A dirty little secret I learned from years of riding motorcycles, way before I learned it about cars, is that one rarely gets to the edge of what a vehicle is capable of on the street.
This is why the most useful sport bike displacement I’ve found for riding on the street is 600-750, but really closer to the 600 number. I would say the 750 is just so that the most experienced riders won’t get constantly underwhelmed.
We all know the obsession with horsepower American car buyers tend to have when it comes to anything vaguely resembling a sporting vehicle. The truth is that what a car does in the curves is more revealing of it’s essence than what it does in a straight line. Once an experienced auto enthusiast knowns and internalizes this, it changes which cars he or she chooses for pleasure.
One of my favorite vehicles that illustrates this is the MINI Cooper. I owned a 2010 Cooper S Convertible a few years back. I knew I loved and would always love that car, when a relative of mine who watched me from the passengers seat commented as such.
I took that car over 60,000 miles and across two countries. All it ever needed was it’s scheduled maintenance to run best. Even thought it had less than 200 horsepower, it felt like driving a go-cart. I could take the MINI to the limit and feel like I was neither let down on one extreme, nor scaring myself to death on the other.
My current daily driver, the Mazda 3 Sport, is an interesting example. I didn’t use sport mode for almost a year after buying it, because the automatic transmission seemed peppy enough between the normal drive mode, and manual shifting. However, two years into my ownership I took a particular winding road that is great for driving, and the drive was okay to yuck in normal mode and with a manual shifting.
When I put on sport mode, it transformed the ride. It was impressive how well the auto shifting performed compared to manual shifting. Since then I use sport mode, instead of manual shifting on particular curvy roads and the Mazda does surprising well, body roll nonewithstanding.
So although I’d prefer a different and newer car for more sportier pursuits I’m thinking my daily driver may just need some basic modifications (e.g. wheels, tires, sway bars, etc.), to enhance its character.