The Editor mulls it over with a decent sherry.
We’ve reached the end of a very strange year, in which conventions and expectations have been hugely shaken. In comparison, the world of the motor car seems to have been bumbling along. Unlike a few years ago, when even giants like GM seemed ready to topple never to rise, this year has been relatively uneventful. So much so that one might wonder if the industry ever learns from its lessons. In some circles Toyota’s treatment of its Prius hybrid has raised eyebrows, and there have been discreet coughs in the Member’s Lounge regarding the new Discovery’s suitability on the grouse moor.
Otherwise Jaguar, who surprised us last year by producing an XF that did not seem to progress their range another seven years, surprised us again by upstaging their more popular competitors with what seems to be a perfectly credible EV. Generally though we, sitting in our ivory tower at DTW, remain bemused at the profligacy of unremarkable metal that is paraded before us by eager PR departments. Why do they bother? Despite a hiccup a few years ago with its exciting i3 and i8, most of BMW’s output seems stultifying to my eyes and VAG fiddle with variants on themes. France continues to disappoint – I think the only hope is a ban on the sale of German motor magazines in that land, though the new Citroen C3 is not as hopeless as the one that went before and, like Mercedes, Peugeots are not as ugly as they were. RenaultSport have finally tweaked the rear-engined Twingo, but the fact that it only calls itself the GT suggests it might not be a 911 on the cheap, or even a pricier Whizzkid. In Italy Alfa Romeo seemed to have done as well by the Giulia name as one could realistically have hoped they would, but then debased its styling themes in bloated parody on the inevitable SUV. Japan, for many years no longer the arriviste but now the elder statesman of the Eastern industry seems, generally, to have a crisis of identity. In the new markets, Geely gave us Lynk & Co and whether or not we understand its reason at DTW will be of no concern to its intended demographic. And autonomy looms ever closer. My apologies, I could go on with a less arbitrary review, but it’s now late in the evening and I am losing any enthusiasm I might have pretended to have.
So desperate am I for fresh news that I must resort to the world of exotica. Respected though the Bristol name is on these pages, it would seem inappropriate to dub them exotic, but after an age there was finally sign of a pulse with the amusing, though hardly serious, Bullet. In a wave of 50s nostalgia, backed with the fact that modern production technology probably allows them to make decent money from such things, both Aston Martin and Jaguar are exploiting their heritage by building some new DB4s and XJSSs. And McLaren are apparently going to bring back the central seating arrangement of the F1 in a new supercar, which is heartening news, both to purists and wealthy ménages à trois everywhere.
The only manufacturer that caused a major sensation this year was, of course, Lancia who surprised us all with a four strong range roll-out of elegantly styled, beautifully engineered cars with radical hybrid drivetrains. Borrowing no parts from their lesser Fiat brethren, and with respectable performance, cosseting rides and fine interiors they were universally hailed by the motoring press as the first credible cars for the next decade. As a result the company finds itself embarrassed at the year’s end with a hugely overfull order book and is reportedly negotiating with either Mercedes or BMW to lease some of their spare production capacity.
That is far from the biggest lie I’ve heard this year. We thank all our regular readers for their attendance and support and look forward to welcoming you back at DTW next year.