Thursday, July 17, 2008

Car Reviews Indicate that New Cars are Cool But They Aren't Hot Cars

As some of you know, I am trading in my 2002 Porsche Twin Turbo. No - this is nothing to do with the price of gas, I just really don't drive it enough. The car has been a feature on Duane's World but is now up for sale. In the meantime, I am in need of another car. One of the things that I've noticed lately whenever I've been reading car reviews is that the new cars everyone is interested in are cool but they're not hot. What I mean by that is that these cars have some really interesting features but they aren't the kind of cars that you want to go cruising in with your buddies. Emerging car designers should think about ways to incorporate the cool features of these cars with a style that hot people are going to want to be seen driving. I guess people are maturing and realizing that things like hybrids are actually far cooler than a Porsche Turbo. Go figure?

For example, the Toyota Prius is great in terms of the technology used in hybrid cars and the fact that it gets great gas mileage but you aren't exactly going to want to drive up to your friend's house specifically to show off this car. Likewise, the Smart car is a cool car with a unique design that's different from a lot of the new cars out there but it's not as though you're going to be able to really feel like you're a hot guy while driving around in one of these cars. You don't drive up to someone else in one of these cars and rev your car engine to get attention on the road.

There's nothing wrong with the new cars that are coming out today. All of the car reviews about vehicles like the Toyota Prius and the Smart car seem to indicate that there are some features about these cars that are worth keeping as we design new cars in the future. I just think that we need to take some of the benefits of hybrid cars and small cars and make them a little bit more stylish. I'm all for driving a cool car with modern features but I don't want to look like a tool while doing it.

Why doesn't FIA or some other organization have a racing class for these cars? A lot of car technology (Radial Tires, Seatbelts, crumple zones, improved fuel mileage to name a few) are the direct result of innovation stemmed by racing. I can see two cars guys 10 years from now having this conversation:

Car Guy 1: "Hey - nice rod. What is that? A 20 Gigawatt DC inverter under the hood?"
Car Guy 2: "I wish. It's the stock 15 GW but I added a boost capacitor to give me 150 kw of torque when I hit the pedal hard"
Car Guy 1: "Wicked - nice styling too. Those 28" rims with regenerative braking kick ass".

You get the idea.


  1. I love my 2007 Prius for a lot of reasons, but as a programmer, I really like the fact that it's hackable. That and the fact that it's the only new car I've ever bought that has actually increased in value (by about $2500) since I purchased it. Now that's hot!

  2. Anyone know some hacks? I found this:


  3. Seatbelts, crumple zones, improved fuel mileage to name a few) are the direct result of innovation stemmed by racing.

    Indeed, I always thought that one of my first acts as newly elected President of the U.S. would be to mandate zero-emissions for Nascar vehicle. Those boys would come up with the technology we all need in a season or two, tops.

  4. Some guy in Japan has managed to hack a prius (so he claims) to get 116 MPG.

    not sure if this is audited but it is interesting. I'd love to see how to get high performance out of it at will (like a boost button)

  5. Anonymous:

    I agree. I am confused why both the US and Canadian Governments don't just MAKE IT A LAW that all new cars have to get XX MPG and meet XXX emissions targets. It's pretty bloody simple - if you make it mandatory people have to comply.

    I say give industry 3 - 5 years to raise the minimum to 45 MPG otherwise you cannot sell the car in these countries. California went at it alone and now even Obama wants to use their model as the basis.

  6. Tesla Roadster! Definitely has the technology cool factor of being 100% electric and 0-60 in 3.9 is hot enough for me! Now all I need is an extra $110,000 for the base model :-P

  7. Duane, I agree that the smart cars would not ever be hot cars. I think if someone still has to show off his new hot car - there is one coming that is "Ferrari California" [Came across here:]

    We have to just wait for few months!

  8. When Tesla will have a car that cost around $20K and is not targeted to the 'high end' market - the world will be a (much) better green place, no? :) any way, I agree law should move the market to make car much more green then they are now.

  9. What I am really conscious of though is the "net" cost of green autos. If the car doesn't pollute as much, yet the process of manufacturing and engineering the car results in more pollution, no one wins.

    Economies of scale work well for bringing down pollution costs and creating greener manufacturing places but "one or two" off tesla roadsters are likely to produce more carbon than driving a pickup truck. If Tesla has to have 10,000 boxes of 10-25 individual components deliver by conventional automobiles every time they build one car, plus the manufacture of those custom parts uses more energy, where is the win.

    I think the industry is moving in the right direction, but it is not thinking "net" yet.

  10. UPDATE:

    I have now sold my Porsche. For more than 6 years I have driven Porsches and now must find an alternative. Not sure where this will go yet. Bike and skateboard are my preferred methods of transport but it is hard to carry lots of equipment for gigs etc.

  11. So you are thinking about the cars with Cool+hot....Thats really nice touch to your topic...if both needs to be present in a car...i believe that you need to pay a hefty sum for the car....I also believe that there are few makes that satisfy your need...Better to go through few reviews before deciding what to go for...

  12. Well, it goes for many things, advertisements nowadays are really that interesting and convincing yet the product doesn't really posses that much quality. Advertisers just know how to really make it look nice and worth your money

  13. Agree with last comment. Form and marketing seem to triumph over function too often. The Porsche is one of the understated cars that actually perform over the claims (unlike Ferrari which often stretches their numbers). Case in point - my old 2001 twin turbo had an advertised 0-100KPH time of 4.2 seconds; everyone who tested it in real world conditions consistently got 3.9 seconds.

  14. Awesome post!

    If you move forward to buy a car, here is a tip:

    When buying anew car you should bring a piece of paper to the dealership and make sure you do all the math of the finance calculations yourself. The point is not that they will do the math wrong. The point is you will see exactly how the deal is structured. Do not be afraid to take the time to do this or look like a fool.

    Here are five other steps that may save you thousands if you follow them next time you buy a car:

  15. You simply have to be able say 'no, thanks at that price' at least once to the dealer. This gives them a strong message that you are serious about your research.

    My dad swears by this process,

  16. Such a nice write up, it is really interesting..


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