Jethro Bovingdon

CAN A CAR BE EVIL?

Jethro Bovingdon

CAN A CAR BE EVIL? I donít mean in the Ďevil handlingí sense. In fact, cars that invite you to walk on a knife-edge arenít really evil at all. Scary? At times. But hugely satisfying when you find the sweet spot. Thatís why cars like the Lancia Stratos, Porsche 911 GT2 and even some Maseratis are revered as much as theyíre feared. No, by Ďevilí I guess I mean... awful, the embodiment of something disturbing and tragic.

ďI CANíT HELP FEELING THAT THIS ĎSELL NOW, APOLOGISE LATERí REASONING WILL BE THE UNDOING OF THE CAR INDUSTRYĒ

How about the Range Rover Sport? Not the latest one. Oh, sure, itís tasteless and vulgar, but somehow itís not as offensive as the first one that was launched in Vesuvius Orange for max impact/offence. Adopted by the stupid, angry and vain, it became The Most Aggressively Driven Vehicle the world over. Usually fitted with that awful body kit and square exhaust pipe finishers, it was a hateful car that wasnít even any good to drive, despite some reports.

The root of the Sportís evil is it contributed so strongly to a disease that has crept through the whole car industry. It was a car of the moment. Seduced by the promise of sporty dynamics and the ability to convey just how rich and wonderful an owner must be, people clamoured to own one. Cars like the Sport and the BMW X6 are the vacuous, look-at-my-fabulous-life Instagram selfies of the car world.

Who cares? Well, we all should. Not only are the Sport and cars like it motoringís equivalent of big Vesuvius Orange Louis Vuitton handbags, they also speak volumes about a car industry sticking its head in the sand while hastening the demise of the internal-combustion engine - and maybe even the car as we know it.

In a world concerned with sustainability and climate change, SUVs - especially the biggest, most horribly modified - might as well have had hi-vis targets painted onto their body-kitted flanks. The industry didnít care and was doing nothing to change things.

The reality is that they do care and have been cleaning up their act with spectacular results, but while engine tech has become cleaner and cleverer in leaps and bounds, the obsession with owning big, boxy SUVs to look wealthy or important has caused an upward spiral in size and weight. Cars like the Sport sell brilliantly and are big profit drivers, so itís been the easy option. But I canít help feeling that this Ďsell now, apologise laterí reasoning will be the undoing of the car industry.

Already there are calls in the UK for the government to bring forward the ban of petrol and diesel car sales to 2032. Thatís 13 years from now. Remember that Eric Prydz song, Call on Me? The one with that video. Seems like only yesterday that it was playing on the radio every five minutes. It was number two in 2004. Fifteen years isnít very long. And if petrol and diesel cars are banned from sale so soon, then what happens to classics? Maybe there will be a special dispensation for Ďvintageí cars. Letís say those built up until 1975, maybe 1980. Perhaps the most efficient and modern cars - those built after 2025 - will have a few years of grace, too. But our definition of modern classics?

Deemed not historically important enough to warrant special treatment or clean enough to mingle with autonomous boxes, they could be outlawed, wiped from our roads and doomed to sit in garages.

It would be wrong to blame this entirely on the Range Rover Sport, not least because I have to reserve some hatred for the Nissan Qashqai, surely the most evil of all cars. But god I hate Rangey Sports and X6s, the Urus and Bentayga, and the f***ing Qashqai.