New Year’s wish list: What I’d like to see the auto industry deliver in 2013
By David Menzies for MSN Autos
At the stroke of midnight, it will be 2013. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: two-thousand-and-freaking-thirteen! Aren’t we all supposed to be getting around town via flying cars by now a la The Jetsons? (Then again, given the daily automotive lunacy on terra firma, do we really want these people to be flying their own conveyances?)
In any event, here’s what I’d like to see the auto industry deliver sometime in Lucky ’13:
A Return to Paradise by the Dashboard Light: Which is to say, enough with those annoying and unnecessary complicated “driver interfaces” that are so frequently found occupying the centre console of luxury automobiles. BMW was first out of the gate with iDrive more than a decade ago, and my enduring memory of the first generation iDrive interface was driving more than 50 km before finally figuring out how to access the bloody AM radio. No, I’m not joking. The point is, I know of no driving enthusiast or automotive journalist who does not despise iDrive and the various iDrive-like wannabes found in Mercedes, Audi, etc. Call me old school, but I want nice big simplistic knobs to operate controls ranging from the stereo to the heater, not a glorified computer mouse that is dangerously distracting. Can we kindly return to the engineering days of less-is-more? Pretty please?
Less electric, more diesel: Despite advances in battery technology, the price-points of electric vehicles continue to generate sticker shock... which is ultimately why e-cars are selling about as well as itching powder at nudist resorts. So how about the various automakers start giving mileage-conscious North Americans the same sort of diesel cars our European cousins can readily purchase? Diesel means superior fuel economy and more torque, all wrapped up in an affordable package using tried and true technology. What’s not to love? Yes, there are signs of hope out there (for example, one can now finally buy the diesel version of the Porsche Cayenne here.) But there’s so many other diesel variants out there – let’s hope more show up in these parts in the months ahead.
The Name Game: I know this is a losing battle, but can the auto industry please return to the practice of giving cars actual names as opposed to alphanumeric gibberish? From A1 to Z4, enough is enough. And kudos to those automakers that are either resurrecting names from the past (i.e., Chrysler with the likes of Charger, Challenger, and Dart) or are fabricating new names (i.e., Hyundai with Veloster.) Put another way, nobody’s ever going to compose a song about a car called the Acura ILX.
Mustang: The Next Generation: Here’s hoping that the leaked illustrations regarding the upcoming all-new Mustang aren’t accurate. Sure, the new body is sleek as can be... but the Mustang design team seems to be playing down the car’s masculinity (similar to the current generation Chrysler 300 – I’ll take the pre-2011 body style of this sedan any day.) Ford will sell a ton of cars with anything bearing the Mustang nameplate but if those leaked illustrations are to be believed, the 2015 Mustang looks more like what the Ford Probe would’ve looked like had it lasted this long (and that’s not a good thing.)
Enough with the Automotive Fifty Shades of Grey Already: Yes, those grey- and silver-hued Audis and Porsches from the early ’90s looked so futuristic. But two decades later, even minivans come in silver. Silver and grey are just so overdone. Let’s pray for a return of the vibrant greens and golds and oranges and teals that predominated during the muscle car era because grey and silver are just downright blah and boring.