Matt Prior: so many options, so little imagination


Aston Martin Vantage

Aston is adept at helping customers with colour choices

This week, Matt Prior discusses the issue of having too many options when buying your new car

Imagine having all the choice in the world, and not knowing what to do with it: a car park with only empty spaces, a menu with a million items. Or, perhaps, a car you can have in any colour.

This prospect, apparently, gives some supercar/hypercar/luxury car owners problems. I know. Dry your eyes.

This ‘having millions of quid to spank on cars and no imagination to do it with’ is behind the ‘themes’ you might or might not have seen some expensive car makers produce.

Aston Martin is particularly adept at creating them, with its race-inspired ones. It utilises various main colours with contrasting highlights, like the green with a bright yellow bit, the same as its endurance racers.

I always thought this was because said manufacturers just wanted to show off a bit. Y’know: we won some races, with these sponsors, and thought we’d like to shout about it. But, after a conversation the other day with a creator of some of these themes, it turns out that it’s not entirely for manufacturer benefit, after all. Some people just don’t have a clue what to do when they arrive to spec their cars. The theme guides them down a path towards actually making a decision, or one that isn’t criminally distasteful.

Who knew? So, nice idea, but not for me. When my ship comes in, I’ll want a dark blue one. And while it’s being painted, I’ll be driving another car around, terminally uncertain where to park.

I remember the Audi A2, the aluminium-structured small car of 2000? What a cool car, compact and agile, and incredibly light, which gave it exceptional fuel economy. And, sure, it had a few foibles, such as an overly hard ride and pillars so wide that you couldn’t see out of the darned thing, but those issues don’t seem to matter so much now. Such was the price of great economy and using advanced materials, right?

I suppose ‘ahead of its time’ is the accepted cliché to describe a car like the A2. Audi didn’t sell very many of them, because when a car is small and clever, it seems it’s hard to make much money out of them. See also: the first Mercedes-Benz A-Class and the Smart CityCoupé.

So it was sad but not a tremendous surprise when Audi opted not to replace it but go about its business making consistently predictable swish hatchbacks and saloons instead. Aggressive headlight designs, posh-feeling interiors. All very desirable, in a Bicester Village kinda way.

Still, I always get a little buzz when I see an A2 today, because in a world of cars with widening waistlines, and as car makers battle to keep the kilograms off of small cars, A2s mooch around looking more fit for purpose than ever. With a little tweak here and there, it looks like it could have been launched last week.

What a shame, then, I thought, as I watched one drive past a window the other day, that it never got a proper successor. Then, by chance, a BMW i3 trickled past. And I realised, for the first time, that it did.

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Source:: Autocar