Diminishing Return – Benefits that beyond a certain point fail to increase in proportion to increased efforts. Merriam-Webster
In automotive-speak diminishing return typically refers to the relationship between power and performance. The idea being that simply adding more power doesn’t always parallel with improved performance. Recently its come to apply to my work commute.
My drive into work is 4.6 miles long, consists of 6 stoplights, three 90-degree turns and one small off-ramp – all on a stretch of asphalt besieged with 35 MPH signs. Needless to say it’s a boring drive, one that I do five days a week in a Cadillac CTS-V. Like dating a bikini model and living in Siberia, I rarely get to show off her goods.
Cars like the CTS-V are contrived and engineered for the track. Their performance claims are center to their marketing message. But how many of these high-performance cars ever see a race track? I would wager very few, mine included.
Run-of-the-mill commutes can turn a performance car into a complete and utter bore-orolla. One’s automotive needs would be better met reading a car magazine on a bus. That’s not to say these cars aren’t unbelievably impressive pieces of machinery. Given a track and proper accelerator application cars like the CTS-V are guaranteed to invoke a Joker-sized grin. But if you spend a preponderance of your motoring in a lifeless commute, experiencing only the ostentatious side of these cars, neglecting their genuine motoring potential, is it fair to you? And to the car for that matter?
Can the occasional freeway-merge make up for a week of monotonous motoring?
How could a confirmed piece of motoring dominance be so dull?
Has performance gotten to the point that it has diminished actual motoring satisfaction?
These are questions I often find myself asking.
All Show. All Go.
A friend of mine told me “sometimes it’s more fun to drive slow cars fast, then fast cars slow.” I’m starting to believe him.
Sure, merging onto a freeway in a CTS-V could replace most erectile dysfunction medication. However, I rarely find myself in that situation. Merging onto freeways that is.
The CTS-Vs of the world are spellbinding machines, when pushed. Hard. Its what they were built for. But in the daily ho-hum world of driving – they are, well, kind of boring. Heavy, unexciting and inefficient. If I could deactivate 6 of the 6.2 liter’s 8 cylinders, I could really ‘drive’ the V and not find myself well over the posted limit. 0-60 in 3.9 seconds is a mind-boggling number. I only ever get do 0-35 MPH pulls, which aren’t veryexhilarating.
Then it came to me. Owning a car such as this is about more than going fast. It’s about bragging rights. It’s about brand flamboyance. What could-be. It’s about having ‘the best.’ Most importantly it’s about wearing a badge. Whether it’s SVT, SRT, AMG, V, RS, M, GT, F, ZL1, ZR1 or any other performance specialty nominclature, buying one sends a loud and clear monetary statement to Corporate Automotive. That message: people still want cars that move them, metaphorically and physically.
Most track-breed vehicles on the road will never clip an apex, annihilate a line of orange cones or properly use a burnout box. Rather than judge their drivers, thank them. They are the reason that we, the blue-collar of the motoring society, we enthusiasts, continue to see one performance-masterpiece after another born onto the roads of this great world.
So today when I make my unexciting journey to work I’ll find comfort in knowing my sacrifice is for the greater good of the motoring community. Poor me. Poor me.