Why We Drive

Can you remember the last time you just picked up your keys, got into your car and drove somewhere with no destination in mind? Before I put together this story, I honestly couldn’t and it kind of scared me a little bit. I’ve grown up with cars, they have been and remain a huge part of my life. To a certain degree, they define who I am.

Working day in, day out in the automotive industry can actually have a negative affect on your passion and enthusiasm for all things automotive. Constantly facing into days of press releases heralding the arrival of the next best thing or checking out concept renders of cars that don’t even exist yet.

What’s wrong with taking the time to enjoy what we already have?

Maybe it’s just a western world thing. but we all seem to be in a race to our graves. We demand information faster and faster, but for what reason?

Sometimes I just find myself looking back at past events and kicking myself for not taking the time to stop and really enjoy those moments.

I feel like I’ve already lived several lifetimes worth of experiences, but I’ve never really taken anything from them.

One day last month I decided that I had enough.

I shut down my office, turned off the push notifications on my phone and walked out the front door of my house armed with two of the things that bring me the most enjoyment in life – my camera and the keys to a brand new Toyota GT86.

I actually took temporary ownership of the car a few days previous, but it seemed everything that week was conspiring against me to ensure I didn’t get to immerse myself in the GT86 experience. I think it was this conspiracy that forced my hand.

It was a Friday morning, cold but dry, when I opened the door and slid into the soft but supportive seats. Key in my pocket, push button start and the two litre boxer engine whirred twice before gently rumbling to life with a cold idle of around 1,000RPM.

I gingerly made my way across the city, aware of the low engine temperature, to pick up a friend whom I know to be the sort to appreciate those random days in life. Where do we go? Who cares, let’s turn right and see where it takes us.

With everyone in the world seemingly in a rush to get to work in the city, it left the outbound routes deserted.

Clutch, blip, downshift, go.

It wasn’t long before we had passed through a couple of scenic fishing villages situated along the southern coast of Ireland. Although the road surfaces were often poor, the GT86 always felt composed.

A lot has been said of the new Toyota, most of which has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, I can’t recall so much hype about a single car in recent years. So it was with great disappointment on my return journey when I collected the car that I realised it wasn’t quite what it was being hailed as. It was noisy inside, the radio was pathetic, the ride was too solid and the lack of torque was quite apparent on the motorway sections. As a by-product of this, it really needed to be stirred to get it to shift. Even when it did get up on song, that diesel Audi rep-mobile was still planted inches from my rear bumper. I was devastated.

But on this particular Friday morning I learned something. This isn’t a car to commute in.

This is a car that needs to be driven.

Okay, that last part may have been quite obvious to some but for me it was a wake up call. Here was a car that was designed to do something I had forgotten about – taking the long way home.

Back on our journey and we continued our destination-less jaunt.

I think we spent the best part of ten hours in here that day, covering a meagre distance of 100 geographic miles in that time frame. This should give you an idea of the type of driving – find spectacular section of route and drive repeatedly in both directions.

I had read beforehand that other journalists complained of the lack of power on offer, and that perhaps it should have come with a turbocharger as standard. When you see the success the aftermarket community is enjoying with boosting the 4U-GSE/FA20, they probably have a good point but for Irish roads – that is mostly rough, twisty and narrow – the power and its delivery was absolutely perfect. More than enough to put a massive smile on your face but not too much to send you backwards through a ditch.

When was the last time you stopped to take in a view like this especially when you were meant to be elsewhere doing something mundane?

One of the great things about driving in Ireland is that you can go from the coast to the mountains easily within an hour. You just need to decide what you’re in the mood for and aim towards it.

The different terrains bring an entirely different driving experience too.

The roads tighten up and whilst you can’t carry as much speed, the technical nature of the route really lets you examine how the car handles itself when under strain.

Arrive into a tight corner a little too hot and the nose will gently push on, before the rear progressively comes out. Keep your right foot buried and come out the other side with a huge smile on your face. I’ve never has as much fun in a car. I felt alive.

The beauty of the whole package is that you don’t need to travel at license losing speeds to enjoy the ride. In a world where Big Brother is always watching, this is a good thing.

I’ve spent the best part of the last eighteen months commuting rather than driving, and the worst part is I never even noticed. I had become so desensitized to the privilege of driving that I forgot about how much joy it can bring. Predominant motorway driving and a daily driver with more torque than it needs all played a part in this desensitization – set destination, aim, cruise control, arrive, return home.

The GT86 however has reignited something inside me that I thought was gone forever. Toyota and Subaru have gone and created an affordable sports car in a world where driver experience is usually last on manufacturer’s priority list. Instead of a considerate CO2 number, they’ve given us BHP & LSD. Instead of lane assist and parking sensors, they’ve handed us a balanced FR chassis and shown us the road. It has awoken that thirst inside for the type of excitement that only driving can deliver. We truly drive, only when we have nowhere to go.

Sure it’s far from perfect but as my ol’ friends the Rolling Stones would say …

You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need.

Paddy McGrath
paddy@dev.speedhunters.com

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101 comments
greenroadster
greenroadster

We are really waiting for the nest SUPRA to come alive.... :)

Verneri
Verneri

I replaced my Porsche 911 for BMW 530dA and Mini Cooper S. I needed something to commute and something to have a little fun. I have a little regret on the decision I had to make.

sean klingelhoefer
sean klingelhoefer

Finally had time to give this a read Paddy, seems like you've enjoyed yourself thoroughly! Time to get back to the open road more often my friend ;) 

JohnnyT
JohnnyT

I remember last Saturday, after reading this, got into my basic Ford Fiesta and drove into the mountains up in Brecon. On a weekday it would have been an hour long drive to work. Can honestly say it reminded me about the fun in driving, find a road and just drive it like you said. Really enjoyable. Would have been better in a GT86 though!

The One
The One

Great article. I get very little time to go out for a drive/ride these days and it's a shame.

 

I spent some time in Dublin and enjoyed going for a brisk drive over the Wicklow Mountains in my rented 1.4l Ford Focus. Like you say, the roads were incredibly bumpy in places.

 

I'm interested in trying one of those GT86s.

knifey_spoonie
knifey_spoonie

Thats one of my favourite GT86 reviews, top class photography too. As someone lucky enough to have my grubby mits on one of these i can't agree more. Just for so people know  here in Ireland a 370z costs nearly $80000, the GT costs $50000. Cars ain't cheap in this part of the world :(

 

 

Nikhil_P
Nikhil_P

awesome write up paddy!! loved it! makes me wanna go for a little drive to no where!

and these shots deserve to be in the brochure.

CrisCiunganu
CrisCiunganu

Top notch photography too, Paddy! Best I've seen on here in a while!

CrisCiunganu
CrisCiunganu

I love the philosophical nature of this article, and nice reference to 1984 Paddy! :P It kind of creeped me out to be honest, though.

Corey K
Corey K

Great article! It's sad how easily we can get sucked into our usual commute and forget to spend time just driving. I've found myself grabbing the keys to my Mercedes E class more often than my MR2 in recent months, and that's just no good at all. I can't wait to ditch the Merc and pick up a BRZ next spring!

rbliberty08
rbliberty08

The 370Z will outperform it, the  porsche boxster will smash it in the corners, the Hyundai genesis will kill it like bil in a straight line.

 

Subaru should have put the STI engine in it, but it may take away sales from the sti.

fabi_m
fabi_m

Amazing write up. Couldn't agree more, that's exactly what the GT86 is to drive like! Sadly only could experience on well built german roads, still great what you did there!

rbliberty08
rbliberty08

Not enough power...... I would like to see 300 hp at the wheels

nismoskyz
nismoskyz

Uncertain if I'm more affected by the images or the words.

So true, my friend.

 

In fact, each exemplifies the impact of the other.

 

Awesome post :) thanks

 

twincamRob
twincamRob

Saw the reaction to this post on Instagram, and waited till I hot home from work to give it a read and I'm glad I did. As an owner of one of these (FR-S), you nailed it! Beautiful writing and pictures! And to top it off, I have some old Top Gear playing on the TV in the background and Ronnie Wood just took the stage as I read the quote at the end....I'm a big Stones fan to boot! Thank you!

CSAlltrac
CSAlltrac

Awesome write McGrath, I've had my passion rekindled by my car multiple times

Nick_1
Nick_1

What an awesome article and cool pics. i definatly have to get out more and just drive sun out, windows down, music cranked sounds perfect to me!!!! (nz summer btw)

ColtReid
ColtReid

AMEN I think the same things my in first gen rx7. When i am by myself on a curvy road it is amazing. it is easy to get frustrated commuting every day with low hp. But a lightweight rwd and a great road is awesome.

hunterkilla
hunterkilla

"Who cares, let’s turn right and see where it takes us." good mantra for life i recon!

mrjza70
mrjza70

Working for toyota im lucky enough to have one of these whenever the feelings for said moments arise :D

Fred-4
Fred-4

Outrageous photos Paddy, outrageous. 

zamm333
zamm333

ive been on my computer studying for the past 5 hours for a college comp test, stopped for a little, read this article, and now im gonna skip the test and go take my 95 eclipse around the lake. thank you.

BiTurbo from oppo
BiTurbo from oppo

I can't wait to finish my Spit6 project so I can properly enjoy a light, RWD sports car.

 

Great article.

Big Pooky
Big Pooky

Stunning photography. I'm glad to hear that the motor wasn't wholly underwhelming, but I think AVO has the right idea with their turbo kit. On another note, I think it'd be really interesting to see one with a SR20DET swap. 

Eric
Eric

Photos are really amazing, I dare say the best set I've seen. Really great work on the write-up aswell!

strmrdr23
strmrdr23

a fantastic story and OUTSTANDING PICS!! thanks for sharing. i'm reading this while stuck in my stupid cube at work (but i'm thankful to be employed) on a dreary friday. i wish i could take my AE86 out today and totally goof off on a twisty road too! :SIGH: there's always the weekend, i suppose. haha.

DasWauto
DasWauto

I remember the last time I went for a drive with no set destination. Two thursdays ago, 10pm. After walking home from class, I noticed the gas price had dropped and the weather was nice. I got to my apartment, dropped my backpack and grabbed my keys.

 

I filled the tank and headed to some empty side-streets that I knew. After a few spirited runs through those, I pulled out my map in search of some twisties roads around my city and headed out to an area that looked to have some promise. I drove around for probably an hour before I decided it was about time to head home.

 

I may have only been driving my lowly Mazda3 but with 3 pedals and a stick, plenty of fun can be had. Going for random drives like this is fun and relaxing; when summer comes around next year and I have done some work on my e30, many more of these little escapades will be had.

benmyfriend
benmyfriend

if you dont like your job, i'll take it ;)

Spike4090
Spike4090

O.k., now I'm going for a long drive to no where, only in a Legacy GT.

FrancisTang
FrancisTang

fantastic shots! i have been driven in my rental cars (Peugeot 406, Audi A1, Opel Insignia, Ford Focus C-max)  on these Irish road during my multiple business trips in the past. it must be really fun to drive on those narrow road with the GT86/86/FR-S/BRZ. boy, i miss Ireland, especially the back road...

StephonFazalKhan
StephonFazalKhan

awesome post.  i do this everyday after work with my S13.  Escape the reality and just go somewhere with my car.  Nothing feels more peaceful

Keri
Keri

Great read. I've always said, "I like cars, but I love driving".   Also, like how you posted a pic showing the speedometer not at zero; I have a ton of those too, but always chicken out before posting them :)  

lahtiain
lahtiain

My first drive with the GT86 was just like yours and I can't agree more. It's a car that makes you forget your to-do list. By the way, I thought speedhunters had already reached insanely good level of photography, but some of those shots go up to eleven

HaydnGrace
HaydnGrace

pretty cool to see local spots brought to life like that with your photography. always love ur work on here . Some times people get bored of looking at 1,000,000 sports cars they most likely will never see never mind own. keep it up and more posts like the shed it was insane

Kiseki
Kiseki

Great pictures, enjoyed this!

mikecr8n
mikecr8n

Great article, backed up by even better pictures. This is one of my favorite posts here in quite some time. Both from the images, and the reminder of why we love this stuff. It is a shame it is so easy to forget - thanks for reminding us Paddy!

chrisryan72
chrisryan72

such an awesome write up, keep up the good work!

Ciaran @ GT_Europe
Ciaran @ GT_Europe

Fantastic article Paddy, and it's very refreshing to see a combination of a road test combined with beautiful Irish scenery. 

 

I have a honest question for you, and I would like a fellow Irishman's advice. I'm taking one for my 3rd test drive tomorrow and will most likely make a decision then. the fact your article popped up today is a nice coincidence! 

In short, I'm living in-between two mountain ranges with awesome roads, 3 hours from the Nordschleife and 4 hours from the mountains around geneva. I don't need a car to commute to work so I've been looking for a weekend car to just.....drive. Now I've been a German guy all the way (Corrado, mk1 golf, 32cd msport) but I am honestly torn between getting one of these or getting a used E46 m3 (which are fetching much more money here in Europe than in Ireland).

In short, would you buy one if you had the opportunity?

 

If you prefer not to answer on here you can always fire me a message on ciaranjfeeney at gmail (you know the rest!)

 

Ciaran

Gvk
Gvk

Which desktop to choose @_@

Tariq Zahraa
Tariq Zahraa

amazing shot , amazing car , this is my car in saudi arabia 

bro what kind of cam you are using ? Regards  

Olaf16
Olaf16

usually I change the keys from my A6 Avant 3.0 TDI to the keys of my Silvia S15 on Fridays and just drive around to relax after a hard week of work :)

Driving is the best I can imagine for me to relax :D

seanconlan
seanconlan

awesome read... really enjoyed it... 

CultureWheels.com
CultureWheels.com

Love this article and pictures! Awesome work Paddy!

Mays I ask where this was shot?WillVision

jzx81
jzx81

Your article is great, and the only way to learn about a car is to push it.

Little by little the character of the car will be seen. Commuting as you say is not the way to learn the limits of the car.

 

Sometimes you need some throttle steer and heel toe.  (Take it to a track day or find some side roads).

I will find some side roads I know around here, before it starts to snow.

Great article Paddy.

daveylad
daveylad

Great article Paddy! Your photography is fantastic in this article! Nice lighting, keep up the good work.

Bramzel
Bramzel

Fantastic article, and great use of the Stones quote. Well done Mr. McGrath, well done.


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