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Old 22nd July 2009, 13:12   #16
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For me the below cars would list as cars with character.

1. Amby
2. Fiat Padmini
3. Contessa
4. Palio GTX
5. Trax Gurkha
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Old 22nd July 2009, 13:47   #17
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What about the iconic Jeep !? Zillions of them were made, and every one of them oozed character !
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Old 22nd July 2009, 14:19   #18
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What about the iconic Jeep !? Zillions of them were made, and every one of them oozed character !
Here we go - what part of them oozed ( love the way that word sounds by the way, like I love the word chuckles, you can see the ooze oozing) character? And for whom? The millions of people who bought them saw them as tools, pure and simple. In war, or in transport where nothing better was or is available. You go tell these folks that your jeep has character oozing out of it, they will look at you suspiciously. So the character part of the jeep is for those who have the luxury of affording that leisure to enjoy the so called character. Which is why you and I do not use it to go to work everyday.
So, what is there in a jeep that gives it character? Again I am not challenging you, just trying to unearth what we mean when we use this strange term in this context.
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Old 22nd July 2009, 14:31   #19
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I am trying to ensure that we do not define character by just exchanging words, and saying distinct instead.
So what do you suggest, equations and numbers? Like NM of torque or BHP of power so xxx of character?

In defining what constitutes character you are limited to words to explain. Surely you cannot quantify it and measure it.

BTW Sawyer I'm amazed you cannot see how distinct and characterful the ordinary Jeep was. So what if it was a mere tool. Nothing on the planet with four wheels did or feel the way it did. That spells CHARACTER big time. Why do you think that vehicle still endears itself to millions the world over? Not because its some tool, but becouse it has a persona, a very big persona!

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Old 22nd July 2009, 14:38   #20
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So what do you suggest, equations and numbers? Like NM of torque or BHP of power so xxx of character?
No, not necessarily, though if someone can do it well, I am happy to let them.
What I would ask is for an articulation of what it is that makes it distinct. Or what does the car have that makes it one with character, heart or soul or whatever other word you want to use. Or not, as in what it does not have, that causes it to not have that attribute.
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Old 22nd July 2009, 14:58   #21
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I think the whole discussion of character roots from society.We identify people as characters who are unique and stand apart from the every tom,dick and harry we meet.Many of them may not be exactly good looking, but in totality they have a uniqueness which is interesting.Extending the same to cars, cars with character are cars that drive distinctly different(Oversteer, understeer,steering feedback characteristics etc) ,have a different looking interior or dashboard that doesnt look ugly either,looks different from the cars the average joe uses. A popular car for eg: Santro ,Alto,Honda city,wagon-R etc IMO do not have character which stands out because you are used to seeing a lot of them everyday.I am sure many of you will not agree with me here but it's only my opinion.
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Old 22nd July 2009, 15:02   #22
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I think the whole discussion of character roots from society.We identify people as characters who are unique and stand apart from the every tom,dick and harry we meet.Many of them may not be exactly good looking, but in totality they have a uniqueness which is interesting.Extending the same to cars, cars with character are cars that drive distinctly different(Oversteer, understeer,steering feedback characteristics etc) ,have a different looking interior or dashboard that doesnt look ugly either,looks different from the cars the average joe uses. A popular car for eg: Santro ,Alto,Honda city,wagon-R etc IMO do not have character which stands out because you are used to seeing a lot of them everyday.I am sure many of you will not agree with me here but it's only my opinion.
I think you are on to something interesting here. I tend to agree with the direction you are taking, but it is not something that folks here will agree, because of your second last sentence. As confirmed by the last one.
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Old 22nd July 2009, 15:04   #23
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Ok lets hope we can elaborate further. Lets take the CRV, the Captiva, the Endeavour. Now I have driven all three and all are very different. But no one aspect of any of the cars stands out, atleast for me. I'm sure many would disagree but its just my personal opinion.

Its tough to find fault with the CRV for the purpose it was designed for. And yet its not distinct or no particular attribute of the car stands out. Ditto the Endeavour and the Captiva

I then drive the Accord and the three series BMW, the Passat, the Octavia, the 5 series. I am dumbstruck by the way the 5 series draws you into the driving experience. Of all these sedans I find that car most distinct, most focused in terms of handling characteristics. I don't think I can ever tire of the 5 series. I am not a big fan of the way it looks but its sheer depth of abilities in the handling and performance department, its suspension makes the car stand out. With a distinct character or flavour.

Take the Accord. Hard to fault the car. Smooth, silent, spacious, nice looking, reasonably powerful but lacks that something special about it. I don't think it has much in terms of character.

Ok let me shift your attention to the other extreme and show you examples of extreme character.

The tiny Fiat 500 has tons of character. In terms of its design, packaging, the whole concept. Nothing quite like it. everything about it exudes character. Even the dashboard has an attitude. Just look at it. It says I may be a dash but I am different and I am "me"...found only in a Fiat 500.

Take the Porsche 911 or the Boxster. Listen to those flat sixes. Experience the way they accelerate hard, classic squat of the Porsches. Notice the steering feel, that distinct point and shoot sensation the car engineers for you. Now all that adds to the character of the car.

Am I making any sense or have I lost the plot?

BTW even amongst Porsches the 911 is in a different league. I had not seen a 911 for years now and my memories of what a outright character this car is were dimmed, until this weekend when we had a 911 with us on our weekend bike ride. For most part of the ride I was with the 911 and we were playing, chasing each other. After years I could see why I always drooled over the car. Its rear engine, that squat sensous (now almost fat) rear, that unbelievable point and shoot acceleration, crazy brakes and the sound of that boxer. My my what a car. What a car. Character? Definitely loads of it !!

Shall we define it?

Distinct rear end

Distinct engine and position

Distinct point and shoot and classic planted acceleration

Distinct sound

Classic and distinct steering feel

Distinct braking feel

Now you know why 911's are so desirable? They ooze character by the truckload.

Last edited by DKG : 22nd July 2009 at 15:23.
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Old 22nd July 2009, 15:15   #24
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Sawyre
I will agree with freewheelburnin. In 2006, i decided to "conform", and give up on the Indicas ( when first launched), Sienas etc that I had been driving. And bought the NHC.
3 years and 24K later, sold it yesterday. No problems, no rattles, no bad a.s.s., fairly smooth.While I do have more logical reasons to justify selling the NHC, this character thing had a lot to do with it.
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Old 22nd July 2009, 15:26   #25
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No DKG, you have certainly not lost the plot. All points are very well made, and I think you have expanded the plot in a way. I also think that most people would agree with you on the way you have described the various cars.
I think that we now have two slightly different ways of using the word character.
What you have set out first is character in the sense of design philosophy of the car. For instance - 5 series BMW - performance sedans. Porsche - edgy sports cars. You could argue with the words, but the thought is valid? Even for the Accord, I could put some words that set out its build philosophy. But these characters are all to do, at the end of the day, with the purpose that the cars have been designed to fulfil.
The character word I started out with was of a different shade. To some extent, it is that which has been built into the new Fiat 500 by design, just as you have pointed out. It does not fulfil any function. It just is. I know this is very Zen, but still!
I still have a doubt if one can consciously design character of this sort into a car, but I will let that pass for now, and lets stay with the Fiat 500. (The old Fiat 500 was a car with the real character, this one is artificial...but lets not go there!!). What would happen to this character of the Fiat 500 if it was priced right and was functional enough ( rear seat space etc) and reliable enough for India to sell like the Maruti 800? Would you still say, this car has character, if every other car that passed you was one?
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Old 22nd July 2009, 15:42   #26
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Originally Posted by Sawyer View Post
Would you still say, this car has character, if every other car that passed you was one?
What would you say about our home grown Nano?

My personal view is the car borders on sheer brilliance. Its a bit early but I would warrant a guess that you are looking at one heck of a characterful car this side of a Porsche 911 or Lamborghini !!

This recent motorshow in Hyd I actually spent some time trying to figure out how the mechanicals were packaged. The car is a marvel. Totally.

Just on account of its brilliant packaging the car stands out.

Look at it this way. The Nano has enough attitude/personality to stand next to a 4 crore RR and not flinch. Boy this little fellow has character !! Even an RR can't give it a complex.

You know what I mean? The Maruti 800 would be shy to drive up alongside a RR? But a Nano? it will drive all over a RR

I don't think any other product in the world has made being cheap so chic !!

Last edited by DKG : 22nd July 2009 at 15:48.
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Old 22nd July 2009, 16:06   #27
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Let me make a sideways shift and see where it takes the thinking.
I think most of us will agree that Bullets are bikes with a lot of character. Just what is this aspect of a Bullet that confers it character?
As some one who owns one, let me say that it is no great shakes when it comes to road performance on any parameter, unless one counts the exhaust note as a parameter. Maybe we Bullet fans worship that parameter because that is the only one where we are undisputed champions!
For a host of very valid reasons the rest of the world stays away from the bike. And it is just this fact that gives the bike character. And this happens, because my character takes an imagined uplift if I ride the bike. So, what gives the bike character is the supposed character/ego boost it gives me, in my eyes at least.
Of course the other reason that it has character is that it builds the character of every one who rides it - things such as patience, strength ( to push it, not the riding of it) etc etc!!
This is not necessarily a bad thing for Royal E - even when Hero H lost on growth last year, RE kept growing. As a maker of 40000 a year against the few million of HH. And they are profitable too, they are just not large in size.
Question is, is this so called character in the case of cars too just what we see the cars we drive doing for our character boost as seen by the world, or is it something that resides in the car itself. And if I see every Tom, Dick and Harry drive the same car, what does that do to that effect of a character boost for me?
Have I just drawn a big circle on my forehead?!
PS: just saw the post about the Nano - it is a car that makes me proud to be an Indian. Great product. But I think the character classification comes after the product is out for a while and has established its credentials in real life.

Last edited by Sawyer : 22nd July 2009 at 16:11.
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Old 22nd July 2009, 16:13   #28
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Originally Posted by Sawyer View Post
Here we go - what part of them oozed ( love the way that word sounds by the way, like I love the word chuckles, you can see the ooze oozing) character? And for whom? The millions of people who bought them saw them as tools, pure and simple. In war, or in transport where nothing better was or is available. You go tell these folks that your jeep has character oozing out of it, they will look at you suspiciously. So the character part of the jeep is for those who have the luxury of affording that leisure to enjoy the so called character. Which is why you and I do not use it to go to work everyday.
So, what is there in a jeep that gives it character? Again I am not challenging you, just trying to unearth what we mean when we use this strange term in this context.
Actually, I see no point arguing with that. Good luck with your 'character' search
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Old 22nd July 2009, 16:29   #29
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And bought the NHC.
3 years and 24K later, sold it yesterday. No problems, no rattles, no bad a.s.s., fairly smooth.While I do have more logical reasons to justify selling the NHC, this character thing had a lot to do with it.
Let me get this straight - what you are looking for is a car that has problems, rattles, with bad a.s.s and that is not smooth??? Is that what confers character on the car in your eyes? I know you do not quite mean that ( I guess ) but that is how it sounds on a plain reading!
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Old 22nd July 2009, 16:42   #30
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BTW even amongst Porsches the 911 is in a different league. I had not seen a 911 for years now and my memories of what a outright character this car is were dimmed, until this weekend when we had a 911 with us on our weekend bike ride.
A little OT digression - never had a chance to drive the 911 yet. Closest was in a video game, Porsche 2000. Reason I mention this is to share how well crafted that game was, even a decade ago. As you know, the first 911 turbo was a beast - was nicknamed yuppie killer in the US, for obvious reasons. In the game, one graduated from one Porsche to the next, and in the 1977 or 1980 911 T, even in the game the car was a nightmare to control. Rear end was always in a hurry to overtake the front end, as it was in real life. And then the late nineties 911 Ts had all of that wrinkled out of them without losing the speed. Awesome cars, even in the game.
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