Motormuse: A Perception of Car Brands – then and now!

I was thinking about this the other day, how my perception of auto brands has changed since I first became interested in cars back in my youth, compared to that of today.

This doesn’t reflect the price of the cars, nor how a manufacturer perceives itself, just based on how I used to regard a brand (largely based on how something looked, how expensive my Dad might have told me it was, or how much dinner break conversation it generated with my friends during school).

So, I did a graph, for no other reason than the fun of it really.

The Top line is from my youth, early teens. Bottom is where I see the brands now. Red is moving down the pecking order, green is up, black remained the same.

Some notes below as to my rationale!

Car Brands

My Perception of Car Brands’ as a Status Symbol – click for larger image.

Remember, this is about my perception of the brand, not necessarily how individual cars drive, or how much they cost, etc!

Ford: Solid, middle-of-the-road cars. Great cars, good brand, deliver the occasional hot thing that everyone wants. They’ve made some stunning looking cars, twixed with some questionable messes. Handling always good, priced well. They know their market and play to their strengths. Love ‘em. Always have, always will.

Vauxhall: Used to regard these as a close rival to ford, but now I see them as a bargain basement option. For every nice Insignia that I see on the roads, there is some chavved up nobber revving the arse off his Corsa or Astra, which keeps them at the bottom of my ‘want to own’ list. Always had a bit of a loutish image, but now more so than even in my day of the Nova Sri and Astra GTE!

Hyundai and Kia: Regarded them as the cheap-and-nasties in my youth, but now I see them as real rivals to the likes of the Ford brand. Kia in particular as they look great. Probably won’t drive as good though.

Fiat: A cheaper option, but in the middle category. Remained largely the same, primarily thanks to the Punto and the Fiat 500 which have kept their image strong. Rest of range forgettable. In fact, I can’t even name one of their other cars.

Renault and Peugeot: Moved down the list into budget. Someone has to be at the bottom, and these guys don’t really offer inspiring cars. Never been into the hot Renaults for some reason. Zoe looks really nice, but battery rental only is a bad thing. Latest Pug cars are looking pretty sweet, and I see them climbing my brain charts in the next few years.

Nissan: Datsun previously, always a bit cheap and cheerful. Still the same. GTR obvious exception which is a special thing indeed.

Toyota, Honda, Mazda: Slowly shuffled down the ranks because their cars are very bland and average. MX5 the exception, but I don’t like how that looks any more either. Overall, a bit boring, but still in a similar position as before. Higher than Ford due to their quality manufacture reputation and known reliability (not that the newer Fords are particularly unreliable either). May drop further. Still higher than Ford due to pricing (not that I know this for fact, purely perception remember) and I think they are still a little more desirable to own, generally speaking. I’d still have a Ford though.

VW: Premium every-man car, but coming down the ranks as other manufacturers catch up with their interiors. New shape golf is the cock-end car of the motorways now, replacing Audi and the former BMW stereotypical driver, so the brand has taken a big hit due to this on my graph. Scirocco was beautiful, but nothing new inspires me. I don’t see the appeal, sorry!

Audi: Had a dip in my minds-eye during its whiffy image phase, but a return to form in my view as the bell ends have moved to the Golf. Still some shockers out there as these cars are susceptible to bling spec but overall, I think they look great and drive good. If I wasn’t a car person, I’d have a new base Audi A3 Saloon. In white. They look great and are not too big, not too small. I never really regarded them as a premium brand in my youth but they are above what I call the ‘every man’ category, so they scrape up there. R8 is fabulous!!

BMW: Used to be high premium in my youth. If you had a BMW, to me and my mates you were really posh. Now, they are everywhere. Cheap as chips on the used market and haven’t really evolved at all since about 2001. Interiors still the same, exteriors still the same. BMW i3 and i8 really innovative and desirable cars, but rest of general range is boring to look at and boring inside. Z3s and Z4s I do like though. I’m sure they all drive really well, but that’s not enough to pull them up on my little graph!

Mercedes: Still maintained a posh image, but poor reported reliability in the early 2000’s and cheap-and-nasty interiors killed it for a time in my mind. Clawing it back now but not where they were.

Volvo: I thought they were the cheap-and-nasty car of my youth. Now I think they are one of the classiest cars out there, generally speaking. They look lovely, nice and understated.

Jaguar: Maintained its presence in the premium sector.

Land Rover: A car for farmers in my youth, then onto footballers and drug dealers. Not remotely interested until around 2012 when they changed their shape to a more contemporary look and feel, when they moved right up to the top. Lovely cars.

Bentley: Used to be the very top class, but there are more of them about now. Still high prestige, and wonderfully beautiful cars, but I don’t see them as the same league as Rolls Royce. Can’t put my finger on why as I do love these. Maybe it’s a popularity thing (more of these about?).

Porsche: The ultimate supercar, next to Ferrari, in my youth. Now more common place and covering a wider range of cars and prices. Depreciation makes them affordable after a time. Still awesome, but not a sole supercar brand.

Aston: Remained the same. Rare cars that look and drive wonderful.

Ferrari: Still the best. Marketed perfectly, powerful brand and amazing cars.

Lamborghini: The thing of dreams. Mad cars that you only saw on posters in my youth. Marginally more accessible now that they are less insane and more people want to buy them, but still out of reach for almost everyone. Therefore, a rare sight. An expensive car that still looks a good and sounds incredible.

Rolls Royce. Still the ultimate statement of wealth and luxury. There is nothing finer in automotive land.

So that’s my view, what would your graph look like? What is your perception of the different brands, and would it be radically different to this??