The automotive world is full of companies with different personalities and ideas of what should be built and how it should be done. When you think of Ford the F-150 comes to mind or the Mustang, when thinking of Toyota the Camry and the Highlander may be the first you think of. For luxury automakers their cars are full of great features for us to enjoy and exotics are meant to be over the top impressive and make us wonder why all automakers haven’t done the same. What is unusual is when we see an automaker try something that seems to be completely against their personality, here are some great examples for you to admire and wonder about.
Aston Martin Cygnet – Yes, this is a tiny two door hatchback that looks like it belongs in the same category as the Honda Fit, but someone convinced Aston Martin to put their name on it. Can you imagine 007 driving around in a Cygnet, sure he would fit in tight spaces, but I don’t think he would get very far. This was an experiment that went horribly wrong as a rebadged Toyota iQ, especially for a British company that makes some of the most beautiful cars the world has ever seen.
Cadillac Escalade EXT – While the Escalade by itself has been one of the best-selling vehicles to ever come out of Cadillac the idea of taking the vehicle and making it an SUV/pickup hybrid did nothing for the brand or the vehicle. This may have been the answer to the Ridgeline by Honda, but that battle was better left to Chevrolet to fight and did not belong anywhere near the luxury brand that Cadillac has become known to be. Stick to what works, the Escalade works, the Escalade EXT; not so much.
Ferrari FF – What does Ferrari stand for? Typically the brand has some of the most amazing sports cars to ever grace the roads of this planet, but they also make some great grand touring vehicles that make it so you can drive a Ferrari on a daily basis. The problem with the FF isn’t the style or the fact that it’s a grand tourer that seats four, the problem is the fact that it’s really just an AWD hatchback car with the Ferrari name on it, making it one of the least attractive cars to ever wear the badge.
Hyundai Genesis – Here is an example that not only turned out great, it turned into its own brand. The departure from reality is the Genesis is a luxury car and Hyundai has not been known for luxury models but rather for affordable and feature filled mainstream cars and SUVs that everyone can drive. This was more of a gamble than anything else as other brands have examples of failing with a luxury car under their own name (i.e. Volkswagen Phaeton) but this one worked well enough that we will see Genesis as its own brand in the upcoming years.
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT – Jeep is known for putting off road capability in every vehicle. We even forgive Jeep for some of the shortcomings in ride comfort with the knowledge that we can take our Jeeps anywhere we want. Not the case for the Grand Cherokee SRT which has been built for speed and not for off roading. Not only is this vehicle made for speed but we expect to see a Hellcat version of this SUV in the near future as well, giving us two Jeep models that are built to stick to the track; I just hope they can control the rollover in the turns.
Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR – The Land Rover models we are used to are capable vehicles that can go anywhere and give you the luxury features you want to enjoy but they have never been very good at cornering. This model changed that aspect of the feeling of Land Rover by being one of the best cornering vehicles on the market. The Range Rover Sport SVR is so good at corner it made the run around Nurburgring in eight minutes and 14 seconds which is faster than the Porsche Cayman S and the BMW 1M Coupe.
Mercedes- Benz R-Class– While this vehicle does not have the sliding side doors of a minivan, every feature and the build make it appear that this is a minivan from Mercedes- Benz. This would be a first for a luxury automaker and maybe someone made a bit of a mistake but that mistake was big enough that AMG put out a performance version of this vehicle which is the R63 AMG that offers up 500 horsepower for us to have a seriously face and performance laden minivan to give the kids the thrill ride of their lives.
Porsche Cayenne – While this is an admirable crossover SUV it’s still an extremely small version of an SUV that doesn’t give you much more room to make it a better ride for your family. This is the SUV that started the craze and made other models possible, but what this vehicle has become and has always been is a 911 on steroids. Sure you can have a fun ride and take three kids along with you and your spouse, but there isn’t much cargo space or additional room, but it sure is a lot of fun to drive.
Subaru BRZ – This is a car that didn’t make any sense but has turned out to be a fun car to make into a rally car or as a tuner that we love to change. The BRZ is the only vehicle in the Subaru lineup that is setup with RWD instead of AWD. It’s also a sports car which is not something Subaru is known for. Still, at only 200 horsepower this car is fun to drive and makes for a great looking and admirable vehicle that truly is a complete departure from the personality of the brand name on the vehicle.