BMW M5, the practical dream car of choice. Click image to enlarge

By Paul Williams

In January’s dream car article, we asked, “What is the car you’d most like to own?” This is a question that car nuts wrestle with continuously, so it’s not like you haven’t had practice.

But there was a wrinkle. You’d have to maintain and insure this vehicle, and it would be your everyday driver for three years.

Oh, right, a practical dream car.

Well, why not? For Canadian drivers, it’s tough to run a McLaren F1 when it’s up to its fender in slush. And you have to drive something while you’re mulling over the usual exotics.

So readers changed mental gears and came at the “dream” car challenge from a new direction. It was nothing you couldn’t manage (in fact, many of you have the colour, interior, and options figured out as well) and pretty soon the e-mails piled in.

Dream Car Feature Winners!

Readers who participated became eligible to win one of five fabulous Autos hats. The winners (and their dream cars) are…

  • Hanson Tam, Vancouver, BMW M3
  • Patrick Hardy, Montreal, Honda S2000 (with a hardtop for winter!)
  • Paul Monaghan, Mississauga, BMW M3
  • Ralph MacLean, Dartmouth, Lexus LS430
  • Lance Udasco, East Brunswick NJ, Subaru STi
  • But before we discuss the results, we have to thank everybody for the excellent emails and suggestions. The response was overwhelming. All the messages were read and enjoyed. Some were eloquent, some were very convincing, and all were enthusiastic

    It was just terrific.

    So after reading them all, and doing some calculations, the results are in. Most popular choice? The BMW M5. It was the most wanted vehicle – the practical dream car of choice.

    Many readers described it as simply the best car on the planet. Beautiful to look at, but not “in your face,” awesome power and handling, beautiful interior, roomy, comfortable, a useful trunk, space for passengers, safe, a match for just about anything on the road, and beyond the capabilities of most other vehicles.

    Its Automatic Stability Control coupled with a good set of winter tires was seen to be sufficient for winter driving. And if it wasn’t ideal in winter, well, it was close enough.

    Lawrence Berrigan’s response was typical. He cited the “extreme power, dynamic performance, sumptuous comfort, everyday practicality and better fuel economy than an SUV (well, maybe Lawrence). He’ll take his M5 in Carbon Black Metallic.

    Actually, BMWs accounted for about a quarter of the responses overall, with a lot of you struggling between the M5 and the M3. The 330i was also selected, along with a couple of 540i M-Sports – an alternative to the full-blown M5.

    2003 Audi S6 Avant
    2003 Audi S6 Avant, Click image to enlarge

    What about Audi? Came right behind BMW. Many people love the idea of an S6 Avant, or an RS6 Avant (which we won’t get in Canada). You have to admit, the S6 Avant could be ideal for genuine enthusiasts who need real practicality. The new V8-engined S4 was also up there, along with one reader who’d like the original S4 with the twin-turbo V6. That’s a nice piece, as

    Porsches figured prominently in the emails, as well. Which one, do you think? The Carrera 4, of course. A nod to the need for traction in many peoples dream car, no matter what the climate. (See Haney Louka’s Autos winter roadtest of the Carrera 4 for more insight into this vehicle).

    However, Adrian Haskall of Thornhill, Ontario would take the twin-turbo Cayenne over the Carrera. “Power, performance, exclusivity, style, cargo capacity, and able to race at Shannonville (a local racetrack) with my wife and kids aboard!” were his reasons.

    Mercedes Benz was fourth among the German manufacturers. Cars like the SL55 are making a big impact, and no wonder. Now that all Mercedes are available with four-wheel drive, they become an even better contender as practical dream cars.

    For fully half of the respondents, then, it was German all the way.

    After the Germans came the Japanese, with Subaru at the top. No, nobody picked a Legacy or an Outback. You know what they picked. The Impreza WRX and its latest version, the 300 horsepower STi.

    Alistair Struthers of St. John’s NL says this car is practical with performance to spare. “Outside of automotive circles” he adds, “I would imagine most people don’t even realize what the car is capable of doing….a real wolf in sheep’s clothing in my view.”

    Subaru WRX STi
    Subaru WRX STi, Click image to enlarge

    Fans cited the power, the terrific handling, the rally connection, the overall performance and safety of the Subie. Some picked the wagon, but most liked the sedan. If you haven’t had the opportunity to drive one of these cars, you really should. The 227 horsepower in the WRX is right there under your foot. The car literally hurtles away from standstill. The 300 horsepower STi will be mighty interesting. And as you well know, it has the beauty of all-wheel drive!

    Nissan and Infiniti were neck-and-neck with Subaru, but unlike Subaru, they have a bunch of models that appeal to enthusiasts. The Skyline GT-R is a Japan-only car that several of you want regardless. The surprise for me is the popularity of the Infiniti G35, both in sedan and coupe. Here’s a car that’s been on the market for only a few months, from a brand that hasn’t
    had much visibility for years.

    Now, overnight almost, Infiniti has a dream car! Wait ’til they put a V8 in it (you heard it first here, folks).

    Honda/Acura? I put them together because they garnered several recommendations across the range. One respondent wants an Odyssey with full jam. Why not? It’s what he wants and what he needs.

    Several chose the big Lexus LS430, along with a couple more who like the L-Tuned IS300. For Chic Thomas of Winnipeg, “I have liked the LS430 since its introduction as the LS400 many moons ago. Though not flashy at all, for me it embodies luxury, safety and evolution from past to present.”

    Many chose a Volvo. The V70R wagon appeals, as does the S60R. The XC90 also garnered some votes.

    Here are a few of the one-to-five vote practical dream cars: Jaguar “S” Type R, Cadillac CTS, Ford Ranger Quad-cab, Toyota Tacoma, Volkswagen Jetta Tdi, Lincoln Cartier L (black, please), Range Rover HSE, Mini Cooper, Acura NSX, Camaro Z28, Mazdaspeed Protégé, Land Rover Discovery, Oldsmobile Bravada, Maybach, VW Toureg and Passat 4Motion, Ford Lightning SVT, Toyota Camry XLE and Corolla S, and Buick Rendevous. Many of these came with convincing reasons to explain the choice.

    And Annette Konecsni in Saskatchewan, bless her heart, wants a 2003 SVT Mustang for her husband. Now there’s a lucky guy. Even if he doesn’t get the SVT, he’s got the kind of wife who wants him to have one.

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