The Look and Feel of Cars.

I recently glommed on to the new car blog, Jalopnik. The site is, overall, okay in terms of both design and content. (My real theory about this site is that it will drive better ad revenue for owner Gawker Media, of whom I’m a huge fan more generally.)
Jalopnik inspired me to think about how the idea of “look and feel,” which typically applies to and describes websites, might telescope to automobiles. As a thought experiment, it might be interesting to see how (recent) cars connnect to an individual (e.g. me) and how that might be described. I’ve been in quite a few cars in the past five years, so, vrooom, here goes:

  • Honda Accord: Tight overall apperance and drive with very sealed interior. The ride is tight but there is a consistent feeling that the machinery under the hood is overly complicated. If broken, G-d help you.
  • Toyota Corolla: Sharp looking exterior hides a boring interior with little personality. In contrast with the Accord, however, the engine feels like it will go forever – a perpetual motion machine.
  • Saab 95: Superbly tight compartment with incredible sound and air environment. While the engine purrs, one drives with the tacit knowledge that one dent, one blown tire or one new alternator will set you back $1000. You drive it, though, and you’re feeling safer than anyone on the road. Except for those in Volvos. And H2s.
  • Audi A6: Beautifully detailed car that sits in a driveway looking like a souped up VW.
  • Ford Focus: Opening and closing the door feels like a mistake was made; the company used edge-thin metal thinking that this would be “cutting edge.” The interior looks nice from ten feet away but one worries that there will be death involved if the car crashed.
  • Honda Civic: Clean, strong body and well-fitted interior. However, sitting inside, one gets the feeling that the car is made for anyone, everyone, and no one in particular.
  • Subaru Outback: Tight. Drives tight. Acts tight. Looks uptight. Shows an unclear personality: not sure if this is an SUV or a car or a station wagon. But when driving in it, you know you’re “good.”
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class: Class is all it is and that’s pretty much what one wants it for. One can’t help but feel like a person of importance; it’s as if the car, upon entry, injects you with genetically superior DNA.
  • Hyundai Elantra: The immediate feeling is that this is what the Chinese are going to do someday. Good superficial overall look and feel, but, underneath the copycat design, you know there’s only a few pennies of quality material.
  • Lexus LS 430: A serious car for serious people. There’s nothing fun, funny, or funky about this car but when you’re in it, the car commands a kind of respect people like me don’t have. My guess is that this car would prefer someone in their early 50s.
  • Mazda 3: A working vehicle. Everything works. The car works. The stereo works. It all works. Except for that one rental I had, in which the trunk wouldn’t close.