We’re off on a rant – can you sense all the optimism in here? In this Motormouth Top 10 we look at annoying things about new cars that will hopefully go away in 2019. Here’s to wishful thinking!
It seems most folk just want to forget the trainwreck that was 2018, but looking back it’s hard to moan about a year that gave us the Ferrari 488 Pista and the Porsche 911 GT2 RS. We’re going to moan anyway.
1. Mega-money hot hatchbacks
Before the 1970s, really, speed was an indulgence of the wealthy, whether in a jet plane, a high-speed train, or in an expensive automobile – it was an exclusive world. The regular folk, they only got their first taste of it in the 1970s, they started to feel speed, because regular cars got fast. In Europe those were your fast Vauxhalls and fast Fords, speedy little BMW sedans, Abarth Fiats, and most of all, the hot hatch. For the first time in the history of the automobile performance was within the grasp of an average man. This freed a huge number of car enthusiasts. It was their entry into an exclusive club. We can’t quite understand it now because fast cars are all over the place, but in those days you couldn’t just go out and do 160km/h. And to speak of zero to 100km/h in under 10 seconds, that was a huge deal back then. The hot hatch, then, was a freedom fighter. It was an equal rights advocate, it dissolved class into one union – speed. The hot hatch was a rebel, and everybody loves a good rebel.
So what the hell happened? How did the people’s hero go all white-collar on us? These days a hot hatch costs a gazillion dollars and needs supercar levels of technology to rein in engines producing three, four hundred horsepower. We want our blank switches back!
2. Black wheels
Black wheels used to stand out when everyone had silver wheels, but the treatment kind of loses its effect when it’s silver wheels that happen to be the odd ones out. These days it seems every sports car has to have black wheels that only manage to blur the design of the alloys in the first place. It’s just a black blob inside the arches. Also we’re simply traditionalists, so there. Note, this rant does not apply to black steelies. Black steelies rule.
The stance trend is probably too big to do anything about at this point, and we’ll just have to wait for the epidemic to fade away on its own. Maybe it’s because we have something called mechanical sympathy – for example, if we were all equestrians we wouldn’t go and get Happy out of the stable and chop his legs off because it makes him look like an individual. In the same way we just cannot help but squirm and pucker up every time a stanced car scrapes on a painted line.
4. Gigantic headlights
Not only are we kind of indifferent to the massive headlights you find on cars these days, we’re even less turned off by the thought of someone backing into one of our LED Xenon laser lenses and then getting the bill. What’s more regulations govern that headlights have to be so huge to stretch alongside the side of the vehicle so some designs come across quite reptilian like.
Why are car manufacturers convinced that they need to compete with Google and Amazon’s Alexa and intrude into every aspect of our lives? Do we really need satellite navigation in every car when our phones do more than the best car infotainment systems out there? It’s the price of progress apparently, and it’s costs a lot in kerb weight. That’s a very valuable currency.
6. Marketing size-offs
Race car drivers are famous for their vocabulary, or lack of. Speak to any of them and every second word is ‘tyres’. That’s because tyres are quite important as your only contact with the road, and the size of that contact patch determines a lot of things.
Therefore big tyres are a big deal when it comes to performance, but why is everything coming with 22-inch wheels these days? Ever ridden in an SUV with 22s? Don’t forget to renew your medical insurance first. On the same note, have you seen a BMW grille lately? Well of course you have, what a dumb question – you couldn’t have possibly missed the 15 acres of it…
7. Faking it
Look at a Mercedes-Benz AMG A 45, and tell us what you see? That’s right, fake centre-lock wheels, fake vents, fake intakes, fake exhausts. How upstanding of Affalterbach. Granted AMG isn’t the only culprit and we’re picking on the Germans unfairly here because pretty much every car has fake grilles somewhere, even the most expensive stuff, and this design insecurity is starting to get on our nerves.
When we attended the launch of the Jaguar E-Pace in Corsica, the car’s designer spent most of his presentation boasting about how it looks like an F-Type because of the side air vent. Which doesn’t actually vent any air. Because it’s a solid piece of nasty plastic. Do you even premium?
8. So much grey…
Every car is grey, or some spectrum of grey, which includes white and black. Those aren’t even colours. Of all the cars sold last year 80 percent were a variation of grey basically, according to top automotive paint suppliers BASF and Axalta, which paints a pretty black picture.
9. Gear shifters
Why do so many cars with automatic transmissions keep persisting with huge gear levers? Car engineers couldn’t wait to ditch the good old manual handbrake lever, in order to free up valuable real estate in the centre console for important things, like cup holders… Since everything is electrically activated anyway, they may as well ditch the useless gear levers if only to prevent people from resting their hand on the shifter like they’re busy rowing through the gate. You’re not fooling anyone at the traffic lights.
10. Flat bottoms
It’s not a single-seater, and you don’t need the knee clearance, because a Volkswagen Golf doesn’t feature a carbon fibre monocoque tub and slick tyres. A squared-off steering wheel is marketing desperation that cruelly beats designers and engineers into submission, and we need to stop this abuse at once. It’s inhumane, people.
And now for the special bonus entry…
11. Top 10 lists
It would be great if we could go a little easy with all the dumb Top 10 lists in 2019.