Hooniverse Asks- Do Modern Performance Cars Rely Too Much on Tech?



Back when it was introduced in 1992, the Dodge Viper was notable both for what it had – 10 cylinders and gobs of horsepower – as well as what it didn’t, which was most of the electronic nannies that keep you from getting into trouble. That lack of traction control, launch control, ABS brakes . . . etc, meant that driving the Viper was a skill to be mastered after learning the intricacies and proclivities of the platform.

In contrast, the 2014 Corvette will blip the throttle for you at every shift because you’re either too stupid or have such freakishly huge feet that heel and toeing is a skill beyond your muster. And the current Viper is as well saddled with the same kind of mechanical features that make driving the car far less a challenge, and in my mind, less of an accomplishment.

It’s not just the Americans that are saddling their performance machines with enough computer horsepower to make the engine’s horses manageable by even a holder of but a learner’s permit- Porsche, whose apocalyptic 930 would kill you if not treated with respect, has now tamed their cars to the point they advertise them as suitable for car line duty at the local private school.

The question is, while these enhancements expand the enjoyment of driving such cars to a broader audience, do they limit the sense of achievement for those who eventually master them? What do you think, do modern performance cars rely too much on technology these days?

Image: [General Motors Media]


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76 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- Do Modern Performance Cars Rely Too Much on Tech?”

    1. Number_Six Avatar

      So much goodness has been forgotten in the rabid pursuit of pointless numbers.
      <img src="http://www.ausmotive.com/pics/2012/Peugeot-205-GTI-02s.jpg&quot; width="500" />

      1. Vavon Avatar

        See my initial answer… 🙂

  1. Arco777 Avatar

    Fits with the dumbing down of America. We have to make the cars smarter because the drivers keep getting dumber. Money can't buy brains but it can buy a car that is entirely too fast for the skill level of the driver.

  2. kingcrowing Avatar

    How is this even a question? Of course they rely on too much tech, but the only people buying new performance cars (C7, 911, M5, hell even the M3) are buying them for status and want all this tech.
    I think if you don't have the skill do drive without all those aids, what's the point of all the power? Get an NA miata which like the original Viper has no assistance at all (unless you opt for power steering, which was optional) and drive the piss out of it until you actually know how to drive a car hard, then get something with more power.

  3. Hopman Avatar

    Hell yes!!!!!!! This. combined with all the "saftey crap" (lane departure, adaptive cruise' ect) that the car maker INSIST that we need makes for cars that are smarter than the drivers.
    Shouldn't it be the other way around?
    I drive a heavy truck (delivering HVAC duct work) around metro Boston. Even my truck ( a 2013 International DuraStar) has more gadgets & computer BS than a luxury car did 20 years ago!

    1. danleym Avatar

      I wrote below how I can understand TCS/ABS, but I draw the line at lane departure and automatic braking. All that crap does is dumb drivers down even more, so when they get in a car without it, they're going to forget how to really drive. Shoot, even ABS does that- how many drivers would understand to pump the brakes in a panic stop if they were made to drive a non-ABS car? Most would just push it to the floor and lock them up, and skid into whatever was in the way.

      1. Hopman Avatar

        I have the oppiset problem with ABS: I just bought a newish car (a 2007 Focus) and it feels weird driving WITH ABS. My last three cars (a '91 Olds Shilouette, '94 Cevy Corsica, & '94 Ranger) all had either rear wheel ABS only or no ABS.
        On the truck side, I drove a couple of loaners while mine was in the shop with the clutchless automated manuals. Talk about total suckage! Give me either a straight automatic or a real sick any day!

        1. buzzboy7 Avatar

          My only issue with the DSG I drove was that I couldn't drive it gently. Because it was shifting quickly it made me feel like I should be driving quickly which lead to a vicious cycle.

      2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        …and just as importantly, how many of them will know how to work the idle speed and spark advance levers when they need to?
        <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/attachments/f135/69981d1340367540t-wanted-spark-gas-hand-controls-steering-whel-controls-d-mc-c.p1050062.jpg"&gt;

  4. muthalovin Avatar

    I dont really have a problem with traction control and stuff like that. It serves a purpose for those that take their cars to the limits, which admittedly, is very few.
    What I DO have a problem with is this: "Sound Symposers" like on the Focus ST and M5. That modern technology should go away and die.

    1. DemonXanth Avatar

      Those should stay in the $50 ebay bin. Though if you could make a Prius sound like an M5 maybe it wouldn't be so mind numbing.

    2. CABEZAGRANDE Avatar

      I don't get the hate for the sound symposers. They just make it so you can actually hear the engine in an otherwise extremely quiet car. Ever ridden in an M5 with the symposer off? You can't hear the engine at all. You have zero idea what the engine is doing unless you're looking at the tach. personally I like to know where the engine is at audibly so I can shift without looking down, and the experience of driving something that quiet is rather unnerving. I like them, they're easy to implement, and don't really do anything but let you know what the engine is doing in a car where that info wouldn't naturally be there. Why the hate?

      1. jeepjeff Avatar

        I prefer to hear my engine via adding lightness. If it cannot be heard in the cabin at all, then they went overboard on the sound deadening. But we all know that you can trust my judgement on acceptable NVH about as much as you can trust your average crack addict.

        1. CABEZAGRANDE Avatar

          Oh I agree, but I'm like you and my standards of acceptable NVH are considered strange by the general populace. "You could hear my Mustang coming from a half-mile out? Sounds good right? So what's the problem?"

          1. danleym Avatar

            I think my neighbors really enjoyed the wake up call of my Blazer when I had to leave for work at 4:30. I'm sure they're all disappointed that now I usually don't leave until about 6:30.

      2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        Anything that is deliberately designed to pretend to be something it's not is bad. Period.

        1. fede6882 Avatar

          a thumbs up is not enough to show how much i agree with that.


    Yes. I hate how complex most modern performance cars are. There's nothing more annoying than hopping into a sports car and then having to spend 5 minutes turning off all the nannies to have a real driving experience, if you even can turn the nannies all the way off. About the only modern tech I consider acceptable is ABS (because it doesn't really effect the experience and it's better than you are) and maybe traction control on absurdly powerful vehicles. Other than that, all these technologies do IMO is add weight, complexity, and cost while diluting the experience. Sure, a DCT can make you faster. It's also extremely boring and requires no skill. A monkey could perfectly operate a DCT. Same with launch control. What fun is there in something that requires no skill? I'm not saying I want technology reduced to the stone age, but I do believe the driving experience in modern sports cars is becoming too much of a reliance on easy buttons.

    1. danleym Avatar

      But I do believe the experience in life is becoming too much of a reliance on easy buttons
      Fixed it for you.

    2. Vairship Avatar

      "A monkey could perfectly operate a DCT. Same with launch control."
      Unless you're driving a Nissan. Then the launch control will void your warranty…

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        Monkeys can't read warranties.
        Quod erat demonstrandum.

  6. lincoln Avatar

    I would like the following options: a/c, radio, power windows/doorlocks, moonroof, cruise control. That will be all thanks.

  7. danleym Avatar

    I'm of two minds on this. Personally, I'd rather not have all the tech on a car I'm going to drive. Now, that's not to say I'm a good enough driver to control a Viper at full on race speeds- I'm not, I've never had the opportunity to even try. But if I'm going to learn to drive a car like that, I'm going to start off slow, with all the aids off, and work on building up the speed at which I am capable of controlling it.
    However- a lot of these cars are sold to 45 year old mid life crisis office types. The guys who have spent 60-80 hours a week in the office or traveling. The guys who bring their office work home with them. The guys who haven't had much of a life for the past 20 years because they've spent it trying to get to the top of the corporate ladder. And now they're there, or at least higher up, and they have extra cash, and they want to unwind. So, after buying Camrys, followed by BMWs, maybe Mercedes (not necessarily any of the faster ones), they go out and buy something completely batshit crazy. They buy their Viper, or their top end Corvette, or worse, a high powered variant of the rear engined Porsche 911 death machine. They've never driven anything more than a quality commuter car, but now they have what is basically a race car licensed for the road. And they probably know little to nothing about driving it. While I'm all for personal responsibility and if you buy a car like that you should be responsible enough to learn how to drive it, people won't do that. And killing your customers is bad for business. So I can understand why all of the TCS/ABS/launch control/other electronic nannies are put on the cars. Just so long as if I ever have the money to get that car, I can have the option to turn them off.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      "However- a lot of these cars are sold to 45 year old mid life crisis office types."
      I am going about my mid-40s all wrong, then.
      "…they go out and buy something completely batshit crazy."
      Hmmm. Maybe I'm normal after all.
      "They've never driven anything more than a quality commuter car…"
      Admittedly you didn't specify 'high' quality, but I suspect I'm back to being way off-track.
      "…but now they have what is basically a race car licensed for the road."
      <img src="http://www.murileemartin.com/UG/LWA12/LWA12-UG-107.jpg&quot; width="300">
      So true. Licensed and insured. Looking better.
      "And they probably know little to nothing about driving it."
      Also true. I am, in fact, entirely representative of my demographic; I was worried there for a minute.
      "And killing your customers is bad for business."
      But wait, my cars are mostly from companies that have gone out of…. Oh.

  8. Alcology Avatar

    Classic performance cars relied on tech too, it was just mechanical rather than computerized. It's just taking the best of what's available and making it work in a car.
    Kids are still allowed on my lawn, and I'm not yet sharing meals with my cat thank you very much.
    That being said, it doesn't mean I like the idea of it, but I haven't driven enough performance cars (ANY) to even know the difference between realizing it was my mistake of giving it too much gas in a corner and slamming into the tree that will kill me or having traction control fail and dumping me backwards and then over a cliff that will kill me.

  9. DemonXanth Avatar

    My Dakota stops me from doing four things:
    #1: locking up the rear brakes (fronts are still fair game)
    #2: revving more than 6000RPM (oil pump cavitates above that, shift points are 600RPM below that anyways)
    #3: going more than 117MPH (drag limited is 125, and there's a way around it, sort of)
    #4: engaging the starter without the clutch in (makes getting around #3 possible)
    The TCM is my right hand. Launch control are my feet. Back up camera is installed in my head. Keyless entry system is a rock that I hope nobody uses.

  10. ptschett Avatar

    Stability control is mandated, the automakers don't get a choice. Don't like it? Complain to your congressman. (Or whatever you call your elected representative for the non-US Hoons.)

  11. RSDeuce Avatar

    I agree with most here, but really don't see a good reason for the hatred of modern tech. It is here, and it mostly does its job quite well.
    ABS: You aren't as good as it, I don't care who you are. This goes even for the pros. Goes on the car.
    Traction Control: I have heard (yeah, on Top Gear) that some Mercs and others don't allow you to totally kill it. That sucks. However, if you can turn it off no whining about it. It serves its purpose for the 99% of the time you are driving and have no reason to have it off.
    Throttle-Blip: Pointless, learning how to do it right is not difficult, practice and master.
    Launch Control: Tell me you wouldn't use it once if were gifted a brand new Nissan GT-R. That said, I don't think I would use it twice.
    Lane Departure, Backup Cameras, Auto-Braking: Commuter stuff. Do I want this on my car? NO! Do I want it on the Camry that the (insert bad driver stereotype here) is in? YES. Keep putting those things in SUVs. Those drivers aren't paying attention anyways. At least the computer doesn't sleep.

    1. KevinKiley Avatar

      I think throttle blip goes in the same area as ABS. I pride myself on being good at matching revs when shifting. But I (nor any of you) am not as good as a computer is at matching revs perfectly every time. You may be good. But you arent perfect. The little black box that controls your rev matching is.

      1. RSDeuce Avatar

        This is true… But there is also no safety penalty in getting wrong, which is why I say it is not a necessary.
        No joke: I would have loved that tech when I was learning to drive. What better way to get taught how to throttle-blip? If you learn from the computer, then practice without, you would be set for perfection in any car much faster than if you did it on your own.

    2. HTWHLS Avatar

      and soccer moms driving minivans..bitches have almost killed me a dozen times..even when I avoid being near them.

  12. Alff Avatar

    The majority of drivers benefit from these things in that driving now is safer than it has ever been, despite the fact that cars are generally more powerful and faster than in the past.
    Automobile reliability and longevity is also better than ever, and this is where all of these systems bother me. The consipiracy theorist in me believes that a lot of these aditional systems and their are a measured response by automakers to increase repair revenues or, in the event that such repairs are cost prohibitive, convince motorists to replace vehicles that would otherwise still be viable.

    1. Vairship Avatar

      I agree. How many of those cars-you-can't-see-out-of will have a broken back-up camera before they're five years old? And how much will it cost to have that camera fixed?
      Get ready for a lot of news reports about toddlers and Chihuahuas being run over by 5 year old cars with cameras that will never be fixed…

  13. JayP2112 Avatar

    I was on a track-rat email list with some local gear heads. One had a ZO6 and said he ALWAYS turned the TC off on his car. TC was for "p—ys'. I was driving a 2001 Mustang with 270hp and I never turned mine off on the street. I thought I was less of a man.
    A few weeks later he said he'd jumped a curb during some heavy rains and did some major damage to the car.
    I asked if he had turned the TC off. I was unsubscribed later that day.

    1. Alff Avatar

      My 120 hp Alfa doesn't have traction control. Apparently it's done wonders for the size of my testicles.

  14. Lex Avatar

    Well obviously, but here at the Hooniverse there may be some confirmation bias in the answers to this question. Philosophically, i think this question might be rejoined with another: Fast car slow or slow car fast? I'm firmly in the latter category, with an honest admission that it's based on budget and realistic opportunity.
    The majority of high end sports car purchasers are probably buying for status as much as performance, or to fulfill the dreams of a younger version of themselves. Combine that with the ability of manufacturers to create insanely overpowered vehicles and you're likely to find Wall Street bankers comparing dick size through the transitive property of horsepower. If consumers regularly kill themselves with your product and you have a very small demographic with the financial means to purchase your product, you have a problem. Finally, since probably the majority of customers aren't ever going to use the product at its potential, those bells and whistles are a point of comparison just like the horsepower numbers. (I'm just going to leave out all the mandates from government.)
    The small market segment that wants performance without bells and whistles or excessive power gets mostly forgotten, but that's ok, because we probably don't want to eat the depreciation so we wouldn't be buying new anyhow. So the answer remains: Miata.

  15. LTDScott Avatar

    For me? Yes. For everyone else? No.
    As already stated, many of the people who can afford cars of this caliber are middle aged fat cats who are buying it more for image than actual performance. While it sucks that all of the high tech gadgetry is undeservedly making them look like a hero behind the wheel, it's better than having them crash the first time they mash the go pedal.
    I'm conflicted about safety nannies like lane departure warning, auto braking, etc. on "normal" cars. On one hand, we shouldn't be encouraging people to rely on things like these to pay attention when they should be doing it instead. But unfortunately the reality is that there are tons of mouth breathing zombies behind the wheel who are completely oblivious to their surroundings, and I'd prefer they not run into me.
    I was forced to go to traffic school a few years ago after receiving a speeding ticket (damn Orange County won't allow online school!), and the level of ignorance displayed by the other people in the room was truly eye opening. It was scary to think that these people were driving on the same road as me.

    1. Vairship Avatar

      But there are 2 problems with that:
      1) It actually WOULD be better if the fat cats crashed the moment they mashed the go pedal. Hopefully with enough expensive damage to the car that they won't do it again. Just like it would be better if everyone had a fender bender the moment they picked up the phone while driving.
      2) All the lane departure warnings, falling asleep warnings etcetera will fail from old age (and expensive parts/labor) at some point, but the driver will have come to rely on them and doesn't know how to drive without them.

  16. buzzboy7 Avatar

    I have no idea. I've never driven a car sporty enough to find out. Then I think about things I have used. I've only had ABS kick in once(as a passenger nonetheless) and I'll say I like it a lot. I managed to lock up ONE tire on my old Mercury once, and it was a terrible experience. I've had Traction control(my mom's Mazda3) kick in once. It was disappointing but saved me a ticket. I was pulling onto the road and romped the throttle. Traction control stopped me from spinning the tires, and then a cop came around the turn to see me NOT doing a burnout. Lastly I've felt my subaru's AWD help me once. The problem is that I was trying to have fun and it stopped me, something about AWD get's traction in the snow when you're trying to "drift."
    I can't say that I don't like these systems. They're not as "fun" as driving a stripped down "race" car or something old and fast, but for road driving and safety sake, why not? I mean, if you're driving on roadways when do you really get to test out these systems anyways? The only time I can think of is when it's to save you.

  17. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    My initial impuse was to damn the gadgets, but then I thought to myself, which of these planes had higher performance? And which was more difficult to keep from bouncing off the earth in an unpleasant manner: the simple but notoriously unstable AT-9, or the even more unstable but computer-controlled F-117? [HINT: The Stealth would've been utterly unflyable without active flight management; with it pilots could and did read magazines aloft.]
    <img src="http://www.tanshanomi.com/temp/AT9vsF117.jpg&quot; width="520">
    So my ultimate response is "Meh." Horses for courses and all that. I guess it depends on whether you're talking about a DD, track day car, or PCH project.
    DAILY DRIVER: Complexity is not a bad thing in terms of functional transportation when you're not looking to modify your car's performance or hone your driving prowess with it. Complexity does reduce driving dangers (for you and those around you) and you're probably already getting higher performance because of those complex components than you'd be able to achieve through ol'-fashioned shadetree tweekin'. And despite their complexity, modern cars are more troublefree than older, simpler cars…whether that's in spite of or because of their complexity doesn't really matter.
    TRACK CAR: On the track, yes, a K.I.S.S., elemental car is probably the better teacher, and more fun and rewarding. I recall Clarkson saying that the GT-R was boring, even though it was going faster around the track than other cars, because there was so little input needed from the cockpit.
    PROJECT CAR: Finally, in a garage project, complexity is not a bad thing, so long as the overall difficulty is not beyond your skills. Simple cars can be more fun and less stressful, but working on a brainy, overly complex car can be rewarding to your wrenching skills in the same way that driving a manual-everything car on the track is to your driving skills.

  18. stickmanonymous Avatar

    I really couldn't say. I don't think I've ever driven anything remotely approaching a modern performance car, except perhaps a 2002 Land Cruiser fire truck. The only modern technology on that was the two-way radio and the flashy/waily bits.
    What I can say is that I've immensely enjoyed driving my old, slow, cheap cars rapidly. I've also been immensely annoyed when the traction control kicked in on my friend's Honda Odyssey. So I suppose that's probably a yes.

  19. dculberson Avatar

    Let me put it this way: do you drive a car with bias ply tires and sleeve valves? Probably not. So I think you recognize that technological progress in cars is good and while it might be scary to those of us not used to the new tech we will eventually accept it and realize it's awesome. [mdharrell exempted.]
    I love having a 300hp v8 in my daily driver, but I also love not constantly fighting to keep it going straight in the rain.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      The exemption comes as a relief. I can leave Knight engines on my shopping list.
      <img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_VDqeUPnkZ8c/SWX6bvk7K3I/AAAAAAAAAnQ/nN4NbATb0N4/s400/knight+engine.jpg&quot; width="400">

  20. Devin Avatar

    Auto-braking makes me nervous, because a life of working with computers has taught me not to trust the things, especially when they're encountering new situations which the programmer might not have anticipated. The fact that I've never seen a traction control system that isn't confused by deep snow has reinforced this belief.
    Otherwise, I can kind of understand why the big expensive sports cars get loads of tech – it makes sense for the slightly older gentlemen and women who can actually afford them. If I was a pudgy man in his sixties who just bought a Ferrari, I have to admit that I'd want to be able to wring a lot out of it and brag to my friends about my feats of driving excellence without preventing my becoming a pudgy man in his seventies. Of course, anything made for performance should have an everything off button for the truly daring, but you've got to know your market.

  21. pj134 Avatar

    Even if I think they do…
    [youtube 5SGTs-fjEIY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SGTs-fjEIY youtube]

    1. Lex Avatar

      Only one upvote allowed, but i'd give you five minutes of constant upvoting for dropping Clutch and placing it so well.

    2. SSurfer321 Avatar

      Thanks for reminding me of the local Clutch concert I missed two Fridays ago. 🙁

    3. vroomsocko Avatar

      A well played piece of pure rock fury.

  22. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    Because one simply can't drive a 450++hp car in the real world, on the street with street tires without tech. Almost no one can drive them with aggression on a mountain road or even race track without tech.
    "Geez, can't we just get a simpler car that's not all about power, so I can play with the limits below closed-casket funeral speeds?"
    "Ugh…the BRZ/FT86 would've been great, but it's just too slow and cheap feeling"
    Automakers (who actually make money) make what sells. What sells is big power numbers, followed by enough tech to not unleash classic Porsches and first gen Vipers on the masses. C'est la vie
    Hate to say it, but the answer's probably Miata, Mustang (V6, V8) or any classic from the last 50 years.
    (holy crap, my Falcon's 49 years old as of now)

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      My 69 Vette had a "400 hp" engine, plus headers and better exhaust, a more modern cam, and a longer stroke, along with a few other hop-ups. It was probably knocking on the door of 450hp, though that's gross measurement, not net like they use today. It was my daily driver for two years.
      It was equipped with bias-ply tires (until they wore out and I replaced them with radials), no power steering, no A/C. The engine had one belt, which drove the water pump and alternator. Four forward gears and one clutch. Other than a MSD ignition, the aftermarket auto-reverse cassette player was the highest tech in the car, unless you count the factory fiber-optic light monitors.
      To say "one" simply can't drive a 450++hp car in the real world , on the street with street tires without tech is an exaggeration. Perhaps one can't sell a nanny-free powerful car to idiots these days without upsetting the company's legal department, but such a car is still driveable in the right hands.

      1. Tim Odell Avatar
        Tim Odell

        Your Vette would be in the vicinity of 300hp if measured today, respectable in a 3500lb car, but not bonkers. I could make some argument about mid-throttle power delivery etc etc, but you're right that you daily drove a car that requires a lot of attention. I've been doing the same with about half the power in my Falcon for 4 years now, rain-or-shine.
        My point wasn't that one guy couldn't do it for a limited period of time, it's that 25k units per year times all the buyers times all the miles would show that 450hp + no tech = a bad idea. Even with a skilled driver, over time the probability of something happening would catch up to you.

    2. Andrew Avatar

      I have to respectfully disagree. Power is something that, with practice (on track or autox), almost any driver can learn to meter out in order to go quickly without upsetting the car. As a PCA autox instructor, I repeatedly saw spastic trophy wives and their equally spastic husbands gradually come to grips with 400+hp rear-engined cars on a wet skidpad with all aids disabled (by pulling the fuse f necessary). Would they ever set a lap record at Laguna Seca? No, but they could safely control their car at the limit of grip on an unpredictable surface.
      My car has a whopping 150lb-ft of torque, and it will still try to swap ends at 40mph on wet streets. Why? 140tw summer tires, aggressive alignment, and a hyperactive LSD.
      With proper tires and proper maintenance (including a street-friendly alignment, oops), there's nothing except driver laziness preventing the average motorist from learning to safely control any street car.

      1. Tim Odell Avatar
        Tim Odell

        Those are predicable environments with focused drivers and low penalties of failure (which is why I put on my first caveats about the real world).
        Besides, even if they can control the car, today's traction control systems are making all but the most elite drivers faster with the TC on.
        If you take the tech out of today's high-end cars you're basically left with a first-generation Viper. It's possible to attain the skill to control such a vehicle and wring the maximum from it, but that's a commitment and level of focus that few people can maintain 100% of the time behind the wheel.

    3. buzzboy7 Avatar

      I won't use numbers that I don't know, but my boss last year tried to drive his "insane" car on the street. 67 Chevelle, 454, Eaton Supercharger, Dual Quads. It's a drag car really.
      His attempt to drive it on the street was interesting. This man is an amazing driver, natural talent behind the wheel, years of driving quickly. It was to the point that: 4th gear, touch the throttle, rear end melts out and swings around. This was on straight asphalt. I'd hate to see how terribly it went around corners.

  23. Sjalabais Avatar

    The point of an inverted relation between skill and prestige is rather important. Why are today's young men on average so much less interested in cars than just a generation or two ago? "Because 'everybody' can drive a car", is certainly part of the answer. On the other hand, it is increasingly harder to fix and mod cars. Somehow, that doesn't really translate into prestige.
    Personally, I don't care too much. I'd probably never spend much money on a two seater and I don't see me buying a new car at all. If I am able to choose I'd go for a rugged station wagon and a toy car from the 60s or 70s – with four or five doors.

  24. Lex Avatar

    I'd like to add that the definition of performance car has changed as well. Adjusting for inflation, a 1990 325is would today cost similar to the new Genesis Sedan R-spec, with its 429 horsepower. Adjusted backwards, a new Genesis Coupe with the 2.0T R-spec would have been $15K, or $10K less than the 325is and provide 100 more horsepower. (sure, German engineering and class, etc. has a price but still)
    These doodads are going into less-than-high-end sportscars, and that's probably a good thing if we leave aside reduction of the flat brim population as a benefit of relatively cheap cars that can kill bad drivers. They almost have to go into the high end stuff, because everybody except the purist petrolheads will wonder why their expensive sports cars don't have that same tech. And again, the purists who believe that a sports car is defined by its ability, willingness, and even eagerness to kill you will do silly things like cram a late model Porsche engine into a 914 or build a se7en or something similar.

  25. Slow_Joe_Crow Avatar

    For a pure performance car driven for fun, the less tech the better so in that case a TVR would beat a Skyline GT-R. On the flip side the Skyline is a technological marvel and does a much better job of keeping its owner out of single vehicle accidents.
    Daily drivers need all the help they can get to keep people who don;t care about driving from screwing it up for those of us who care.
    Personally I have never owned a car with any ABS, stability control or traction control and my fun vehicle is a 35 year old motor cycle, so I don't deal with much technology beyond fuel injection.

    1. buzzboy7 Avatar

      I went as far as not owning a fuel injected car just because I didn't understand how it worked. Scary stuff that.

    2. Vairship Avatar

      The only problem is learning from your mistakes. The TVR will show you the limits of your driving abilities the first time you hit the throttle on a wet road, and you'll crash at 35 mph. The GT-R will make up for your mistakes until you try to make that 90 degree turn at 150 mph on the Nordschleife… All the electronic nannies can't change the laws of physics that state that trees really hurt at that kind of speed.
      It's the same with parents buying cars for their kids when they go to college. DON'T buy them a car that has great road holding. DO buy them a car that handles like a dish rag on ice. Since they're going to crash anyway, they might as well do so before they get up to any speed.

  26. Xedicon Avatar

    They certainly do rely on too much tech, however some of the blame must go to governments requiring some of that tech by law. I have driven an original Viper GTS… There's really no easy way to describe such a relatively pure car. Everything is just so "direct", anything and everything it does is exactly because of you and that's it; it's an incredible feeling and I love it!

    1. buzzboy7 Avatar

      Driving a car direct is an interesting feeling. My first car was not "sporty" by any means. 74 Beetle with some highschool male type mods. However it had manual brakes, manual steering, manual transmission, manual clutch, manual throttle. Everything you touch almost directly affects the thing that it controls. Power steering doesn't dampen potholes. You have to stand on the brake to really stop. The shifter is as vague as [insert very vague thing]. You can feel the feedback of the clutch engaging(and in my case slipping!). You can feel the sloppy throttle in the carburetor. That car was so much fun to drive. It was slow, loud, fragile and handled like a VW Beetle, but it really put a smile on my face.

      1. Xedicon Avatar

        Another really good feeling car was the first gen Neon R/T and ACR. They were TONS of fun and for the most part simple cars. Also the Dakota R/T, another "my face hurts so much from smiling" drive. These cars had a little more tech than your old Beetle but still have a very direct feel to them. One of my Dakota R/T experiences involved accidentally hanging the ass out on a left turn through a 5 lane intersection… I was 15 and had only driven a stick a few times – ahhhh the memories!

  27. buzzboy7 Avatar

    I thought of a strange piece of tech that I really don't like for aggressive driving. Drive by wire. I have never driven a drive-by-wire car where the throttle felt direct. I double-clutch most of my shifts and when I try to do it in a DBW car it feels weird. It's like there is a marshmallow somewhere in the line that stops my inputs from being direct.

  28. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    Yes. Next question, please.
    I'm loving this discussion and disquisition please. And I'm so glad that we have now come to codify the exception now known as the Harrell Exemption, applicable to all matters of size, power, refinement and technological capability.
    Many of the comments are on the right track, but being a pompous ass, I'd like to suggest a slightly different vein:
    All tools contain and represent technology of some form and level. Too often, what is seen and respected as High Technology, is actually complexity, specialization and difficulty. Those things are not good. There is also Appropriate Technology, but another time for that.
    The best uses of technologies are those that make the tasks you need to do simpler, easier, better, cheaper, and more durable. Excellent technologies merge different systems and processes, without reducing functionality. Better technologies reduce the number of moving parts. It is easy to add additional systems to repair the deficiencies of other systems. It is hard to merge five systems into one, while adding functionality.
    We like main bearings that last for hundreds of thousands of miles, without our having to think about them once. A bicycle that requires the control panel out of a 747 is an improper use of technology.
    Advanced technology, used properly, allows us to simplify and minimize the mechanism and materials, add capabilities and qualities, and provide a better experience and range of outcomes for the user, at minimum cost.

    1. Xedicon Avatar

      I've tried so hard to get people to understand this… Good to know there's at least one person out there who does!

  29. MVEilenstein Avatar

    Dunno. I drive a 20-year old truck.

    1. Van_Sarockin Avatar

      My new car is twenty years old, and I couldn't be happier. Of course, it was pretty tech-y in its day…

      1. MVEilenstein Avatar

        EFI and ABS rears is enough for me. Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

  30. facelvega Avatar

    Modern performance cars don't have too much tech, they just have the wrong amount. It should either be a lot less tech, or a lot more tech. Like this:
    <img src="http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01834/Morgan_1834434b.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Or like this:
    <img src="http://fc09.deviantart.net/fs33/f/2008/302/2/e/HOVERCRAFT_concept_design_by_anasrist.jpg&quot; width="600">

  31. mr. Smee Avatar
    mr. Smee

    I'd rather they take the money they spend developing that stuff and spend it on more HP, better interiors, more durability, better reliability, better design, etc. Basically spend on things that make my car drive better and last longer. I hate the idea of all this junk going glitchy 10 years on and nobody can fix it.

    1. RegalRegalia Avatar

      Kinda the antithesis of the business strategy, but a noble thought nonetheless.

      1. Van_Sarockin Avatar

        Didn't that used to be Mercedes business model, more or less? Seemed to work pretty well for about seventy five years.

  32. RegalRegalia Avatar

    Ugh, this question.
    Hipsterdom: It's for old car nuts too!

  33. HTWHLS Avatar

    what annoys me most is what it costs to repair these new electronics. I bought a Focus as a commuter car. They tried to sell me an electronics insurance and warranty package, providing additional coverage for the complicated electronics (electronic power steering, stereo, navigation, ABS, T/C, TPMS, etc. Because "…fixing these things can be very expensive and even under warranty, if you have jumped started the car incorrectly, or dropped a screwdriver, you could easily short out 10K worth of electronics and that wouldn't be covered under the existing warranty. And when the warranty period is over, repairing these items is extremely costly."
    Then why use them on a commuter bomb? I don't need TPMS, I don't need electronic power steering, or navigation. just..duh.