You can read car reviews all day long until your eyes start to bleed, but nothing matches the experience of actually getting behind the wheel and going for a drive. It’s the only way to know if a car is really for you or not. So what didn’t live up to your expectations?

The Nissan 350Z came out when I was in high school. Like a lot of people, I fell in love with the design almost immediately. And back in the early 2000s, 287 horsepower was a decent amount. I spent a long time dreaming of the day when I’d buy one.

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Years later, when I finally was able to pull the trigger, I took one for a test drive. And I was underwhelmed. It felt heavy, too much like a cruiser instead of a pure sports car. The cheap, plastic-fantastic interior didn’t do anything for me. Then there was that honking sound from the VQ V6. I said no thanks and bought a Subaru WRX instead.

This isn’t a diss on all the Z drivers out there—if you love your machine, good for you, it just wasn’t for me—but to me it’s an example of how you can never really know if you want a car until you drive it.

I bet you have a story like that too. What did you want, until you actually drove it?


Contact the author at patrick@jalopnik.com.