Why own a $57,000 Infiniti M56 if it can’t be driven at half the speed it was designed to reach?
(Page 2 of 3)
Equally true: A modern fuel-injected 200 hp V-6 will get you to 100 without breaking a sweat — and to 80 or so (about the fastest we can realistically drive here for any length of time) and maintain it, easily.
And it wouldn’t get 16 mpg (or cost $57k) like the 420 hp M56 does.
But, we’ve been convinced by the marketing and PR wizards that a V-8 more powerful than Ferrari V-12s were in the '80s is an absolute Essential — or at least, very desirable — even if we have neither the inclination nor the opportunity to ever actually use two-thirds of that capability.
Current luxury cars are more juiced up than Arnold Schwarzenegger during his Mr. Olympia days — and like him, built mostly for show.
In Europe (Germany especially) really powerful cars do get used, so it makes some sense. But there’s something symptomatically American about millions of 300 and 400 hp luxury cars loafing along at 64 mph — their engines burbling, their chrome plated 20 inch rims spinning… like Arnold flexing his biceps, but never actually doing anything with them.
Virtually all current-year luxury cars are really sports cars. They have sharply raked windshields and low-cut rooflines, hold-you-tight-bucket seats with floor (and paddle) shifters and consoles and huge hooded gauge clusters with tachometers and 8,000 RPM redlines. They ride on 18, 19 and 20-inch light-alloy wheels with tires that have sidewalls as skinny and hard as the 20-year-old flatbelly who teaches aerobics at the gym.
Which is lovely, if you do track days — or drive on public roads like you do on track days.
But 95 percent of the people who drive these cars, don’t. As Bob Dole once said: You know it. I know it. The American people know it. But they don’t care. They willingly pay fifty or sixty grand to cram their not-so-flexible, not-so-young-anymore backsides into a tight-fitting, hard-riding sports car with four doors and pay $300 a pop for 150 mph-rated tires that never see the high side of 80 — in order that they may feel youthful and virile and whatever-else, as conditioned into their heads by the PR maestros who make it so.
My father-in-law drives a Cadillac Sedan de Ville from the early 1990s — the era when Cadillac still built luxury cars. It does not have bucket seats. It has flat, three-across bench seats. They give when you sit down — and are perfect for 15-hour drives to Vegas. A pull-down column-shifter controls an automatic that is automatic. It does not require or expect you to tap paddle shifters or engage “sport” mode. There is no “sport” mode. Its job is to transition between gears without the driver or passengers noticing or feeling anything.
That was the whole object of the exercise, you see.
It has pop-on (and off) wire wheel covers on 15 inch rims — with smooth-riding all-season radials wrapped around ‘em. The suspension is soft. You don’t feel potholes. The steering is one-finger effortless — and the car is incredibly comfortable.
True, it doesn’t “handle” in the way that almost all modern car reviewers require for their approval. But it wasn’t meant to. What it was meant to do is glide along, smoothly and quietly — relaxation in motion.
Which is what used to be what luxury meant.
I miss it. Don’t you?
On the other end of the scale, we have economy car buyers who don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the automakers to produce subcompacts that can take a T-bone impact at 60 mph like a 5,000 pound S-Class Benz, yet also knock down 40 MPGs but still do 0-60 in less than 8 seconds; that feature GPS, power windows and locks, Bluetooth wireless — and still be priced under $15k.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?