2017 is almost over. It's time for Christmas parties, sunshine and rose-tinted reflection on the year gone by. But here at CarAdvice, we aren't taking our foot off the pedal just yet – instead, we're taking the chance to look back at some of the most interesting, exciting and downright strange stories published this year.
For all the good stuff that's happened this year, there were some disappointments as well. Here's what really ground the CarAdvice team's gears in 2017.
James Wong – Infiniti
Mike Costello – Nissan Z is dead
I had the chance to chat with a few senior Nissan executives on a trip to Tokyo in late October.
The answer was not promising. e-Power hybrids, EVs and driverless cars were what Nissan was more keen to talk about. A new Z car to supplant the ancient 370 seems so far down the priority list it's almost not worth pondering.
“We have no intention to quit excitement, but we’re going to make it happen in different ways,” said chief planning officer, Philipe Klein.
Thankfully, Nissan’s design chief Alfonso Albaisa admitted his desire to create more iconic sports cars, citing his childhood discovery of the Jaguar E-Type as the catalyst for his career in car design.
“I can say we don’t have a fixed thing yet… but how can we completely blind of the importance of that name to the company?"
Nevertheless, don't hold your breath for a Z, even an e-Power hybrid one. Maybe a crossover based on the Gripz concept, as has been conjectured, will have to suffice. Blergh.
Mike Stevens – Tough concepts, weak production cars
Take the Subaru Viziv Performance concept. I already know, in advance, that the eventual production car - the next WRX and WRX STI - won't look anywhere near as tough. And that's fine in some respects, as the concept doesn't exactly look road legal, but still... as we saw with the concept that previewed the current WRX, Subaru is guilty of wowing us on the show stand and then stirring as much water into the final product as it can get away with. Subaru, goddamn it, get the message: stop overhyping with incredible concepts that will never deliver!
The Mazda Kai is another great example. Not only will the next Mazda 3 not look anywhere near as tough, but Mazda has already said it won't be reviving the MPS brand. So here they roll out a very tough hatch design, while confirming they would never make such a thing. Get your hand off it, Mazda.
Same goes for the Nissan IDS concept. Here we finally had a concept that looked like a very sharp, even fearsome take on an EV. At last, an affordable EV might also have desirable styling. Hallelujah! Did we truly expect the new Leaf to look exactly like that? No, that'd be foolish. Nonetheless, they've trotted out a dull design using more than a few recycled parts from the previous model, and it'll be just as expensive as ever.
Andrew Beecher – EVs, LCT and whiny companies
1. The car industry's manic obsession with EVs while consumers - especially Australian - clearly don't care. Frankfurt was an ocean of electric cars, here it was all about V8 and Drift Mode.
2. The complete and utter lack of media coverage (including CarAdvice) and agitation around the Luxury Car Tax (LCT). We have no local industry anymore, we should have no more LCT, as there's nothing to protect.
3. Car companies (I'm looking at you Porsche and Ferrari) complaining about buyers on-selling new or near new cars for profit. Guess what? The buyers own them outright and can do whatever they like with them. Consumers drive the appreciation or your brands, and they can just as easily shift their investment strategies into bitcoin or shares. Don't forget: they hold the power, not you.
Anthony Crawford – SUVs, SUVs and more SUVs
Biggest disappointment has the been the global obsession with SUVs over more practical and dynamic station wagons, which seemingly comes down to the extra ride height and commanding seating position.
In every other way the station wagon is a better vehicle, lighter, better handling, better performing and more comfortable in many cases.
It’s kind of sad, really, but the people have spoken and SUVs are here to stay.
Alborz Fallah – Wherefore art thou, autonomy?
My biggest disappointment is the realisation we're still many years, or even decades, away from fully-autonomous cars which don’t require a driver.
Trent Nikolic – Hybrids for the sake of hybrids
The rush to pointless, useless and not especially engaging hybrids. Most of them make zero sense unless your commute is under 20km each way. And not uphill. And not in the heat. And not in stop/start traffic.
Paul Maric – active safety, or a lack thereof
When will car manufacturers stop taking customers for granted and short changing buyers on safety. Basic safety features such as AEB, now standard on cars like the Mazda 2, are still optional or unavailable on some vehicles, such as the Hyundai i30, Holden Astra and Kia Stinger base models, the Ford Escape and (of course) Mustang.
You shouldn't have to pay more money to have basic safety features that effectively cost manufacturers nothing.
Curt Dupriez – Farewelling locally built cars
It speaks for itself...
Scott Collie – BMW X7 Concept
I really like BMW, but the X7 is an absolute abomination. I understand why it exists – people are buying big four-wheel drives in huge numbers, and German rivals are also working away on their own ultra-luxe flagships – but does it have to be so hideously ugly?
The grille is large enough to swallow a medium-sized child whole, while the squinty headlamps make it look perpetually perplexed, like a confused pig. If that wasn't bad enough, the the car looks like a van in profile, thanks to a typically half-arsed surfacing job from the BMW design team. At least the glasshouse is generous, which should make the cabin a nice place to spend time.
You know what the worst part is? BMW won't be able to build enough of them.