- Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Land_Rover_Defender_90_(48802951042).jpg

I'll be frank, 2019 wasn't my year. Have you ever had one of those years, which felt like it basically kicked you in the nuts so hard, you crumpled to your knees, squealing like a pig and crying like a baby? Yep, that was the sort of year 2019 was for me. 2019 basically, kicked the sh*t out of me and I'm glad to see the back of it.

What was so bad about 2019?

Well, personally... There was some good stuff. My piece on the India Special Rolls went down a storm!

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My 8 year old son became the joint under 9's Staffordshire Junior Chess Champion (And passed his Grade 1 ABRSM Piano Exam with a Merit!) and I graduated from the Open University! After 9 years of hard work, I now have an Open Degree (BSc) 1st Class Honours. However, all that stuff was marred by witnessing and experiencing someone close to me losing their long fight with cancer, over the course of several months. I also mildly offended James May, with an ill-advised, drink-fueled, late-night rant.

Automotive wise, things were a mixed bag. We got our replacement Toyota Supra, except it wasn't quite right (at least for me). We got our replacement Defender, even though a lot of people hate the fact it's no longer a giant Meccano set with a ladder chassis, and we got a few other really cool cars as well.

However, we also got Greta. Back in 2018 nobody had heard of Greta Thunberg. I can't fault Greta, we really shouldn't shoot the messenger. I like her! What I don't like is the crap-storm of climate crisis that she's highlighted to the world. I don't think everyone buying a Tesla is going to solve the problem, but the climate crisis is clearly real. It's going to change the way we think about cars. It has to! It's going to affect many other areas of society and the economy too. Basically, as a species we've been throwing a massive, all-night 18th birthday party while our parents were on holiday. We've had drink, drugs, prostitutes and fights, but now our parents are due home at any time and we need to assess the damage. We need to try and fix the mess we've made before mum and dad see it, go ballistic and literally 'kill us'. The climate crisis IS that bad, and it IS that urgent.

Of course the final nail in the coffin for me in 2019 was Boris Johnson's stonking victory and bullsh*t mandate for Brexit. 53% of the population voted for Remain parties or Labour, but our corrupt FPTP voting system and lying sh*tball of a Prime Minister have claimed it's a mandate for Brexit. They broke through the 'red wall' and somehow got working class voters to elect the party that has a reputation for crushing the working class and privatizing everything in sight. My only consolation is that technically I do very well under a conservative government. If twatbags gets his way and raises the threshold for 40% tax to £80k a year - that will genuinely benefit me personally. I've always believed Brexit is basically a sh*t idea. I stand by that today, no good will come of Johnson winning his majority. I personally wouldn't trust him to run a bath, let alone a country. The question I always asked potential Conservative voters about Johnson was 'would you lend him money, given his record?' Obviously the country as whole has decided they WOULD, to their folly (I believe he's just blown £35k or so on a tax-payer funded holiday to the Caribbean island of Mustique with his bit on the side - Carrie Symonds. That would have paid a nurses salary for a year!) But there you have it. It was just about the worst possible end to probably the worst year in UK politics. The absurdity of the situation is that the main reason Labour did so badly is our dodgy right-wing press basically managed to convince the majority of the UK that they should be afraid of an old man who owns an allotment and makes his own jam. I'm not a Corbyn fan, but I would have taken him over Johnson, though to be fair I'd have taken almost ANYONE over Johnson, bar that Euroskeptic, hypocritical, frog-face - Farrage.

So what can we be excited about in 2020?

Personally, there's one thing I'm excited about and that's finishing my current novel and trying to get it traditionally published. I have a complete manuscript, I have an agent interested. I need to make a few tweaks, polish the first three chapters, then make a submission and hope... wish me luck!

Automotive-wise, I wish there was something to be excited about. In honesty though, I'd say there isn't much. 2020 will see Aston Martin release their first SUV, a car which I can pretty much guarantee, I will never want OR afford. It's also (perhaps partly thanks to Greta) going to be a year of many, many exciting new electric SUV's. We should see the Audi E-Tron GT, the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the Volvo Polestar 2. To be fair I'm about as excited about these cars as I am about filling in my tax return. Yes, they've very stylish and efficient and forward looking, but every one of these vehicles is another nail in the petrolhead's coffin. They're all a step closer to a dark, driverless, non-car owning future where the joy of driving is about as distant a memory as the ghost of Christmas past. I know architects who are involved in studying this future prospect. Currently our cars spend only a tiny percentage of their time being driven and spend much more sitting parked up on streets or car parks. The idea is that driverless cars will be booked by people, then ferry people about and disappear to charge themselves when they need it. I can understand why many find this future attractive, but it terrifies me.

That's not to say I'm completely anti-electric. 2020 will see the release of Honda's new 'E' city car.

Image Source:- https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Honda_e_(48787715022).jpg

Image Source:- https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Honda_e_(48787715022).jpg

I actually really like these. I like how it looks like a mark 1 Golf. I like that it's fun and funky. I like the daring and fresh design. I like the fact that it isn't all about range and trying to compete with petrol cars. It's an electric car designed from the ground up to be an electric city car, no more, no less. If Honda offered me one for a long-term test and in depth review, I'd snap their hand off, even though they don't do a 'hot one'.

2020 will also see the release of some thoughtfully revised models. For example the Jaguar F-Type. Now, I like the F-Type. It's probably my first choice of 2 seaters and I'd consider one if I didn't have a herd of children to ferry around. But the new one? Seriously? It literally looks like they just changed the headlights. There's nothing new or exciting about it. I get that it's a 'face-lift' model, but I'd hoped for something more. I did hear rumors about a 2+2 version capable of squeezing your kids into the back of. That would have been exciting. But no, it's just new headlights and possibly some other mild enhancements which I'm not even interested enough in, to research what they are.

We will see some genuinely revised cars in 2020 though. Most notably the Land Rover Defender. It's an iconic car and its replacement has been due for decades. However, I really like what Land Rover did. I am a committed, fully signed up, life-long SUV hater. I despise the things. But Land Rover has successfully made an SUV which I want. I'm not interested in the 110 released last year. It was too much of a barge and I can't understand whey they can't put you the middle seat on the front and the 3rd row seats at the back making it an 8 seater. It could be some weird legislative reason, but whatever the reason for this restriction - it's stupid. The one I'm excited about is the 90. I really like the look of them and genuinely want one. I'm even tempted to get myself one of the 90 vans they're bringing out at the end of the year. I could buy it through the company and jump back on the company car game.

Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Land_Rover_Defender_90_(48802951042).jpg

Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Land_Rover_Defender_90_(48802951042).jpg

So that's 2020 for you. A year which has me excited about an EV (The Honda E), even though I hate EVs and an SUV (The Defender 90) even though I hate SUVs. Have I grown old? Am I a boring, pipe and slippers, silver surfer, subscribing to Saga and handing out the Werther's Originals?

Not just yet. If I wasn't completely broke after forking out £5k for a Yamaha Piano and an extortionate amount on my last tax bill, I'd be in the market for a new car. The contenders? Well, a Lotus Evora, a Focus RS, an Audi RS3, a Jaguar XJR 575 and a Porsche 911 are the main contenders. Though I could be tempted to a Jaguar XE 300 Sport if I was feeling sensible. Just need to figure out a way of magicking up some money, then it's 'Car Shopping : ON!'

Martyn Stanley

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