I have been told various times how lucky I am.
Maybe. My humility gets in the way. Sometimes, I just smile and enjoy that light shining upon my soul. No, wait, that is the sun in my eyes…
Luck would have it that I reviewed three amazing vehicles within a short proximity of time from each other. They are as divergent from each other as one could get. Consider each vehicle's country of origin, performance roots, design and price. It certainly adds the spice of variety in life.
These divergent vehicles? There is the 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack. Then, there is the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG. Rounding the trio out is the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring.
Divergent indeed! Yet, they offer a level of sheer driving pleasure that had taken years to experience on an extended time period. These were not driven at some event for twenty minutes at a time. Each car spent a week's time in my care, exposed to various conditions and situations and basked in a spotlight where people converted their curiosity to actual inquiry. These elicited their own reactions from the reviewer and the general public alike.
In other words, these were three vehicles that I thoroughly enjoyed working with.
Why these three cars above all else driven since April of 2011? Consider the divergence separating each car. There are indeed differences between segment, class, national origin, levels of comfort and performance, driving characteristics and price. These are the obvious differences.
In common, they each elicit an emotional reaction. They show a basic characteristic that defines DNA towards a common gut check. In their own way, each car is a superb driver with amazing performance, driving dynamics and response to the driver. They attract people from the curious to the seasoned enthusiast.
This is just scratching the surface. The Challenger, S63 AMG and MX-5 Miata collectively did something else to this automotive writer. They all made this job fun.
A job should be fun, right? It is work – hard work, considering what goes into these efforts on various outlets. However, as serious as I should be in approaching these three particular subjects, I will admit to an open emotional portal that harkens back several decades of this life.
All three cars have roots that go back to my childhood. The Dodge Challenger was introduced in the fall of 1969, giving a 5/6-year-old something to widen his eyes over. The original Chally, along with its brother the Plymouth Barracuda, were influential in the way I view the automobile at that age. The idea of the Miata also goes back to the roadsters of the same era. At the dawn of the 1970s, at least six brands offered a roadster to the scale of the Miata in this country. A few years later, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class entered into my psyche. It simply changed the way I viewed luxury cars.
From grade school, the foundations of my automotive trajectory were laid by these three cars. In some shape or form, they never left. That is why I was glad to have the opportunity to review these three divergent, but influential vehicles today.
Opportunity has been the coda of this work and art. These were opportunities that arrived as a surprise. I never intended to see a Mercedes-Benz land on my lap to review. Nor did I expect a Mazda MX-5 Miata to become available for evaluation, either. The Challenger was a greater surprise, since it arrived before any units were sent to dealerships. I did not expect for these to become part of this work. I am actually glad they did.
I will admit that the temper of this piece runs counter to the professionalism expected in this field. But, understand the reason for this. Though I am an automotive writer, I am still an enthusiast. There is a thrill when presented with cars that could be considered "dreams." The professionalism still exists, but how could any human being with a pulse, a creative and imaginative streak not be at least enthusiastic about working with these three cars?
This is where the emotional part comes into play. I loved the Challenger because it relates back to familial experience – my father's 1970 Barracuda, to be exact. The actual experience with the "Sublime Chally" resulted in a love for the car. This was true when I had my friend and local photographer BobbiLe N'Diaye along to do a shoot of the Challenger. There was something about this car that bridged the past, the present and solidified the engagement the Challenger had with its fans and other enthusiasts.
In the case of the S63 AMG, it was the fact that it represented the most powerful car I had in for a regular review. It also represented the most expensive car to work with. The balance of fear of anything negative happening to this precious car and the satisfaction of accomplishing working with it made this journey worth every minute. It was a superb car to work with and to have it around people I trusted made these fears a bit easy to manage. In the end. the "Merc" was a completely satisfying experience. In fact, I loved the S63 AMG very much.
For the Miata, I had to accomplish one hurdle with it. Because of my size and body structure, a person like me should not be in this kind of car. The solution this was to lower the roof, giving my body breathing room to completely test the roadster to its fullest experience. It also provoked another set of thoughts. With the roof open, I experienced a completely different driving experience than I never thought possible. The idea of the roadster was an extension of the body connected to the ground by four wheels was beyond sensational. It also served as an education towards the notion of driving dynamics and other automotive sciences related to a pure sports car. And, yes, I really fell in love with the MX-5 Miata.
Love? All three cars achieved the "love" status. How unprofessional is that?
As if someone from the journalist's corps is overlording my level of professionalism in doing this work…
Do I have the license to "love" a vehicle subject? That is a very good question. It has been up for debate amongst my colleagues whether to separate personal opinion from the job at hand. It depends on the publication, however. Being published in multiple outlets, I understand what each one want and write each review accordingly – even for the same vehicle. On V&R, there is a license to add some personal perspective to any subject matter this site takes on. My justification of loving these three cars is attributed to this license.
It took a while to cover and write about these three vehicles. I am grateful for the opportunity to do so. Perhaps I am lucky. It is not every day that a person gets to drive a 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack, a 2014 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG and a 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata for a week at a time in such close succession – even if it is for work.
And, this work I truly love…as much as I love these three cars.