What we have this issue are cars from two companies that historically tended to do what they thought would produce the best product for most people. Mercedes-Benz of course can trace their history back to the very beginning, so they kind of created the whole thing. As such, they have the freedom and the power to do whatever they think may work. I remember Hyundai from over three decades ago when I would see their little hatchbacks running around Korea. In speaking with Hyundai top management and their engineers, they seem to have in their DNA the drive to get things right long-term. A decade to work on this, an decade to work on that, all preceded by just learning how everything should work and indeed learning from the best. That doesn’t mean they should rest on their laurels of course. Hyundai made great strides in the global market, coming from a time when they were basically considered a joke. Now they have the advantage of buyers who try other models and end up back with them. On the cover is a new vehicle, we shall see if it can develop the loyalty that other models from the marque enjoy.
Then you’ve got the GLC 43, which is based on a vehicle that it seems everyone agrees is excellent but somehow always gave up a number here or there to others. With a little AMG pixie dust sprinkled over it, it has become far more interesting while still being arguably the most mature and well-rounded product in its segment.
You might think this discussion applies to all brands, all companies. It doesn’t. We are surrounded more than we should be by vehicles meant to attract your money by saying this or doing that, but by falling very short elsewhere. We have some big SUVs that look awesome but have terrible visibility. May be great for long open American highways but not the right thing for when a motorcycle or child may be around your car without your knowledge. We hear constant news about how efficient this engine is or that car is, but we have seen some terrible examples of what needs to be done in order to achieve this. Now none of this is easy, and it is the demands of the modern world (efficiency, environment, ego, safety) that force carmakers to put together these products. To be honest, even within brands and families there are some members that just don’t live up to their forefathers.
We just came off the International Engine of the Year Awards, and the changes of the modern world are more in evidence than ever as you will see in upcoming issues. Point now is, we need to rethink how we think. One of the best small engines was the small gas motor in the i8 that pairs with an awesome hybrid system and excellent handling. How does the traditional small urban car that normally inhabits that engine capacity category stand a chance? Many people don’t think much of the hybrids, and there is good reason for that. The truth though is that while technology gives us increasing amount of choice we may well be choosing from an increasingly smaller menu in some cases. Look at how many big engines are left.