15 Cars Which Sounded Way More Futuristic/Cooler Than They Turned Out to Be
I don’t know about you, but to my way of thinking 2019 sounds REALLY futuristic. Not quite Blade Runner or Ready Player One futuristic, yet a little more so than Hill Valley circa 2015. Which incidentally was the best thing on TV on New Year’s Eve, and inspired the greatest remark my dad has ever been quoted as saying. While sat watching Marty and Doc Brown attempt to escape the quarrelsome Libyans who the latter had stolen a casement of plutonium from, my dad observed that the DeLorean looked – and wait for it – “ahead of its time”.
Hard to argue against that though, as the DeLorean to end all DeLoreans did have a particularly futuristic aesthetic; helped largely by its all-aluminium tub and time-travelling paraphernalia which congregated towards the rear of the Northern Ireland-manufactured sports coupe. And again, even the title (the DeLorean DMC-12) conjured up mental images of shiny, neon-lit future-y stuff.
In the event, the DMC-12 in non-Robert Zemeckis-imagined form and function was about as future-proof as a Betamax video recorder, while its ‘sporty’ pretentions were also a tad ambitious when push came to shove. All of which made me think. What cars of the past few years sounded way more futuristic and/or cooler/faster than they actually turned out to be? There’s definitely a few, right? And for every Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution out there, there’s a Mitsubishi Colt Space Star.
My mission was to source makes and models of terrestrially-existing cars that went that extra mile to project illusions of Hyundai Grandeur. The type which somewhat predictably resulted in car manufacturer’s marketing folk writing cheques which could never be cashed; not even in their wildest dreams.
Monikers which constructed visions in our collective mind’s eyes of 24th Century tech, thanks to names lifted straight out of the very best graphic novels of the 1950s. Where you'd be forgiven for imaging that the intergalactic-sounding Signum was something slightly more pulse-quickening than a short-lived Vauxhall hatchback.
So what now follows is a brief run-down of cars with names which would hypnotise your average 9-year old with a serious car addiction; yet deliver Kia Soul-crushing realities in the disappointing metal.
Neo certainly wouldn’t gravity-defyingly dodge a bullet (in slow motion or otherwise) for this particular Matrix. Rather, he’d take one full in the face to rid himself of the sight he’d been greeted with, I’d have thought. Essentially the Matrix is what a handsome Fiat Multipla would look like, if it had been recreated by a 4-year old with Duplo bricks and a stash of sugary treats.
Mitsubishi Colt Space Star
Looking as flimsy and as desirable as something legendary B-movie director, Ed Wood would envisage, the Space Star was way more Plan 9 from Outer Space than Star Trek the Next Generation. And not an image that anyone would wish to cling on to for very long.
If there’s one car that should never be illuminated by the misjudged presence of neon lights, then that car is the Chrysler Neon. This is one supposed light which should have remained firmly hidden beneath Chrysler’s bushel; and was about as forward-thinking as one of Sir Alan Sugar’s Amstrad answerphone-cum-coffee percolators from the 1980s.
Citroën C5 Aircross
Maybe it’s just me, but the word ‘aircross’ sounds similar to ‘air hockey’. And the game of air hockey sees (in theory at least) those plastic counters seemingly float above the playing surface in what mocks suspended animation; like a speed racer from Star Wars, if you will. And then there’s Citroen’s version, interpreted by the C5 model. Which is a run-of-the-mill SUV crossover with a serious paunch. Like South Park’s Cartman approaching middle age. And that vision is neither aspirational or out of this world.
Remember that time Top Gear attempted to launch a Robin Reliant into orbit? Yeah, well that project looked a lot more futuristic and NASA-influenced than the Daewoo Nubira. Which despite having titled connotations of distant planets which are ever-evolving in solar systems light years from our own, is basically a version of a Ford Orion re-minagined for the 18th Century. Perversely the engineering was carried out (and overseen) by former Porsche/future Aston Martin engineer, Ulrich Bez. When it looks more like it’s the fevered renderings of his more dazed and confused Happy Mondays’ namesake, truth be told.
Yonder Reality Vehicle? YouTube Research Vehicle? Yuri Rhapsody Vehicle? Yugen Revolution Vehicle? Any of these would work, and make you visualise a cool, future-spec mode of personal transport. But, no. The Daihatsu was actually called the Young Recreational Vehicle. Which is light years away from any thoughts of space-exploration and instead makes it sound like a mobile youth centre. And about as appealing as visiting such a premises.
Put it this way. Drivers won’t be reporting any hyperdrive after experiencing the Veloster. Or any car envy, for that matter. Admittedly, the Veloster manages to physically appear as though it belongs in the 21st Century, however things soon go a bit Isambard Kingdom Brunel once you scratch the surface; and the reality dawns that it doesn’t exactly share its dashboard with the Starship Enterprise. Plus, after you’ve repeated the word Veloster a few times, it begins to sound more like a Victorian bicycle than a warp speed-capable. Dimension-straddling capsule.
I’m not entirely sure at which point describing a car via a serious of random keys found on your QWERTY keyboard was considered futuristic, but trust me when I say that whoever had this idea should have their caps locked. Permanently. For running with what is the automotive equivalent of an error 404. Famously mocked by the dark overlord, Clarkson himself, the ‘C’ apostrophe ‘D’ doesn’t fair any more advantageously in the future department either. Not that it’s a bad looking hatch. Simply that it doesn’t live up to its hyperbolic name.
While the MG Z-T would afford players a fairly decent haul of Scrabble points, any classic board games advantages gained over other homosapians with a driving licence would both begin and end there. Designed by Rover’s G-Sport Division (the G standing for Geriatric), the Z-T is an alternatively badged Rover 75 with ideas above its station. And when I say station, I don’t mean the ISS. But more a disused railway station discovered on the old Settle to Carlisle railway line.
Inspired by Blue Peter’s take on Tracy Island, Perodua designers set about instilling the same levels of dynamism to its Myvi hatchback programme back in 2006. And successfully created a small compact car which managed to make the Hyundai i10 look like something from Tomorrow’s World. The long-running BBC programme, circa 1987, that is.
Proton Satria Neo
Sounding more like a character from the iconic Streetfighter arcade game than a car, the Proton Satria Neo is a plucky little upstart fighting its ground in the small hatchback weight. That said, it would easily get its head flushed down the toilet by just about any of the other characters. Even Makoto would kick Proton Satria Neo’s bubble butt in a joystick-frenetic head-to-head.
The most unrealistic name-calling ever, G-Wiz is the very last phrase that would enter anyone’s mind after stepping out of the driver’s seat of this limp chariot; designed for people with a very low opinion of themselves and whose street cred is typically classified/illustrated in coloured shell suit icons. And subsequently receiving the full hit of 10 purple-coloured monstrosities in recognition of services to naffness.
Skoda Rapid Spaceback
Another car manufacturer which believed that by merely adding the word ‘space’ somewhere on the boot lid, would afford one of its models a phroar factor and give it some suburban cul-de-sac driveway kudos. Unfortunately that manufacturer was Skoda; and the model being the less-than-Space-Shuttle-influenced, Rapid. Which needed reporting to Trading Standards on both counts.
Not entirely sure if this name was created in homage to a traditional Mexican Lucha Libre wrestler, but it would make a little more sense if it materialised it had. One thing isn’t up for debate however. And that’s the Kizashi, while sounding futuristic, visibly isn’t. And that anyone found guilty of owning one should be forcibly made to wear a pair of brightly coloured tights with eyeholes over their heads for the rest of their driving days.
I can’t imagine anything less space age than any Vauxhall made in the last three decades. So quite what Vauxhall were thinking when they decided to christen its slightly stretched hatchback with the name, Signum would baffle even Freud. Although I’m pretty sure he’d conclude it was something to do with pent-up sexual frustration, as he always did concur. And let’s face it. Anyone who ever owned a Signum would be very familiar with their favoured palm.