The Campaign against urban 4x4s has to be the most misguided, idiotic organisation ever to disgrace the fact of this planet. I’m not going to legitimize them by linking to their site, but their Top 10 reasons not to drive an urban 4×4 has to be some of the most content free bullshit I’ve ever seen.
“1. You’re not a farmer
Or a tree surgeon, country vet, wind turbine repairer, dry stone wall engineer or mountain rescue specialist. Unless you are (or in a handful of other occupations) there’s really no need for you to get a big 4×4, particularly if you live in an urban area. Four wheel drive gives you better traction in snow or deep mud, and that’s about it. It does not make your car safer, more manoeuvrable, or enable you to stop any quicker.”
Nearly everyone who buys a Ferrari isn’t a racing car driver, either. 4 wheel drive gives you better traction under acceleration in any conditions. This is a non-sequitiur. It doesn’t following that I should have to have a professional need to justify my choice of vehicle.
“2. Your family fits into a saloon car or people carrier
Most families and their luggage can in fact fit comfortably into a small hatchback. Even if you have lots of kids (and a big dog), an estate car or MPV often has more space than a 4×4 and can fulfil all your daily needs. What did your dad drive you around in when you were small?”
I don’t fit in a small hatchback. The seats are too small (I’m 6’3″) and there isn’t enough headroom. I get back ache bending down to get into the seats. I feel uncomfortable not having a decent view of the road. Again, why should I just buy the smallest car I need. I want comfort, I want to enjoy the journey. And I’d look silly in an MPV without kids.
“3. You will breathe cleaner air
Pollution studies have demonstrated that, in slow traffic, the dirtiest air isn’t being breathed by the cyclists in the gutter or the people waiting for the bus on the pavement, but by those inside the cars in the middle of the road.”
Regardless of what car you’re driving.
But tell me this – would you rather be in a small hatchback sucking air in from the same level as everyone else’s exhaust, or a 4×4 with the air intake 3 feet off the ground?
“4. You will save money
Data at www.vcacarfueldata.org.uk show that it costs around £100 more per month in petrol costs alone to run a 4-litre Range Rover compared with a 2-litre estate car. “
And my 4 litre range rover runs on LPG, costing less per mile than a 2 litre petrol estate car. I might save money if I bought a diesel and chucked out carcinogenic particulates all over the road behind me.
“5. You won’t have to lie to your grandchildren
Our descendants will be left to deal with the effects of climate change caused by our profligate use of fossil fuels. Drivers of 4x4s should start editing their photo albums now.”
I don’t have children, so I won’t have to lie to them. But, by and large my nephews and nieces rather like “Uncle Andy’s cool Range Rover.”
“6. You will be less likely to kill a pedestrian
Most accidents involving pedestrians are caused when they stray onto the road without warning, so your superior driving skills may not help to avoid an accident. However, a better designed car could make all the difference to their survival chances. The greater height and weight of 4x4s, as well as their flat fronts and stiff bonnets, means they are bottom of the class in Euro-NCAP crash tests for pedestrian safety.”
If I am unfortunate enough to kill a pedestrian, it will be down to whether they are stupid enough to walk in front of the car, or whether I’m observant enough to predict what’s going to happen and avoid it. It’s not going to make the slightest bit of difference whether I’m driving a Range Rover or a Mondeo.
“7. You might see a small child early enough to avoid backing over them
Big, tall 4x4s have far bigger rear blind spots than normal cars, making it impossible to see a child for more than 15 feet behind them”
If I can’t see behind me, I get out and look. I know there’s a blind spot and I compensate for it – unlike a smaller car where I’ll not think about it.
“8. You will be less likely to injure people in other cars
The high bumpers on 4x4s can override safety features on other cars, such as side impact bars and crumple zones, and the extra weight of big 4x4s is a hazard in itself. The spare wheel on the back of many 4x4s often takes the place of a rear bumper and increases damage to other cars and the 4×4 itself in a ‘shunt’ incident.”
Actually, the one time I was in a shut incident, the car I got pushed into was the one that wasn’t damaged. The extra weight of the 4×4 absorbed the force of the car behind, saving the driver in front from damage.
“9. You will have a better time driving
Big 4x4s are notoriously difficult to park due to their poor visibility close to the car. When cornering, the high centre of gravity of a 4×4 reduces the responsivenesss and takes all the fun out of it. Don’t expect to nip away from traffic lights either, due to all that extra weight.”
I enjoy the 4×4 better than any other car I’ve driven. I’ve got a better view, nice clear views of the straight sides and corners, and I’m not tempted to drive inappropriately fast.
“10. People won’t think you are an ‘idiot’
In an ordinary car, you won’t get dirty looks from all and sundry when you drive around town, won’t have to avoid eye contact with bus passengers, and cyclists won’t mouth obscenities as they squeeze past you in a queue of traffic. As an extra bonus, other drivers might occasionally let you pull out ahead of them.”
No-one gives me dirty looks, not even when I’m driving the Dakar. I might get envious ones, waves from other Land Rover drivers, and plenty of other drivers let me out. I think I might stop letting narrow minded cretins out, though.