Car Culture

Sports cars are good for your mental well-being, Ford study says

Ford finds that commuting in a sports car provides more thrills than kissing.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Driving a sports car every day is a recipe for lots of "buzz moments," Ford says.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

In news that surprises almost no car enthusiast, a study finds that sports cars are good for your emotional state, if not your wallet.

The study, undertaken by Ford, measured "buzz moments" or instances of high-intensity thrills, which science has found to be extremely beneficial to our overall well-being. Preliminary results show that driving a sports car (a Ford Focus RS, Focus ST or Mustang) gave higher instances of buzz moments than kissing someone or watching "Game of Thrones." In fact, the only thing that beat the sports car was a roller coaster ride.

"A roller coaster may be good for a quick thrill, but it's not great for getting you to work every day," said Dr. Harry Witchel, discipline leader in physiology. "This study shows how driving a performance car does much more than get you from A to B – it could be a valuable part of your daily wellbeing routine."

Ford has taken this research and designed the Ford Performance Buzz Car, based on a Focus RS, which displays biofeedback and lights up when you're having one of these buzz moments, though it's unclear whether the car does anything special when its head gasket fails.

The Buzz Car uses a combination of wearable tech and artificial intelligence developed by Sensum, an empathic technology firm, to detect these buzz moments and animate them in real time through over 200,000 LEDs. Ford said that the concept took 1,400 working hours to complete and that Ford Research and Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany, is already using data from the study to explore further ways in which our future cars can understand our emotions, which isn't creepy at all.

"We think driving should be an enjoyable, emotional experience," said Dr. Marcel Mathissen, a research scientist at Ford of Europe. "The driver-state research Ford and its partners are undertaking is helping to lead us towards safer roads and – importantly – healthier driving."

The upshot of all of this is that maybe one day soon, your Focus RS might be able to convince you that yelling, "Watch this!" out of your open window before you engage Drift Mode and floor the throttle would be unwise in your current emotional state. Until then, you're on your own.