Make cars a bit shit again-The problem with cars of today
I drove a Peugeot 206 last weekend. The car is a 06 reg, however the 206 first hit the roads in 1998 and the 1.4, 74 bhp, petrol engine was designed further before that still. The car comes without an aux, electric power steering, traction control or even stability control. Therefore, the steering was heavy at low speed and extremely sensitive beyond 70 mph. The car was pushed around by the wind on the motorway and difficult to manoeuvre around town. The biting point for the clutch was also precisely in the middle of nowhere; making stop-start traffic a pain in the arse/left-calf. The gearbox was strange too. The throw was incredibly long and when you put your foot down, the gear stick feels like it wriggle it’s way out of gear; making the transmission tunnel feel like a small, restless animal sitting between the front seats. It was the best blast around Kent I’ve ever had. When you’re doing anything above 30mph in the French hatchback your hpalms start become sweaty and I may have wet myself doing 60 on a country lane. The car feels rapid. Despite the 74bhp engine feeling surprisingly pokey, the feeling of speed wasn’t anything to do with the power of the hatchback. The grin inducing sensation of speed comes from a mixture of low ride and low insulation. You can hear and feel he road vividly in the old car, which combines with the rudimentary hydraulic steering, to give a depth of feel that is unmatched by the numbness of modern cars. The car is hilariously twitchy and when you reach the end of traction, you know about it. the car misbehaves, with trouser filling and grin inducing moments of misconduct. The cars go-kart steering is fantastic. A slightly above average French hatchback in 1998 is the most fun vehicle I’ve driven. In comparison, I recently drove an A class coupe from Manchester to Nottingham. The 115bhp diesel unit was smooth and silent, leaving the light rumble of tyres to filter into the well-insulated, leather clad cabin. The two screens lit up the smooth interior; displaying literally everything you would ever want to see, minus, maybe atmospheric pressure. The cabin was typical of the high-tech and premium cabins you can expect from Mercedes as of late. It was possibly the most boring drive of my life. Cruise control, automatic breaking and lane assist made motorway driving dangerously dull. At the other end of the gorgeous and comfortable steering, their felt like there was literally nothing going on- not even a road. Between my hands and the road was a plethora of computers and motors, which seemed to do nothing other than artificially stiffen the numb steering. This made the car feel characterless and reduced confidence on fast b roads, due to the lack of feel. The small coupe ended feeling how I imagine driving a small limo would feel. The car was torquey and smooth between 0-40 but felt gutless when trying to accelerate above 50. The harder you work the car, the less rewarding the experience. BORRRRRRINGGGGGGGGGG.
What I am trying to say is that cars of today, such as the merc, are focused too much on driver convenience and not driver excitement. Engines are tuned to be torquey at low revs for stop start traffic around town and suspension for smoothness on long motorway trips. Worse yet, is the invasion of Crossover SUVs, which are neither sporty or utilitarian. Hideous cars such as the Renault Kadjar and VW T-Cross, combine the body roll of road clearance, with the exact same interior space as their hatchback cousins. Literally the worse of both worlds. Heavy, larger, less feel and more weight. These cars are marketed for their fashionable looks and mod cons but offer as much driving fun as a potato. Every time a cross is designed an engineer tops himself. I don’t want the car to brake for me. I don’t want the car to accelerate for me. I don’t even want it to change gear for me. I am the driver for fuck sake; not a bunch of 1s and 0s floating around in some silicone in the engine block. Fuck CPUS and their perversions.
This market shift toward comfort and style above anything else can be seen in the new Land Rover Defender. The old gas guzzling unit has been replaced by a kid’s toy from 2050. Admittedly, there is little wrong with the car; even the styling is growing on me. The Land Rover looks especially good in British racing green. Despite this, you just know that Land Rover has created this car with builders’ wives and lives of Polar bears in mind. This is just wrong. What happened to creating rugged machines for the Royal army and British farmers. Now British farmers drive Japanese pick-ups and middle-aged mums from Surrey drive Land Rovers. The Defender should be mechanical, rugged, and basic. Today, however, it is leather-clad, complicated, and overly comfortable. What happened to the smell of diesel, rumble of Internal combustion and the splashes of mud. Gone are the days of snorkels and tow bars. Well, what does that matter now anyway? That job has been taking by Ford and Mitsubishi, with their excellent pick up trucks.
When the time comes to ditch the car and use Uber insteadyou won’t be complaining, because the soul of your car would have been ditched anyway. Your car will be controlled by the brain of some nerd in a lab, who has prioritised MPG and safety over anything. He will likely be called Thomas or Alex, and he will leave his socks on to sleep and piss only whilst sitting down. His designs and programmes will be influenced by the laws of people, who do not care for you or polar bears, and sold by gagged companies to a gagged population. So, buy an average car from the early 2000s and hold on to it for dear life.