What Makes an Enthusiast Car? Read This Review of a Cute Ute to Find Out

Mazda CX5 is fun?
Image Swiped from TheTruthAboutCars.com

As enthusiasts for kinda crappy but kinda awesome cars of days gone by, we wrestle with a problem. For me, this is the “Mustang GT Problem” (read Señor Bowman’s take on the 2013 here, by the way). Which is to say, the new pony outruns all but the most recent supercars without the supercar price or cost of ownership. Flipping it around, the number of unsporting vehicles with more power and faster 1/4 mile times than my genuinely awesome ’06 WRXagon grows by the week…but I’d still rather row the five speed behind the boxer than float along in a 270-hp RAV4. What gives?

As an engineer by hereditary genetic defect training, setting abstract semi-paradoxes to words isn’t my strong suit. Luckily, The Truth About Cars’ Jack Baruth did the job. Oddly enough, in a review of Mazda’s latest compact crossover.

Yes, we’re making you jump.

For a tiny bit of context, Baruth went to the lauch of the new CX-5 at Laguna Seca (guess our invite got lost in the mail) and wrote it up for both TTAC and LeftLaneNews. 

Some of LeftLane’s readers took me to task for suggesting this was an “enthusiast vehicle”. They cited the lack of power and inability to either dominate the Autobahn or pose convincingly as a dominator of same. I think they missed the point. Power and raw speed may have distinguished “enthusiast vehicles” in the past, but we live in an era where a Camry on DOT slicks can rip a thirteen-second quarter and your ex-wife’s SUV can bully the air at a buck-forty or above. Ford and Chevrolet both sell ponycars that would humiliate my old dream Ferrari 575, and they sell them brand new for half of what the Ferraris still cost on the used market. The Porsche PanArabia Turbo S Carrera GT2 Orthodontist Edition handily outpaces its own Cayman R on the racetrack. Numbers aren’t telling the story any more. In 2012, enthusiast vehicles are ones which whisper to the driver with steering feel and predictable trail-braking, not scream at him with six hundred horsepower and single-use ceramic brakes. Forget the numbers.

What he said. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my ~170 horsepower Falcon needs new rear shocks.

Trackday Diaries: In which our author falls in love with a cute ute – The Truth About Cars

[Ed – Yup, I actually managed to forget a link to the TTAC article when this originally published. I claim new parent no-sleep exemption.]

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