An ideal car isn't a just machine that can take you from A to B, but it shouldn't be merely an "art piece" fit for show only, either. It should carry with it certain level of sophistication, but not so much that you couldn't figure it out even upon close inspection. The best analogy I could find is with toys, and therein lies the problem.
But first, what does an ideal car look like to me? It probably shouldn't be so small that it hurts your ego, but at the same time not too large that it's hard to fit on the road: anything that starts with "compact" goes in the first category, while full-size SUVs & Aventadors goes in the second. It's your toy, not your children's, so there should be two seats only. The option to remove the roof is a must, but with the roof on there shouldn't be any offensive NVH.
What's the drive train? It must be RWD because it provides the best balance and keeps everything simple in the process. The engine could be either in the front of the back, but probably not in the middle â€” the latter to me is trying too hard & akin to bringing a gun to the knife fight. In the front, there should be a naturally-aspirated I8, V12, or V16 with relatively small displacement. In the back, there must be a rotary engine with at least two rotors. Why small displacement? Because it'd otherwise be too big, too heavy, and too obviously compensating. The transmission could use a gated six-speed with very loud clicks, but it better be just a joystick because this gets old very quickly.
The interior? Probably needs small good speakers & a warm, clean amp. Power is important, but SNR isn't because there's enough road & wind noise in the background anyway. No gizmos, please. A good tablet holder is important, as are powered connections. No need for a dozen touch screens & cheap-looking LED light strips. No need for electric seats, either â€” but an in-built massager is a good idea.
Sounds interesting? It won't be built because there's no market for it. Even with a small, nots-so-advanced engine, steel chassis, and no gizmos, it's going to cost significantly more than a "compact" car but a lot less utilitarian than an SUV (or crossover) â€” it's a toy that's too damn expensive. Unless I'm rich, I wouldn't buy it, either: I can have a thousand other ways to be happy with my money, and in this case I can have them all. Suddenly the appeal of a "luxury toy" is gone.
What about people with money? They have probably too many other equally appealing luxury toys to notice one more (or in this case, one less).
This article was originally published on my old site jlteng.com on 19 February 2018.