I’m not going to necessarily say why or how, but I get the opportunity to drive a massive range and eclectic mix of cars. Lots and lots of them. I’d almost go as far as saying I drive a new car almost every day. An unbelievable amount of those cars are from the Volkswagen Group. Something which normally wouldn’t be a problem because most normal people only drive one car from the group. They only drive a Golf GTi, or a Bentley Continental GT, or an Audi SQ5. But I tend to drive all of them, every single one. And my problem is that they’re all beginning to feel the same.
I bought an Audi Q5 last year for my partner. She got in it for the first time, I got in the passenger seat and I thought blimey this looks like a Volkswagen Tiguan. Had to move the most recent A3 a few months back and I couldn’t tell whether I was driving a Golf or an Audi. The Porsche 911’s suspension is just as bad as the Audi R8’s and the SQ5 borrows the stupid lean that the Porsche Cayenne’s suspension is known for. Much worse if all of these problems were singular and didn’t transfer from car to car it’d be like a teenager who learns a lesson every time he does something stupid. But they all share the same problems. It niggles at you constantly.
That brings me to today. I was watching the most recent episode of the Grand Tour. The one where Clarkson drives the Lamborghini Urus. A car I had the pleasure of driving overseas by chance a short while ago. I loved that car... for a while anyway. But then I started noting things that were very typical of a car made by the Volkswagen Group. I couldn’t help myself. Like the parking break lever. It’s the same bloody lever you see in a Volkswagen Golf. And the Virtual Cockpit is the same thing that was introduced on the Volkswagen Tiguan - sure the user interface is different but that’s like saying here’s my new girlfriend, and it just being a man in a dress.
You see I didn’t use that analogy to be homophobic. Despite how it sounds, I used because I genuinely believe if you’re gay you should just say so, I promise I’ll love you more for doing just that. But the same goes for the car. If you’re going to buy the Lamborghini Urus, a car which I think is gorgeous, for practicality sakes and to save a heap of money why not just buy the Audi SQ5. You still get your leather bucket seats, the heating, the same chassis, the adaptive headlights, the V6 twin turbo petrol engine and I really could go on for ever about the features those cars share.
Now at this stage you’re probably going to sob about how I don’t have the money to buy the Lamborghini so I’m complaining about it. Here’s the thing, I don’t. I do however have the opportunity to drive whatever I want of the two. It doesn’t cost me a cent. On the basis of principle though despite that the Lamborghini is once again gorgeous, I’d still drive the SQ5.
But here’s the thing, I don’t drive either. Because they’re both a lazy reuse of design and engineering from other cars Volkswagen have previously released. And this pisses me off royally. No I drive a Range Rover. Because at least they differentiate their cars enough and make it obvious enough that they’re big brother is Jaguar that you’d have to be a total blunder not to realise that they’re either the same car or from the same brand.
I do have to say though, Volkswagen are doing more and more sharing of their components. If you look at the new Volkswagen Touareg from a side profile at looks strikingly like an Audi Q7. Or if you get in the new A1 it’s mirrors are identical to the Polo released last year. I think they honestly need to cut it out, people are clueing up to these similarities, engine sizes, and shared chassis and they’re starting to get pissed off by it. The more Volkswagen eats into it’s own market the less viable the remainder of their brands become. It’s silly, and it makes me hate a car like a Urus. The car that so many at Lamborghini have put hours into designing. But none the less and as much as I do want to love it, it’s just a Volkswagen - isn’t it?