Categorized | Auto Blog

Cars in the Middle of the Road

Cars in the Middle of the Road

Not literally, obviously. That would be dangerous. Yet there are cars that are there, just like the sort of inoffensive music played in elevators, but not really noticeable. Motors that are broadly popular but not really what you’d call avant-garde, either technically or aesthetically.

The problem seems to be that manufacturers – in their quest to shift more product – have to some extent forgotten to make their family cars exciting and great to drive. Remember the original Ford Focus? Now there’s an MOR car if ever there was one and yet it had a driving dynamism that put it way ahead of the competition in the ride and handling department. Sadly, subsequent models have somehow slowly lost that magical ‘something’ as the pursuit of comfort and lifestyle modifications have added weight and lost interest in those performance values, like a lardy athlete.

Make no mistake. The Focus is still a great car. It remains one of the best handling cars in its class and Ford really seems to have cracked that ideal compromise. Nevertheless, the spark seems to have gone out of not just the Focus but also all the similar competition. Certainly, if a driver wants a really shouty car for a true driving experience then Ford oblige with the outstanding ST but otherwise…where’s the fun?

All car makers building for the MOR market are guilty of this whether they are based in Europe or the Far East. There’s no such thing as a bad car anymore and most are reliable, well made and pretty good value. It’s just that car design has changed. No doubt we’d call it progress but those early motor engineers who strived to squeeze out that extra mph and make a car that goes around corners as if it was on rails have been replaced by designers and IT consultants who want to engineer our lifestyle. The magic of motoring has, to a large extent, gone.

What’s needed perhaps is for some enlightened individual to re-think what sort of car we want. Given the amount of restrictions placed on drivers – both good or bad – out and out speed cannot be in the equation, so it comes down to cars that handle well and put a bit of fun back into our driving routine. Some have still got what it takes. The rest are just motoring musak.

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- who has written 474 posts on Motor Blogger.

Geoff is a freelance writer and photographer.

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