Only the Best?
That is a 2007 Porsche 911 GT3. Of all the 997’s I’ve driven, that one was easily my favorite. In fact, of all the cars I’ve ever driven, that is one of my absolute favorites. Every control is perfectly weighted, the chassis is balanced, and the engine just sings to 8000 RPM. In short, it’s one of the greatest driver’s cars of the 21st century.
That Prius was my daily driver for a while. Whaaaat? Yep, my Scion FR-S (another one of the best cars I’ve ever driven) was recently at the dealership getting its transmission replaced under warranty, so I had a loaner car.
And you know what?
I loved it.
Okay, so it’s not a 911 GT3. A Prius doesn’t turn, go, or stop nearly as well as a Volvo, let alone a Porsche. It’s also butt-ugly inside and out; the seat shape and steering wheel arrangement put you in a weird driving position; and the interior materials are uninspiring and crappy, even compared to a Corolla.
But it has a decent stereo and a reasonable trunk, plus a ton of legroom and enough vertical space to wear a top hat.
And for reasons completely unrelated to Porsche, the Prius is fun to drive. Yep, I said it. So you don’t have to back-track, I’ll say it again: the Prius is fun to drive.
Have I gone insane?? Nope. You still take it to the limit in a Prius, just in a different way. There’s a meter in the dashboard that shows your throttle and brake inputs, which you use to try to maximize the battery’s intervention. In particular, I really get a kick out of braking right at the limit of the regen meter to get the most energy back into the battery. And if you accelerate slowly enough, you can do so without waking up the internal combustion engine and continue to cruise as a polar bear friendly EV all the way up to 44 miles per hour.
The other strangely alluring thing about the Prius is something that is very important to me. After driving it all over the place for a couple weeks, I realized something: every single time I got out of it, I felt relaxed. For some reason the Prius gives me a zen-like feeling about being stuck in traffic. Repeatedly getting cut off by people who immediately slam their brakes doesn’t seem so offensive in a Prius, plus there’s that whole EV function, which really takes the edge off stop-and-go traffic because your mileage actually improves when you’re inching down the highway at twenty miles per hour.
Just because the Prius has none of the most important things I truly value in an automobile doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it for what it was designed for and what it actually does.
But that seems to be really difficult for many people.
The announcement that I got a Prius loaner was met with derision from everyone I told (well, except my mom). Which I find strange because people never share any personal experiences about how bad a Prius is, just how theoretically evil they are. Hmm, that’s actually starting to sound just like my FR-S.
I see the same thing all the way up and down the spectrum, from the lowly Prius to hypercars like the Veyron. People are so quick to unleash negativity. Maybe it has something to do with the internet, where negativity attracts attention and people seem to be more interested in “winning” an argument than actually having a discussion with someone.
One problem with the internet is that it’s given everyone a voice, but not everyone knows what to do with that power. There are a lot of people talking, but there aren’t a lot of people with something to say.
But even more dangerous is that people don’t understand why they say the things they do.
Take the C6 Corvette for example. There are so many things that might come to mind when looking at these cars, but online discussions always come back to one place: the interior. Guess what? It’s really not as bad as people think it is. In fact, for the time it was released–2004–it’s not bad at all.
Want proof? Go search for what a 2004 Lamborghini Gallardo interior looks like, which was loaded with the switchgear from the lowliest Audi’s. Or how about a 2004 Porsche 911—yes the 996, which has that roundly loathed interior. If anything, this should serve as a reminder to just how far automotive interiors have come in the past twenty years.
But people don’t care. It’s much more fun to argue about bullshit than to actually have a realistic outlook, right?
Which brings me back to the Prius. Does it sing like a Ferrari? No; it actually sounds quite bad even for a four cylinder.
But, when you think about it, the Prius achieves its goal of being very quiet and unobtrusive most of the time. It also has plenty of space for passengers and cargo, is extremely reliable, gets excellent fuel economy in the real world, and so on and so forth.
Most importantly however, if you drive a Prius the way it’s meant to be driven, it’s really fun. Just like a Porsche.