So, it seems that we are becoming a nation of sensible car owners. Well, sensible-ish, anyway.
When I say sensible cars, I’m not talking about the sort of cars that get you from a-b; the sort that are boring to look at and boring to drive.
The “new” sensible car
I’m talking sensible as in practical. Economical. Good all-rounders.
Judging from sales figures, going down in favour at quite a rate are the traditional D-Sector family saloon cars – they are being replaced with compact MPVs, Superminis that can accommodate a football team, interesting family “Crossovers” and compact SUVs (the latter are often without a 4WD in sight). These sectors are now hotly contested by manufacturers and competition is fierce.
If a car doesn’t boast super-storage options, low emissions, a “useful shaped” (as well as decent sized) boot, a high drive height, good visibility and folding – and sometimes even sliding – seats, it just doesn’t cut the mustard.
In addition, the CO2 contest is well underway with many new cars aiming for around the 100g/km CO2 mark which helps when it comes to making savings on road tax, benefit in kind tax (if you are a company car driver) and London Congestion Charge exemption.
Fuel economies have never been so frugal – some regular engines are doing more miles to the gallon than certain hybrids.
And in general, the trend for “budget brands” is growing. Even though depreciation may well hit them a little harder, it is a fact that the cheaper the car is, the less you often stand to lose.
Consequences of the rise of the sensible car…
So, I ask you, is this good thing? Is this trend set to continue and if it does, how will it leave the fuel-thirsty sports car enthusiast? Will it become as politically incorrect to drive a totally impractical sports car? Will sports car enthusiasts be looked at in the same way as large SUV drivers and not let out of the traffic? How far can this movement go?
Yes, sometimes it can be seen that driving a hugely ostentatious car is an unnecessary display of wealth but to the person who is driving it, they do not see it in the same way. They work hard to afford it more often than not, so why not? Petrol-heads will always exist and that is that – if you feel the need for speed, then that is how it is.
On the other hand, snobbery from the large engine side of the fence is also rife. I have heard it said a few times that MPV drivers are people who have lost their motoring will to live; why not, if you need a practical family car, buy an estate car, for example?
I’ll tell you why. It is all getting back to my initial piece for http://simonscarspots.com (Vive La Difference) – everyone’s needs are different. If someone has a large people carrier then it is probably because they need one; if someone has a sports car then it is probably because they can.
Let’s not forget those amongst us who appreciate the rarer vehicles out there that are not as new –more “vintage” cars certainly aren’t likely to be very kind to the environment. Their sheer personalities make them still worthy of a place on our roads and I take my hat off to anyone who has the time, patience and indeed, money to keep one going.
Keeping motoring fun
So, getting back to the point in question: is the rise of the sensible car going to cause problems? Will people become so obsessed with practicality and economy that they could forget that cars can actually be fun?
Of course not. The more manufacturers raise the bar and give the buying public what they want, the better, in my opinion. The more money we can save on our everyday driving, the better. It will hopefully leave more money in the coffers to spend on our hobbies.
Families work so hard nowadays and let’s face it, if you are reading this, you are likely to be a car enthusiast (like me). So cars are our hobby. It sounds legitimate enough to me, anyway.
And anyway, there’s no reason that you can’t have a ridiculously fuel-thirsty and totally unpractical car for weekends – or for driving on the days when you fancy a blast.
So if – like many of us – you join the sensible car army, don’t stress about it. You haven’t become a traitor to your cause. You’re just helping out the wider cause which is to save money and get the best value possible from your everyday motoring.
Continue to do up and build cars in your garage; continue to snap some great car spots. Have fun with it all in your own time because sensible cars are here to stay.
And that’s definitely not a bad thing.