The RenaultSport Clio pisses me off. Just look at it up there all smug and stuff...
It disgusts me.
As a relatively younger driver (read: broke) I previously lived in a state of perpetual heartbreak as my perfect vehicle, the almost universally praised Clio, would never make it to the shores of Canadaland. Luckily some salvation came in the form of the not-really-new-anymore Clio 200. Turbos, transmissions, and alliteration aside, I knew had finally moved on when I read about how the driver can make their Clio sound like an old Renault Gordini, a New GT-R, or even the Clio V6 with just a few pokes at the touch screen.
Pictured: The scene of the crime
Turbos aren’t the same as a wonderful N/A screamer, we all know that, but at least they’re mechanical and have a wonderful charm in their wooshes and whistles. While I love a good manual, I still marvel at the mechanical precision that makes a dual-clutch transmission work. It’s not necessarily what we enthusiasts want, but at least they’re real. Fake engine noises just ruin the whole idea of a car’s identity. It’s pretending to be something else. Who wants to be friends with the guy who tries to be a dick because he thinks it’ll get him girls?
Often I feel that analysis of changing car markets is far too focused on the cars themselves and it fails to take into account how ideas like “luxury” are changing in the societal whole. Wine, a recent passion of mine, is experiencing a renaissance of “natural” products. Everyone wants wines that are made by a PERSON, not an wine & spirits conglomerate. These wines see service in luxurious restaurants that have a piece of reclaimed wood as a table rather than traditional furniture covered with a table cloth. Luxury is changing, and cars might be going in the wrong direction.
Cars are never going to be a product made by 1000s of different producers all over the globe being supported by “Buy your local hatchback” campaigns and “Car sommeliers” who know where to go to get AN AMAZING mid-size sedan that they bet your boss has never heard of. Cars are always going to be a hugely corporate undertaking, but at the same time they are far too wonderful to simply become a commodity. It seemed obvious that music was going to go in whatever direction was best and cheapest, but now we live in a world where vinyl is not even coming back, it is back.
Pictured: The new Mercedes TBL
While the Clio’s fake-noise features might seem cool the first few times you head out in the car, will anybody really care about them in the second year of ownership? Cars are too expensive to rely on gimmicks. One thing the car world does do better than anyone is developing a brand on its own history. But I think that success will come to those who can maintain that connection beyond the badge on the front, and certainly beyond the software in the stereo. Luxury is now about what’s real. It no longer has to aspire to a perfect level of isolation from anything that could be described as the “real world”. If cars keep moving the way of the smartphone (a comparison people adore), they will just become a commodity, but those “in the know” will all be behind the wheel of tastefully selected classics. Maybe the idea of a “car sommelier” wasn’t that crazy at all. I think I’ve found my new calling in life.
For all inquiries regarding food/car pairings I’m reachable on Twitter @cwylie1