The iffy planning

It’s very easy to sit in the comfort of my home and criticise car manufacturers for what I perceive to be wrong directions in their product planning – so I shall. Here are a few companies who’ve strayed onto a path which I deem to be a tad iffy.

Honda

I used to be a huge Honda fan. Not of their safety or luxury specifications (which were shocking) but of those banshee-under-the-bonnet VTEC engines the Japanese manufacturer used to build. Used to. The current line-up is as exciting as a senior’s bridge tournament.



Gone are the days when even “normal” Hondas would have a rev counter where the digit seven was still marked in white, the red zone further beyond that and the needle happily approaching eight before the eager motor started cutting out.

Type-R’s breached 8,000rpm in a cloud of metallic shrieking and induction howls while the legendary S2000 could spin way, way higher than the point at which your passenger screamed “Shift! SHI-HIFT!!! YOU’RE GONNA BREAK THE ENGINE…” Which you wouldn’t.

Nowadays, Honda’s barely manage 7,000rpm and I have a sneaky suspicion that the engines which do will soon be no more. “Green Earth Dreams” and all that do-goody nonsense will make sure of it. On top of all that, the new Type-R has a *gasp* turbo and can’t do 8,000rpm anymore.

Dear Honda execs, local and international. Please continue with your Green Dreams if you wish but have a good look at the VTEC and Honda clubs, forums and groups around the globe to see what they want. Revs, noise, revs and some more revs.

Yes, turbos are jolly nice at higher altitudes and they make lovely power but they also bring higher costs and maintenance with them. And shame on you for taking the easy way out! Hondas used to make high power and high revs through exquisite engineering; now they’re just another jap with a turbo.

You’ve spent decades being mocked for being the pensioner’s choice – and now that fact seems more inescapable than ever before.


Hyundai & Kia

Hey Korean peeps. You haven’t done much wrong, on the contrary, you’re definitely on the up with those funky new cars. You could invest some effort into more efficient and powerful engines but that could drive prices up too high and you don’t want that.

You really don’t. People are buying your cars ‘cause they look good and don’t cost too much. So this is more of a warning than a hiding: don’t fall into the same trap as most of your competitors by trying to build Volkswagens or Audis with matching prices.

We already have Volkswagens and Audis.


Mercedes-Benz

The world’s oldest and one of its most esteemed vehicle manufacturers has recently gone all modern with its passenger cars to shed that dusty image of “old man’s cars”. This is understandable and quite brave, except that they’ve forgotten something: the old men of the world.

Did you really want to alienate your most loyal customer base? Do you think Mr double barrel surname company owner is going to buy the GLA? And while you’ve played it relatively safe with the new S and C-Class, they’re still a bit loud when compared to previous versions.

The E-Class before its facelift was the last boring, decent, respectable Mercedes for boring, decent, respectable people. I bet they’re all driving their old Mercs past the Benz dealership and trading it in for a model from the next company…


Audi

That’s right, Audi. I think you’re boring and respectable. We all know that one of your top designers upped sticks and works for the Koreans now but surely you didn’t have to photocopy all of his designs for your entire range?

Your parents Volkswagen are also guilty of this but not to the extent that y’all are. Should a factory spit out A3’s, A4’s, A5’s, A6’s, A7’s and A8’s from the same line, could any of you actually tell them apart? Without seeing their flanks or bums, I highly doubt anybody could.

Brand conformity is all good and well but it doesn’t bode well for aspirational buyers. Why should I buy an A7 when my A3’s face is almost identical?


Who else?

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