Yes, you did read the title correctly.
I will admit that suggesting which cars not to buy is a bit pointless, but I have never pretended that my car rants are of any real use to anybody. Besides, wasting time tends to be one of the most pleasurable things to do anyway. Let’s go.
5th place: Porsche 911 Turbo
If you’ve read some of my previous articles, you’re probably raising one of your eyebrows right about now. Yes, I’m telling you that you shouldn’t buy it. For full disclosure, I have to admit that I sneaked this one in at least partially because I’d like the used Porsche prices to come down a little on this one, but I’ve found some more sensible reasons to try and convince you as well.
The Turbos are are silly money, for a start. I’ve never been one to argue that value for money is something you should keep in mind when shopping for your dream car, but Porsche pricing is pushing limits which even car lunatics like myself have a hard time understanding. Particularly because you can get a «regular» 911 for half the price. It’s not half the car, and it will look the same to just about everybody particularly when sitting inside.
The only real feature of the Turbo is that it will try to break your neck whenever you floor the throttle. It’s absurdly fast. If being propelled forward at the fastest possible rate is all you care about, look no further than this car. But is it more fun to drive than a Carrera S? That all depends. The Turbo is delivering its performance in a very calculated and almost clinical way. Some brilliant engineers in grey suits had a meeting and decided to make the fastest 911 ever. But as vastly superior as it is on paper, I think you are missing out on some of the exciting noises and emotions you get from the naturally aspirated Porsche engines.
Then there is the problem that Porsche sells a Turbo and a Turbo S. As you can guess, the S is quite a bit more expensive and has a few extra horsepower. There is no need to make a «poor man’s» version of such an expensive hyperbolic car. Whatever the «S» means should simply be included in the regular Turbo.
Of course the final point is what really drives the nail in the Turbo coffin for me: there exists a 911 GT3 and even GT3 RS. Unlike the Turbo, these are pretty much the most excitingly perfect cars to drive on the planet if not the fastest. They cost less than a Turbo now, but they will cost a lot more than a Turbo if you want to sell them on in a couple of years. Not that you would want to. The 911 GT3 is even quite comfortable to drive around on the street every day, unlike the older versions.
I just realized now that I’ve made a dreadful mistake here. I actually want a GT3. Please everyone just buy the Turbo, then. I’m not going back to re-write all that.
4th place: Mercedes S65 AMG
Not a car I suspect any of us were thinking of buying anyway, but regardless I think it’s a good example of a car that should not even exist.
In the upper luxury car segment where comfort is king, the Mercedes S class is an icon. It has been transporting its wealthy owners in maximum comfort for decades now. They generally sit in the back, of course. It’s not a drivers’ car because it’s not supposed to be one. It doesn’t need to be one. The S class is a well-spoken elderly butler of a car. It’s not going to play squash with you.
So why would anyone need a massive AMG engine in the front and loud noises out the back? It’s not like a «regular» S600 is too slow. It’s more than fast enough already.
And the joke is on the S65 buyer because Mercedes also make an S63 AMG which, by most accounts, is actually a bit better than the S65. Yes you get a «smaller» engine but we’re still talking about a 5.5 liter twin turbocharged V8 which makes nearly 600 horsepower. Sticking the bigger, heavier V12 in the front is absolutely pointless from a performance perspective.
So if you really, really can’t help yourself — get the S63 instead.
3rd place: BMW X6 M
It’s probably a bit unfair to single out the X6 M here as BMW also make an X5 M which has pretty much the same flaws as the X6. But if you put a gun to my head and made me choose between these 2 cars — an unimaginable level of cruelty and torture — I would choose the X5 as it is at least a clear concept. The X5 was BMW’s first SUV. A big all wheel drive car that sits high off the ground even though nobody who owns them will ever take them off road. Not to put too fine a point on it.
I have a huge amount of respect for BMW’s Motorsport department as they have been responsible for creating some of the best cars the world has ever seen. So I imagine there are some people who work for BMW Motorsport who also aren’t too happy that their iconic badge is being slapped on a car which will never be even a little bit suitable for driving on a racetrack. I’m OK with the fact that BMW wanted to make some of their SUVs go fast in a straight line, but why use the M badge?
A «motorsport» luxury SUV is a contradiction in terms no matter how you look at it.
I know I could say the same thing about Audi making an RS Q3, but let’s not pretend that any Audi with an RS badge was ever meant to drive on a racetrack.
And it may be childish to argue about looks, but I think the X6 is an extraordinarily ugly car. Because they mixed an SUV with a coupe and then gave it 4 doors. It just doesn’t look right, and despite being huge in size there really isn’t as much space in the back or the trunk as you would imagine. That’s the price you pay for the dropping roof line which someone in the design department apparently found aesthetically pleasing. I think he’s in the wrong job, personally.
2nd place: Lamborghini Huracan
It was always going to be tough for the Huracan to live up to the expectations created by the Gallardo, its predecessor. It was impossible to dislike the Gallardo, as long as you didn’t get one with that terrible robotized gearbox anyway. It just looked so exotic and sounded like life as we know it was about to come to an end. One of my fondest memories is driving behind a Gallardo on the Nurburgring as I literally could not hear my own engine over the Lamborghini’s exhaust. It was just so loud and throwing small flames on downshifts making it even more spectacular to observe. The driver also nearly lost it coming out of one of the faster corners. It was everything a Lamborghini should be. A wild, raging animal of the sort you really wouldn’t want behind you in Pamplona’s bull run.
Unfortunately, driving the Huracan is more like being chased by regular cattle. Not nearly as frightening and thereby missing the point of the exercise somewhat. Perhaps aiming at new growing markets like China, the car is now easier to drive. What that really means is they made it harder to crash. Much of the playfulness of the old car is gone. It still sounds pretty good and pretty loud — and pretty much exactly the same as an Audi R8 V10. Which is what you would expect of course, because it’s the same engine as Lamborghini is owned by Audi.
Which creates a bit of a problem for the Lamborghini. The Audi R8 was always the Gallardo’s sister car, but that didn’t really matter much while they were so different. Lambo buyers were just happy to get some reliability for a change, With the Huracan though, they have actually made a car that drives more Audi-like than the R8 does. The R8 has sharper handling and is more prone to oversteer if you turn the protections off.
It also used to be the case that the engine was tuned to create a bit more power in the Lamborghini, but now with the new R8 you can get that with exactly the same power output of 610 horsepower out of the 5.2 litre V10. The gearbox is the same as well — Audi’s rather amazing S-tronic dual clutch system.
With the Lamborghini then, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to see why you’d buy it rather than the new Audi R8. Particularly now that the Lamborghini looks a bit less mean than we’re used to. The R8 is technically very similar, for less money and in the eyes of this writer slightly classier looking. The interior of the Huracan is more «space ship» so Star Trek fans might inclined to go shopping with the Italians. But I’d have to go with the 2016 R8 V10 Plus instead.
1st place: Nissan GT-R
We have a winner!
Not that this is a competition you’d want to win of course, but I don’t think Nissan will be losing any sleep over it.
Like all the other cars I have mentioned, the GT-R is actually a very good car. It’s a great car. But that doesn’t mean it’s a great car to actually go and buy — and there are a few things you should consider before you actually do.
When it was launched — can you believe it’s been nearly 8 years already — it was nothing short of a revolution. The GT-R was a car which put most supercars to shame in terms of performance, at a very low price point. Godzilla, as the GT-R was aptly nicknamed, was back. Car journalists couldn’t stop raving about how amazing it was. And they were right.
But time does catch up, and so does the competition. And just because a car is awesome to drive for a couple days, doesn’t mean you’ll still be happy after using it for a year. And this is the kind of reason why the GT-R isn’t a car I would recommend buying. It’s still very impressive, but particularly for everyday use there are too many downsides.
By modern standards, the car is decidedly uncomfortable. The ride is best described as harsh, and a lot of noises make it into the cabin. Some of those noises are actually quite good, but most of them just aren’t pleasant particularly on longer journeys. The seats aren’t that nice either, particularly if you’re not the thinnest of people.
The gearbox, as impressive as it was to people 8 years ago, is now seriously outdated and clunky. If you’ve ever driven a Porsche with a PDK gearbox, an Audi with S-tronic or a BMW with DCT then the GT-R’s gearbox feels archaic. It’s not as bad as the old R-tronic gearbox found in older Audi R8s, but that’s not much of a compliment. It’s also not the most reliable either.
But the worst thing about the GT-R is not actually its own fault. It has a vast legion of ultra loyal and ultra annoying followers. Those are «fanboys» if you are familiar with the term which is frequently used online. You can’t post a car video on YouTube without a GT-R discussion breaking out in the comments. The car just seems to appeal rather strongly to the type of person who has all 6 DVDs of the «fast and furious» collection on his living room table. When you meet them on the road — they’re easily recognizable by the stickers on their cars — they invariably want to «race» you or take pictures of your car with their phones. And most of us probably aren’t looking for that kind of attention.
It was easier to live with the GT-Rs drawbacks 8 years ago when the car had a technological edge over the competition and it was relatively cheap. Since then Nissan has pushed the price up every year and it’s now about forty percent higher than it was when the car was launched. It has a bit more power but otherwise not much has really changed to the car in 8 years. This car has earned its place in history, but it’s time to move on.