The pace of technological advancement seems to be accelerating and everyday objects are getting more complex. Cars are moving forward in leaps and bounds, too – from the basic, foundational designs to masterful, tech-savvy vehicles; and then there are cars like the Subaru BRZ that was launched in the USA in 2012 as an affordable sports car… But what does a compact sports coupe have to do with the concept of simplification? Automobiles have been getting fiendishly complex over the years, and the re-introduction of a naturally aspirated, rear-wheel-drive sports coupe with a manual transmission for 2022 shows that a return to the basics of what makes driving fun could prove to be the right move.
The recipe was simple, even back then. Design a lightweight, RWD sports coupe with a small back seat and acceptable cargo space, fit a high-revving, naturally aspirated Subaru flat-four deep down into the engine bay to lower the center of gravity, and make sure there is a manual transmission available for the enthusiasts. For 2022, the car takes this winning recipe and enhances it, offering only a little more horsepower than the original. And the original was neither overpowered (200 hp) nor lethargic and its delicate, fun handling and engine that begged to be worked hard proved irresistible – and for the new generation, this has been upped by 28 hp and is just what the doctor ordered in an era of over-complex, committee-designed sports cars. All that while offering decent gas mileage. With a starting MSRP of $28,845, the new BRZ is affordable too.
The internal-combustion engine (ICE) has been getting very complex over the last 135-odd years. Most modern engines in new car models are designed to develop plenty of horsepower and offer excellent performance and fuel economy, but can be extremely complicated and a nightmare to work on when something goes wrong. There are pistons, turbos, valves, and variable timing systems galore to worry about and the whole lot has to be cooled and managed by a powerful ECU. Never mind the modern automatic transmission with as many as ten ratios…
Electric vehicles are more simple by comparison and an electric motor has far fewer moving parts than an ICE and needs far less maintenance. In addition, because it can work from zero rpm, it doesn’t need a transmission at all, which takes away yet another layer of complexity. The reason we’ve had to wait for EVs this long is that battery technology had to catch up and, some say, ICE pollution and sustainability had to become an international crisis first. The advantages of EVs over ICE vehicles are manifold:
- Far simpler motor with few moving parts
- The motor requires no lubrication or coolant
- Transmission doesn’t need maintenance, fluid changes, and eventual overhauling
- Lower running costs because electricity is cheaper than gas
- Safer in crashes, because they don’t carry a tank of flammable liquid
Back to basics in health and wellness
There are so many things that we don’t have control over in our everyday lives and some technologies are undoubtedly getting more complicated to make our lives easier and safer. We accept those risks and tradeoffs in the name of progress, but that doesn’t mean that it has to hold true for all aspects of life. Some things have simply gotten out of control and can do with simplification and a return to basic values. A good example of this is our diet and how badly the rise of processed foods has harmed our health since the ’70s.
Once hailed as great advances, many artificial additives, colorants, and flavorings have been added to our food, not to mention our insatiable need for lots of sugar. It would take many years to realize the dangers and health risks of these heavily processed foods and in recent times, there has been a renewed focus on reverting to the simple, proven solutions to once again improve our health. These include natural, organic foods, whole foods, fruit and vegetables, and raw, unprocessed foods free of harmful additives and sugar. Nature really does know best.
Back to basics in tech
There have even been encouraging signs that some sanity has been returning to the tech world and even the compact smartphone seems to have made a comeback. In previous years, flagship phones were the focus and it became a numbers game and arms race as screen size, camera tech, refresh rates, and features kept increasing. In 2020, we seem to have had a shift away from the bleeding edge and several sub-six-inch phones were launched, competing in the high-value segment and not packing quad-camera configurations and expensive tech.
Advancing where we must; simplifying where we can
Of course, we cannot go back to the caves and horse-drawn carriages, so we should embrace technology insofar as it makes our lives better and safer. There are enough of those areas that will require the latest technology and demand a steep learning curve from those using it. But we should also recognize where we have overcomplicated our lives to the detriment of our health and well-being. Let us reprioritize and not complicate the things that should stay simple on the altar of progress.