As a magazine editor, sometimes it’s easy to get thin skinned about other people supposedly being thin skinned. I mean, when we conduct a comparison test and brand X falls in fourth place, we hear all the backtalk. “Those guys are biased.” “They don’t test them right.” “My machine never gets a fair shake.”
Our initial knee-jerk, thin-skinned reaction (internally and emotionally) goes something like this: “We just put these machines through a wide variety of tests, back-to-back-to-back-to-back, in controlled circumstances, recording notes, data and photos, hitting the same corners and the same bumps as the same speeds in the same conditions on the same day. The guy that wrote the letter just rides his machine and only his machine. Yet he’s positive that his machine is best, and that we don’t know what we’re talking about? You’re calling US brand biased, yet YOUR brand should always finish first in every test? The guy writing the letter has probably never ever driven the other sleds in the comparo!”
We usually calm down quickly, and remind ourselves that opinions will vary and people generally want to think their machine is best as part of a pride-in-ownership. We get that, once the initial emotions subside. Yet I had my own personal epiphany recent after reading a comparison test in July issue of Motor Trend.
You see, I think the new Camaro is the best looking new car developed by a U.S. auto maker in dozens of years. The SS version’s got 426 ponies pushing around a stout rear-wheel drive chassis and the coolest retro styling on the planet. Even the six-cylinder RS model is wonderful – 304 HP and running the quarter mile in less than 15 seconds (14.3 in Motor Trend’s testing). I honestly haven’t been this excited to see a new American car in my adult life.
So when I received my issue of Motor Trend recently with a cover story comparing the new V8 and V6 rear-wheel-drive “ponycars,” I was jacked up. I paged to the article and, to my horror, the vehicle I lust over finished at or near the bottom in just about every test editor’s list when comparing the vehicle to versions of the Ford Mustang, the Dodge Challenger and, in the six-cylinder class, the Hyundai Genesis. The magazine, of course, ran the cars in a variety of tests, including comparing the machines in the quarter mile and measuring g-forces and interior sound levels.
My reaction? “Blah, blah, blah… what do these guys know. Biased bastards!” I mean, if I get a Camaro (which is just a dream on this writer’s salary!), I’m not going to run it on a freaking rode course, nor drag race it in the quarter mile. All I know is that I’d have the coolest car in town, and I’d be able to wax the vast majority of cars going stoplight to stoplight – if, of course, I were so inclined to do such street racing, which I would never do, Officer O’Reilly.
Now, can I have my license back, please? Sir? You see, in my little world, the Camaro is the best, and there’s no arguing that point. It just is. Case closed. The guys from Motor Trend must be crazy if they think any differently, right? How dare they criticize the Camaro?! I almost through that particular issue of Motor Trend right into the recycling bin.
All this, and I don’t even own a Camaro!!
So how can I blame the guy who just spent $10,000-plus on the latest and greatest sled, in his view, if he wants to take me down a couple notches for not rating his machine as the best in our 800-class comparo or cross-over shootout?!
We’ll continue doing our comparison tests, just like Motor Trend, and we’ll continue taking our lumps for allegedly being biased from brand-biased readers who only think their rig should win. And I’ll keep dreaming of my perfect, unbeatable Camaro — a car that makes me face my own biases!