Not every car manufacturer can be successful all of the time. There’s so much competition in every sector that companies have to make something really special to tempt buyers, and clearly not every car will be amazing. Most are good, but that’s not enough. As a result, a few once-great car companies are languishing near the relegation zone, with quiet showrooms and frustrated salespeople that don’t have anything good to sell. Here are five brands that I would love to see improve – especially in the UK. Add your own in the comments.
The WRX only departed last year, but it feels like a distant memory. No one really noticed when Subaru pulled it. That leaves Subaru with, and I have to check here, the overwhelmingly sub-par Impreza hatch, the safe yet forgotten XV, the Outback and Forester (which seem to have been unchanged since medieval times), the BRZ and the Levorg. Not even a silly name and touring car pedigree are enough for the last one. The company actually offers far more models than I realised, but how often do you see them?
It’s reassuring that Mitsubishi and Subaru stick together, even through the bad times. Since we had to wave goodbye to the Evo, Mitsu has tried to plug the gap with a range of also-ran crossovers, the cheap ‘n’ nasty Mirage and the new Shogun Sport, which is as sporty as a dead badger, pitiful on-road and has all the appeal of genital herpes. I’d love to see the company produce some great cars again – not even Evos or Eclipses, but just something good enough to take a chunk out of the big brands.
When Vauxhall/ Opel make bland, average cars, they’ve normally got one gem in the range that just about makes up for it. I’m thinking of saving graces like the VX220 or the Monaro. Or the torque-steering chav-magnet that’s the Astra VXR. But there’s no bonkers roadster, no Aussie influence or a proper hot hatch of any sort. Want a powerful-ish hatch with a griffin on the front? Have a 150hp Corsa GSi – for £19,000. The Astra’s no longer up there with the best-selling cars in this country, and a range of forgettable crossovers isn’t enough to claw back sales.
On the face of it, Fiat seems to be doing okay. They’re big enough to continue selling cars on reputation alone. But besides the 500 (which hasn’t really been changed since its launch in 2007) and the Abarth models, there isn’t one desirable model in the line-up. Would you really want to tell people you own a 500L? Or a Qubo? I didn’t think so. Even the 500X isn’t really selling very well. Fiat’s range hasn’t been updated enough in a long time, and now lacks behind other brands.
Cast the GT-R out of your mind, I’m thinking of the mundane models. Nissan’s been surfing on a wave of crossovers that kind of started this whole pseudo-SUV thing, but others have improved massively – to the point where a Hyundai Tucson is more appealing than a Qashqai. The company isn’t actually doing badly, but I feel it needs some excitement. Something better selling than the 370Z. As for sub-brand Infiniti, in the UK they’re rarer than an honest politician. Many people don’t even know they exist.
Which car companies should produce better cars? Let me know in the comments below.