After commenting so long about cars, let's change our
attention to automotive journalists.
readers asked how I manage to write high quality reports and news
articles. The answer is every bit predictable - 1) good observation to
find out how this car differs from other cars; 2) improve my own
technical knowledge; 3) work hard to gather information; 4) write and
comment in my own style.
Point 4 is
especially important. However, since a couple of years ago I found most
car magazines have been losing their own styles. One of their bad
common mistakes is using sound recorder during group tests. Car And
Driver, Road & Track and Evo like this especially. Here is how they
comment a car:
"Its handling is simply
unflappable !" said John.
"Fool-proof, I'd say it's the
most secured performance car I have driven for years" Tim said. One of
the testers even describe it as "totally trustable".
Tim also likes its brakes,
describing it "amazingly powerful and with superb pedal feel". John,
however, thought it needs more feel at the last 1/3 travel ...
In the end,
after reading the whole report I have no idea whether the braking feel
is good or not. I also don't understand what "unflappable",
"fool-proof" and "totally trustable" mean. Instead of using these
subjective words, I would describe body roll, grip, understeer,
steering response and steering weighting etc.
was disappointed with R&T's comparison test for Infiniti Q45 and
Lexus LS430 last year. After reading the whole report I still got no
idea about the handling and ride of Q45. Normally I take notes when
reading car magazines, but in that case I found nothing I could write.
common mistakes can be seen in Auto Express regularly. It usually says
its news are exclusive or world's first, but in fact many other media
(including mine) have already reported.
is another problem. When somebody rate a TVR higher than a Porsche or
choose a Thunderbird as COTY, you know this is not the magazine you can
trust. Even a magazine as highly regarded as Autocar can have such
problems - sometimes it favours the soft ride of Jaguar XJR, sometimes
it can forgive the harsh ride of MG TF and rate it as the class leader.
So, as long as the cars are British, they are automatically added with
many more problems but I'm afraid we will never have enough space to
express. The last problem I am going to discuss here is about the
technical knowledge of automotive journalists. This concern individuals
rather than magazines. Yesterday I read someone called Ben Oliver
writing about Seat Leon Cupra R in Autocar. He said the 210hp
front-drive machine has no torque steer because of strong front tyre
grip and sharp steering. I'm sorry with Mr. Oliver for his confusion
between "torque steer" with "understeer". As I know, strong front tyre
grip can only increase the level of torque steer.
News' Joe Kohn also made me laugh. He said Infiniti G35 achieves a good
52:48 front-to-rear balance by moving fuel tank from under the trunk to
under rear seats. Doesn't this make the car even more unbalanced ? This
man seemed confuses "good balance" with "low polar moment of inertia"
(maybe he doesn't understand this term). As I can proof, Nissan's press
material really mentioned both things.
It is a
pity that many people earn their living by being automotive journalists
yet so many of them without getting sufficient knowledge to fulfil
their jobs. Next time I won't read Ben Oliver's and Joe Kohn's reports
anymore. These guys talk about what they don't understand.