeep Liberty with bald tires in January last year. That car had similar fuel economy numbers. It was fun to drive with good power and handling and it was a great family car
Look, I and others have stated plainly that the cars in this article are extreme examples. Many of these are granted exemptions to mandated fuel economy requirements because of low production volumes of the ones that are sold, most are not daily drivers that are putting thousands of miles on per year. All are heavily taxed with gas guzzler fees to be a disincentive for buyers, but often on these cars, money isn't a huge hurdle. If you don't care about fuel costs much, then you may not care much about a one-time tax either.
The government is already doing what you ask and are mandating higher mileage from newer cars right around what you're asking for. Schedules are defined when these economy improvements must be made. Are you saying they aren't making these incremental increases rapidly enough or that the rules need to change in how they are applied? Many automakers are already phasing out larger engines because of these rules. Mazda, for example, now only offers 4-cylinder engines in the Mazda6 and is expected to finally offer a diesel version to the US within the next year or so. I even heard that Ford may be building a Mustang with a 4-banger using their impressive new EcoBoost engines. A pony car with a 4-banger! Madness! And I'm sure it will sell, too. This kind of thing is happening industry wide. Don't let this article fool you. It's not representative of everything being built. These are outliers and are a dying breed. But that doesn't mean every car built needs to be a boring econobox. The Tesla Model S is a great role model for where the industry should be headed. Awesome power, handling, aggressive styling, great efficiency... It's got it all except for a price people can afford. Tone down the tech in the cockpit, and use some cheaper interior materials, boost production volumes and that would go a long way to making a car I could actually afford to buy that would keep you lot happy at the same time.
I'm not denying you the right to have fun behind the wheel. But I don't see a linear correlation between the price of a car or the power of its' engine and the owners' satisfaction. You can have fun in a 2.0 liter Mazda MX5, too.
The actual MPG figures are not the point - if you are in the bottom 10% of the efficiency table, you are probably doing something wrong.
Vipre, you are quite correct. We have fought only two petroleum driven wars in the past quarter century.
Just for the record, I do drive a small efficient car but I never make derogatory remarks to those who do not, unless they raise the question. And even then I try to argue the science, rather than raise personal attacks based on assumed (but unverified) facts about the other person. And I dertainly do not ascribe psychological syndromes to anyone based on a few lines of his writing.
As for a standard of efficiency, I would like to see at least 35 to 40 mi/gal, but realize that people's needs vary. Very few, except occupations such as farmers and forest workers need a high clearance 4-wheel drive SUV. If one needs to carry a lot of stuff, a light (2 wheel drive) station wagon would seem more suitable.
Perhaps SUVs should have to be registered as trucks or agricultural vehicles with the associated rules. Note that the SUV driver you cited was using the vehicle for recreation (soccer).
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