Why do enthusiasts love cars that average consumers seem to dislike?
Every so often, I have a friend who approaches me asking for car advice to see what kind of cars that I might recommend. When this does happen, I have learned that my taste in cars, and the taste of most enthusiasts, does not match up with the taste of non-car lovers. For example, when I show them some of my favorite hot hatchbacks or super-fast wagons, they look at me like I'm nuts for even suggesting something so ugly. That is why this list compiles the top 5 cars that "normal" people seem to hate, even though automotive enthusiasts love them.
How can I even begin to describe my love for wagons? They are far more spacious than similarly priced SUVs, and they aren't compromised in their driving dynamics. Since they are low to the ground, like a car, they don't pitch and lean into corners like some SUVs do. However, most "normal consumers" (mainly in the US) think that wagons are ugly. For some reason, everyone that I talk to would rather have an SUV than a wagon because they look better. Even when I show someone a fast wagon like the 560 horsepower Audi RS6, they still can't get over what they say is an ugly design. No wonder why Audi won't bring the RS6 over to the US, American consumers wouldn't appreciate it.
The hatchback has suffered a similar fate as the wagon in the US. Consumers in the US greatly prefer sedans, even though hatchbacks offer almost all of the practicality as a more expensive SUV. What is even more baffling about America's hatred of hatchbacks is that if a company takes a hatchback model and raises it a few inches, like the Mercedes GLA, it is suddenly much cooler in the eyes of consumers. Hot hatchbacks like the Focus RS are high on car enthusiast's list of desirable models, but when I ask my friends who know nothing about cars if they would spend almost $40,000 on one, they think I am crazy. Most "normal" people would rather have the sportier looking Mustang for the same money.
Performance sedans are are a fantastic idea. Even though a two-seater sports car is a lot of fun, some people want to enjoy driving while still being able to carry around a bunch of passengers. That is why enthusiasts turn to models like the Subaru WRX and STI. When someone comes to me asking for a nice car that is also fun to drive, I immediately go for the WRX. However, the reaction is usually much colder than I expected. For some reason, "normal" people don't really notice the WRX's flared arches and hood scoop, they just see a sedan that is too expensive for their budget. I end up telling them to buy a Mazda 6, which is still fun to drive, but no where near as exciting as the turbocharged Subaru.
What could possibly be more exciting than a pickup truck with a supercharged V8 from a Camaro ZL1 (Cue the "Yeah Australia!" Comments)? We love the idea of the ute as a practical way to carry around large cargo without the burdensome size of typical American trucks. However, when I show "normal" people on of these utes like the Holden Maloo HSV, they don't understand why anyone would buy one over a "normal" pickup truck. Perhaps the idea of a car with a pickup truck bed died out with the El Camino several decades ago. Its no wonder why GM or Ford never decided to bring import one of these Australian utes to the US.
Rather than focus on a type of car, this final segment will actually focus on an entire brand. Fiat reentered the US market in 2011, and we still don't understand some of the decisions that the brand made in its comeback. Clearly, American consumers just don't like small cars. I have tried to convince my non-car enthusiast friends that the 500 Abarth is cool by showing them how it sounds like a mini-Ferrari. However, most people just can't get over that Fiat cars just look a bit silly in the US market. It might help if Fiat sold more than just rehashed versions of the 500 and the recently introduced 124 which is just a rebadged Mazda. Fiat really needs an SUV and sedan to sell to average American consumers.