List: Top Ten Most Polarizing Cars

By Seyth Miersma

August 11, 2011


BMW X6: BMW has a predilection for offering car designs that stir the pot. Not everyone has been completely keen on the 1-Series (which we find utterly loveable), and certainly the 5-Series GT has heard its share of tough talk, even from the Bimmerphile set. But nothing has divided opinion quite like BMW’s Sports Activity Vehicle, the X6. Even our staff is deadlocked on the question. Perfect BMW crossover, or insult to every other car to wear the roundel? Fight it out.


Chevrolet Volt: The press loves the Volt—we almost can’t help but to give it some kind of award every few months. And yet, many people aren’t completely sold, mostly because of its expense, and its splitting the difference between the well-known Prius option, and the somehow loftier pure EV option. We have a hard time imagining anything much geekier than a Prius PHV vs. Volt debate, despite having participated in our fair share of them.


Fiat 500: It’s probably fair to say that those who like the Cinquecento are slightly more vocal than those who don’t. But that hasn’t stopped us from reading dozens (at least) of comments citing a) Fiat’s historical problems with reliability, or b) that the small size of the 500 makes it some kind of “death trap.” We say “phooey” on most of the criticism, having experienced true motoring joy behind the wheel.


Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet: People that read/comment about cars online (like you) seemingly hate the CrossCab more than, Brussels sprouts, New Coke, and The Devil himself. And yet, when people see Nissan’s utile convertible on the street (you know, in the “real” world) it receives near-universal praise. Clearly more data is needed, but the strong indication is that the CrossCab is a truly special love it/hate it machine.


Smart Fortwo: The ledger is weighted heavily towards those that can’t stand the diminutive Smart car, but we had to include it on the list because the proponents (including our own Editorial Director) are so vocal in its defense. Often this debate among enthusiasts comes down to a question of spunky handling versus a wooly transmission—which is more important to you?


Mazda RX-8: As it has been from time immemorial, those who love rotary-engined Mazdas will stand to defend them against doubters with rabid fervor. So, while some drivers might question the RX-8’s seemingly total absence of torque or its inconvenient oil-consumption, fanboys the world over will point to sublime steering, gearbox, and overall handling.


Acura TL: Well, Acura went and righted some of the perceived wrongs of this latest TL by toning down the front grille treatment that had so many people moaning in 2009. Even thusly mainstreamed though, the TL can cause otherwise peaceful car guys to fight it out.


Nissan Cube: Another challenging design from Nissan. With plenty of carryover sentiment from the ground-breaking original Scion xB, we’ve found that there are people who understand why a car can look just like a box, and those that choose not to understand. Guess which category we fall in?


Honda CR-Z: “A hybrid sports car you say? With only two seats—interesting. Surely it must get around 50 mpg? No? Right, but it’s sporty…” We’re sick of having this conversation. And we’re pretty sure most CR-Z owners are, too. The micro-niche Honda definitely isn’t for everyone, let’s leave it at that.


Porsche Panamera: You know, with car brands, buyers tend to be a bit more “OK” with experimentation when it comes to mainstream outfits like Toyota or Ford, than they do with enthusiast marques. The message to Porsche from the enthusiast community has been on the order of, “Just make sports cars and everything will be alright.” So, when Porsche does something like a really fast, luxury-oriented, four-door coupe (in the midst of selling thousands upon thousands of…SUVs), the faithful tend to get a little peeved. And yet, like many of the cars on this list, the car buying public seem to be, well, buying them. Go figure.

BMW Chevrolet Fiat Nissan Smart Mazda Acura Nissan Honda Porsche

You either love them or hate them; completely get what they’re trying to achieve or can’t, for the life of you, understand why anyone would throw their money away on something so stupid.

We’ve got to admit that, while composing this list, we’ve made extensive use of reader comments to earlier reviews that we’ve published—you all are not shy at telling us when you think a car is fantastic, or insipid.

Have a look at our list of ten, and then tell us which split-the-crowd-down-the-middle cars we may have missed.