Sychophantic (and biased) motoring media?

Sychophantic (and biased) motoring media?

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s m

17,236 posts

142 months

Tuesday 26th January 2016
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spreadsheet monkey said:
I love PH. Thread starts off by discussing bias in the motoring press, and ends up comparing the merits of the Fiat Tipo and 309 GTI!
If you read the whole thread though it makes sense as a follow-on to some of 'highway's' post.

The Tipo was the darling of very early 90s hot hatch tests - pretty much a clean sweep of all the group tests in the mags like Performance Car, Fast Lane, Car, Autocar. Never mentioned at all now and journos tend to 'remember' something else ( whether that's down to there being no Tipo 16vs left to re-sample ).

Other cars that got good/bad reviews at the time in their respective class have done a volte face over time

daveco

3,676 posts

146 months

Tuesday 26th January 2016
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For those who want to bask in the glory of the good ol' days of thorough car reviews, check out this one for the W140 Mercedes 400SE. I bloody loved the old Autocar tests; so much technical info and even drawings of each car's side profile, complete with measurements!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/7869726@N02/sets/721...

Though with that said, they go for the Bentley over the 600 SEL here even though it's £35,000 more, which is itself far more expensive than the other two cars in the test biggrin

https://www.flickr.com/photos/triggerscarstuff/alb...





Edited by daveco on Tuesday 26th January 11:02

spreadsheet monkey

3,476 posts

166 months

Tuesday 26th January 2016
quotequote all
s m said:
If you read the whole thread though it makes sense as a follow-on to some of 'highway's' post.
Sorry, wasn't intended as a criticism. Love the old scanned road tests, BTW.

Stickyfinger

8,429 posts

44 months

Tuesday 26th January 2016
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BUT, the market has shown that those detailed technical reviews are not wanted by the public.
Try publishing a mag with that in, you will go bankrupt quickly.

MOST people never open the bonnet of their car and all they understand/want is BS talk of style, equipment/type of internet connection and "how fast round the ring"

Have a conversation with most people and you can understand why the publications have decided on the frivolous.
....lamentable I know but that is what we have now.

Leins

6,544 posts

87 months

Tuesday 26th January 2016
quotequote all
Autocar reviews were brilliant, as was most of the rest of the mag back then. Loved it in the late 80s / early 90s, and then again in the early to mid-00s when they had Harris, Sutcliffe, Goodwin, etc on board
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s m

17,236 posts

142 months

Tuesday 26th January 2016
quotequote all
spreadsheet monkey said:
s m said:
If you read the whole thread though it makes sense as a follow-on to some of 'highway's' post.
Sorry, wasn't intended as a criticism. Love the old scanned road tests, BTW.
No apology needed, didn't take it as a criticism - was just expanding on how we got to that point.
It's interesting how some cars are remembered though - think some of it is to do with badge and also how well they weather the years


RDMcG

12,970 posts

146 months

Tuesday 26th January 2016
quotequote all
In the old days there were few ways to get info. Magazines and motor shows were about all there was for a new car. Reviews were often weeks apart. Now with the web the reviews show up the second the embargo is lifted. Over time I have found some journos that seem to reflect my own experience later with a particular car but usually the multi car comparisons force the issue.
I use owner forums a lot and they can be very helpful. However,some times you have to order a car based on limited info. If you waited for the review on the McLaren 675S or the as yet unannounced Porsche 991R to order one you would be out of luck. In summary you have to get information from everywhere and sometimes just trust your instincts. I am on my third GT3RS and never got a chance to test drive any of them. I ordered the most recent ones before they were more than speculation.

Nors

1,218 posts

94 months

Tuesday 26th January 2016
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highway said:
In 1995 you couldn't find a Clio Williams to test. I ordered one based on the reviews. These included statements inferring you could live with a Ferrari 512 over a B road. The Williams was, all that plus a bag of chips. I sold my (then mint) 1.9 Gti to pay for my Williams 3.

I know you shouldn't compare new with used but I thought it was a MASSIVE sideways step. It wasn't faster than the 1.9 or better in any noticeable way. It certainly didn't feel worth the extra £7k I parted with over the value of the 205.

This was the era where a few years earlier the Fiat Tipo 16v was rated as the best hot hatch you could buy according to many motoring mags. When was the last time you read a thread on PH regarding anyone wanting one of those?

The magazines are fickle. Autocar and Evo have history of giving rave 'first drive' stories,only for the same cars to finish poorly,in group tests later on. Large pinch of salt. I'd never buy based on reviews again.
hehe Remember all that.

I currently have both:- (Willaims 1 & Phase 1.5)

I'd certainly say the Williams is faster in a straight line! I'd guess it's how big your balls are to say which is faster on the twisty stuff, but they feel very similar to me in terms of capabilities.

The Pug though is a bit more resilliant to the tin worm having the galvanised body.

Both still a hoot to drive today!

Edited by Nors on Tuesday 26th January 11:26

Alex_225

3,131 posts

140 months

Tuesday 26th January 2016
quotequote all
Like with anything in the media there will always be biased towards certain products/brands so as said, you have to go by personal experience as much as anything.

Buying a car is such a personal thing that there's no real way you can take someone else's opinion and go with it unless you know that person so well that you can know they think similarly to you.

For example I drove a courtesy car of a Kia Picanto some years ago and I thought it was the most soulless, boring unimaginative car going. Yet I know someone who bought one cheap on a PCP deal and loved it.

Hudson

1,852 posts

126 months

Tuesday 26th January 2016
quotequote all
Alex_225 said:
Like with anything in the media there will always be biased towards certain products/brands so as said, you have to go by personal experience as much as anything.

Buying a car is such a personal thing that there's no real way you can take someone else's opinion and go with it unless you know that person so well that you can know they think similarly to you.

For example I drove a courtesy car of a Kia Picanto some years ago and I thought it was the most soulless, boring unimaginative car going. Yet I know someone who bought one cheap on a PCP deal and loved it.
I was fascinated by how far i could fit my fingers (fnarr) in between the gaps in the trim last time i was in a Picanto. It looked like it was built by me, when i was drunk.

But you're right, it is a deeply personal choice and i honestly don't envy someone who doesn't really know a lot about cars trying to choose one based on what they read online - if i took to heart everything written about cars i've driven i'd cut my licence in half and get a bus pass.

coppice

5,032 posts

83 months

Tuesday 26th January 2016
quotequote all
Audi observations- in 70s they were a cool choice(very much in the Saab school - understated and classy ), in 80s more overtly sporty and hugely respected because of Quattro halo. Since then they have evolved to replace the BMW as a brand we love to hate and the biggest spike came when their down the road graphics - DRG -switched to that aggressive deep f***k you grille .

The irony is that, Quattro and DRG apart, nothing much has happened to the brand for decades -it has always been a VW in a party frock . The real problem is that lots of people now buy them and ubiquity nearly always triggers contempt from folk who are image conscious, or worse still ,get upset when they see an upmarket and niche brand becoming mainstream It's nowt to do with steering and ride....

oop north

785 posts

67 months

Tuesday 26th January 2016
quotequote all
poing said:
So to be clear, you think ALL the motoring press is biased? Not just some of it but ALL of it? And that seems likely?
We are all biased...

s m

17,236 posts

142 months

Tuesday 26th January 2016
quotequote all
Nors said:
highway said:
In 1995 you couldn't find a Clio Williams to test. I ordered one based on the reviews. These included statements inferring you could live with a Ferrari 512 over a B road. The Williams was, all that plus a bag of chips. I sold my (then mint) 1.9 Gti to pay for my Williams 3.

I know you shouldn't compare new with used but I thought it was a MASSIVE sideways step. It wasn't faster than the 1.9 or better in any noticeable way. It certainly didn't feel worth the extra £7k I parted with over the value of the 205.

This was the era where a few years earlier the Fiat Tipo 16v was rated as the best hot hatch you could buy according to many motoring mags. When was the last time you read a thread on PH regarding anyone wanting one of those?

The magazines are fickle. Autocar and Evo have history of giving rave 'first drive' stories,only for the same cars to finish poorly,in group tests later on. Large pinch of salt. I'd never buy based on reviews again.
hehe Remember all that.

I currently have both:- (Willaims 1 & Phase 1.5)

I'd certainly say the Williams is faster in a straight line! I'd guess it's how big your balls are to say which is faster on the twisty stuff, but they feel very similar to me in terms of capabilities.

The Pug though is a bit more resilliant to the tin worm having the galvanised body.

Both still a hoot to drive today!

Edited by Nors on Tuesday 26th January 11:26
Looking back at the Clio and 205 road tests, nothing in it for the usual benchmark sprint ....all the extra stomp came after 60.

A few seconds difference by the three figure mark - the Clio was one person heavier though which blunted the power advantage low down

KieLder

4 posts

38 months

Sunday 6th March 2016
quotequote all
zeDuffMan said:
The mags that focus on sports cars and higher end machinery worry that if they give a negative review, they won't be invited to the next press event.

It's only when a car's successor comes along that you begin to learn about the flaws of the previous generation.

Either you read between the lines and consider what they aren't saying, or you ignore the issue altogether and take whatever's said at face value.

Evo would be pretty screwed if they never got to try out the latest Porsche/Ferrari/Lamborghini etc in the launch events, for instance.
PH, Evo and others thought it necessary to go to California to test the new Mini, the new Bentley Bentwhotsit, the BMW M2, the list goes on.

Presumably that was all paid for by the car manufacturers flying business class and staying in five star hotels.

Does the assembly think the time has come for journalists to have to declare such lavish freebies on a Hospitality Index so that the poor car buyer can judge how much they might have been influenced?

A mate of mine even tells me about free skiing holidays for some attending Geneva Motor Show.

How do they pay back the manufacturer for such incredible largesse?


swisstoni

7,457 posts

218 months

Sunday 6th March 2016
quotequote all
It's not new either - in the 90's I bought loads of car mags. I gave up on one particular title because they featured Porsches every month to the virtual absence of anything else. Took me a while to realise hehe

It's a symbiotic relationship - infect a few mag buying car nerds with 'the word' and they will spout the gospel down the pub or wherever.
Before you know it, everybody 'knows' German cars are best.

ORD

12,544 posts

66 months

Sunday 6th March 2016
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I am not sure about this alleged pro-German bias. I see a lot of fawning over very average British cars (Jags) and utter ste from Italy (everything this side of some Ferraris).

havoc

24,272 posts

174 months

Sunday 6th March 2016
quotequote all
To be fair to journos (for once), car manufacturers CHOOSE where to launch their vehicles...budget-permitting they choose somewhere that:-
(a) will flatter their car; or
(b) will flatter the egos of journos; or
(c) both of the above.

So the magazines have a choice:-
(a) go on a free junket to somewhere warm and sunny; or
(b) miss said junket, fail to review brand new significant car while all the competitor mags DO review it, and lose sales as a result. Cue advertising income falling...

It's a game...the good magazines make sure that, having initially reviewed the car on favourable turf, they then ensure the second leg for the new car is an away match on a challenging pitch where it's also squaring-up to the opposition's first-team!



I'd also agree that the UK motoring media IS starting to become rather jingoistic...very few people have called out Jaguar, for example, on what must be blatent lies about kerb weights...most just parrot the "up to 100kg lighter than previous model...aluminium-intensive structure...lightness lightness lightness" BS without bothering to verify any of the claims...or to actually point out that the equivalent BMW or Merc (whose mfrs haven't made a big deal about weight-saving, BTW) is actually a little lighter than said Jag! banghead

Ozzie Osmond

21,189 posts

185 months

Sunday 6th March 2016
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The Germans tend to build good cars and that's why they've been so successful. You can hardly blame journo's for calling good cars good cars. What would you prefer they recommended - some of that old MG Rover tat? They did their best to sound enthusiastic about the MG Xpower SV and the CityRover but oh dear, oh dear.

EVO has been the most guilty of "sycophancy". All their journo's scuttle around writing stuff to inflate the ego of Harry Metcalfe in the hope of hanging onto their jobs. Gave up reading it a long time ago.

williamp

16,345 posts

212 months

Sunday 6th March 2016
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It happens, but could it happen any other way?

Back in the mid 90s, jobbing car journo Jeremy Clarkson wrote for performance car magazine. One month his back page, which I still have told about the press launches: deliberately an exotic location. Flown out there, best booze flowing on tap, best food, best hotels. The bunfight over the car with the most powerful engine, even though they knew the majority of owners would buy the 1.4 L model. Caning the car for a laugh, seeing what would go wrong.

Get to the hotel, to find the free gifts the manufacturer had left for you in the rooms. Go to dinner, try not to fall asleep during the engineers briefing, try to shag the car companies PR girl...

Then writing good stuff about it, coz it as basically a free few days holiday somewhere hot and pretty. And who in their right mind would want to leave that gravy train, knowing you will easily be replaced?

And if you started your own car company, could you honestly get the same press coverage (or any coverage???) if you invite them to your HQ on a Corby industrial estate, with a hand typed press release and a tin of mints so say thanks??

Dr Gitlin

2,551 posts

178 months

Monday 7th March 2016
quotequote all
KieLder said:
PH, Evo and others thought it necessary to go to California to test the new Mini, the new Bentley Bentwhotsit, the BMW M2, the list goes on.

Presumably that was all paid for by the car manufacturers flying business class and staying in five star hotels.

Does the assembly think the time has come for journalists to have to declare such lavish freebies on a Hospitality Index so that the poor car buyer can judge how much they might have been influenced?

A mate of mine even tells me about free skiing holidays for some attending Geneva Motor Show.

How do they pay back the manufacturer for such incredible largesse?
I don't know that they'd fly you business class. But on the whole I largely agree with you. It certainly should be disclosed to the audience. The publication I work for has a policy of not accepting sponsored travel from OEMs—I'm off to San Diego (from DC) tomorrow to drive the new A4, but we pay for my flight and hotel, not Audi. That is, however, the exception, not the norm; almost none of our competitors have a similar policy.

On the other hand, speaking as a writer, does it matter to me whether Conde Nast or Audi pays for my travel and hotel? Either way I'm not out of pocket, and my opinion of the car should be the same.

Now, speaking as an editor, if I were dependent on manufacturer largesse to meet my annual content goals, you could see how I could be reticent to rock the boat or call a car rubbish and get excommunicated.

Perhaps Consumer Reports' way of doing things is the way to go—they buy the cars they review like normal human beings. But few publications would have the budget to do that, and you wouldn't get any reviews of anything exotic or expensive. Am I being coerced into giving McLaren a decent review because they lent me a car for a few days? Or is it possible I wrote nice things about the 650S because it blew my socks off and—underneath it all—I am a petrolhead?

edit - oh, and the free pair of Bose noise-cancelling earbuds that Audi sent me ahead of the A4 drive are still unopened in the box and they're going in our end-of-year charity drive like the rest of the swag (and review hardware) we get sent.