Who does AutoSpeed serve and where do AutoSpeed's loyalties lie?
These are questions that I feel the need to be answered, because I'm seeing and hearing way too many people denigrating the AutoSpeed name without, quite frankly, having any idea what they're on about...
First and foremost AutoSpeed is a tight ship that produces to deadline (and without fail!) quality content. It employs Julian Edgar and me to supply 100 percent of the necessary editorial content - this is largely subsidised by the income gained through subscriptions.
That means it's you - the reader - who we're working to satisfy. This is quite unlike a conventional paper magazine, where up to half of the content might be paid advertisements...
To a large extent we at AutoSpeed don't care if we lose the odd advertiser as a result of writing something that isn't great for their marketing. Both Julian and I are completely independent and impartial in what we write - if we report on something terrific you can be guaranteed that it really is. On the other hand, if something's no good we'll say so and explain why (our test of the 'awesome' 2002 Subaru STi is a great example).
So you can imagine how frustrating it is - and harmful to the AutoSpeed name - when people start spouting completely unsubstantiated crap in regard to our content. By all means, correct us when we're wrong - that's the whole reason why we have Response and Email the Editor - and, yes, people do have a right to voice an opinion, but the people who blurt out misinformation in regard to AutoSpeed should kindly shut the hell up.
You've probably guessed that something has triggered this little tantrum - and you're right...
My girlfriend was recently in the market for a $5000-odd get-around machine - something relatively cheap to own, comparatively modern, comfortable, economical, safe and with decent handling and performance. After spending many hours researching appropriate cars and looking through classifieds, we ended up chasing a Nissan Pintara 2.4 Ti or TRX. Both cars suited our criteria perfectly; we bought a Ti.
To let our readers know that such an all-round competent car can be bought for $5000, I put together a story covering all of the Pintara 2.4 models. You can't get much more honest than that - right? It was a case of literally putting my money where my mouth is.
But then I see AutoSpeed being denigrated on a Nissans forum because "the Pintara Ti is Michael Knowling's girlfriend's new car [and therefore that] makes it biased."
How does purchasing a car on its own merit and then covering it in a story make it slanted? (Unless it is considered an objectionable bias to actually find something good and then tell you - our readers - about it!) The fact that we purchased a Pintara Ti with our own money says a lot; it's not like we bought the biggest heap of junk we could find and then decided to do a story on it, just to fill the screens of AutoSpeed.
And then there are the clowns that complain the base 2.0-litre Pintara models should've got a better rap in the story - why? If you had any interest in performance, you'd pick the similarly-priced 2.4 every time - the 17.5-18.5-second quarter mile entry-level 2.0 Pintara will see you getting dusted at nearly every set of lights. Oh, but - digging a little further - I discovered the people most vocal on this subject happen to be 2.0-litre Pintara owners... Can anyone say 'bias'?
And that's just one example.
The Rex on Rails series I put together has seen another group of people allowing excrement to flow from their mouth (keyboard?) without first sparking a bit of brain activity. It seems people love to create conspiracy theories with comments like the series was "a fine line between a test and advertisement". Well, bugger me again, do these people have any idea what they're on about?
I shouldn't need to explain myself like this, but - for your own reference - I will.
I recently purchased a second-hand Whiteline swaybar to fit to my car. I mentioned this to Julian and we agreed that the car - a WRX - would be a good platform to do a complete step-by-step handling upgrade series, the Rex being one of the most popular cars of the moment. Obviously we'd need more than just a single sway bar, so we approached Whiteline Suspension for some more components. Whiteline provided certain parts to AutoSpeed without charge - this was clearly and unambiguously declared in the story, something almost never done by other publications who receive stuff gratis. (At AutoSpeed there is no under-the-counter, this'll-make-a-good-story, nudge-nudge funny biz.) And we first agreed with Whiteline that they had absolutely no sway ('xcuse the pun) in what we wrote.
Good or bad - we wrote it and they wore it.
Well it just so happens that, after Whiteline's extensive development, the Handling Pack performed exceptionally well on my car. And so that's exactly what I wrote.
As I said, there's no good reason I should have to explain this - it's only thanks to a group of know-it-all know-nothings who spend too much time making themselves 'heroes', especially on web discussion forums. These people that slag AutoSpeed for what they perceive is a lack of credibility should dig a bit deeper into their memory. Instead of suggesting that we're corrupt and we love to present distorted facts, perhaps they should think back to all those times we've shone the spotlight on not-up-to-par practices and products.
Something, I might add, we knowingly often get into hot water over.
A great example where we paid the penalty for being honest popped up just today. Turns out that a business that had graciously allowed us to flow test a bunch of their secondhand import intercoolers wasn't happy with the results that we presented in our story. The story wasn't written to make anyone happy - except you, our readers - but instead was aimed at finding the best value in used intercoolers.
So this morning I ring to confirm a photo shoot on a vehicle owned by the same intercooler importer. But at the last minute, I'm told that the shoot of their modified car is now off. The reason, they told me, was that they didn't like the results of the intercooler test - their hot-selling ones hadn't come out on top.
WTF? Talk about shooting the messenger!
This is just one example of how AutoSpeed goes to great lengths to give you the facts - and how we then wear what invariably comes with it.
I'm sorry to piss and moan but, for the good of the AutoSpeed name, I really feel the need to clarify these issues. Don't believe those misinformed wankers who know nothing of what they are talking about - we're here to give you all the right info, without bias and with complete honesty.