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nderwater UltimaDork
8/30/18 1:28 p.m.

(Counter-point to the other thread that's in-progress)

Way back in 1996 I got my first chance to drive a Miata.  I'd always loved the styling, but I didn't know how fun it would since every other convertible I had experienced up to that point was crap (Golf, fox Mustang, LeBaron, etc.).  From the moment I sat in the seat and turned the engine over it was obvious that this was a car engineered by enthusiast drivers for enthusiast drivers.  The agility was like nothing else I had ever experienced.  Totally exceeded my expectations.

How about you?

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
8/30/18 1:52 p.m.

There's been a few:

FRS----  I did the press launch, and had high hopes.  The car lived up to the high expectations I had, even if the engine isn't my favorite.  The rest of the car was just so darn good, that I still love these things. 


BMW 1-Series M --- A bulldog of a car.   It was fast, had attitude, and was refreshingly simple inside.  The rarity made it unobtainable, but they are badass little machines.


Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody----  My love for the Hellcat Widebody is no surprise to anyone on this board, and I'm not ashamed to say it.  I was able to fling this beast around the IMS infield course, and down the front straight repeatedly.  I have to admit, running fast at INDY was a bucket list item for me, but what surprised me the most was how docile the car was on the street.  It's versatility and bodaciousness make it the ultimate muscle car for me.  


2019 Hyundai Veloster R----- Ok, this one is recent, and I can't say I was all that excited to drive it.  Once I did spend some time behind the wheel, I found I was really happy.   It does nearly everything you want a car to do, holds a reasonable amount of stuff, is fun, quick, and only costs $22K.   It surprised me, and I think they are one of the best values going in sporty cars.  

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
8/30/18 2:01 p.m.

S197 Mustang GT Premium- I expected another clunky Mustang with some gimmicky interior bits, but found myself in a legitimately a fun to drive, decently quick, comfy, nice place to spend time.

Wiscocrashtest New Reader
8/30/18 2:07 p.m.

The first time I drove a 911 for sure. 

Definitely the top of the "exceeded my already high expectations" list:

It was so, so good. Capable, encouraging but still feeling special and thrilling. I was worried it was going to be cantankerous and dated but it was not.

red_stapler Dork
8/30/18 2:10 p.m.

My Cayman is definitely it for me.  I was was expecting a unicorn that only technicians in clean polo shirts could work on.  Instead I got a wonderful little car that is a pleasure to work on at home, easy to drive, and just as happy to take a sedate drive at the speed limit as it is to attack a corner at a trackday.

NOHOME UltimaDork
8/30/18 2:14 p.m.

The Miata way back in 1990 when I first bought it.That car was awesomer than I expected and kept putting a smile on my face for the 10 years I drove it.

The FRS in 2012 was exactly what I expected and exactly what I wanted, but no more or less.



Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
8/30/18 2:22 p.m.

V8 Miata. I was pretty much an immediate convert.

Also, surprisingly, a late Panther. 2008 Mercury Grand Marquis. I expected the suspension and the isolation, I did not expect the quality of the steering.

dropstep SuperDork
8/30/18 2:30 p.m.

My first foxbody. It made the same 300 crank horsepower (yay crate motors) as my 81 cutlass. The 600lb difference was astounding and led to my love for the fox chassis. It also hugely disappointed my father.


Years later I got to drive my friends 89 civic with some suspension mods and it shocked me after years of driving cars on 5 inch wide front tires with zero ability to turn how much fun a little quick handling car was. 

84FSP SuperDork
8/30/18 2:32 p.m.

A C5 Z06 Vette back in 2001.  Was just amazed that it was so well balanced and amazingly fast.  As a fwd euro car kid it was a mind blowing experience.  

Tyler H
Tyler H UltraDork
8/30/18 2:41 p.m.

I test drove the ex-B-spec Fiesta that I was invited to race last week as a sneak preview.  B-spec was limited prep and thus it is still sorta Tennessee Street Legal.   I took it for a 10-mile drive in the country and it was riotous fun.  Epitome of slow car, fast....although it wasn't all that slow by slow car standards.

barefootskater HalfDork
8/30/18 3:11 p.m.

1983 911 sc. Fast enough for me, great handling, and it just felt so connected. Only p-car I've ever driven.

nderwater UltimaDork
8/30/18 3:19 p.m.

Before I drove a Ferrari for the first time I had a real fear that they were overrated and that driving one would be a "don't meet your heros" moment.  But when I had to the chance to autocross a Modena I found the car's balance and on-the-limit handling to be a revelation.  Really, really good.  Driving an F430 on track was also sublime.  They may be fragile and expensive, but man what great cars to drive.

8valve Reader
8/30/18 3:22 p.m.

CRX.  Coming from a similar Honda with same hp:lbs ratio, I figured at 500 lbs less it should be pretty good.  Was excited, and yes it exceeded what I thought it would be.

dj06482 SuperDork
8/30/18 3:26 p.m.

- SCC's B13 SE-R - loved that car, the SR20 had far more torque than I expected, and it's reputation as a great revving motor was spot on.  I loved this car on the street as well as the track.

- Evo IX MR - I came in with low expectations and fell in love with it.  I love torque and never dreamed I'd like an EVO more than an STI, but I did.  The motor was amazing, the steering was absolutely perfect (I had expected it to be darty), and the AWD system was incredible.  This is my favorite car I've ever driven.

- FFR Cobra - only rode in one, but the ride and comfort was worlds better than I expected.  I would drive one three seasons out of the year if I could afford one.

- '03 Viper - despite the power and grip, it was a sweetheart - I came in thinking it would kill me.

- 03 Neon SXT - capable all around, I was shocked

- 02 WRX - my dream car at the time, and it was even better than I thought.  I regret not buying this car.  The balance of power, handling, and all-season practicality made it a winner.

- 06 Dodge RAM quad cab hemi - I'm not a Dodge guy, but I loved that truck.  The Hemi's torque down low coupled with its ability to rev made me a believer.  

stanger_missle SuperDork
8/30/18 3:28 p.m.

I have only rented a few cars in my life. Back in 2015, I flew into Chicago O'Hare and needed to drive about an hour West on I90. I had reserved a "midsize" rental. I was given a new Jetta. I think it was the 1.8T version.

Up to this point, the only VW experience I had was driving and riding in my sister's MkIII and MkIV Jettas with the 2.slow. Wierd electical problems, expensive; hard to source parts and being dangerously slow (both were autos) was what I remember the most.

It was quiet and comfortable all while knocking down 38mpg while battling traffic at 85mph. I was pretty dang impressed for the 5 days that I had it.

I live a boring life haha

nderwater UltimaDork
8/30/18 3:35 p.m.

I'm always excited to drive any Porsche, but I didn't expect to like the oh-so-ugly Porsche Panamera as much as I did.  It's very comfortable on the street and yet totally at home on the race track (in GTS trim, at least).  The interior fit and finish is like a private jet, which doesn't hurt either.

Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
8/30/18 3:45 p.m.

I rented this from a local guy and Turo.   

Totally blown away.   I’ve never driven a powerful car.

APEowner Dork
8/30/18 3:54 p.m.

Spec. Miata.  I grew up with Muscle cars and raced V8 powered cars on dirt.  When I decided to go road racing I built a 640 HP Camaro.  One weekend while I was waiting for Camaro parts to arrive a buddy suggested that I race his Spec. Miata.  Sure the Camaro is faster and straights take forever in a Miata but those tough little cars are a blast to throw around and they're incredibly reliable and cheap (for a race car).

GT3 .  I'd read the reviews and I knew it would be good but OMG.  I've driven a bunch of supercars but the GT3 is the only one that makes me think about selling my house to finance one every time I drive one.

CyberEric HalfDork
8/30/18 4:08 p.m.

Porsche 911 997. It's easy to sleep on 911s as they're everywhere, and you always hear how great they are. Then I drove one, the power, the handling, everything is amazing.  

E36 M3. This was the first "fast" car I ever drove and it was amazing back in the late 90s. I couldn't believe the handling and the power at the time, but the main thing was that it just felt SO right. 

Miata, for the same reasons everyone has said.

Tom_Spangler PowerDork
8/30/18 4:37 p.m.

First BMW I ever drove was a lightly modded E36 M3 in about 2004 or so. Suddenly, I got why people talked about BMWs the way they did.

More recently, my cousin's 986 Boxster. I was expecting a Miata with a bit more power. What I got was something that turned much more readily thanks to it's mid-engine layout, and the intake sound of that flat six right behind your head is intoxicating. If I didn't hate convertibles, I'd own one now.

Oh, and Aussie's 996TT.  It redefined what a fast car is for me. Just violent, addictive acceleration. It made me giddy.

AnthonyGS Reader
8/30/18 5:33 p.m.

996 and my first NA Miata.  

buzzboy Reader
8/30/18 5:50 p.m.

Every single Mercedes sedan(70s through 90s) has left me with a smile. I don't know what it is about them but the ride, comfort, controls, steering, smoothness has all been perfect. From our W116.120 which is the crispest boat but also the most comfortable racecar I've ever sat in, to a W124.133 which is a smooth and comfortable commuter that is surprisingly quick for a diesel and fuel efficient and and and...


1996 Jeep Cherokee SE, 2dr, 4x4, 4.0, 5speed. I needed a winter car and this has always been my dream Jeep. Until test driving it I'd never even ridden in an XJ. It does everything I want of it surprisingly well. The controls are all great. Power and torque are great in the 3000lbs chassis. Steering isn't racecar but it's fine for highway cruising and snow wading. With highway tires I get ~22mph at 75mph burning whatever the lowest grade fuel I can find is(85 somewhere in Wisconsin). I can fit all my winter gear in it with room to spare for whoever my copilot is. And just to remind me that she's getting old it did need a new coil in MD on my way out west and it took a new UJoint in Detroit on my way back east. Can't complain for a 275,000 mile Jeep.

yupididit UltraDork
8/30/18 6:48 p.m.

987.1 Cayman S and just about every Porsche I've driven. But, the Cayman feels perfect for me.

ND Miata. Was expecting the same ole miata formula. But, this was like a NA that's comfortable and has more power and 2 more cyls than the specs say.

Mercedes 450SEL 6.9. Thought it would be like muscle car brute. Nope. Refined brute that was comfortable and exceeded speed limits and its tires upon smashing the pedal 

My old galant vr4 (RIP). I miss this car. Leather seat 4door awd turbo goodness with a manual transmission. Plus totally sleeper. Mine made 493hp after i was done with it. I'll take a stock rust free one anyday.

My old CRX HF. Just fun without breaking 90mph. Pretty much and drive it all out and still get passed by a Camry lol. 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
8/30/18 6:57 p.m.

I was 100% not ready for the violence that is a second gear roll in the CTS-V. It was beyond anything I could imagine at the time. 

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
8/30/18 7:12 p.m.

997 GT2 - I’d never been much of a Porsche fan, but the car was telepathic. I’m sure it was largely due to the electrical wizardry(which I didn’t bother to turn off). It didn’t understeer or oversteer, it just went where you pointed it. 

The only other car I felt that way about was many years earlier in an Evo VIII. 

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