Mailbag day is here. Someone wants to know what I think some overrated cars might be. I bet I can find a few surprises.
Hey Mike. I read your article on some future classics, and I loved it. With that in mind, do you have any overrated cars you’ve experienced? If the F-Type was a nice surprise, what was a let down?
Pete, there are no bad cars anymore. Even a Nissan Versa, as basic as it is, will provide you with solid and reliable transportation for many years. The days of the original Dodge Neon shedding bolts on your first trip home from the dealer are gone.
With that in mind, I can give you a few examples of cars that I wanted to love, but never ended up loving me back.
5 – Nissan Z
Sigh. The Z.
400 horses. A rear-wheel drive chassis. A six-speed manual! But together, it’s missing something. That something is probably refinement.
Forget the car’s illustrious back story for a minute and focus on the turn of the century, when Nissan was barely making ends meat. Renault to the rescue, right? Sort of.
The 350Z was really a car about compromises. Carlos Ghosn had to make the base price start under $30,000. It didn’t introduce anything new, simply repurposed bits already in use by other cars (unlike the 300ZX). But it worked…20 years ago.
Now, that same recipe isn’t really cookin’ because speed has become cheaper and easier to obtain. So has refinement. That the new Z looks a lot like the 350 and 370Z doesn’t help its cause. And that low base price? To bad it didn’t stay. The Z gets expensive faster than it gets to sixty.
It warms my heart that it’s still around, but if they are going to make a sports car with “soul”, then they need to try harder here.
4 – BMW X3 M
It’s a tall M3, right? Nah.
M usually nails the suspensions on these cars – a mix between comfort and handling that not many (Cadillac) have yet to match. But something happened with the X3 M. I’m not sure if it was Hans yelling at them to “make it corner more!”, or the fact that this is just an X3 and it’s a big, heavy SUV, but this thing crashes over bumps. Why so serious? You’re taking the kids to school.
I used to think it was because it was an SUV, but I’ve driven many sporty ones by now, and none require the sacrifice of your lower spine to handle properly.
Part of the problem isn’t even the X3 M’s fault. The M3 Wagon is cooler, and will always be so, even if you can’t buy one here.
3 – 911 T
Perhaps the problem stems from knowing that Porsche can make it even better, if only you could sell one of your children to fund such a purchase. Could also be the spartan interior. “You want a stick? FINE! Take everything else away!” Could also be the 718 GT4, which costs about as much but is more telepathic in its responses. No back seat though, so I get it.
In football, players that are simply there as bodies to fill out the roster are defined by the term “just a guy”. You won’t remember anything about them once they go. Average skill set – even though they made it to the NFL, they don’t have quite enough juice to make it to the Hall of Fame.
The 911 T is just a guy.
2 – Any F chassis BMW
From 2009 to about 2020, BMW produced the F-chassis cars. They almost always looked really good. Usually fast in M trim (or even 35 level). But the inside of all of them…bleh.
Oh, you could gussy them up with extended Merino leather. The steering wheel shape became iconic. I’d dare say the seats were just as good as they are now. But none of them aged well on the inside, and if you are in the market, you’ll be amazed at how quickly everything became dated.
“Mike, that’s every car.” Is it? A Mercedes from 2016 might use an old infotainment system, but the interior’s design and materials are timeless. And remember, you spend a lot more time inside the car than you do outside looking at it.
At least I hope so.
1 – Nissan GT-R
The GT-R and I go way back, and I was really excited to test one out earlier this year.
I was in the market when they first came out – my first “big” purchase. But it felt like a fast Z, and it sounded like a loud Z. Plus that transmission. The entire car is so very NISSAN, which is fine because it’s their halo car, but being NISSAN isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Many cars have caught up and surpassed it, a consequence of being on sale far beyond its expiration date. Modding them to run 9s? Cool. Let me know how that works out for anything aside from living your life a quarter mile at a time.
Like in the 90s, it became expensive fast. Original sticker in 2009: $77,840. MSRP now: $120,990. Nearly double. Think it’s twice as good as that 2009 version?
The biggest sin? Sort of like the X3 M, it’s not the GT-R’s fault. But the cool one was always the R34. Only now, you can buy them.
Hmm, I feel a Talk Me Out Of It coming on…
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