There was a time when most of us could figure out the engine capacity of a car simply by reading the badge affixed to its rear end. Today, when you’re considering the purchase of a new vehicle, the seemingly random number that is emblazoned on its boot lid or tailgate trivializes the entire buying – if not ownership – experience…

Is car ownership nevertheless the last form of self-expression? Is it an extension of your personality/identity and a party of your financial freedom?

What does it say about you? Well, it needs to say something, and it did… once upon a time. But today, auto buying has been reduced to a joyless slog in which your options are both limited, complicated or contrived by manufacturers thru their prioritization of production efficiencies, earnings maximization and a complete denial of their roots.

Much of the motoring industry’s current ills are rooted in the psychology of eco-correct box-ticking, semantics and pseudo-futuristic, millennial marketing vape and an utter desperation to sound hip. Cars have ceased to exist – they are now “mobility solutions.”

And engines? Never heard of them. Instead, slide a sleeve-tattooed fist bump over closer to “power units”. Car companies? What’s a automobile company? Say hi there to “lifestyle brands” with a R50 cup of artisanally crafted coffee while pensively stroking that hipster beard. The industry’s collective amnesia is shocking: does anyone still remember in how many approaches the inside combustion engine described the twentieth century?

The way in which cars are engineered and built has changed, too – in the same approaches that smartphones are made today: more or less standard with the same hardware and simply one or two distinguishing features. What has this carried out to the tyre-kicking process?

It’s baffled everyone, that’s what. For a list of the pinnacle offenders, look no further than the top-class German brands, which provide droves of by-product clones that necessitates the phenomenon of creative name-giving. What they come up with is regularly incomprehensible.

And that’s a problem that’s only going to get worse because no other accessory so overtly advertises – and is required to – one’s position on the social ladder than the cars we drive.

How apocalyptic. And how frightfully prescient.
Some of you may remember that the subtheme of the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show used to be a particularly introspective one: “Will we understand vroom?” Today, the reply seems to be a no.

By Noni Nchwe