If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, then Rover Group should have been mightily chuffed when Honda launched the CR-V in October 1995. The new soft-roader was uncannily similar to the Land Rover Freelander in conception, dimensions and even appearance. Those of you with a better memory than I will be quick to point out that the Freelander was not launched until October 1997, so how can the former possibly be an imitation of the latter?
Well, the story goes that during the characteristically tortuous and protracted development of the Land-Rover, which began in the late 1980s following the launch of the Discovery, Honda, as a 20% shareholder in Rover Group, had access to the company’s future model programme and immediately saw the potential of what would eventually become the Freelander(1). Because Honda was so much better focused and swifter in its development activities, the Japanese ‘Freelander’ beat its British counterpart to market by a full two years.
The Derek Zoolander of CUV’s? We consider the Evoque.
In product marketing terms, the concept of a compact luxury car, while appealing on paper, has largely proven a tough sell on the field of play. Buyers had an annoying habit of equating luxury with scale and visual heft, the perception being that smaller cars were cheaper cars. For strategic planners in the early years of the current century, such nostrums were increasingly being challenged in the face of evolving regulation and buying habits, but a nagging uncertainty remained – carmakers never having made a fortune by asking customers to Continue reading “Outdoor Couture”
Reassessing the familiar and seemingly unremarkable under cover of darkness.
There is something deliciously atmospheric about walking through a familiar landscape late at night. The normally bustling streets are silent, the lighting casts interesting reflections and even the mundane can become suffused with mystery and wonder.
I have walked past this particular Freelander innumerable times about my daily business and apart from the fact that it appears to be remarkably well-preserved for an eleven year old vehicle in this part of our perpetually rain-sodden isle, I have never really cast it a second glance. Yet parked against the backdrop of the apartment block’s fluorescent walkways, with the sodium glow of the streetlights casting warmer pinkish tones upon its paintwork, the architectural qualities of the Land-Rover’s design stopped me in my tracks. The scene simply begged to Continue reading “Everything Merges With the Night”
Continuing DTW’s meta retrospective, we dial the time machine back to 1997.
1997 was an eventful year (weren’t they all?) which in a series of reversals for establishment-Britain saw the Chinese regain control over Hong Kong, and the dominant Conservative party lose power domestically following an 18-year run. In Paris that autumn, Princess Diana died in a car accident, the Hale-Bopp comet had its initial sighting, and oh yes, the Titanic sank again.