Do cars actually have any ‘character’ anymore?

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I like cars, always have, I subscribe to Car magazine and like to follow what happens in the industry. As a kid we always went to the motorshow in London at Earls Court and at that time I could (and still can) tell you the difference between Austins, Morris’s, Triumphs etc. Although many of the cars were even in those days ‘badge engineered’ they still seemed to have character – although that may just be another word for unreliable!

Nowadays I don’t have the time (or inclination) to keep so up to date with car models, but I do know who owns who and what models are based on what other car (sad I know).

It’s a Seat – you can tell by the badge.

So when we collected our hire car at the airport this week and it was a Seat Ibiza SW I knew it was based on the VW Polo – so should be good. And it is, infact it is an excellent car – refined, well equipped, comfortable and really good to drive – so what is my problem?

Well, firstly why would anyone buy a Polo? This car is as good, it’s better equipped and cheaper. To me it’s a no brainer.

But, and here is the issue as I see it, if you blindfolded someone and drove them in this car or the Polo I doubt they would be able to tell them apart. Some would say that is good, it shows all cars are now good – and I agree that it is almost impossible to buy ‘a bad’ car these days.

But if you are spending serious money on a car (and they are not cheap) then do you not want something special? If you are looking at serious cars – Ferrari or Porsche or Lamborghini they look different, but, and this is a big but, they have very different character in the way they drive, sound and even feel.

It appears that cars for the masses have lost this and I for one think that is sad!


4 thoughts on “Do cars actually have any ‘character’ anymore?

    Richard Baker said:
    August 18, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Good point, Simon. But I’m not sure even big cars have escaped badge engineering – look at Rolls and Bentley. The underpinnings of the ‘smaller’ Roller share platform architecture with a BMW, and I’m pretty sure its V12 isn’t a million miles from something a 7-series uses. As for Bentley, there’s some talk they might build an uber 4×4 – sharing tech with a new version of the Audi Q7. As for character in the past – it’s certainly what kept the AA man busy in years gone by…

      Simon Dare responded:
      August 18, 2011 at 9:27 pm

      And wasn’t the big VW Phaeton a Bentley in drag as well?

    sartenada said:
    August 18, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I find Vauxhall / Opel cars “different” from those which are made in “Far East”. Nearly all of them are so similar looking.

    In my family we have two Opel Vectras that means “old” models. The newest Opel / Vauxhall Insignia are looking different. There was a big change of model from Vectra to Insignia.

    Although my Opel Vectra 2.8.V6 turbo OPC is 4,5 years old it is still “fresh looking”; well, so I think.

    Happy Blogging!

    The end of Saab cars? « Simon Dare's Blog said:
    September 9, 2011 at 9:34 am

    […] blogged recently about how ‘bland’ our cars are getting – they all feel and drive the same. Saab were a breath of fresh air in this respect and did things […]

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