Archive for aston martin

Aston Martin Vanquish

Posted in Desirable machines, Upcoming cars with tags , on 20/06/2012 by Alexander

Stylistically, Aston’s new Vanquish is just like every other Aston Martin. Aston are like Audi, their cars are all too similar. But I have to concede that if your cars look this good, then you shouldn’t muck about with designs that might not work.

This Vanquish looks pretty fricking good, with those superb tail-lights, and those indents in the flank. I’m not too keen on side-skirts and front splitters, but this car wears them well.


A question of coupés (1)

Posted in Car conception, Crap cars, Desirable machines, General opinions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 26/01/2011 by Alexander

I’ve been itching to write an entry on coupés for yonks, but I had to make a caveat first. So much so, that this single entry is dedicated to just that: what defines a car as a coupé?

Now, the origins of the term as applied to road vehicles is ancient, dating from horse-drawn carriages, and, like so many other terms (like driving, dashboard and chassis), as you can see for yourselves in the Wikipedia article. But what I’m interested in here is how the term is applied to modern cars, and how I’ll apply the term in this here blog.

To start off, there are certain cars that are called coupé, but actually aren’t really.

  • Two-door hatchbacks (e.g., Fiat Puntos and Audi A3s) – The term ‘two-door hatchback’ says it all. Just because certain greasy-haired thugs like to drive around in them far too fast than they think they can handle and have words like “Sport” and  “GTi” glued onto the back,  that doesn’t confer them the necessary style they need to be considered more than quick city cars.
  • VW Scirocco – Let’s be honest, it’s more of a stunted van than anything else. If anything, I’d say it’s more than the above two-door hatchback designation than a proper coupé.
  • Volvo C30 – Yes, it has a lot of style and is derived from a four-door saloon (S40), but again, it’s closer to the above examples.
  • Porsches, Ferraris and other cars of high-performance ilk – A coupé is all about style and beauty. If what’s under the bonnet and how fast does it go around the Nurburgring is more important than this, it’s a sports car or supercar or whatever.
  • Aston Martins – A grey area. They’re equipped with powerful V8s and V12s, and are meant to go very fast. But they’re not as sharp around tracks as most of their big-engined brethren, and ooze style from every metaphorical pore. Tough one.
  • Japanese sports cars – Take the Mazda MX-6 or the second-generation Nissan 200SX. Or the Datsun Z, for that matter. Are they sports cars or just sport style? Like the Astons, a grey area.  But I’d nudge them towards the sports car section.
  • “Faux-coupés” – I made this term up myself. Just now. With this term, I mean utter automotive crap like the Ford Puma, the Opel/Vauxhall Tigra or the awful Toyota Paseo. No style and no substance.

Coupés are, very basically, style-mobiles. They’re meant to cruise along and make heads turn. It doesn’t matter what’s propelling it, whether it’s a V6 or a 1.6-litre diesel, it’s what  beholders behold that counts. It’s the type of car the driver will slow down to look at him/herself when passing by shop windows, and does it very often for a long time. Having one is like being married to an extremely hot woman. You’ll forgive all the flaws and setbacks every time you just gaze upon the splendour of their looks.

Usually they’re based on a saloon model, and are just prettier, two-door versions of the same car. And the insanity of the thing is that they’re usually more expensive and less practical than their four-door counterparts, yet people still want them. Why? Because, as I’ve tried to press home in the previous paragraph, they look so good. Ask someone and they’ll probably deny it, but driving a good-looking car is incomparable, and I’d venture to say anyone would agree it beats driving a faster yet uglier car.

So that clears that up. Next time I can get on with it and write about specific coupés.

A sports car

Posted in Desirable machines, Driving theory with tags , , , on 31/12/2009 by Alexander

When I’m sometimes watching Top Gear, and seeing those three lark about in insanely expensive two-seaters, I inevitably find myself whimsically thinking that an overpowered sports car, or super car or whatever, would be a lovely thing to have and frolic around in. And just the other day (or night as it were), I dreamt I was driving a flappy-paddle Aston Martin. It was a lovely dream, though most of what I remember was looking at the gear-paddles as I shifted up or down, and not so much the sensation of speed or doing a corner at 200mph.

And so one easily finds oneself on the interweb gazing at pictures of a DB9 or V8 Vantage, and actually trying to realistically visualise being the gushing owner of such a specimen. I imagine 1000 mile cruises across Europe, and stopping for coffee at Monte Carlo, or trying to get the needle onto the top number on the speedometer on a German Autobahn. All very nice, but then the more nagging, everyday thoughts start taking a grip, and it begins to crumble.

I caught some heavy traffic on the way home the other day, and imagined afterwards just how much petrol an Aston or some other V8/10/12 engine would drink down like an Irishman on Shit-Faced Night at a pub. I like low fuel consumption and always have, so a yawning pit that senselessly swallows huge amounts of gasoline is anathema to me.

Perhaps one of the silliest things on Top Gear is how they talk so idiotically about handling and power and top speed and such. No-one buys super cars specifically to go 180mph. They buy them to impress women (or, if you are a woman, turn other women green with envy) and that’s it. You could power a Ferrari with a mouse going round a wheel, and you wouldn’t care less if it kept you in the attention of the ladies. But alas, in the real world, a flashy car won’t exclusively attract six-foot blondes, but most likely yobbos, thugs and nerdy middle-aged men with unkempt facial hair, i.e., those most interested in the type of car you’re driving. And then you’ll have to contend with young delinquents in modded Puntos who come up and nearly touch the back bumper on the motorway because they want to race and show how manly they are.

And picture owning a six-figure car and going out to the shops. Just the stark fear of leaving it out of sight for more than a few minutes will be a constant source of exasperation. And when you come back it’ll have a crowd around it, and nose prints and grubby hands all over the windows. And this isn’t the sort of car you can park on the street in any old spot, and not care if you give the car behind a nudge, or, God forbid, the car behind gives yours a nudge. Imagine if it gets a scratch on it! It’ll ruin the looks and cost probably a million pounds to get repaired.

And I won’t even go into the practicality issues, because if you buy a sports car, you must have already grasped the notion that that’s the last thing on the designers list to worry about.

Yet owning a flashy sports car is (nearly) everyone’s dream. But it sounds like a nightmare.