Before I started reviewing vehicles, which gave me the chance to drive a variety of models, I thought people who bought the “lesser” models were just being cheap. Why would anyone get the six-cylinder, if he could afford the V8? Why get the midline level, instead of the top one?
Now that I have the opportunity to compare, I’ve learned that it isn’t always about the cost. Sometimes, the lesser model is the one you want.
Take that 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S in the picture. I drove that car for a week.
I didn’t like it.
Now, this is not to say that the 911 isn’t a good car. It’s a great car: the quintessential Porsche sports car, 400 horses, seven speeds on its stick shift, 50 years of history behind it. It goes like stink and follows your hands like it’s reading your mind.
But I also thought it felt too heavy and cumbersome. If I were dropping my dimes at the dealership, I’d get the Boxster, which feels lighter and far more nimble, even though it’s some $50,000 less. It only has 315 horsepower, but I prefer its balance, and with a curb weight that undercuts the Carrera, it still accelerates like a demon. The 911 is the right car for a lot of drivers, but not for me.
Ditto with Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance division. I spent a day at the track, driving almost all of the AMG models back-to-back. My favourite was the C63, the least-expensive and least-powerful of the bunch. I wasn’t surprised when several people agreed with me, citing the C63’s wonderful balance, power-to-weight feel, and marvellous handling.
And as for the Chrysler 300, well, I really do love that car’s beautiful, bulletproof Hemi, but I’d only get it for bragging rights, since the V6 does a great job without stuffing more than you need under the hood. Furthermore, I’d take Toyota’s Avalon over a comparable Lexus, and Hyundai’s Genesis sedan over an Equus, and BMW’s 1 Series over its 3.
Now, I’m not always about the less-is-more. I’d prefer a Ford Raptor to a regular F-150, and if we’re at Nissan anyway, let’s take the GT-R for a spin.
But I’ve learned that just because something’s the “best” in terms of performance numbers, or options, or the highest tag, it’s not necessarily the best for every driver. It doesn’t matter what the critics say, or what your friends say. Instead, it’s all comes down to how it feels behind the wheel.