What the… what.
What the… what.
The view out of my office window is not a very spectacular one: a few meters of suburbian road. Right in the center is a garage door that someone tagged as “barn” – well, okay.
Almost every evening just around the time my workday ends, an elderly person uses the parking space right in front of my window to slowly back into the barn. All of this is not really worth mentioning, except for the car, a white Renault 5 with old-style license plates. It seems to be in daily use and for that it looks pretty good.
I just watched all 90 minutes of that. Awesome.
Die neuen Autos sind anders. Sie werden, wie vieles zur Zeit, vom Tod her gedacht: Nicht vom möglichen Glück kündet ihre Formensprache, sondern von der Gefahr des Unfalls, des Scheiterns, vom worst case scenario. Der Mini Roadster soll Spaß machen, ja, aber für den Fall, dass er sich überschlägt, hat er zwei verchromte Überrollbügel in Habachtstellung hinter den Kopfstützen stehen; absurde, ständig präsente Skulpturen der Angst. Chromglänzende Mahnungen: Ich mag das Offene, das Abenteuer, sagt das angsthöckerbewehrte Cabrio. Aber nur, solange ich mir keine blutige Nase hole.
Via Neues Autodesign: Das Leben, vom Tode her gedacht, in dem es nur vordergründig um das Automobildesign geht.
The Seat Mii. Did they ask Nintendo about that name? They probably did.
I drive a lot. Roughly 24000km a year. That’s more or less 15000 miles for you anti-metric American people. Most of that I drive on what we Germans call “Autobahn.”
Being a bit of a car guy – not much, but enough to actually know roughly which cars exist and form some uninformed opinion about them. I’m also a bit of an asshole, so I have strong prejudices concerning the personality of the drivers of individual cars. That’s actually not only based on pure prejudice but also on how I personally changed when driving certain cars. I was carefree and fun-loving in my small ’86 Peugeot Convertible. I turned white trash in my (also) ’86 BMW 3-Series convertible – lowered suspension and gold paint job, baby! I felt my sense of entitlement growing whenever I drove a Porsche and when I drive my dad’s Chevrolet Tahoe, I want to drop my children of at school before seducing the gardener and/or feel like shooting some people in an urban setting.
Now that I have that off my chest, here are the three cars that annoy me the most when I see them on the autobahn: (incidentally all of them from German car makers. And yes, all three of them worse than the Porsche Panamera.)
(Thanks, Rudolf Stricker)
Probably the number one douche-indicator car. Audi has already been taken over by completely douchebaggery so these days Audi drivers are either giant MBA douches or nice old middle-class people who already drove an Audi back in the 80s and didn’t get the memo.
And the douchiest Audi of them all is – no, not the A5, thanks for asking – is the Q7. It’s entitlement and an “I am better than you, you stupid hippie” neatly packed in an over-sized uvula-shaped monstrosity on four massive wheels. And don’t get my wrong – I’m not anti-SUV. I love me some ridiculous huge offroad-going vehicles. If I had the money for the gas, I’d drive a fucking Unimog to work every day. I’m just very much anti-Q7.
It’s preposterously ugly, which is a shame, given that Audi is in the business of building pretty cars for rich douches. It’s wrong from every angle. It’s basically like those guys who wear wellingtons with a suit and feel like they’re country men.
(Thanks again, Rudolf Stricker)
I am a big fan of BMW. As said before I drove an old E30 convertible during my army time and for a while at uni and I’m driving an E46 3-Series touring these days. I like the fact that even their most basic model is wonderful to drive, they seem to be well-made and at least those that I experienced were both reliable and very pleasing to the eye.
There are not really many ugly BMWs. The E36 was meh, the current 1-Series has this weird pot-belly line and the 5 GT is just weird, but besides this – nice looking cars, those BMWs.
With one huge1 exception: the X6.
It’s an eyesore. It’s indescribably ugly. Oh boy, there are no words for the hideousness of this thing. I am sure it’s great to drive, it could well be the best handling SUV-type car there is. But holy crap. It’s basically a rolling billboard saying: “I don’t give a shit. I am driving up here in my nice interior, enjoying the view and all of you suckers have to look at this abomination.”
And now you have seen those two and you probably wonder: what car could probably top this? I already ruled out the Panamera, which I actually kind of like. It’s ugly, yeah, but not in a very offensive way. And surprisingly enough, drivers of Porsche usually know how to behave on the Autobahn.2
And the one car that turns me from a nice relaxed happy driver right into being a complete rageguy, is:
(Thanks, Wikipedia person S 400 Hybrid)
Now for those of you who don’t know what a VW Caddy Life is: it’s basically a small delivery truck, based on the VW Golf, converted back to a passenger vehicle minivan thing. Now one might ask: “Doesn’t VW already have a Golf-based minivan?” to which I answer: “Well yes, thanks, one, for asking this insightful and inspiring question. In fact, they do: The Touran.”
I do understand the Touran. It’s a nice practical car for a pretty well defined target group: parents. And it’s perfectly made for them. Basically when I see one, I think: “Oh, how nice! Someone is bringing children into this world!” It’s a car for people who manage to make the right decisions at the right times in their lives. Good for them.
And I actually also understand the Caddy. The one without the rather cynical “Life” added on.3 It’s a small commercial vehicle. People with a proper job like plumbing or electricity or delivering flowers drive a Caddy. It has space in the trunk for tools, you can stick your company logo and name (often in Comic Sans) on the side and everybody is happy.
So what is it about the Caddy Life? Well, I don’t like it because it is deeply cynical. Someone at Volkswagen looked at their little transporter and must have thought: “Well, some people can’t afford a Touran, let’s sell them a crappy parody of it instead.” Which is okay. The Touran is an expensive car. I just looked at the prices and thought: “Holy fuck, for this money, my imaginary children can walk to kindergarten and soccer practice.”4 I’m not bashing people who can’t afford a Touran. I couldn’t afford one at the moment, but there are always ways to not have to buy a Caddy Life. There are plenty of other nice family car options in the budget field. For example second-hand Tourans. Or basically every other minivan from every other car company. There is no reason to buy a Caddy Life. Not one.
And yet there are people who buy it. And my uninformed guess is: they either desperately want to be seen in the same light as Touran owners or they really have given up on life and don’t give a shit anymore. Thing is – the first thing doesn’t work. It might feel like it works, but really, if you drive a Caddy Life, all of the Touran-driving parents of your child’s play dates will gossip behind your back. Get rid of it. Buy another minivan. Seriously, none has the same stigma.5 Go, do it. Now. Or you’ll end up like the second group of people who drive a Caddy Life. Sad, joyless, grey people. Those who just need something on wheels to drive people around and have given up on everything else.
Don’t believe me? Try it. The next time you see someone drive a Caddy Life, try to see their face. See if you can look into their eyes. It’s either young parents who struggle with fitting in or really sad people who look like all joy and fun has left their life. And in some cases it might have been because they drive that car.
I don’t judge either of them. Quite the opposite. But VW’s cynicism in creating that car for those target groups – and don’t tell me they are not exactly aware of those facts, car companies spend millions in market research and marketing – and fueling the fire (or lack there-of) that makes those people’s life already hard – that’s the reason why I don’t like the Caddy Life.
Plus, it’s ugly and often has a sticker “Sören-Benedict on Board” on the back. In pink.
BMW has yet to manage creating a new car that feels as right as their E30 3-Series from the 80s.