One of the oldest yarns in the car world is that’s it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than the other way around. It’s kind of a cliché, but it’s true. What’s your favorite slow car to drive fast?
My answer is obvious; it has to be my BMW 318ti. It’s a very slow car that’s nonetheless very fun to drive. When my 318ti was new, in 1997, it made all of 138 horsepower and 133 lb-ft of torque. Clearly, it was never a fast car. It weighs just over 2,700 pounds and its rear-suspension was a parts-bin setup adapted from the E30 so BMW could save money.
It lacks the multi-link rear suspension that came on other E36s. This is either a blessing or a curse. The rear trailing arm setup might not be as stable as the multi-link, but it makes the car a blast to drive because it’s easy to slide. It has the “raw” feedback and feel of older (lighter) E30s.
With the lack of power, I can squeeze the power band all I want and I still won’t be doing anything illegal, mostly. I can go WOT, watch the tach jump and still have to wait patiently to reach high speeds. Of course, you will get treated to a more pleasant exhaust note than you’d expect out of the inline-four.
You put together the shorter wheelbase, lighter weight and the need to pin it to get the car moving, and you get a very fun car. That formula is more or less the same in other light, rear wheel drive, “underpowered” cars like the BRZ, 86 or the Miata. And all of those make way more power than my car.
I can safely say that modern minivans will outrun me at a stoplight, so besides the respect I have for minivans because of their cool confidence, I don’t race them. I know they’ll embarrass me as I floor it, shift into gear and make the hatch wail and still barely even move.
You know that movie Turbo? That scene where the snails all line up and unleash the sound and the fury of a thoroughbred race car but they’re barely even moving? Yeah, that’s a great representation of my car and I love it. But what about you? What’s your favorite slow car to drive fast?