In the exciting automotive world, it’s rather common to bemoan the downfall of a vehicle manufacturer’s lineup. To decry the softening of their performance-related edge. And rightly so! Though some publications offer solutions to failing brands to help their image, the diverse group known as car buyers should make their preferences known so that satisfactory products can come to the market.
It doesn’t always work. The bean counters often get the final say when it comes to budgeting R & D for new performance-oriented models. In recent years, we’ve seen it happen to Mitsubishi with the lack of a replacement for the Lancer Evolution. To Nissan with the lack of innovation for anything except their halo car. To Dodge with the cancellation of the Viper. Car companies need bottom-line-boosting volume leaders, but the people, mainly enthusiasts, want more than what these econobox commuter turds can deliver.
The argument for more and better offerings from auto manufacturers is strong and clear. Better technology and manufacturing processes developed from cars that are more difficult to develop will be passed down the line to the volume leaders. But who is providing this sort of value to customers? In other words, where should car enthusiasts look first when shopping for a new ride?
Mazda has the right idea. Provide fun-to-drive personality in a convenient package. Most Mazdas are available with manual transmissions. Several auto publications have praised nearly every model in Mazda’s lineup with its superb handling, from the Miata to the CX-9. On top of that, the company’s Skyactiv 2 technology looks promising. Though Mazda’s lineup is rather simple, we can’t help but applaud it for doing what it does very well. Who else makes an affordable sports convertible?
Ford currently makes a great product in every category. Need a truck? F-150. Something sporty? Mustang. Super car? GT. What about a little hatchback for getting around town that also happens to be sporty and fun to drive? Fiesta ST. Not enough room? Focus ST. Not enough AWD? Focus RS. Gotta haul some stuff? Transit has you covered. Just don’t expect the greatest of interiors.
The iconic British manufacturer has been taking all the right steps recently. The cars look great, sound great, and the F-Type is a great performer with an available manual transmission. The cars do command a premium, but there are certainly buyers willing to pony up for quality.
Because they pretty much can’t do anything wrong. The Cayman is a formidable mid-engine sports car with a rather reasonable starting price. The 911, one of the most iconic cars of all time, offers GT-class performance. The Panamera is a monstrous four-door. It’s difficult not to like what Porsche is doing.
Luckily, there are a lot of cars to catch your interest. It’s a good time to be a car enthusiast. Though there’s certainly more that we missed. Who’s doing it right and why? Who do you think has the strongest lineup and brings the most value to the table?