Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Small car owners can still be gearheads

My 2007 Toyota Yaris
Has this ever happened to you? You end up talking cars with someone and they ask, "Well, what do you drive?" I think they typically expect you to say something like a super-boosted 240SX, a Mustang, a Miata; hell I don't know, maybe a freaking Lamborghini. However, when asked this question, I often feel a bit odd.

I say, "I just got a WRX, but I also have a Toyota Yaris with some stuff done to it, and a lifted Suzuki Sidekick for my off-road toy."

The WRX computes with people. However, I have to explain about the Yaris and Sidekick. I know a Yaris is not what most people would consider an "enthusiast" vehicle, but mine is no ordinary Yaris. It's lowered on stiffer springs and performance shocks and it has a bigger rear sway bar. It's got sticky tires and lightweight alloy wheels. Perhaps it's because that no matter the fact it's got a K&N intake, a header, a custom exhaust system, a high-performance clutch, and a short-shift kit, it'll never be "fast" in a straight line. (Really, I do know this.) However, it does handle like a go kart and gets in the upper 30s for fuel economy—two caveats I typically add after confessing to my Yaris ownership. Really, the thing handles quite well; I've surprised more than a few people on curvy roads and autocross course alike. 

Me with my 1995 Suzuki Sidekick
The Sidekick is indeed a true 4x4. It's not a "cute ute" with the ground clearance of a Dodge Caravan. It has a real transfer case with low range. It's got a true ladder frame. And yes, it actually leaves the pavement. No, it doesn't have a six-inch lift, 38" tires, or a howling big-block V-8, but it's great for the trails, is lightweight, and goes places a lot of people don't expect. 

And even after explaining the Yaris and Sidekick, people will say, "Well the WRX is a badass car." Indeed, it is, and lest I remind you, it's still a compact car. However, my Yaris and Sidekick are also very fun in their own ways.

See, this is why I have this site. It acknowledges the fact that there are people like me who know that you can have a lot of fun with only 100 hp in a car. You can be enthusiastic about owning a Honda Fit. You can be a gearhead and own a Chevrolet Sonic, Ford Fiesta, or Kia Rio, and you don't have to apologize for it. You can have a small 95 horsepower 4x4 with a mild lift and 29" tires and love it. However, you'll likely still  have to explain why you love your cars to other gearheads. 


Anonymous said...

It's so true. I have a '95 Miata that has been sitting in my shop for about 3 months. I have been slowly revamping it. I've been driving a little 2007 Yaris hatch with a 5-speed manual since. The little Yaris actually surprises me as far as handling goes. It's not as agile as the Miata, but for having a rear torsion beam & skinny little 185 tires, it sure can cut through a twisty mountain road quite easily. It's actually quite impressive.

Ducati Scotty said...

You should see the looks I get when I say, "Royal Enfield". Mostly it's blank stares indicating a complete lack or recognition or a dismissive, "Oh." Andy, we are brothers on so many levels.

bob said...

Well, if you do have an Aveo you should be apologetic. But I love my yaris! Lowered, shocks, struts, CAI, header, exhaust, sticky rubber and light weight wheels

Steve baker said...

Loved my Yarises, love my Fiat even more (you left them out, by the way....)
And considering the "bad-ass" sports car of my youth was the 90-or-so hp MGB-GT, which weighed more than the Yaris or the Fiat, I feel pretty good with that. ;-)

nlpnt said...

I describe the stock Yaris' handling as like what French cars were said to have - lots of body roll but it still hangs on.