Thursday, January 20, 2011

Crossover craziness

click photo to enlarge
When it comes to the leading edge (or even the bleeding edge) of automotive development I'm clueless. But, I do consider myself to be observant, so if a trend develops it does eventually register on my consciousness. Which brings me to the "crossover" vehicle. For a while I've noticed cars appearing on our roads that are neither one thing or another: not a 3-box saloon, not quite a 2-box hatchback, and with elements of an urban 4X4 (a concept that still mystifies me): in fact, something of a mixture of the styling of the last two. I mean vehicles such as the Ford Kuga, Mitsubishi ASX, Peugeot 3008, Nissan Qashqai (or is it CashCow?), and the one whose advert caught my eye on the back of my morning newspaper, the second-generation Kia Sportage. The latter, by the way, describes itself as an "urban crossover" that "gives you the confidence to be a bit more adventurous". To support that statement it is shown on a traffic-free rural A-road carrying two unicycles on its roof-rack. How I laughed at the wit of the advertising agency that came up with that one.

Apparently, if my reading about this class of vehicle is correct, all crossovers are urban in essence and they may or may not have four-wheel drive suitable for "light off-road usage" (presumably parking on the pavement or cutting up the roadside verges), so quite how an urban crossover such as Kia's vehicle differs from a bog-standard crossover I can't begin to guess. But then perhaps I'm searching for a meaning and purpose that doesn't exist beyond marketing to the gullible. However, I did discover that some manufacturers prioritise "sportiness" over "ruggedness", and others do the opposite, so perhaps there's a nuance to the Sportage that escapes my untutored eye. That may also explain my puzzlement about the BMW X6, a vehicle that I described as "suffering from a personality disorder" in a 2009 blog post. Finally, I read that the "crossover" vehicle "has strong appeal to ageing baby boomers", which makes me part of the target demographic! Well, I won't be buying one because such a vehicle undermines three key design principles that I hold dear. Firstly, a product that purports to do two or more things invariably does them worse than products designed for a single purpose. Secondly, a product that relies on nonsensical advertising to find its market is likely to be nonsense, and thus to be avoided. And thirdly, I don't buy a product that is ridiculous unless ridiculousness is its intended purpose!

There is very little connection between crossover vehicles and today's photograph, but if, in the manner of a DJ segueing between tracks, I were to make one it would relate to the footwear I selected for our walk in the woods at Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire. However, you'll be pleased to know that I'm not going to bore you further with that. Instead I'll say that the side of this corrugated metal shed appealed to me for two reasons - the pattern of shadows and the mixture of colours and textures, though I can see that, like a crossover vehicle, it won't be everyone's cup of tea.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 37mm
F No: 7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/50
ISO: 320
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On