Why Car and Driver Pisses Me Off

 I’ve been reading Car and Driver for many years.  Not a steady reader mind you.  There have been times that they have frustrated me so much that I just gave up on them until a cover happened to catch my eye and I was willing to forgive and forget and try again.

The December issue (for craps sake its hardly November and they send out December’s issue.  Are we supposed to be impressed?) has a cover yelling HELL-RAISING SEDANS followed by the tag: “We compare the most exciting four-seaters ever built“.  They feature three of them – the Mercedes C63 AMG, the BMW M3, and the Audi RS 4. 

Good grief – these guys should just call themselves Car and Driver of Germany

I am sick of BMW’s always being at the top of their list.  Not because BMW makes a crappy car, but their vision is so narrow that they insist that automotive perfection is only embodied by BMW.  What crap.  I love BMW’s, but I know that there are other cars out there that are fun to drive and have great handling and power to offer as well.

To be representing these sedans as the most exciting four-seaters ever built is more than a stretch – it is fabrication.  Okay, I’ll assume they are limiting the statement to production cars, but still, there have been a lot of sedans built that are as or more exciting than those three.  How about the two rally-based cars that have come to these shores?  The Mitsubishi Evolution MR and the Subaru WRX STi.  Those are exciting cars.  They are far more fuel efficient and have zero to sixty times that are comparable to the three they picked.

I know that things change over time, but Car and Driver has not changed for the better.  What was wrong with Brock Yates?  He was summarily fired by Csaba Csere for who knows what reason.  Sure Brock would have some diverse opinions and often run counter to the politically correct view, but that is part of what makes great journalism.  Yates was the guy who established the counter culture Cannonball Sea to Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash by setting the fastest time while co-driving with Dan Gurney in a Daytona Ferrari.  How cool is that?

Car and Driver used to build race cars.  When the SCCA started the showroom stock class, they showed up with their Mazda sedan that was so fast it was outlawed.  They built rally cars and took the readers along for the ride.

So what, you say, just don’t buy the magazine if you don’t like what it has become.  I guess it is because I know what they have been and what they could be and I am perplexed that they appear to be a marketing arm for BMW and have little content to engage the enthusiast.

Thank goodness that Grassroots Motorsports magazine exists.

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8 Responses to Why Car and Driver Pisses Me Off

  1. JD Svoboda says:

    I think they picked the right cars. It is not C&Ds fault that the Japanaese and American manufacturers fail to build the best cars. The problem, I think, is that your view of exciting may be too narrow. It is not just speed, handling & braking. I’ve owned a lot of high performance cars. Being able to drive really freaking fast under quiet, total, control & comfort is the best rush. Buzzy, loud uber-cars with huge wings may get teenage boys all hot and bothered, but adults look for the total package, with modest, stealthy superiority. I would much rather drive my Volvo (a type R car) or any of those cars in the test, than the rally wanna-bees.

  2. jimsgarage says:

    I think I understand your point JD. But when Car and Driver uses phrases such as hell-raising sedans the aspect of luxury doesn’t come to mind.

  3. Noel says:

    A few points. As one who has edited 3 different magazines and herds words for about half of my living, I have a somewhat cynical point of view. I may or may not be wholly accurate, but I know what I see between the lines and in how ads are placed in the C&D and how comments about various cars are phrased.

    1. C&D is one of the more biased car books around. Always have been. They put German cars on an unassailable pedestal and leave everything else languishing as a wannbe or pretender to the thrones of the automobile kingdom. They are entitled to their opinions, but understand that they get to spout off as they please. We can agree or not. It is NOT objective journalism.

    2. Advertising. BMW is the most financially successful car company on the planet. They build cars that (a) go and handle very well, (b) are overpriced for what you get, and (c) are loved by enthusiasts who appreciate their virtues and those weenies who buy them so they can have a Bimmer in the garage. Porsche and Mercedes are not all that much different. All of them aggressively market that German heritage of superior engineering and one of the places it sells best is in rags like C&D. So like it or not, they will say good things about all the premium marques from Germany. The more positive things they say, the better the ad revenue from the holy trinity of the Fatherland.

    3. Car & Driver is written and edited by a bunch of sophmoric gear heads who buy into the whole German superiority schtick. Anything else is a step or two down. Even if a car is only a tenth of a second slower to 60 or a half mile an hour slower through a slalom or whatever, it is relegated to being a also ran if it lacks the German DNA the crew there think is required.

    I think I stopped reading C&D after David E. Davis went off to start Automobile. David E could be as biased as anyone, but at least the writing was good, and he gave writers room to move and actually think. Now it’s all crap that wouldn’t make it out of a freshman journalism class.

    And for what it’s worth, the last Bimmer I drove was a 2002 325ix. Nice car. But it was a Toyota with good handling. Was glad to get back in my Saab which was faster, roomier, more comfortable, and while not as good handing, has no trouble getting on down a windy road.

  4. markitude says:

    We bought a used Boxster S for my wife, and she loves it. I’ve had a Porsche 944 in the past, and enjoyed the car, although the 911 crowd might well have looked down their nose at me. The sales guy at the Porsche dealer oozed snobbery from every pore, suggesting that trading my Z06 Corvette on a new Caymen would be a step up. When I pointed out that my car bested his by over 100 hp, and got better milage to boot, he scoffed and said you could put 600 hp in a Buick, but it would still be a Buick. I found a gracious exit by complimenting the 911 Turbo in the showroom while silently considering all the better ways to spend $140K. Long way around saying that everyone has their brand convictions and that those loyal to a brand tend to rally around. I admire the individual or periodical that can look beyond the brand image and consider the experience.

  5. Tim says:

    Let ’em have it Jim.

    I only grab a regular car mag (C&D, MT, whatever) if they have an interesting article I want to read. I need to get a subscription to GM High Tech Performance, Pontiac Performance(?), and High Performance Chevy(?) as those are the only mags that have regular appeal to me.

    That said – the “hell raising sedans” is way too much. The M3 is a torqueless wonder with a superb chassis and Audi & Mercedes don’t exactly ooze “hell raising.” An Evo or STi is a helluva lot more hell raising than those. Slap a pair of rear doors on my GTO’s long coupe design and I’ll show them a hell raising sedan. What about the next Caddy CTS-V, with it’s 500+HP blown 6.2L V8? (OK, a bit in the future, but you get the point….)

  6. Steve says:

    Totally agree, Car and Driver Magazines are biased towards European Cars. Usually German ones.

  7. Kwinnie says:

    SponsoredLink, are you reading this?

    If you have to stay true to American mags go for R&T (Road & Track, which has improved heaps), otherwise go for the world leading euro mags. C&D is the worst mag I’ve ever bought (I get a range of around 20 different name magazines each year, mostly Aussie ones), in terms of the qualiy of the writing, the layout, and especially it’s infamous bias. Stop quoting C&D as if it’s the bible, ’cause it’s far from it.

    – Kwinnie.

  8. Ben says:

    I totally agree. I own a Subaru STI so it really got under my skin when it lost to not just the Mitsu Evo (fair enough) but also a Volkswagen R32! (AS IF!) Then they can’t even hustle it around the race track faster than a Cobalt in their Lightning lap comparo or get it through the quarter mile quicker than a plain ol WRX!!? The negative comments far outweigh the positive ones when it comes to STI’s. I won’t even pick up the magazine anymore because its written by a bunch of morons.

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