Smaller, cheaper cars are more fun-to-drive than bigger ones

We are mostly under the impression that to buy a fun-to-drive car, one has to spend a lot of money. Actually, that’s not always true. In many cases, cheaper + smaller cars are more fun-to-drive than the larger, more expensive ones.

Golden Rule = It’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow.

Take a look at this video by James May on the Fiat Panda, where he explains the concept. “It’s not about how much power you have, it’s about how much power you can use!

This is also a bit unique to India. That’s because the more powerful and the bigger the car, the harder you need to concentrate on your surroundings. The roads may be narrow, and you have to be wary of the random pedestrians, two-wheelers and rickshaws that come your way. Heck, owing to our driving conditions, you cannot even redline an E350d limousine in 3rd gear because you run out of road quickly….forget a proper sports car!!

GTO has frequently mentioned of the fun that he’s had with an Alto K10 / Swift on the Lonavla ghats. Cars are more fun to drive at the limit, and smaller cars with lesser power reach their limit earlier than the pricey ones. After driving BHPian Blackwasp’s Maruti 800, Moderator Aditya commented that he hadn’t had that much fun while driving in a long time (note: this is a guy who test-drives 2 new launches a month).

It’s not just about the power. The size of the car also plays a major role. Shorter the wheelbase, the more fun to drive it is on curvy roads. For example, the chuckable Swift will make you grin on ghat roads far more than a Ciaz. Rides with short wheelbases have a smaller turning radius and can corner tighter than equivalent vehicles with longer wheelbases. In this post of his BMW M2 Competition, BHPian Reesnat talks of how the M3 loses out on the small car handling / charm that comes with the M2. The bigger the car, the more weight it carries as well, and that extra weight reduces the performance and fun factor.

Further, you might push a smaller car harder, as parts on the larger ones burn a hole in the pocket. That’s why Mahindras & Gypsys offroad deeper than Landcruisers whose headlamps cost over a lakh. The list goes on & on:

• A Tiago JTP is so much more fun than say, a Harrier.
• For pleasure, give me an Octavia (especially the vRS) over an A6 or A8 any day.
• A hot hatch like the Abarth Punto will lead to more smiles than most cars costing twice or thrice as much.
• Figo Sports on your favourite mountain road over a Honda City.
• Go for a 200 km drive in an Etios 1.5. Do the same in a Yaris or Corolla, then come back & tell me which one you enjoyed more (1000 bucks says it’s the economy sedan).
• Remember the small & tight Fiesta 1.6S? GTO says there is no C segment sedan that’s more enjoyable, even today.
• C-Class over the LWB E-Class, any day.
• Believe it or not, a Mini Cooper S is more fun than a Ferrari in India (much to the dismay of teenage boys reading this thread).

The same holds good for Crossovers & SUVs as well. Smaller monocoque SUVs like the Compass / Seltos are car-like to drive than bulky body-on-frame SUVs like the Fortuner / Endeavour, which suffer from height, weight and body roll. There is simply no contest in speed or cornering capability.

These are the reasons why sporty cars costing under Rs. 1 crore (like the Cayman & M2) give more pleasure than a large & over-the-top supercar like a Lamborghini Aventador in India. Added advantage = something like the Ford Mustang can be enjoyed even on your daily office commute, you do not need a racetrack for it. Try that in a Veyron.

Of course, there are several exceptions to the rule too, but I hope the point is made = it’s not necessary that more money should always equate to more pleasure. Enthusiasts on a budget can have a blast too!

Thanks to the M2 review for inspiring this thread!

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