/ Motoring

What does your car say about you?

A brand new convertible drives past. The driver has the top down, even though it’s quite chilly. They’re wearing sunglasses and the music’s blaring. What’s the first sentence you think of to describe the driver?

Actually, don’t answer that. But ‘car image’ is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. That’s because I’ve spent the last few days driving the new Toyota GT86.

It’s the Japanese brand’s latest sports car, developed in conjunction with Subaru, designed to offer all the thrills of a performance sports car at a fraction of the cost.

We’ll be doing a full review of the car’s performance soon, but for now, I’m interested in what it’ll say about its owner. To get things rolling, have a watch of our video where I asked my Which? colleagues to tell me what type of people they expected to buy the GT86.

So there’s clearly a mix of opinions. Some think it’s for flashy, young professional types. Others reckon the predominant buyer will be in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Personally, I think the GT86 is adequately designed to appeal to the wider age range, thanks to its modest styling and timid engine note.

Car personality preconceptions

Thus, my own preconceptions have urged me to open up the floor to hear what you think a car says about its driver. The fact is – a lot of us make assumptions about people according to the car they drive.

So I wonder – is this a factor we consciously consider when we buy cars? Do we look at a vehicle and ponder, ‘someone might think I’m a bit of a show-off if I drive that’ or ‘does this look like a boring person’s car’?

Let me start with my own car. I drive a Toyota Yaris. It might not be particularly desirable, but it’s affordable to run and fulfils all my motoring needs for now. It’s practical and, according to the 2012 Which? Car Survey, still fairly reliable. I’m probably younger than most people would expect for a Yaris driver, which may lead them to think I’m someone who buys with their head instead of their heart. And does this bother me? Absolutely not.

Now it’s your turn – have you ever bought a car with your image in mind? Do you have any preconceived ideas about the drivers of certain car brands and models?

Pradeep says:
29 September 2012

Very good in price .good for value , fine speed , for me I love Toyota gt 86 .

Vincent says:
30 September 2012

Q1: If it’s someone else driving then ‘t***er’ is indeed a word that springs to mind but if it’s me then maybe ‘cool’ is a better fit. Or is it only me that discriminates in that way?

We are now on our 3rd new Yaris and have been enormously impressed by the quality of both the product and the dealer service. I tend to drive it faster than the other user but like to think we are both quite good at the activity.

Along with VW Scirocco, the GT86 is a contender in the ‘replace the ageing MINI Cooper S competition’. Have recently tested both and found that they are both are great cars to drive.

Many factors to take into account in the final decision but our previous/current Toyota experience will weigh heavily. As will brand reliability of VW and Toyota – as recorded on this site & elsewhere. As someone who earned a living working on and with VW for several years in my youth it is sad to see VWs position in the rankings.

Rob, you are quite a sexy guy. If I saw you driving a Yaris, I’d assume you were independent and “systematically” ambitious, if not slightly conventional (Nothing wrong with that). You give Yaris a good name 😉

P.S. I am a male in my mid-twenties and drive a Mercedes-Benz C-class for my own reasons. I’ve only ever purchased Mercs because here in South Africa, the insurance premiums are lower for a young guy like me in a car not perceived as a “boy-racer”. Saying that, I have probably never lost a traffic light to traffic light race haha. Now that I am approaching an age that is not as limiting regarding insurance costs, I’m so confused about what car to get next. I’m a bit of a complicated character (3 on the Kinsey (Sexual orientation) scale, love scottish weather, but also love lying on monte-carlo beach soaking up the sun. Worked in a few career fields, etc). To my point though, every car I look at and like, just reminds me of a social stereotype and then I feel put off. The cars I tend to enjoy seem to come with horrible connotations about my personality and character. I fear my “over-analyzing is paralyzing” my ability to make a decision.

Perhaps I should just be satisfied with my chauffeur driven Avis Merc S500L? What does that portray about me though? Sigh. Lose lose.

Another P.S…I do NOT like yellow and orange lambo’s. LOL. I prefer understated and timeless modes of transport.

Professor Robot says:
18 March 2013

As a 29 year old father of two who is neither flash nor a bit of a lad or a boy racer, I think the GT86 is beautiful and I want one.

Now to find £25k. ERK!

Nit Nat Nui says:
24 April 2013

Ive never been one for image when it comes to a motor vehicle…….. for me its more of an emotional response!!! That sounds strange when i write down but it feels ‘TRUE’ . The T86 looks fantastic,seems like alot of fun and like any great love i feel its worth pursuing at least that is until you’ve ran it into the ground! !!CURB!!
I accept there are preconceived notions when it comes to certain cars,a Yaris for example is ,well its a girls car really, you dont see many ladies driving them! When it comes to the T86 im all eyes and ears ,so when i see one i dont think about a stereotype i just feel…… ENVIOUS!!

Dave says:
31 May 2013

I bought a new Yaris in ’09. Its a very economical car will a tremendous track record for reliability, there is a famous ’06 Yaris with 500k miles driving around the USA. Parts are inexpensive, it has a timing chain instead of a belt so requires little maintenance other than tires/brakes. However the e-assist steering combined with the small skinny tires make it a very difficult car to drive, very easy to loose touch with the road,

I bought a ’86 last year (Scion FR-S in the USA), it is a much much safer car to drive because you are constantly in tune with the road, the driving position is perfect, handling is incredible. Most of all no sluggish car sick feeling after a long commute, driving is constantly FUN.

I kept the Yaris as backup, to make it safer I put larger aluminum wheels/tires and TRD springs on it, but it is just a back-up car in case something goes wrong with the ’86. The biggest concern I have with the ’86 is the complicated subaru boxer engine, I hope it has some Toyota reliability long term but if not I have the Yaris to fall back on.

I’m wondering if really a car reveals what kind of a person you are… Personally, I’m the owner of a Prius but also of a GT86. Two cars that are placed in opposite segments, from a marketing point of view. But both of the cars make me feel good when I’m driving them and I love each of them 100%. I know a Porsche fan that drives a Panamera on a daily basis, a Cayenne on the winter season and ocassionaly brings up on the circuit his GT3 only for fun but he paid the most on the car that he drives the less. That means passion. Even among Porsche fans there are a lot of controversial opinions about the owners from different segments. But this is not a reason to etiquete such an individual as suspected of multiple personalities, simply because he is not in line with the majority.

I guess nobody on the street will like me anymore since I just traded in my Yaris T Spirit and got a GT86 it’s a joy to drive though

I got traded in my Yaris and got a GT 86 last March and I love it

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