Should I Go For More Performance Or Better Features?

Illustration for article titled Should I Go For More Performance Or Better Features?
Image: Mazda

As Jalopnik’s resident car-buying expert and a professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve picked a few of your questions and will try to help out. This week we are discussing if it’s better to prioritize performance over features and if a dealership is getting “revenge” for a bad survey.


First up, given budget constraints, is it better to aim for more performance or more features?

“I’ve decided to buy a Miata. Since I plan on driving it hard at times, I’d prefer the Club for its suspension and LSD. I also like the better stereo. My budget is around $20,000 and the only Clubs in my price range are 2016s-2018s. However, there are a few base model Sport 2019s that I could afford. Would I be better off going for the additional horsepower and other refinements of the 2019 or for the options I want with less horsepower on the older model?”

That is a good question, and I think it really comes down to how you plan to use the car and what you are going to notice more. While the Club trim is certainly a bit more dialed in from a handling perspective, keep in mind even a base Miata has a really good suspension setup. As for the limited-slip differential, I think you really need to be cooking your turns to really notice that. If you plan on doing some autocross or other track events with the Miata, that LSD would come in handy. If this is more of a daily driver, I would say the extra power is likely going to be more noticeable.

This also speaks to a broader topic that I have noticed. Too often, enthusiast buyers are hyperfocused on getting the fastest car they can and sacrifice other features they may find valuable. I’ve seen buyers get a base model AMG or Audi S-line car when they could have had a fully loaded version with a motor that was still punchy but not quite as extreme. I don’t fault drivers who want the most horsepower in their driveway, but it comes down to the original question of “What are you going to notice more?”

Another way of putting it is in terms of speed versus price premium. For example, if an S7 is $15,000 more than a standard A7, does that S7 feel $15,000 faster in your typical driving conditions? It’s a bit of a rhetorical question, but it’s one worth considering when making the choice between various models and trims.

Next up, would a dealer “spam” a customer’s information out because of bad survey answers?

“We just finished up a lease extension at our local Volkswagen dealer and received really unpleasant service (to say the least). As such, we gave them a poor review at the dealership level, not yet at the manufacturer level, and we know full well the weight each of those carries for the salespeople and the dealership as a whole. After submitting the review, my husband has been receiving phone calls and emails from dealerships both in our area and even from surrounding states following up on our interest in buying a new car. We believe that an employee from our Volkswagen dealer who was upset about our review entered his contact information into several dealer forms online. We want to note that we only worked with this local dealer and did not submit any inquires to other VW dealers in the area. My husband is sure he checked a box in his contract to not share his contact information, but he does not have a copy of the contract he signed. We also don’t have proof that they did this, obviously. We’re just curious what your thoughts are, and what sort of action we can take, if any?”


I guess it is certainly possible for the salesperson to spam your info out to other dealers, though I’m not really sure what they would have to gain beyond the satisfaction of these emails/calls being a bit of a pain in the butt for you. The solution to stop the spam is easy: When the dealer calls, tell them you are no longer in the market. And there is usually a “report spam and unsubscribe” function on email applications.

In regard to taking any action against the dealer that supposedly spammed your info out: As you said you don’t really have any proof. Even if you did, other than some wasted time it would be hard to make a case that the salesperson caused any “damages or loss.” That said, if you were really unhappy with the way the dealer handled your transaction, feel free to answer the corporate survey honestly or have a chat with the sales manager before you do so. Perhaps the manager would be willing to offer free oil changes or something elseto make sure you are a happy customer.


Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at!

Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (


Lord Whistledown

I’m having these discussions with my wife as we contemplate a Tesla Model Y. While the Performance is like driving an amusement park ride around town, I’m thinking it’s not worth the extra money for the reduced range.

The Long Range is still plenty quick and that insta-torque and one-pedal driving is fun on both. And the LR has smaller wheels which will be quieter and more comfortable. My brain says “Long Range” but my heart belongs to “Performance.”