QOTD: Parts-bin Hero or Excessive Future Crapwagon?

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole
qotd parts bin hero or excessive future crapwagon

News on Tuesday that Jeep could be building a Renegade Trackhawk was equal parts infuriating and fantastic. I never turn down horsepower, and more often than not, bigger engines solve all of life’s problems.

But I’m growing older, and turning into an asshole.

After writing about cars for years, I know enough to know that business cases come first; enthusiasm comes second. Which is why when automakers announce “hot” versions of their cars, it’s usually because a bloated market can usually be struck once or twice more before John Q. Carbuyer says, “OK, that’s enough. I won’t buy that.” Those “hot” cars rarely move the needle on anything, and become interesting automotive historical footnotes for Murilee Martin to write about later.

I don’t mean to take aim on the current Mercedes-AMG GLA45 — but I will.

Mercedes-AMG’s soft-roader may not make the automotive hall-of-fame tomorrow, but it makes sense (and dollars) today. The lasting legacy for that car may be that its small four cylinder was boosted to epic proportions — and did or didn’t survive — but the same mill powers the more conventional CLA45 and that car doesn’t look like a juiced-up bee. (P.S. All is forgiven if Mercedes turns it into a WRC car.)

I find myself wondering “Should they?” aloud more and more rather than “Could they?”

Jeep could build the Renegade Trackhawk tomorrow, I’m guessing. There are enough parts laying around FCA factories to piece together a sub-compact off-roader with more than 300 horsepower and sell to the public for $35,000, which would probably eagerly buy it. There’s probably a relatively sane business case for it as well. The Grand Cherokee SRT8 is the best-selling SRT vehicle, and increased production for their uber-powered Hellcats means buyers have money to burn — literally and figuratively.

But part of me wants special edition cars to feel special again. The Juke R comes to mind, an insane car for a small subset of buyers crazy enough to tempt fate and burn through ridiculous amounts of money. The Porsche 959 was a homologation special that’ll live forever on my bedroom wall. And even less extreme: The new Subaru WRX STI Launch Edition was a car they could have made all year, but limited its run just to piss me off. I kind of like that.

I guess that’s why value and cost sometimes isn’t the same thing. But I could be wrong.

What do you think B&B? Are hi-po special editions over saturated? Or am I just missing the point?

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2 of 45 comments
  • Tedward Tedward on Aug 20, 2015

    Well the first mistake is referring to this as a cuv or softroader. This is a hot hatchback with a very mild spring lift. As such it's hobbled for legendary car status bc the hot hatch market revolves entirely around on road performance bragging rights.This is going to go down as a cynical badging exercise with an interesting drivetrain, I expect it's low residual value to prompt some interesting project cars in the future.

  • S is for Supra S is for Supra on Aug 20, 2015

    I had an STI hatch, the GLA AMG is the closest thing you can get to a luxury STI hatch. It is in no way worth $60k to me but I have a feeling these are going to depreciate like mad. The question is who is really going to buy one? Your traditional AMG buyer won't and your slightly older STI buyer might but probably doesn't have the cash. A 2 year old, fully loaded, CPO GLA AMG for $40k-$45k might be very tempting.

  • VoGhost What to name a car for people insecure about the size of their 'manhood'? Magnum. What do name a car for people insecure about their orientation? STR8. Nobody -- and I mean nobody -- knows their customer base like FCA/Stellantis.
  • VoGhost Finally! The minivan that Porsche owners have been clamoring for all these years?
  • 2ACL Random fact: despite cratering sales and discontinuation, the 200 is regularly featured in national top 10 lists for catalytic converter theft.
  • MaintenanceCosts The first-gen SRT8s look badass, there's just no two ways about it. A set of wheels from the same-year 300C SRT8 would make this into an impossibly good-looking car. But as a car rather than an object of sculpture, the second gen is so much better, even if it isn't a wagon.
  • 2ACL In addition to having two decades of wear and tear, several of these old Hondas & Acuras (namely the V6s) also have transmission design defects that would likely send them to the crusher if they manifested. I wonder how many of these recalls are still open because they're attached to cars in some state of inoperability.