Wednesday, June 11, 2008
As I said, the rising price of oil is a painful but good thing. One benign outcome is that the Americans are beginning to see sense about their cars. Trucks and SUVs are finally giving way to smaller cars. I suspect the big car/truck mentality is what has held back American car design. While over there, I read a review of a car that said it 'handled like a truck'. This was intended as praise; over here it would be a grave insult. Since my first visit I have been baffled by the dreadful cars they drive. On my latest trip I drove a Chrysler Sebring for three weeks. Supposedly a sporty machine, its suspension was designed by a clown who liked to scare drivers on corners, its gear box was simply ludicrous. For two weeks I had a Toyota Camry which was better but still pretty bad. This points to another oddity of the American car market. The big companies go out of their way to produce bad cars for Americans. Toyotas anywhere else are superb and, in Europe, Ford produces the best car in the world, the Mondeo. But, in America, they both produce junk. Meanwhile, bring a Hummer, a Lincoln Navigator or a Cadillac Escalade over to Europe and they are reviewed with disbelief. These are primitive, third world machines. The few British owners have 'Prat' stamped on their foreheads in letters of fire - or 'footballer'. Europeans seem to understand driving pleasure, which is nothing to do with speed, size or power. Perhaps, now they are turning to smaller, saner cars, the Americans can begin to appreciate this little daily consolation.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 5:00 am