What’s better: analogue or digital? Naturally aspirated V8 or twin-turbo tech? Manual transmission or paddle-shift DSG?
These are important questions. Questions about the very soul of fast cars. And in June’s issue of TopGear magazine - in all good newsagents today – Tom Ford and I attempt to provide definitive answers… by whanging the Vauxhall VXR8 and Nissan GT-R across the Peak District and then arguing like a pair of schoolchildren.
This was the thinking: these are two cars that represent polar opposite takes on the performance car formula: the GT-R has been praised and criticised in equal measure for its reliance on technology, while the VXR8 has faced the same kind of love/hate bipolarity for its basic brute-force-and-ignorance approach.
Tom Ford – who isn’t here to defend himself, so I shall unfairly paraphrase him – believes the GT-R to be superior. The Nissan, he points out, is far quicker, more powerful and packs enough technology to embarrass a NASA space mission. Anyone who clings to old-school V8 muscle cars in the face of such scientific supremacy, he argues, might as well revert to sending messages by telegram and whittling their own furniture.
Because I possess a soul, I know Tom Ford to be wrong. Mathematically better – faster, more powerful, grippier – isn’t the same as emotionally better. The VXR8 will be slower along any road than the GT-R, but you’ll have more fun getting there. Not everything is better done by technology: a £10 Casio digital watch can record your lap time to the nearest thousandth of a second while letting you know what time the stock markets open in Shanghai, but most of us still wear analogue watches.
And so, through a succession of extended metaphors and hilarious insults, it goes on. Now here’s what we need you to do. First, go and grab yourself a copy of the mag, and digest the feature in all its high-resolution, tyre-smoking glory. Next, come back here and weigh into the debate: what do you want from your performance cars – digital perfection or analogue thrills?