So, there fades and fizzles 2017, nearly gone. Au revoir and good riddance. What can I remember without cheating by using Google Memories*?
Or without cheating and looking at a back issue of a car magazine? Unaided I can hesitantly say about the only stand-outs are something to do with a Toyota and an Alfa Romeo. AR launched the Stelvio this year** and many suppose it to be quite good. I haven’t seen one yet so I can’t say. I haven’t seen many Giulias either for that matter and it was launched, oh, what, two years ago.
Jaguar released images of the E-Pace and, again, one of those has not appeared anywhere near my district. Or maybe they aren’t on sale yet. Is that news? Or is it a real car? I am not sure***.
I can see as I struggle to write that this article will really deal with the frailty of memory or else the unmemorability of the year’s crop of cars. Or maybe both. It was the year I stopped buying a car magazine which must be both a symptom and a cause of the difficulty.
Cars aren’t the first thing I’ve got out of touch with. First the tide of popular culture left me stranded around 2006; I may just as well live in a village in Sardinia cut off from society’s artistic activities. I really have no idea now about very much general culture.
As an example, I mentioned a popular TV drama, (A Game of Abbeys?) recently and someone told me it had stopped about two years ago. The same goes for cars now which is why I stopped buying the magazines. Or else the magazines stopped being interesting so I stopped buying them. So in 2017 the tide of car culture left me stranded.
Without print media I am left with only a hazy idea of what actually happened (I would really like a printed magazine to make cars interesting again. Being bored is the foyer to extinction, as Barthes wrote).
Driven to Write has some news reporting duties, though. Surely writing about the news will ensure some awareness of it? No, it doesn’t guarantee I’ll be able to recall what I wrote about the launches and car shows any more than the non-news items we turned out. Consider the LA car show, the last one of the year. Was anything interesting launched? No, not off the top of my head. The definition of interesting turns on it being something I can remember. Geneva stands as pretty much a blank too.
If we turn to a review structured by brands, we will of course recall that PSA bought Opel so that’s it for Opel cars as a middle way between VW and Ford. Few here will care so I won’t bang on about it. The new Insignias I see seem extra poignant; whatever about that stupid fake side-glass, it’s a good-looking car and, let’s remember, massively better than any large car PSA has made for a decade.
Ford launched a new Fiesta, including a Vignale version. Did they do anything else this year? Maybe that was 2016 too. No – launched in 2017.
Citroen facelifted the C-Cactus and stripped off the airbumps. While the car amounted to little more than a styling job, the airbumps had a bit of charm to them. Removing them makes me think of, say, taking the heat out of Tabasco for people who hate Tabasco.
Honda? A hyper butch Civic emerged from them though that might have been launched in ’16, if I check. I don’t see any around here except the red or black one pasted with dealer decals so that doesn’t count. Danes aren’t taking to that car and the more I think about the more I dislike it. Civics used to be the thinking person’s quite-good-but-marginally-dull-reliable hatchback, didn’t they? With the new ultra-butch shape Honda intend to put off all the OAPs who go might for their Civics but also have put off everyone else. Maybe Americans will like it. Or maybe OAPs will go for it because it’s still a Honda and seniors can be a lot less afraid of others’ opinions.
Suzuki´s Ignis appeared on the streets, a very humorous, good natured car unlike the Ford KaPlus which has the charm of a paper punch. I saw one last month and can’t imagine why anyone would want a car that is such a black hole for mirth and joy. The Korean car firms used to serve up utterly insipid, half-baked cars for people who cared zero about driving. The KaPlus now serves that market on its own, I am sure. If anyone reading this feels like they might want a KaPlus, go and buy a Suzuki Baleno which is simply a vastly better car, nicer and lovelier than the KaPlus even if it’s not terribly good.
VW? Diesel, still. A Phaeton replacement I haven’t clocked yet.
Mercedes. Thinks. Blank.
BMW. Oh, yes. Something to do with front-wheel drive cars coming soon in the form of the 1-series cars. We’ll look back on this year as the definitive setting in of the rot at the storied Munich brand.
Finally, Toyota launched a new iteration of the Century. That must probably be the other highlight of the year, apart from the Ignis. Even if it’s a shade less austerely formal than the outgoing car it still shows the other want-to-be purveyors of stateliness how it’s done. And it’s done by maxing the quality without draping the whole thing in leather and shiny wood. Mercedes could well compete with the Century if they understood that some people might want a dead plain S-class with cloth seats and no shiny bits. For some reason they refuse to sell a car like this which means that the quiet rich have nowhere to go for usefully good cars. Isn’t that odd?
I will get back with a proper review of the year in due course, for the record. In the meantime, if anyone wishes to chip in with suggestions for the big events of 2017, please fill in the form below and submit it for our review in the normal way.
[* “Google Memories – keeps all your experiences neatly catalogued and ordered, now with brain/BlueTooth link”.
** spy shots were shown in early 2016, for goodness sake.
*** It is a real car. ]