The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

15 April 2007

Get thee to a Jaguar

I own no sport-utility vehicles, and have seldom been tempted by them. (This one came closest.) Still, I think I understand the appeal of the species, which, says a British reviewer, is otherwise inexplicable:

[I]t remains one of the greatest challenges in automotive journalism to say anything of interest about these kinds of cars. And any rational appraisal of their qualities or deficiencies is rendered redundant by the British public's apparently endless appetite for the things, regardless of their faults, which include poor handling, performance and braking; poor fuel economy; offensive girth; ugliness; and impracticality. The automotive arms race that has transformed our roads over the past 10 years suggests that many of you (although, I suspect not too many Independent readers) covet these kinds of cars and, if that is the case, I am sure you will like the [Mitsubishi] Outlander. (That's taking it as read that you are so wracked with insecurity, so emotionally stunted, that you need to have a car with quasi-military styling; and must always sit a few inches above the rest of humanity.)

I am not necessarily opposed to SUVs on environmental grounds — the Outlander manages a respectable 40.9mpg, takes up no more space on the road than a Vectra estate and chugs out less black stuff than a Zafira — it is just that, to me, they seem like a quantum step backwards in the evolution of the motor car. For almost a hundred years cars seemed to be getting lighter, handling and performing better, and using less and less petrol. Then along came the Land Rover Freelander, Toyota RAV4 and their ilk, and suddenly it was as if evolution had suffered a setback.

Poor fellow has apparently never been subjected to a Ford Expedition; if he had, he'd have invoked Dante by now, and probably more cleverly than those twits at Vanity Fair, currently having a Greener Than Thou snit on the newsstands. And he's really not so different from the American variety of motor-noter, most of whom seem to think that in the best of all possible worlds we would all be driving sports sedans. Probably 3-series Bimmers.

At least our British correspondent didn't recommend any of the hideous people movers known hereabouts as "minivans," which possess exactly the same faults as SUVs, except that no one accuses them of quasi-military styling. Indeed, no one accuses them of any styling at all.

Incidentally, that's 34 mpg for the Outlander if you measure by the smaller US gallons.

(Via Purple Avenger.)

Posted at 12:34 PM to Driver's Seat