Game changers. Revolutionaries. Shitboxes. Some cars, as brilliant as they may have been, fail in their first few years on sale because they were just too early to the party. They may have been trend-setters, but at the time, no-one was following in their footsteps – but as time moves on and people’s wants and needs change, some car ideas that seemed quirky at first end up coming full circle.
Here are eight models that we think were ahead of their time – and while some may have been good, plenty were poo.
This ugly little high-rider wasn’t that popular with buyers, partly because it was poo, and also in part due to its unconventional appearance.
With a swoopy roofline and square edges, it had a bit of Picasso about it. But modern-day SUV coupes are seemingly so hot right now, that maybe the guys and gals in Detroit who came up with this one were ahead of the curve.
Ssangyong Actyon (the coupe Sports version, not the ute)
The Ssangyong Actyon. Yet another coupe-styled SUV that was released a decade or so before all the primo Euro brands figured out it was a good idea to blend a sloping roof and boxy body. Is it just me, or is it still a dumb idea?
Holden Cruze (the first one, not the current version)
Yeah it was really a Suzuki Ignis, but this small SUV – or high-riding city car, really – came out here in 2002, yet it had all the things that Mazda CX-3 buyers are after right now: a higher driving position, a cramped cabin and a noisy engine.
Yet another formula copied by the European luxury car brands, this rugged all-wheel-drive station wagon had a high ride height, beefed-up bodywork, underbody cladding and all the stuff that would make a great family wagon, including a choice of V6 or V8 engines.
So, we’re starting to hear the term “lifestyle ute” bandied around by some brands, as dual-cab utes are more popular now than ever before.
But hey, Holden had this sweet dual-cab Commodore-based model that was a proper lifestyle ute. They even did a HSV version (below), the Avalanche – and yet the world will be shocked if (when) Mercedes does an AMG version of its upcoming ute.
Okay, this is a ute that maybe had its day, but surely there would be buyers out there who would consider a cut-price ute with a decent – if not excellent – payload and all-wheel-drive?
The Proton Jumbuck was another little ute that came and went, and both of these mini ‘trucks’ hold their value tremendously.
Subaru Liberty X
Liberty X was a terrible record company-manufactured band in the 2000s, and this vehicle was just about as inspiring as that mixed-race, mixed-gender pop group.
It was a high-riding sedan, after all. No wonder it didn’t reappear for a second stab – but this will come back in some form, and probably soon. We know Volvo is looking at a small high-set sedan….
Honda HR-V (the first one!)
The first-generation Honda HR-V was around from 1998-2006 on the international stage, before the three- and five-door compact SUV was then dumped.
A couple of years later, Land Rover released the Range Rover Evoque in three- and five-door models… (just sayin’). And then Honda brought the HR-V back in 2014, and it has been one of the most popular small SUVs since.
What do you think? Which car was ahead of its time? And let me know what cars I missed?