08 December 2014

Having Your Cake & Eating It Too : Mainstream Cars

Who wouldn't want to have the best of both world's. I hear you ask "In what sense?" Having reliable and exciting motoring in the same car. It seems hard to achieve, but maybe it is getting closer.

In Europe, driving dynamics seem to be the most important thing. In most other places how a car drives is not as important as solid, reliable engineering. It has been elusive to do both as mentioned, but cars are more dependable and they all drive pretty well. So how is the industry shaping up in these matters?

European brands: Stylish, handle well but still a little way to go with dependability. My take: I don't drive like Ayrton Senna so I am not tempted.

Japanese brands: Reputation built on safe motoring, but conservative in looks and driving. My take: Where I would look for a new car.

Can we have it more exciting too, Mr Toyoda?

Chinese brands: By now they could have been giving the car world a shake up, but instead have no impact outside of their home market and some developing nations. Styling has come a long way but substance has been neglected. It takes time and patience, something Chinese car makers need to learn. My take: For now avoid totally.

US brands: They are often not available globally, but those that are have a unique 'in your face' styling that appeals to many. Much better built and can be driven drive around corners now. My take: They still lack some refinement but built to a price.

Korean brands: They have tried to emulate Japan for build quality and use Europe as a standard for styling. Not quite there in either area but overall a good compromise. My take: Now that value for money isn't there anymore, they stand on merit. I personally would look elsewhere, but not by much.

Now what are some stand out brands on various points?

Brand I would like to own: Nissan make good cars with some interesting styling. I've never owned one but it could be the next point of call. My tip: Nissan Qashqai if they are sold where you live.

Nissan nailed it with the Qasqhai. The best all round car IMO

Upcoming brand: Renault was a brand going nowhere for years, but seems to getting things right now. Perhaps their tie-up with Nissan has done wonders, but it was a brand I would have run from but now would look at. My tip: Not quite there yet but getting close.

Should be doing better: Honda has a strong base to build cars people want. In many regions, it is achieving that. In Europe it is failing, badly. It scarcely has any presence there now. It could make better driving cars, but this is corporate conservatism at it's worst. My tip: Buy one if you like safe, sensible cars.

Most over rated brand: The one part of the the next world number one car group, Volkswagen. They are rated as driver's cars and have some good features but they are pretty boring on the styling front and have questionable reliability. My tip: The Passat is an embarrassingly dull car. Buy a Mondeo.

Avoid, avoid, avoid: Anything with a Chinese logo. My tip: They may be cheap and some look OK, but avoid the lot.

In summary: Cars today are generally reliable and nice to drive. They are over complicated too, which is causing some issues with recalls. Having all the bells and whistles reduces dependability. Perhaps a simpler entry level models is a better buy as it will still be a nice place to be, without all the features we may not need anyway breaking down. Save money too. Happy motoring and by doing it as simple as possible hopefully you can enjoy that cake.

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