Episode 580 – Car Sales Down in Europe, Bob Lutz Considers Comeback, Rinspeed BamBoo

February 16th, 2011 at 12:00pm

Runtime 7:47

New-car sales have been falling in Europe for 10 months now due to the weak economy and governments ending incentive programs. Bob Lutz and General Motors are in talks about bringing him back as a paid consultant. Rinspeed will debut a wild looking vehicle at this year’s Geneva Motor Show called the BamBoo. All that and more, plus John answers your questions about smart and covetic aluminum in the “You Said It!” segment.

youtube-logo-3

»Subscribe to Podcast | iTunes | Zune | RSS | Listen on Phone Stitcher

This is Autoline Daily for February 16, 2011. And now, the news.

CAR SALES DOWN IN EUROPE
New-car sales have been falling in Europe for 10 months now, largely because governments there let their cash-for-clunkers programs expire. And because of weak economies. Bloomberg reports that Fiat, Toyota and Ford all saw their sales drop—a lot. But Germany and France are clear exceptions. Sales grew there. And thanks to a strong German economy, Volkswagen saw its sales grow 6 percent, and it now commands 22 percent of the European market, which is the highest I ever remember it reaching.

RUSSIA FASTEST-GROWING MARKET
German automakers are also benefiting from the strong growth in China, but China is no longer the fastest-growing market in the world, at least not on a percentage basis. Right now Russia is the fastest-growing car market in the world, with sales up 72 percent last month. Then comes India, up 24 percent, and Brazil, up 14 percent. At the other end of the spectrum sales in Japan fell 19 percent in January.

BUILDING MORE VOLTS WON’T BE EASY (subscription required)
GM’s head honcho, Dan Akerson, says he wants to drastically increase production of the Volt, more than doubling production over the next two years! The company was scheduled to build 15,000 units this year and 45,000 in 2012. That’s all fine and good, but you can’t just turn a knob and crank out more cars. A very good story in Ward’s points out there’s a HUGE supply chain behind every vehicle on the road that goes four to five layers deep. Every supplier has to ramp-up production and all you need is one to miss their target to delay the entire program. Plus, Volt suppliers are going from hand-built parts to mass-production tools, and then will have to double their tool sets. That adds variability to the process and that can lead to quality problems. It’s good to have stretch goals, but if GM has quality problems with the Volt, it will become the laughing stock of the world.

QUADRICYCLES GAIN POPULARITY IN FRANCE (subscription required)
More and more young people in France are buying quadricycles. These four-wheeled vehicles are limited to a top speed of 28 miles an hour – 45 kilometers an hour – and have a maximum weight of 772 pounds, or 350 kilograms. Despite these limitations they CAN be driven on normal roads. The idea was to give elderly folks in rural France a way of getting around without requiring them to get a driver’s license, which is getting more and more difficult. So now, Ward’s reports, younger people in urban areas are really getting into quadricycles. Still, the market is tiny. Only 13,000 were registered in the country last year. They cost about as much as other small cars, in the neighborhood of €12,000 or about $16,000. But the fuel economy is phenomenal, around 81 mpg – roughly 2.9 L/100 km.

BOB LUTZ CONSIDERS COMEBACK
Like NFL quarterback Brett Favre, Bob Lutz just can’t make up his mind about retirement. According to the Detroit News, the former product chief and GM are in talks about bringing him back as a paid consultant. Lutz retired from GM last year but he continues to have a close relationship with the company and speaks frequently with CEO Dan Akerson. Lutz says “If they want me to come in as a consultant, I’d be very happy to consider it.” Sounds like a done deal to me.

RINSPEED BAMBOO
If you’re at the Geneva Motor Show this year you’ll see this wild-looking vehicle that even its creators admit looks like a grown-up golf cart. Called the BamBoo, it was developed by Rinspeed and Swiss engineering firms 4erC and Esoro. Rinspeed says the BamBoo is created for beautiful beaches and vacation spots around the world. But unlike a golf cart the BamBoo comes with some unique features. The canopy-like inflatable roof is covered with a water resistant nano coating to help protect the interior from possible morning dew. It can even display personal messages on a screen that replaces the radiator grille. It’s an EV so it didn’t need that space anyway. It can seat up to four people but the rear seats are inflatable and can be stored in aluminum cases in the cargo bed. The dashboard is in the shape of a breadbox and even opens like one to reveal the gauges. It also features a docking station for computer tablets next to the glovebox. So, will you see a BamBoo the next time you’re at the beach? Possibly, Rinspeed says “there have been constructive talks with a number of potential manufacturers.”

Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!

And now it’s time for some of your feedback.

Kit Gerhart saw our story that the Penske Automotive Group is throwing in the towel on smart and giving it back to Mercedes. He asks, “I’ve always wondered if Penske ever DROVE a smart before getting involved in its distribution. It’s hard to believe he would have put his money into it had he experienced the horrid transmission.”

Kit, that’s the real puzzle. Any kind of car guy who drove the smart would instantly know it’s not a satisfying car to drive. Maybe there’s a bigger story behind the scenes that would explain why Penske would cut a deal with Mercedes to try and sell those things.

Alex Kovnat saw our report on the breakthrough in aluminum, called covetic aluminum. But he wants to know, “How well will this aluminum-carbon composite or alloy perform with regard to resisting corrosion?”

Alex, that’s the beauty of covetic aluminum. It does not corrode at all. In fact, they also have covetic copper, and it maintains that nice shiny copper look for ever. It doesn’t turn green like normal copper usually does.

Cwolf heard me report that a source in the union tells us some UAW officers are hiring their sons into the skilled trades even though they’re not qualified, and how I said we’re going to be looking into this. He says, “If you discover any connections between unions and organized crime, just think of concrete loafers and remember the name ‘Hoffa.’ Can some of us fellas take turns hosting the show if you disappear?”

Cwolf, thanks for the offer. And whatever happens, the show will go on.

HtG saw our report on Monday that most victims of sudden, unintended acceleration in Toyotas are older women. He says, “So, is what I’m hearing from John this Valentine’s Day that old ladies are crap drivers?”

HtG, I’m not making any editorial comment. All I can say is, them’s the facts.

And that’s today’s report on the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

62 Comments to “Episode 580 – Car Sales Down in Europe, Bob Lutz Considers Comeback, Rinspeed BamBoo”

  1. tj Martin Says:

    Wait a minute ! Not more than 30 days ago Lotus was announcing they’d brought Bob Lutz on as their consultant ( CAR , EVO ) So what’s the deal with Lutz ??

    Is he is or is he aint ?

  2. tj Martin Says:

    E/V News ;

    Today the NYTimes is reporting that the American Counsel for an Energy Efficient Economy , who rate cars on their overall environmental impact ( including tail pipe emissions , manufacturing , maintenance , disposal and the source of the energy involved ) rated the VOLT well below several Gas Only cars ( the MINI Cooper among them )

    Their top pick is the Honda Civic GX

    So remind me . Why is it that Obama wants to throw all our Tax Dollars at E/V development at the cost of dumping Clean Diesel and more Efficient Gas Engines ?

    As well as WTH is it GM wants to produce even more VOLTS ?

  3. dcars Says:

    Is their a connection for increasing volt production and Bob Lutz being hired as a consultant. Or is Dan Ackerson looking for someone to help run such a large complex company? After attending a recent car show I was astounded at the quality of GM’s cars. For such a large lineup they were clearly ahead of many other manufacture’s products in many different car categories.

  4. tj Martin Says:

    Nepotism and the Unions ? Mafia and the Unions ? Here in the US ?

    Heck , lets face it .

    The American Unions official religion IS Nepotism and their Moral Ethic is La Cosa Nostra . ( Mafia ) Always has been . Always will be . Having the right last name in the Unions will get you well beyond your capabilities when it comes to advancement .

    NJ GoodFella’s got nothing over the Bosses in the UAW .

  5. Steve Says:

    As a consultant Bob could work for a dozen companies. That’s the difference between a consultant and an employee.

    Please Bob, GM Needs you.

  6. Don MacConnel Says:

    After looking the Camaro XL1 I could imagine Bob Lutz hovering out there somewhere. Wow, what a ride!
    My guess is that the GM CEO needs Mr. Lutz more than Mr. Lutz needs GM.

  7. jesse Says:

    Tj,the VOLT is the feel good car of OBAMA MOTORS.That’s why they are wasting our tax payer dollars on this nonsense.

  8. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Those quadricycles sound like the ultimate death trap, a vehicle that goes moped speed but is much wider, while still having very little passenger protection.

    They’d be ok in the small villages of France, but in Paris or other large cities? Yikes!!

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    Re the volt, good business sense, build more so unsold stock increases and they can destroy more samples than they did with the EV1.

  10. bob Says:

    Lutz has made a fotrune off the US Automotive insdustry as it went BANKRUPT and we the taxpayers had to foot the bill to bail them out.

    Lutz should NOT be that greedy and want to be a PAID consultant. Where is his loyalty to his benefactors?

    And after all, he is a really OLD geezer, well past the age that people should worry about their Health far more than their Wealth!!!!

    I used to like Lutz, but his greed turned me off BIG TIME.

    IN SUMMARY: Lutz, don’t be a Putz!

  11. Chuck Grenci Says:

    GM has a lot of carguys but could always use one more, and maybe he, (Bob Lutz) has ‘Captain Dans’ ear; we can only hope.

  12. bob Says:

    i bet the quadricycles would have to weigh twice as much (1500 lbs) to make them barely street legal in the US. Their MPG is great at 81 (at what speed? 20 MPH?) but their $16k price tag is UTTERLY RIDICULOUS. Are they effing HAND MADE???

  13. Dave Says:

    I am tried of Lutz. There was ALOT of junk coming from GM on his watch..

    As for GM building more VOLTS..MMM no one is buying them, what a few hunderd sold. Well when they a a few thousand sitting on the lots the price SHOULD come down.

  14. bob Says:

    Actually, John MC Elroy, what you described was o nly a LIGHT Quadricycle, as you can see below there are Quads that are twice as heavy or more:

    “Light quadricycles (L6e)

    Light quadricycles (L6e) are defined by Framework Directive 2002/24/EC as: “motor vehicles with four wheels (…) whose unladen mass is not more than 350 kg, not including the mass of the batteries in case of electric vehicles, whose maximum design speed is not more than 45 km/h, and:

    * (i) whose engine cylinder capacity does not exceed 50 cm3 for spark (positive) ignition engines, or
    * (ii) whose maximum net power output does not exceed 4 kW in the case of other internal combustion engines, or
    * (iii) whose maximum continuous rated power does not exceed 4 kW in the case of an electric motor.

    These vehicles shall fulfil the technical requirements applicable to three-wheel mopeds of category L2e unless specified differently in any of the separate directives”.[1]

    Therefore, in many European countries such as France, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands, light quadricycles can be driven without an automobile driver’s licence (category B).
    [edit] (Heavy) quadricycles (L7e)

    Quadricycles (L7e), also referred to as Heavy quadricycles, are defined by Framework Directive 2002/24/EC as motor vehicles with four wheels “other than those referred to (as light quadricycles), whose unladen mass is not more than 400 kg (category L7e) (550 kg for vehicles intended for carrying goods), not including the mass of batteries in the case of electric vehicles, and whose maximum net engine power does not exceed 15 kW.

    These vehicles shall be considered to be motor tricycles and shall fulfil the technical requirements applicable to motor tricycles of category L5e unless specified differently in any of the separate Directives”.[…”

    From Wikipedia.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    Hey guys, Lutz was part of the team, he was not a dictator. I am sure things would have been diff if he was free to rule a la Castro. He has always criticized GM for its interiors, incl the new Camaro, but at the end of the day, the bean counters have the last word

  16. tj Martin Says:

    OK this is scaring me ( shades of ” The Twilight Zone” ) Two days in a row Bob and I agree ( Lutz the Putz )

    Personally I don’t think GM needs him ( Lutz ) and Lotus sure as Hell shouldn’t want him . One Egocentric ( Bahar) being more than enough .

  17. tj Martin Says:

    Quadricycles ;

    Toy Cars driven by Toy People ( kids without licenses ) with Toy Driving Skills .

    The Lawyers in the US would have a Hey Day with that one , should the Quadricycles make it to the US .

    Do I hear Liability Marathon !

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    Hey, compared to those Quadricycles, the Dumb looks like a genial invention.

  19. Salvador G. Says:

    JohnMc. You know the Smart wouldn’t be a failure if it had been enter as recreational rent car or why not a Quadricycle, then it wouldn’t be consider a crappy car but an excellent quadricycle. And What?… no driving license required, hell yeah! Smart Quadricyle!

    -Plus not more grandmas unintended acceleration (in real car at least).

  20. Chuck Grenci Says:

    While I certainly don’t endorse ‘those’ quadracycles (as if my endorsement would make any difference), I do see them as a step up and maybe even an upgrade to safety as they might replace some of the moped maniacs I see in my part of the world.
    It is usually a good bet, if you see an older rider on these mopeds (some that fit the bill are actually small scooters) that that person has lost his driver’s license (again probably do to multiple DUI’s) and that is now there primary mode of transportation.
    As these, I’ll call them bamboozles (a take off of the other mini vehicle reviewed today) should offer weather protection and maybe a modicum of extra safety (over the two wheeled variety).

  21. bob Says:

    The Q cycles John talked about have a tiny 3 cubic inch (!!!) engine (50 cc) just like the smallest motorcycles.

    But you can buy one of these 50 cc scooters even in Europe for as little as $1,000 or $1,500 NEW.

    That is what makes the $16,000 price of that little POS a TOTAL RIPOFF.

    I like the concept, but I would not pay more than $2,000 for it. After all, for $2,500-$3,000 I could have an “indian Spec” (aka No spec!) Tata Nano!!!

  22. HtG Says:

    If the interior of the Cruze I looked at this weekend can be attributed to Bob Lutz, then Ford should hire him ASAP. I was getting a part for the Miata(air filter) today, but walked into the showroom at a local Ford dealer. I was pretty surprised by the Taurus interior, because it is a ‘minuet in plastique.’ The doors are made of plastic with fake stitched plastic inserts at the elbow. It’s plastic everywhere. Reminded me of the Chrysler stuff I saw a few years ago. WTF? It was the same story with the Edge in the showroom. I know I don’t value size like most people, and Taurus and Edge are big, with really spacious, well laid out interiors but, you could really see where they didn’t spend the money. I didn’t think Fiesta(ok, Siesta, it’s funny)had such a plastic ambiance when I checked it out. GM impressed me.

  23. HtG Says:

    As for those quads in la France, I wonder if someone has done a rational analysis of the value of the life of some pensioner septuagenarian. You might also like it better if a weak, light car rammed into your charcuterie.(look it up H/S)

  24. tj Martin Says:

    @HtG ;

    Why did you have to go and mention that name ??? Things were quiet around here !

    Damn !!!

    Oh and the Charcuterie comment . OUCH ! Quad or not . OUCH !

  25. bob Says:

    I had to look the frigging word up just now

  26. bob Says:

    HtG: your observations are interesting. It seems that Ford has upgraded the interior of the Fiesta (over its older Focus, Fusion and even the big Taurus) but is charging an arm and a leg for it, while GM also offers good interiors in the Cruze but prices it VERY competitively AND advertises the hell out of it on TV. Cruze sales can only continue to grow.

  27. bob Says:

    So the Mexicans who are building the Fiesta, due to its very low sales, will be able to take a lot of Siestas…LOL

  28. bob Says:

    It will be fun until the Fiesta-Siesta will become the Fiasco, and then they will try to Escape from that mess instead of Explor-ing other misguided in Expeditions…

    But I got carried away

  29. bob Says:

    “Steve Says:
    February 16th, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    As a consultant Bob could work for a dozen companies.”

    At first I thought you referred to me (I am also a “Bob” here and I also am allowed to consult for as many companies as I like, as long as it is only for 1 day per week. (52 days a year is not too shabby, and actually if I have no academic salary in the summer, I can consult all 92 summer days and not just the one a week deal)

    But do you know what is a consultant?

    A consultant is some dude whom you bring to help you out. When you ask him the time, he borrows your watch and tells you the time. You could have done so yourself and kept your wallet full, of course.

  30. pedro fernandez Says:

    Will Ford continue to allow Siesta sales to lag? Will they start offering rebates or lower its price next model year? Even the cheaper Mazda 2 is doing poorly. Finally saw that Cars.com/ Motorweek SUV comparison and I still don’t understand how they could put the Journey ahead of the CRV and Forester.

  31. tj Martin Says:

    @pedro ;

    #30 . Because perhaps someone paid them to ? Only valid explanation I can come up with but then again I’m a cynic .

  32. bob Says:

    Now that’s different, if both Motorweek AND Cars.com rate the NEW Journey higher, maybe it is not coincidental. Maybe their expectations were so low from the old one, that thy were impressed that the new one is just average.

  33. pedro fernandez Says:

    Tj if they based it on power only, the Journey was the only one in the pack with a V6, even then, they were not impressed with its performance, BTW that was the new much-ballyhooed Pentastar engine the Journey came with, go figure!

  34. pedro fernandez Says:

    BTW speaking of interiors, they mentioned that the interior quality and workmanship of the #1 ranked Equinox was “way beyond the competition” Perhaps GM did listen to Lutz re interiors.

  35. bob Says:

    So there IS an explanation for the excellent sales of both the Cruze and the Equinox. They ARE one class better than the competition. I was surprised how cheap the interior of the Pilot looked yesterday. The Odyssey with leather of another friend was heads and shoulders better!

  36. pedro fernandez Says:

    I was curious so I went on Autotrader.com and discovered that the ugly, much maligned Echo goes for twice the price of a similar Accent, even though the latter has fewer miles. I find it incredible that such a critically despised car can command such a high price, a used Corolla is a far better buy.

  37. bob Says:

    Does the Accent have poor reliability?

  38. pedro fernandez Says:

    I was always convinced that the interior of a given vehicle is way more important than the exterior styling, after all, you sit inside, touch and feel the inside and are affected by things like noises and ambiance, in that sense, GM has got it right.

  39. tj Martin Says:

    @ Bob #37

    Do bears ( ______ ) in the woods ?

    As to #32 I still contend s little cash was passed under the table.

  40. bob Says:

    “____”=Exchange bodily fluids?

  41. pedro fernandez Says:

    From what I’ve read online it is ok, not as good as Toyota, but ok. My only gripe with the previous gen Accent I rented were the horrible seats, I drove 4 hours and when I got to my destination, my lower back was killing me. I had never experienced that with ANY car I have ever driven, even much longer distances. BTW from a practical POV the Corolla is a better used car buy, there are lots more available, anyone can fix them and parts are much more affordable than lower volume models like Echo and Yaris, besides you get a bit more car for your bucks.

  42. pedro fernandez Says:

    c’mon tj, the Hyundais are not that bad, their reliability are a lot better than the domestics of 4 to 6 yrs ago, especially the compacts. I spoke to a 2004 Focus 3 door hatch owner yesterday and asked if he would recommend it as a used car, Told me flat out “NO, you’re much better off with a Corolla or Civic even though it may cost you a little more” he did not elaborate.

  43. bob Says:

    I had terrible seats in much more expensive cars, a brand new Lumina I test drove and a Bonneville i rented in AZ where I could not find ONE comfortable setting, what a pity because the rest of the Bonneville was good.

  44. pedro fernandez Says:

    Seats are the one thing manufacturers should never skimp on.

  45. Andrew Charles Says:

    Quadricycles or “vehicles sans permits” (licenseless cars) are expensive, but then, have you priced a golf-cart or side-by-side ATV recently? Whoa! You could get a Focus for the price of a 4-seat Polaris. They are expensive not because they’re hand made, but because they’re not “mass” produced. The engineering ranges from crude to quite sophisticated. Aixam-Mega once produced mid-engined sports cars (an activity not encouraged by the French government—compatriots Venturi fled to Monaco and now build an electric version of their last sports car); Ligier once ran an F1 team. Although there are more companies than you can count building the type of engine used the default choices seem to be Kubota, Lombardini or Kohler.

    In practice the two classes of quadricycle are distinguished by seating capacity (light quadricycles have only two seats, heavy four), top speed (heavy quadricycles can go faster than 45 km/h) and license requirements. Light quadricycles are in most countries true “vehicles sans permits”—you have to be 16, but you don’t need any kind of license to drive one. Heavy quadricycles on the other hand, being classed as “motor tricycles”, require a motorcycle license.

  46. tj Martin Says:

    @Bob #40 . I was referring to defecating .

    @pedro – The Accent’s reliability . Not so good .

    Bad Seats – Me and Subaru seats do not get along at all from the Imprezza to their top of the line models . Every time I get stuck with one at the rental counter , not once in the 7-10 days I’m renting it can I approach comfort .

    @HtG – If you’re still around today . Thanks a bunch !!! Your Charcuterie comment still has me grimacing .

  47. tj Martin Says:

    If you want an outrageous comparison for what you get for the money . Have a look at the prices of the Can Am Spyder line up . For a Three Wheeled Toy !

  48. tj Martin Says:

    CHARCUTERIE

    Next time any of you are in Denver , CO . Downtown . 16th Street Mall . Across from the old May D&F tower .

    Biker Jim’s Food Stand

    Best damn charcuterie this side of Heaven , Hell or Paris .

    His Rattlesnake with Wasabi , Tomato and Caramelized Onions is to Die For . Second favorite is the Elk . Damn fine !

    ( had to do something to get HtG’s scenario out of my head )

  49. Tom L Says:

    Pedro.RE: 42– The Focus owner said that to you because you were wearing your “Corolla for life” T shirt

  50. cwolf Says:

    Have any of you driven a Cruze and at highway speeds(70-75)? Wondering if the seats had the support and comfort for 100 mile stretches.

  51. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf: Edmund’s inside line has a pretty good long term review of the Cruze including a long road trip and a couple of minor issues they found it had.

  52. bob Says:

    CWOLF: I will try to get a Cruze the next time I have to rent a car. I have not heard anything about it being uncomfortable yet from any reviewer.

  53. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I like car seats to be good for 400 mile stretches. The last car I had that really bothered me in that regard was an ’85 Pontiac 6000. The seats just were’t shaped right, at least for me.

  54. bob Says:

    http://www.detnews.com/article/20110217/OPINION03/102170329/1148/AUTO01/Elantra-raises-compact-bar

    Scott Burgess, a frequent guest host here, is very impressed by the new Elantra. Before testing it, he thought the best cars in its category were the affordable Cruze and the expensive NEW 2012 Focus. Now the plot thickens!!!!! AND note that ALL Elantras, ALL versions, are rated 40 MPG EPA HWY.

  55. bob Says:

    The Elantra seems EXCELLENT in many respects, they even finally understood the importance of a long wheelbase and it DOES have a really long one, 106+”, compared to its short 178″ length! Which helps both appearance, roominess and handling/ride.

  56. bob Says:

    The brand new CIVIC will face a TON of competition from the Cruze, the NEW Elantra and the NEW Focus. It better deliver, or Honda’s woes will continue unabated.

    it will be great to be a prospective buyer of a compact car at this time!

  57. HtG Says:

    Is there a particular wheelbase that works well? I use my Civic’s 103″ as a reference, and thought the Mini I drove was a little hippityhoppity on the highway. But the Miata is pretty short(~89″), though has better weight distribution; and it feels fine at speed(especially at 90, where the whole thing just settles down-don’t tell). Is this a seat of the pants thing for engineers, or can they plug in several vectors to approximate the behavior of a car?

  58. bob Says:

    HTG: the longer, the better, of course! Except if you talk about very sporty cars that are not designed for long highway trips, like the 911.

    Even my Accord 5-speed 1990 had a wheelbase only an inch longer than the Elantra’s, while its overall length was half a foot longer at 184″.

    When you go to these DISMAL domestic old designs, the comparisons are indeed ridiculous. Take the Crown Vic or any large buick of a few years ago… the front and rear overhangs are so long, they look like they could come off at any time!

  59. bob Says:

    The Miata is best for a Sunday drive on twisty roads. I would not use it on a long highway trip. In addition, its tiny mass and the lack of a roof would make me feel really unsafe at any speed on a fast highway with Escalades and Expeditions next to me. The Civic is also very aptly named “Civic”, it is designed to be optimal in city use, although it got bigger and longer with time and can do long trips without too much suffering for the driver.

  60. HtG Says:

    bob wrote, ” [Miata's] tiny mass and the lack of a roof would make me feel really unsafe at any speed on a fast highway with Escalades and Expeditions next to me.”

    For the first few months I actually had a hard time breathing on the highway. You feel so puny and exposed. You read traffic like a cop, watch your mirrors, take readings of what the drivers around you are doing. I drive with the parking lights on always.

    Your right bob, it is scary. But also a very engaging blast. In the Civic, I get so bored my brain cooks off. I don’t know how people deal with big luxury cars that isolate them from the car and road. Texting their pals?

  61. bob Says:

    I am not bored in our 1991 Euro-spec Civic which weights less than even the Miata at 1875 lbs or 875 Kgs. Deepite its only 75 HP it is very quick around town with its excellent 5speed, but on the hiwhway it is noisy above 75 MPH and has a top speed of 106 MPH.

    My 7 series is not a Lexus LS or (insert old domestic barge). It is not isolated, and when I do not use its kick-ass stereo as a concert hall (with optional “cathedral” sound settings) or listen to books or language CDs, I can always marvel at the v8′s turbine-like smooth sound

  62. HtG Says:

    I knew I wrote my post wrong. It’s that customers value quiet and smoothness in a way I don’t. The Miata transmits so much about the road, weather, the mechanicals, etc., that I wonder how engineers and marketers cope. Someone could reasonably say that all the vibrations mean low quality, but to me it’s a matter of information. Sitting atop the rear wheels, it’s pretty neat when you feel and hear one let go in a turn. It’s also fine to detest it. Smelling the air in the darkness ads another dimension. Oddly, all this racket has gotten me to drive slower on the highway in the Miata than the Civic, where more speed is needed just to feel on.