EMMET MEARA

A need for speed and efficiency

Posted Aug. 12, 2011, at 10:16 p.m.

The time has come for a serious decision. A very serious decision.

I love my galumping V8, four-wheel-drive Tundra, not only for its roomy interior but also for its ability to haul heavy loads, such as David Grima, across the country. When I make my annual pilgrimage to spring training, I bring everything but the kitchen sink.

I might bring the sink this year. (I have a condo.)

But at $4 a gallon for gas (thank you, robber barons) and a truck that gets 17 mpg it might be time for a divorce. Let’s say it’s 2,000 miles to Fort Myers, Fla., considering all the stops along the way. According to my Roslindale High School math, that would burn 117 gallons. At $4 a gallon that would be $470 for gas. One way.

Even I know that is stupid.

I have been checking the papers for Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas, and maybe even a Subaru Forester because every third person in Camden drives one. I am looking for something in the 40 mpg area.

That’s only half the problem. Even if I pull the trigger on a new Honda, what do I do with (paid for) Big Red? Do I callously sell it to some stranger, or keep it, pay the additional insurance, registration and associated upkeep? I love the rig, sure, but she now has 140,000 miles on her.

Seeking answers to my dilemma, I sought information from the bible of automobile life, Car and Driver magazine.

Once you get used to a fuel-injected V8 engine, It is hard to consider a Prius or something that economical. C and D had just the article for me, “Chariots of the Gods.”

In the September “New Cars for 2012” issue, they compare three possibilities — The Ferrari 458 Italia, The McLaren MP4-12C and, of course, the Porsche 911 GT2 RS.

I liked the Ferrari with its top speed of 210 mph, which would make short work of the Maine-Florida trip, assuming all state troopers were looking the other way. It does 0-60 mph in an impossible three seconds, which would allow me to get to Fowlie’s Overpriced Emporium quickly enough to nab the last Boston Globe every morning. I could be first to Conte’s for dinner, too, since this beast goes from 0-100 mph in an astonishing 6.5 seconds. I could be there before the fresh swordfish was gone.

The paint costs $28,000 and the trim another $52,683. Seriously. For $332,000, this beast delivers 12 mpg. Worse than the Tundra.

The base price was $230,000 or, as tested, $332,000. Relying on my high school math again, that would be exactly 8.73 Cobb Manors. That would take more money than I make with bottles and cans from Mark Preston’s annual lobster bake.

Let’s find something cheaper. The McLaren is only $303,000 “as tested” and offers twin turbos on a 32-valve V8 engine. I am not totally sure what that means other than “fast.” C and D termed it “four-wheeled amphetamine.”

The McLaren is even faster in the 0-60 range (2.9 seconds), allowing me to get to Fowlie’s before the prices go up every morning. It will get to 150 mph in an impossible 13.9 seconds, faster even than Bob Besaw’s BMW. Gas mileage? If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. 13 mpg.

But still too much money. The Porsche is the cheapest of the three, coming in “as tested” at $249,000, a relative bargain. But she is terrible slow, taking 3.3 seconds to get to 60 mph and a turtle-speed 6.6 seconds to get to 100 mph. But it is the economy model, getting a whopping 15 mpg, almost in the Tundra range.

C and D calls it a “620 horsepower rear-engine, rear-wheel drive terror.” Better hurry. They only made 500.

The magazine has done all the work for us, in a road test tearing through Wales. They recommend the McLaren and its “range of capability never seen before. It’s the sort of car that can be driven across country and straight onto the track.”

Just what I needed. For $303,000. Cancel that Subaru order.

Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at emmetmeara@msn.com.

 

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