B. Hurd: Until recently, hatchbacks were pretty easily identified. They were compact, practical and efficient. Even when some of them even received sporty, up-rated engines and fancy suspensions and racy-sounding names, they remained true to the classic formula. Golf? Hatchback. GTI? Hot Hatchback, but still a hatchback. Jetta? Not a hatchback. Ford Explorer? Well, it has a hatch, and it’s in the back, but it’s not a hatchback because it’s big and it tows things. Simple, right?
It takes about six seconds to travel from the stop box to the “time writer” official at a NASA Mid-Atlantic autocross (or “NASA-X”). If you’re in it to win it, those six seconds are excruciating. What should really be a short time might as well be an hour-long debriefing. Six. What did I screw up that time? Five.Did that wobbler back at the offset box fall over? Four. Did I tap one in that second slalom? Three. Does Jon Felton hate Miatas? Two.
But this time, I don’t give a damn. I’m not playing for keeps. Brian, this heat’s time writer, is smiling and shaking his head as he leans in to his radio. He writes it on a post-it note and reaches out toward my driver-side window as I roll up. “You are consistent.” He tells me, laughing. I know what that means before I take the slip from him.
That’s a healthy six seconds off what would be my normal pace for a course this size. I normally peak mid-way through my session, and if I’ve settled to a 67.49 on run four, it’s pretty much a given that I’m not going to improve much from here. So why the lack of concern? Simple. Today, I’m not driving a Mazdaspeed3 or an RX-8 or a NA Miata. I’m not even driving our Focus.
I’m driving a 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour. And let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like hanging out the ass end of a 4100lb hatchback-on-stilts.