The basic luxury

Fancy equipment and new technology is good, right?

We may have a problem. Well, maybe not all of us but a very specific group of people. In fact, it’s only a tiny percentage of the population but I fear that the issue is so grave that it warrants its own set of paragraphs and a jolly good rant.

Obviously the difficulty is car-related and I shall keep you in suspense no further: what car should mature, rich people buy? For the sake of my argument we can discount the super-wealthy and über-old so we are sort of talking about 55 to 70 year old millionaires. Not famous, not swimming in it, just well off.

Quite a few such individuals spring to mind right now – some relatives, the parents of friends, casual acquaintances whose kids have flown the nest and love to visit them at their holiday house for Christmas at the beach. Lovely people, all of them.

Except that most of them drive old or ageing rubbish cars, especially considering the size of their bank accounts and property portfolio.

Old Mercs, ancient Jags, Land-Rovers, boring Polos and rusty Toyotas seem to rule the country club’s parking lot and there’s a very simple explanation for this.

Technology. Not a lack of it, oh no, quite the opposite.

With very few exceptions, most of these kind folk would love to drive the latest Range Rover or S-Class but they’re either frightened or infuriated by them. Too many buttons or screens and a heap of features they never need or want.

Not all of these people are raging technophobes, mind you.

They have heard of (or even use) smartphones, wifi and skype for both business and family. They know what an sms is and how to compose one. What they don’t know is how to switch off the heads-up display or where the bloody ignition slot is.

See where am going with this? Think of a parent or grandparent who manages the basic functions of a mobile phone and needs help when the wifi router crashes. Nothing wrong with that, but can you imagine their state when the car’s climate control spools to full blast on a hot day?

I can, because I have witnessed it. You and I may take climate control for granted, perhaps even crave it, but Gran isn’t used to it, doesn’t like it and certainly won’t buy a car fitted with it. That’s right, Land-Rover and Mercedes-Benz, this dignified old lady drives a Polo because it’s simple.

You don’t get an S-Class or Range Rover without climate control. You don’t get a new BMW with two knobs – one for temperature and one for fan speed. You only get these cars with a touch-sensitive multi-contour interface and twin six foot three TFT 4K monitors.

Well, that is not what Granny wants because it will take her forever to do a simple task. The same goes for the radio and those ghastly systems which beep and flash lights at her.

Granddad agrees, which is why he bought his loving wife a top-of-the-line Polo. No climate control, no colour monitor.

Sure, the new Range Rover is flying out the showroom doors and into the eager hands of ministers, rock stars, trophy wives and drug dealers but the new models are so bewilderingly complex that their original fan base, the landed gentry, have long moved on to other pastures.

In all probability, these will have the shape of various motorcars a few generations back because they’re uncomplicated and hardy. “No computer nonsense to go wrong” is a phrase I have often heard to describe cars of such ilk.

Is this a fear of the unknown or simply resistance to change? Not necessarily. If all you wanted was a charming 3-bedroom cottage in the countryside and an estate agent shows you a penthouse on the harbour’s edge, you’d also get a bit grumpy.

House. Three rooms. Countryside. Not poser’s pad.

I realise it may not be as simple as reverse-engineering the flashiest models in your stable but surely a wee survey or two could help with such decisions?

Who knows, perhaps you’ll even catch a few chauffeurs, journalists and drug dealers who’ll delight in finally figuring out where to turn down the volume…

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