The Humble Econobox: The Best Type of Car.
The Dodge Neon. The Geo Metro. The Mitsubishi Mirage. The Chevrolet Cavalier. The Toyota Yaris. The Nissan Micra.
All of these and many more are common examples of what many would call an econobox. Or, if one has a particular distaste for them, a ‘jap crap [REDACTED]box.’ However, I consider these to be the some of the best cars ever designed, all of which I wish to own at some point. Why would some kid who can’t drive think that the average boring things made for normal people who don’t care about cars are the best ones of them all? Well, that’s what you came to read, and what I will provide.
First off, the most obvious point. They’re cheap to buy, run and maintain.
They’re built specifically for this. The cheapest brand new car on the American market in 2017 is the Nissan Versa at $12,855.[Source] Yes, a brand new car for under $13,000 USD. (That’s about 11.000 EUR for those of you across the Atlantic) Not only that, but they’re going to be low maintenance, as they’re meant for people who won’t care as much about their cars as an enthusiast. Not just that, but as one would expect, even insurance will be cheaper. With all the money you’ll be saving(compared to buying a sports car), you can do things such as buying a sim rig, paying for college, buying car parts, and not starving to death!
Another big advantage of econoboxes is that they’re light, even compared to modern sports cars.
As an example, the 2017 Subaru BRZ, weighs at minimum 2,784lbs(1263kg) while a 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage weighs at most 2,117lbs.(960kg!!) That’s close to the weight of a first generation MX-5, which we know CarThrottle loves so much. This lightness makes the cars agile and fun, even if they have worse low power syndrome than the aforementioned BRZ. As the founder of Lotus, Colin Chapman, famously said: “Simplify and add lightness.” This lightness also means that if you do decide to add power to your humble econobox, (maybe with that money I said you’ll be saving earlier) it won’t take much power to make the little thing fly.
[Below is a recent, notable example of a modified econobox being insanely fast]
While a smaller point, owning an econobox instead of a sports car is also an ‘anti-nag device,’ as I shall call it. If your grandmother/mother/wife/attack helicopter sees that you own/want a sensible little sedan/hatchback, they won’t nag you. At least not nearly as much as if you had a big brash Mustang or flimsy looking MX-5 on the driveway.
However, econoboxes don’t just benefit you personally. They even benefit the manufacturers, and by extension, other car enthusiasts!
Because the average person able to afford a car will likely want something sensible and go for an econobox, many car manufacturers rely on their econoboxes for making money. When a car manufacturer has the economic stability from their econobox sales, they can take risks and make more interesting cars, like the Honda NSX and Lexus LFA. Though there are exceptions to this rule, they’re rare and they rely on branding, reputation and exclusivity to justify high prices and stay afloat. So, if more people bought Mitsubishi Mirages and such, it’s possible that we would have had an Evo XI.