Guilty pleasures: the cars we hate to love
What cars have captured your imagination for the wrong reasons? Or to put it another way, is there a car that you love, despite it being a bit rubbish?
This was the question I asked myself and the team of Autoblog contributors. The results were interesting, see what you think of our choices and let us know if you agree or disagree below.
Land Rover Defender 90 Station Wagon
Land Rover might have tried to modernise the Defender a couple of years back by fitting six-speed manual transmission and a 2.4-litre diesel engine from a Ford Transit; but this modern day descendent of the 1947 original, still offers a driving experience that is definitely old-school.
Inside, it's like a tardis in reverse. As despite the the Land Rover's ample dimensions, the interior feels cramped. Out on the road, things don't get much better, as the ponderous steering will put you off going near the national speed limit. I'd still add one to my ultimate garage, as there's really nothing else like it. The Defender is the only car I'd want to go mud-plugging with and I'm glad it's going to be around for a while yet.
The MG TF is a car that shouldn't work. Originally conceived under a cash-strapped Rover Group as the MGF, its undepinnings and switchgear were borrowed from the humble Metro. Then there's the raised driving position that doesn't really work for tall drivers, popping headgaskets and the questionable build quality.
So, when it died in the MG Rover collapse, I didn't shed a tear. Yet it's a car that wouldn't die, as in 2008 the TF came back from the dead. Yes, the LE500's £16,867 list price was a bit ridiculous, it was completely outclassed compared to newer rivals and the dodgy build quality remained. However, on the road the TF can still raise a smile, the N-Series engine is willing if noisy, the steering giving plenty of feedback and the mid-engined chassis feels nimble. Find a good one before they're all gone.
A ghastly gas guzzler and rapper's delight, the Hummer H2 has to be one of the worst vehicles to hit the streets. They look even more ridiculous on tiny British roads and have all the style of carpet shoes. The chrome could not be more garish if it tried and practicality in something so humongous is actually an afterthought.
Yet a tiny part of me still wants to cruise along the road while my speakers blare and my diamond encrusted 24 inch spinners blind Greenpeace activists while I roll on to my hood. Or far more likely, the local BP.
Gone and almost forgotten, the Renault Avantime was always a bit of a looker in my book. I loved the huge, pillarless doors and bold design. Unfortunately for Renault, only a handful of people took more than a fleeting glance at the big beast and sales were dire.
When they appear for sale once in a blue moon, there are bargains to be had, but plagued electrics and expensive bodywork if you get hit will soon sort that out. A style icon (of sorts), the Avantime is starting to get a bit of a following which it deserves for the two fingers it gave to conventionalism.
It has a face that the majority of my friends liken to a bulldog licking a thistle, but I like it. I like the fact that MINI had the balls to release something taller than a BMW X1 and still call it a MINI. I like the centre rail feature because it's a novel way of extracting money from customers who want the next 'thing' to slide into it – and, in a weird way, it makes sense.
It's also great to drive, which the majority of people don't care about because they're disgusted by its looks. I shouldn't like the not-so-mini MINI, but I do. And so should you.
Way back when the Lexus SC430 was featured in an advert for a car audio company (or something like that) and I noticed it straight away. I saw the swanky roof do its thing and was amazed by it. My younger self witnessed its smooth lines waft through a city centre and I was captivated by it.
It was later I'd find out it handled like a dog, its interior was a cramped mess of plasti-wood and nastiness. In short – a vile hunk of automotive guff thrown together in an attempt to best Ze Germans. It didn't. I know it's horrid in every way, but I can't help smiling when I see one. I will never, ever, drive one though.
Peugeot Partner Tepee
Before I had children I believed that the day I bought a people carrier would be the day I gave up on my very existence. I still want to believe that now, but as anyone with children knows, once they turn up you're a slave to space, like it or not.
Step up the Peugeot Partner Tepee. It's not an MPV really – it's a van, and an ugly one at that. But it's so effortlessly uncool that it becomes the coolest family car ever. In not trying to be all stylishly rakish, like a lot of MPVs, it doesn't sacrifice space. You could book a Partner Tepee out as a gig venue. Or you could just drive your kids around in it, in utilitarian, cavernous splendor.
BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo
The BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo is offensively unattractive, no more useful than a 3 Series Touring, much more expensive and, thus, utterly pointless. It's even responsible for one of my worst errors of judgement as a car journalist: "It's one of the best-riding cars BMW has made," I said at the time.
Nobody else agreed, it transpired. I haven't driven one since I reviewed it at launch, but I'm guessing that the weight of professional opinion, and not mine, is the right one. But still, I love how ugly and different and absurd it is, how much space it has in the back, how the silly, twin-hinged boot weighs as much as concrete, and how nobody else seems to like it; I've seen two of them on the road, ever.