Ask Jack: Theories of Evolution

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
ask jack theories of evolution

My longtime readers know I suffer from a particular fascination with New Orleans, although it’s been six years since I rolled through the city’s streets in a Nissan Cube. You can’t have a NOLA obsession without having a NOLA-music obsession, and you can’t have that without being aware of John Boutte. His rendition of “A Change Is Gonna Come” isn’t better than Mr. Cooke’s — it’s just different, and heartfelt.

Change comes to all of us. When I wrote that Cube review, I was the absentee parent of a toddler, living with a stripper, and consuming a bottle of Ketel One pretty much every week. I had a lot of, ah, short-term romantic partners. It was not sustainable. There had to be a change.

That idea — of making changes because we need to, or just want to — is central to this week’s episode of Ask Jack.

Max writes:

I’ve been daily driving a 2015 Mitsubishi Evo for the last few years, bought new, and have forty-some-odd thousand miles on it in all weather conditions and a four thousand mile jaunt across the US. The car has been spectacular and a thrill to drive, even with it’s stick-in-the-mud five-speed and plastic-laden squeaky interior. But the massive turbo lag, short gearing, and singular purpose of the construction has me reconsidering how much longer I want to drive this.

I’m a one car type of guy, and that’s what makes the most sense right now, and I prefer to buy something a bit more upscale, (not hard to achieve), manual transmission, and American after years of buying imports.

Hate me, but I really enjoy the look and apparent performance of the Cadillac ATS-V, but the absolute apocalyptic depreciation in the first few years buying new is giving me significant pause.

The other option is to just go the Hellcat widebody route and get a powerful comfortable highway cruiser that I may not be able to throw into corners with reckless abandon (knowing AWD trickery will save me), but will be a much more enjoyable and fun everyday car.

Lastly, the Corvette Grand Sport definitely intrigues me. But my fear is that I will just get into the same situation as the Evo after a year or so and get annoyed at living with it day to day.

This will be a car I would likely drive across the country again in the next year or so.

Alright. Sounds like Max is ready to make a change. Just as importantly, he’s financially prepared to make a change. Let’s rank his prospective cars in order of their merit.

At the top of the pop charts, we have the Corvette Grand Sport, which is the best version of the best American car in history. Even my brother likes it. On a racetrack, it’s a subtle sledgehammer. On the street, it’s got a thumping stereo and an oddly calming ride quality. If you can afford a Grand Sport, you should own it. Simple as that. Don’t worry about getting annoyed by it. This is not a Mitsubishi Evo. The only real annoyances are the low seating position and the long nose. If you can deal with those, then you are golden.

Next up would be that widebody Hellcat, a charming if imperfect take on the power cruiser. Not since Yamaha released the original V-Max has there been such a thoroughly masculine roadgoing proposition. I think it looks like a million bucks despite being based on a decade-old rental car. With that said, the interior is a bit dismal for the price and the visibility will never not annoy you. It’s harder to “hoon” the Hellcat on the public roads than it would be to misbehave in the Vette because the forces involved are so much higher. It’s like launching an F-111 from a carrier instead of an F-16. All the mistakes will be bigger.

Last is the ATS-V. This one you might want to buy used. Here’s a nice one with under a thousand miles for at least twelve grand off sticker. In fact, the Internet is full of low-mileage ATS-Vs as low as forty grand. I’m afraid there are some reasons for that. The engine is strong but laggy and far from charming. The interior is cheap and not cheerful. Only the handling requires no explanation or excuses. I have to say, though, I’d rather have this platform underneath a Camaro ZL1 1LE, which is a rocketship.

I think the Corvette is the clear winner here, with the Hellcat a sentimental favorite. With that said, a low-mileage ATS-V for $40k is a lot of car. Spending that much money at a BMW dealership gets you a four-cylinder slug. Let’s not dismiss it out of hand. I’ve advised Max via email to drive a Grand Sport at his earliest convenience. Were I a betting man, I would say that a change is gonna come, and that change is going to wear a crossed-flag badge.

[Image: General Motors]

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2 of 78 comments
  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Mar 07, 2018

    Has anyone put a tune on an ATS-V ? As I learn about performance GM, I read more and more about the need to do a transmission tune to allow you, not the computer or GM engineers, to drive the car. My CTS is a different beast with just a trans tune.....and turning down the Torque Management

  • Orange260z Orange260z on Apr 15, 2018

    I guess I'd go the opposite order from Jack 0 ATS-V, Hellcat, then the GS. To me, the GS is way too "LOOK AT ME!!!!!" to me a daily driver (yes, the caps and exclamation marks are there because it really screams the message). No disagreement that the Vette is a great car, but IMHO it's way too showy for an only car. The Caddy is subtle, yet gets the job done. Now if the OP was looking for a fun second car, I would totally agree with Jack....

  • Luke42 I'm only buying EVs from here on out (when I have the option), so whoever backs off on their EV plans loses a shot at my business.
  • Dusterdude When there is a strike the union leadership talk about “brothers and sisters “ . They should give up that charade . Bottom line is they are trying to wring out every last penny they can and could care less ( putting it politely) about the future of the industry 5 - 10 years+ down the road
  • Ronin They all will back off, because the consumer demand is not there. Even now the market is being artificially propped up by gov subsidies.
  • Keith Some of us appreciate sharing these finds. Thank you. I always have liked these. It would a fun work car or just to bomb around in. Easy to keep running. Just get an ignition kill switch and you would have no worries leaving it somewhere. Those OEM size wheels and tires are comical. A Juke has bigger wheels!
  • Ollicat I have a Spyder. The belt will last for many years or 60,000-80,000 miles. Not really a worry.