Every week I put together a ‘road test round-up’ for Auto Retail Agenda. RTR is a potted summary of how the latest new car has been received by the main mags.
After two years doing this I’ve noticed that almost every car on sale today is either a three or four out of five or if the publication concerned is scoring out of 10, it’s a six, seven or eight.
And so I wonder; is there a better way of grading new cars for the purposes of a written road test?
With RTR we already cut the scoring to a four-level system, so we have; loves it, likes it, says it’s okay and doesn’t like it. But even with that, the vast majority of cars come in as ‘like’ or ‘okay’ and occasionally ‘love’. I can’t remember the last car to sit in the lowest score.
Are all modern cars above average? Surely, by definition that’s impossible?
As I see it there are two solutions (and I’m a fan of the second).
The first idea would be to run a three-star rating where a single star equals an above average car, two for a very good car and three stars for a best-in-class/excellent car. But I still suspect most cars would get two stars so it would still be impossible to use the scoring system to tell which of two cars is better.
My favourite idea is to take a leaf out of the computer games review manual and give cars a percentage rating. This way, readers will be able to tell which of two 7/10 cars is better than the other, or at least it will if one scores 69% and the other 71%.
This won’t solve the problem that all cars are reviewed as above average, but it will tell readers which cars are more above average than their rivals.
PS. If there’s a better idea, let me know.
PPS. If there’s a publication already doing this, I’m sure you’ll point it out in the comments.