Thursday, 20 August 2009


I had something of a Damascean moment the other day.

Or maybe its (another) middle aged crisis.

In any event, my recent experiences driving modern cars have brought it into sharp focus, but the more I think on it, the more I'm convinced. Here it is: for driving pleasure, car design peaked a few years ago.

That's it folks, things aren't getting better, they are getting worse, so enjoy things now, while you can.

Influence of the health & safety and the eco lobbies, the massive addition of electronics, plus financial pressures mean cheap, dumbed down solutions are now the norm. For the last 15 or 20 years, mainstream manufacturers have been headed up a development blind alley. Purity and integrity of response ("It does what you want it to") and anability to reward effort and skill have gone, and been replaced by, in no particular order:

- Massive weight gain, to the point where a small car weighs 1400kgs and a 'luxury' off roader 2600kgs
- Built in ‘flywheel’ lag for emission and usability reasons
- Drive by wire throttles engineered with artificial engine response and initial lag
- Brake+gas cut-offs to make left foot braking impossible
- Over-servoed brakes which make heel and toing almost impossible
- Over-assisted, lifeless electronic steering systems, utterly lacking in feel
- Massive ‘A’ pillars producing equaly massive blindspots
- Huge road wheels and ultra low profile tyres tuned for ultimate grip (and cosmetics) over steering delicacy and a compliant ride
- Granite hard suspensions tuned for the Nurburging Ring that make the rutted B2141 to Petersfield a nightmare
- ASC systems which cut power immediately at the slightest hint of wheelspin
- Automatic transmission systems that change gear better than a numpty, but worse than anyone who cares about their driving

So the next SS7 addition to the fleet will be built no later than 2001.


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