Standard Cars - The Overview
The leaves of the Shenandoah mountains were turning, painting the hills in a beautiful cascade of red, gold, orange, yellow, and dotted with brown. The sun was bright and the sky was clear, and it was even almost warm. In other words, a beautiful day for a drive.
Sadly, the little Mara that Gary was driving really wasn’t up to the task. It was faithful, built to last forever, and he loved it for that. But in terms of fun? The Irena was a great car, but between cross-ply tires, a small engine, and the wagon shape, it just wasn’t all that engaging.
That was ringing in his mind as he pulled up to the day’s first dealership. Tugging on his brown coat as the two-liter motor rumbled to a halt, he clambered out of the aging wagon and looked around.
“Mister Fox, I presume?” An aging black man in a clean blue suit was speaking to Gary, professional and smiling. He offered a hand, and Gary shook it.
“Just Gary. You’re Leonard, right?”
“Everybody calls me Lenny,” he deferred, gesturing to the small building that served as the lot’s office. “I understand we’re looking at quite a few cars today, right? Looking to replace your old Irena?”
“No, buying another car,” Gary explained. “I want something quick, fun, and sharp, but it’s got to have four doors. It would be nice if it looked good, and ideally was something I could take on road trips.”
“Well, we’ve got a lot of options that fit the bill, Gary,” Lenny replied smoothly. “In fact, I just finished showing this first one to someone else. Ever heard of Ascot?”
“Oh, yeah,” Gary said with surprise. “What do you have?”
“This here is the Ensign SX. It’s got a turbo engine, and a little more displacement than you’d usually see in a four-cylinder,” Lenny explained.
“Oh, cool,” Gary said, and they walked the short distance to the little red car. It was, in fact, a bit small. Gary wasn’t opposed to the idea, though. Lenny handed him the keys and showed him where the ignition was.
The seats were nice, but the entertainment was a little slim, and when the car got rolling Gary knew it wasn’t for him. The throttle was sluggish, the suspension was stiff, and yet unresponsive. It wasn’t very fast, and while it wasn’t too slow through corners, it didn’t blow him away. They parked the car, and he handed the key to Lenny.
“Well, it’s not great,” Gary said honestly.
“Yeah. This is the bottom end of what we’ll be looking at today- the cheapest sport sedan on the market,” Lenny explained. “It’s not a bad car, but it is probably under your market.”
“Exactly my thoughts,” Gary said. “I wish they’d spent a little more money and made a better car, but maybe I’m just not their customer.”
Moving into the office, Lenny pulled several keys off the ring… then several more. A dozen. Gary raised an eyebrow.
“I wasn’t kidding about options,” Lenny said with a shrug. “Cars aren’t as hard to make as they were in the Depression or the war, so we get a lot of stuff like this.”
“Can we narrow it down a bit? I don’t really want to drive twelve different cars, I won’t be able to evaluate them in-depth,” Gary asked, glancing around. The lot was full of cars, and the idea of driving them all in a day made him frown.
“Oh, sure. You care about speed stuff, right? Well, I’ve got some data here on all of ‘em,” Lenny offered.
That worked for Gary, so they sat down at Lenny’s desk and went over some papers. One car Gary could write off immediately: the Ensign’s closest competitor. While the Ensign was a bit slow, the Allen Vista was even slower, and it cost more. Actually, despite how slow it felt, Gary was surprised to see the Ascot ahead of a few cars. It turned out that it wasn’t actually all that slow, but instead suffered from poor suspension tuning and throttle response that made it feel much slower than it really was, sucking all the fun out of driving it.
Of course, the Vista was legitimately slow, and even it was faster than the Eudo Z5, a particularly strange-looking car that did nothing for Gary. The Eudo was very expensive considering its abysmal performance, and it didn’t even handle well. The Vista could at least claim very low service costs, good comfort for the price, and it was slow because it was a four cylinder motor without a turbo, so it got decent fuel economy. Looked pretty good, other than the weird yellow thing on the grille- Gary wasn’t too sure he liked that.
Meanwhile, the Z5 was powered by a V6 with a turbocharger. Gary was at a total loss for its slowness.
The other disappointing cars were more of a wrong-market type of thing. The Vidar Dragoon, Gary really wanted to like.
It was the nicest-looking car Gary had seen thus far, and with a legitimate sports car interior down to the racing seats, a four-liter DOHC V8, and rear-wheel-drive, it ought to be exciting.
But Gary had to wonder if Vidar was waiting to release a more full-fledged version of the car. It had a pretty soft suspension tune that hurt its handling, and the engine was slow to respond, resulting in overall a fairly mundane driving experience, on par with the Vista.
Similarly, the Baumhauer 423E.
Twenty valves, five cylinders, all wheel drive. Very cool on paper. In practice, it was a little underpowered, and in the interest of being a more reasonable sedan it had comfort-oriented tires and a restrictive exhaust system that silenced most of the engine noise. Being bulletproof, well protected against rust, safe, comfortable, and very, very smart looking went a long way. If Gary wanted to put the sedan in sport sedan, this was likely his pick.
Despite the disappointing performance, he took note of it anyways.
Here was something unusual. Primus had, as ever, sort of old-man styling for their Astrona 200 GLS. But under the hood, it wasn’t quite so old-man. Nearly as quick as the Ensign, the Astrona offered much better handling, great comfort, and much more engaging driving, according to Lenny. All that, and it was a four-cylinder front-wheel driver, just like the Ensign. A promising sign for his family being able to handle it. Gary quickly noted it down as competition for the 423E.
“You okay with Japanese cars?”
“Is Keiyo Japanese?” Gary looked at it.
“I’m not too sure. I assumed it was from the name,” Lenny admitted, “But we’ve never had one of these before.”
“I see why,” Gary said, raising an eyebrow at the styling and color. “Is it fast?”
“Not in a straight line, but it’s pretty agile.”
“That interior looks pretty cheap, but this thing isn’t all that cheap, right?”
“Yeah,” Lenny said, shaking his head. “Bit of a shame. With a better motor or interior, it might have been a good car.”
“Starting to think V6 engines might not be great,” Gary said in commiseration.
“Six cylinders isn’t a death sentence. Check this out,” Lenny said.
The most fun you could have for a reasonable price- aside from the compromised Hasho, anyways. And fast, too. The AMS Acolyte 3.0S offered a straight-six and was very fast, in the low fourteens to the quarter mile. Good comfort thanks to a really high-tech interior, including a CD player. Power steering kept the rear-wheel-drive manageable.
And, to boot, it was the most agile car at high speeds. Gary was really impressed with it on paper.
Unfortunately, it was not a pretty car. The strange color didn’t help, and the rear felt a bit tall. If it was the fastest car in the standard range, Gary might have noted it right away… but the Wells SideWinder had it beat.
The SideWinder was one way into the mid 13-second range. Granted, it wasn’t cheap, and barely counted as a standard car by Gary’s estimate. But, while the styling was too over-the-top for Gary, he did like it better than the Acolyte. It wasn’t likely to be as fun, with a few complaints about a sluggish engine, but it was much quicker than the Acolyte.
Ease of driving wasn’t lost, either, thanks to its all-wheel-drive. Gary liked that, but ultimately favored the Acolyte. While it was slower in a straight line, it was the combination of good engine response and excellent handling that appealed more to Gary. Two more cars around this upper-standard price point to think about.
The IP Celestia was a very futuristic looking car, but Gary didn’t hate that. What he did hate was the color. The rest of the styling was well executed, but Gary wasn’t sure it was for him. While it wasn’t really in the same low-fourteens league as the Acolyte, the SideWinder, or their other competitor the Pocono C3000, it was still quick. Where the Celestia shined was its overbuilt internals.
The Celestia was renowned among cars in this segment, and beyond, for its stellar reliability. The only cars to even come close cost significantly more, and plenty of cars that did cost more didn’t hold a candle to it.
Sadly, a lot of stuff went by the wayside for that banner. If Gary was buying his one and only car, the Celestia might be his pick, but the compromised comfort, driving experience, and raw performance compared to other cars around its price pushed him away.
The aforementioned C3000, on the other hand, was more promising. It was just as agile as the Celestia, though not so much as the Acolyte. It was nearly the same speed as the 3.0S, likely because it was also a three-liter six-cylinder. This time, in a vee configuration. It wasn’t quite as raring to go as the Acolyte, but was still a great car. Unfortunately, it was just a bit behind in just about every way, and being a few hundred bucks cheaper wasn’t enough to sell Gary on it.
The color didn’t help. Metallic pink did not flatter the car’s excellent geometry.
The Tarquini Vittoria FC was a really cool car. The most engaging, they claimed, in their price bracket. That seemed to be true: an aggressive suspension tune, to the compromise of comfort. A big, exciting V6, a six-speed gearbox, and rear-wheel drive supported the idea. They warned it might be a handful, but the promising performance (the cheapest car in the 13 second range, and in the low thirteens to boot) and agility mated with excellent reliability brought Gary to confirm it for a test drive.
The last car to consider, the Somervell Sinclair SBP, was towards the bottom of the price bracket. In terms of speed, it was fairly comparable to the Celestia, and at low speeds was the most agile car, while still offering respectable high speed handling. It was the most exciting car in its bracket at the bottom of standard, with a lively two-point-three liter V4 motor. Being front-wheel-drive did not hold the Sinclair back.
It did suffer a bit from an almost satin black paintjob that Gary was none too fond of, but of the cars in its price point, it was still the best looking, very comfortable, and well made all around.
“Alright,” Gary said, picking out his four cars. “Got some I want to test drive.”
Moving on to 1-2:
@Danicoptero The race car of the bunch.
@Happyhungryhippo A well-rounded comfortable sedan, if a bit slow.
@Texaslav A fun affordable option, though slow in a straight line.
@abg7 A great mix of speed and agility.
@S_U_C_C_U_L_E_N_T The wild card, sacrificing key stats for excellent supporting and a low price.
Not moving on:
@xsneakyxsimx Too cheap for its own good.
@Hilbert Same story, only it’s also slow.
@machalel Good styling let down by a slow tune.
@Vento A car that feels overall compromised, especially for the price.
@z2bbgr Awkwardly landed in between the upper and lower parts of this bracket, with no real shining accomplishments.
@quiz Very ugly, and slow. Was on the fence of a realism bin for the styling alone- it looks like a 2010s Mercedes.
@DuceTheTruth100 Just beat out by ABG’s car, in a very close competition.
@Knugcab Focused too much on the sedan part of sports sedan, but was a very good car overall regardless, mostly let down by the performance to price ratio.