Har­ris

“Ev­ery­one makes pass­ably de­cent cars these days, and the en­su­ing pos­i­tiv­ity is killing me”

Top Gear (UK) - - CONTENTS -

“Ev­ery­one makes de­cent cars, and the en­su­ing pos­i­tiv­ity is killing me”

I al­ways tell them to never read the com­ments. Young peo­ple who ask me what the frst rule of do­ing this thing that I do for a liv­ing is – which used to be called mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ist, but I think is now called Con­tent In­fuencer Per­son, or vlog­ger, or some­thing else. And I al­ways tell them to never scroll down. Don’t read the com­ments.

What­ever you call it, don’t read the may­hem un­der­neath the bit you did, be­cause the chances are it will in­clude spec­u­la­tion on your parent­age, ad­vice on all mat­ters from fae­ces dis­posal to sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, and a few death threats. Or maybe all of them to­gether. Some­times they might even dis­cuss the car you’ve vlogged over.

If that does hap­pen, one of the few com­plaints I have any sym­pa­thy for is the gen­eral feel­ing that ev­ery­one seems to be so pos­i­tive in new car re­views. When was the last time you read a one-star stinker or watched a video where the bloke point­ing a cam­era at him­self said: “You know what? This thing is to­tal s**t”?

I’d haz­ard, quite a while. And I’d love to tell you that it’s be­cause the new gen­er­a­tion of vlog­gers are all in the em­ploy of the car­mak­ers and that ob­jec­tiv­ity died the day Au­to­car & Mo­tor be­came just Au­to­car, but sadly that’s not the rea­son. It’s be­cause these new cars are just too damn good. Really, they’re too good.

And this is a real prob­lem be­cause how­ever much you twist it and de-sugar the mes­sage, a pos­i­tive review of a good car is never go­ing to be as en­ter­tain­ing as a good, whole­some hatchet job on a pile of junk. Be­cause we all love wit­ness­ing a de­cent shoe­ing. For the sake of en­ter­tain­ment and the san­ity of com­ments sec­tions through­out the in­ter­web, we need some bad cars. Ten years ago I thought there was a so­lu­tion, but it proved to be a false dawn: China.

The fo­cus of that hope was when some­one splat­ted a Windy Ssome­thing into a wall at 30mph and it dis­solved into a pud­dle of soup. It was efec­tively a reimag­ined Vaux­hall Fron­tera made from lasagne and Pritt Stick and it was ex­cit­ingly ter­ri­ble. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one and stamp all over it with sharp one-lin­ers and ca­sual xeno­pho­bia. Back then I used to prowl around mo­tor shows snaf­ing out Chi­nese s**tboxes, imag­in­ing the hi­lar­ity gen­er­ated once they landed in the UK. But they never came. Trag­i­cally, they were deemed too rub­bish to be granted ac­cess to Europe.

Ev­ery­one makes pass­ably de­cent cars these days, and the en­su­ing pos­i­tiv­ity is killing me. A whole gen­er­a­tion now has no idea how tragic a Skoda once was, or an FSO Polonez – what I would have given to review a Polonez! But those were the low-hang­ing fruit. The real stars were the cock-ups from oth­er­wise ta­lented homes: the Suzuki X-90 or the Alfa 156 GTA. Or maybe just the raw te­dium of the global tat that sold well in Africa and Brazil, but was sadis­ti­cally foisted on the UK concession. Imag­ine be­ing a Mazda sales­man in the late Nineties try­ing to fog a Xe­dos 9 Miller Cy­cle as the bloke in the BMW site next door fon­dled his E39 5-Se­ries wait­ing list. Poor sod.

The last truly bad car I drove was the last-gen BMW X1. I thought the power steer­ing pump had failed. God knows, I’ve tried to fnd that next gen­er­a­tion of rub­bish cars – I even rented a Vaux­hall Mokka in the hope that it would de­liver a pu­rity of in­ep­ti­tude not seen since Luca Ba­doer’s F1 ca­reer. But it turned out to be wor­ry­ingly ca­pa­ble. So – word to the car­mak­ers of the world. If you want vlog­ging to re­main

en­ter­tain­ing, please res­ur­rect the ter­ri­ble mo­tor car.

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