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The air bag: Something for everyone at Geneva, but nothing new

When all is said and done, the majority of new cars are perfectly capable in their own rights, but do little to really advance the cause of motoring.
Everything shines at least under the bright lights in Geneva. EPA
Everything shines at least under the bright lights in Geneva. EPA

Now that the Geneva Motor Show has been and gone, the motoring industry can breathe a sigh of relief that it’s over for another year. But is it? In reality, now the hard work really starts, in rolling out the new and exciting metal and carbon fibre that had everyone frothing at the mouth in the Swiss city. Away from the glaring spotlights, the thumping music, the dry ice machines, the leggy models and the heaving crowds desperate for a look and a selfie in front of the display stands, the real judgement will come to pass once these cars can be seen and driven outdoors, on public roads and compared against their rivals.

Normally it’s then that you realise there’s little to shout about from the rooftops. You realise, when all is said and done, that the majority of new cars are perfectly capable in their own rights but do little to really advance the cause of motoring.

I’m not referring to the upper echelons of supercardom here, but the products coming from the big players. Without the hype, the marketing, the glitz and the glamour, will the next new Mercs, Audis, BMWs, Jags, Land Rovers, Nissans, et al, cause us to stop in our tracks and marvel at significant advancements? I doubt it. There’s nothing really new out there.

The automobile industry has grown out of control in the past couple of decades, with marketing teams doing everything they can to cover every single base in the line-ups of their companies’ products. And as a result, we have reached a critical mass of sorts, where everybody seems to be doing the same thing as everybody else. You only have to look at the latest product from Land Rover to see how insane things have become.

The Range Rover Evoque Convertible is a car that’s lost on me. In its original form it was just right – a fashion accessory that could outperform most others off-road. But to remove its roof is to destroy the one thing that made it such an iconic piece of industrial design, turning it into something awkward with all the visual stimuli of a baby’s pram.

I’m missing the point, though, aren’t I? For Land Rover to develop such a machine in the first place means there’s a market for it and the same can be said of the Volkswagen equivalent unveiled at Geneva: the T-Cross Breeze, which is basically a downsized, two-door Tiguan with a convertible roof. That thing was unveiled as a concept to test the waters of public opinion, although its interior was a triumphant slice of modern design that definitely should see its way into a production car. Cars such as this may not appeal to you or me, they’ll undoubtedly appeal to somebody.

As the satirical motoring website, Sniff Petrol, perfectly pointed out: “A shock new study by this website has revealed that the new Range Rover Evoque convertible does not appeal to people it was not designed to appeal to in the first place. Sniff Petrol studied hundreds of reactions on car forums and comments sections and discovered conclusively that, amazingly, people who quite obviously would have never liked the Evoque convertible do not seem to like it.” I’ll shut up, then.

But my observation that every car company seems to be doing the same thing as the next one remains valid. The only thing that separates automobile brands from one another is the draw of each brand itself – they’re all beginning to look the same and do the same things. We’ve gone way beyond spoiled for choice, and that makes it difficult for me and my peers to single out any particular car as being good or bad these days. Perhaps I should consider reviewing fridge freezers and washing machines instead.

motoring@thenational.ae

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Published: March 17, 2016 04:00 AM

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