The older I become, the less I understand the world. The older I become, the more I blame the Sports Utility Vehicle for everything that is wrong about motoring in 2018.
The SUV is the least sensible, logical or helpful solution to personal transportation you could hope to imagine. It would take – sorry, has taken – a bunch of clever engineers and designers many years to devise such a comically bad way of getting about the place. But they managed it. Then they needed the marketing community to persuade an entire generation that their terrible idea was worth buying into – which has been accomplished with such consummate ease that the process now appears to be complete. We are reaching peak SUV.
What we are now left with is a buying public that prefers cars which are heavier and physically larger than they should be – against a backdrop of environmental pressures to which the most obvious solution is to make cars lighter and smaller. Go figure. I have to keep pinching myself to believe it’s all happening. Sometimes I think it’s just some big practical joke perpetrated by the world’s comedians. You couldn’t make it up.
Ford will soon only sell SUVs and the Mustang in the US. There will be no option to buy a clever, small, efficient Fiesta. Now this might preface an explosion in electric vehicles, but right now it doesn’t look too smart. The bare facts are pretty difficult for lovers of conventional cars to digest – SUVs now account for 34 per cent of global car sales, and that figure is set to rise.
Can you think of another industry that would allow itself to be overcome by such illogical thinking? Imagine if you walked in to buy a washing machine, and the person selling it told you that this new model was less good at washing clothes, used more electricity, didn’t fit the same space as your old machine, but had a load of chrome stuff on the front and the neighbours will think you’ve made a ton of cash. You’d tell him to have sex and travel. But that’s exactly what you do when you chop in that old 3-Series estate for an X3. Jesus, have you seen the new X3? In fact, don’t get me started on BMW. That X7 thing? Allegedly, it’s the fallout from one designer betting another he couldn’t graft a four-foot chrome arse to the front of a truck and then persuade the board to build it.
But people now want these machines. They are a metaphor for the insecurities of our species in the year 2018 – everyone now needs to publicly assert their wealth and superiority, and the best way to do that is sit up high, behind some ridiculous chrome moustache and survey the landscape. It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.
Where will it end? I don’t know – perhaps some sensible soul will ban the bloody things, but the real answer probably lies in the children of today. Generations tend to rebel against the decisions of their predecessors, so hopefully just as the current crop of youngsters ignore Facebook as an embarrassing folly of their parents, so too will they look at their vast trucks and laugh at the absurdity of it all.
That’s a long way off, though. There is still much more SUV nonsense to come, no doubt endorsed by celebs and the promise that driving a shitty barge will somehow improve your life. For now, I can offer two solutions: the first is to go and try a car before you buy a truck. Go and drive the new Ford Focus, or a 3-Series BMW – and please advise your friends to do the same. Failing that, move to the country least affected by the SUV infestation – Japan. The food is fantastic, too.
“People now want SUVs. They are a metaphor for the insecurities of our species in the year 2018”