And The Loser Is….

Posted: July 10, 2011 in Cars
Tags: ,

BMW X1

The old adage is true; you can’t please all of the people all of the time. This past month I have been lambasted, mostly with good nature, by friends over my selection of what I considered to be Car of the Year, the Bugatti Veyron SuperSport.

Questions have been asked. Questions such as,

“How the hell can you choose a car that costs more than $2million?”

“There’s only going to be five made. Are you insane?”

“Don’t you think accessibility is the key component to choosing Car of the Year?”

The answers of course are:

Easily. Quite possibly. No.

You see, as I stated in the December issue, the Car of the Year awards have been usurped by the affordable and banal. This award should be a celebration of all that’s automotive; it should not be given to humdrum boxes from Korea. The Hyundai i20, for example, won Green Car of The Year. How? I don’t know. The i20 doesn’t have the best fuel economy, the Ford Fiesta Econetic does and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is still the most environmentally sound vehicle, at least with a view to using recycled materials in its construction. It would appear that Hyundai executives have dumped a truckload of money on the judges and this was the only award on offer.

Continuing, this article is a little different. This is the Yang to last articles’ Yin. It offers balance. You see, you can’t have a winner without a loser, otherwise how do you judge the excellence of the winner? This article is all about the loser and, while there were a few, let’s consider the only possible grand winner, or loser, or…whatever. I have a distaste for all (automotive) things Korean but it’s not one of them, it could be a Toyota (which I hate more) but it’s not. My choice may surprise you. My choice of Worst Car of the Year is in fact European. Not just European though, German and not just German, BMW German.

Usually BMW are considered one of the best kinds of automotive Germans. The M3 and M5 still remain at the pinnacle of car design and the M Divisions updated Z4 will provide you with all the thrills you’ll ever need. Recently, however, BMW have spent far too much time chasing the American dollar. The American dollar is, or should I say was, extremely lucrative and that particular market is important for all car companies that consider themselves global. Sometimes though, when you chase the American dollar what you end up selling is your soul.

For example, Porsche chased the American dollar and we ended up with the Cayenne. How does a sports car company end up making a 4WD? It is possibly one of the most capable 4WD vehicles that money can buy and it’s been a massive success in every market it’s entered. However I don’t know that it fits with Ferdinand Porsche’s original concept behind his cars.

Now, back to BMW. I have been dreading this vehicle. I have been awaiting it for some years now. It is perhaps the most useless, needless, ridiculous, unfortunately inevitable motor vehicle ever made. Sports Utility Vehicle’s, or SUV’s, which I despise with every fibre of my being, are extremely successful. Just look on the road next time you are driving. They’re everywhere. The BMW X5 was one of the first and is one of the most successful. BMW were always going to milk the formula for every penny and of course there was going to be an X3. As soon as the 1-series entered the market it was apparent there was going to be an X1 as well. Now the prophecy has been fulfilled.

Jeremy Clarkson once said of the X3 and I quote,

“If, one day, it turns out you are mad and by mad I mean you wake up and think you are an onion, this is the vehicle for you.”

In the case of the X1 that onion has been chopped, diced and sautéed for about an hour. Until recently I had only seen it in magazines and newspapers and couldn’t get my head around it then. Now, I have seen it and I want to grab the driver by the shoulders and shake them until their bloody head falls off.

First off, it is small. About the same size as a Mazda 3 which sounds okay, if you have a Mazda 3. Secondly, it has the ground clearance of a pregnant Earthworm. No towing boats up mountain roads for those owners although it still has its token 4WD system, for some reason. I recently had the opportunity to watch a young couple attempt to put their child’s pram in, what BMW laughingly call, the boot. I sat their discreetly for some minutes as they attempted all manner of positions before giving up, placing the pram wheels in the “boot” and stowing the rest of the pram on the back seat.

I now have to wonder whether they bought the pram first or the stupid ridiculous BMW badge. Let’s face it, that’s what the majority of people will buy. It just so happens that this badge has the automotive equivalent of a wart growing out of it. Either way, do people even check their requirements before making purchases anymore? If you feel the need to buy a status symbol, I don’t know, buy one of those small, stupid dogs and a handbag.

But, in the end, if you really must have one of these awful, dreadful and pointless motor vehicles then, for god sakes send me a message on Twitter. Make sure that message has your address and I will be around, every morning. To slap you. Hard. Until that need goes away. It’s the least I can do.

This article was first published in the February 2011 edition of The King’s Tribune

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