Author Topic: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank  (Read 5501 times)

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« on: September 12, 2019, 08:35:29 am »
I was reading the other day about the terrible crash in Berlin where an out-of-control Porsche behemoth killed four and prompted calls to ban these oversized, overpowered cars from German city centres. And at the weekend I saw a woman in tears because she couldn't extract her Range Rover from a parking space. Up the road, someone was doing an 82-point turn trying to get some other variety of SUV into their paved over front garden without taking out the garden wall (that had already lost a chunk from a previously failed attempt). Last night, one passed me doing probably twice the 30 mph speed limit. I would like to say that's unusual. Every commute I seem to see more and more of these vehicles – the growth presumably from easy, low-interest financing. That's a bubble ripe to pop if interest rates rise.

I presume the main urge to buy these things is status and ego-inflation – though given every other car seems to be one and it's not like people are actually paying for them. In the supermarket car park the other week, I had a double-take, some of taken one of those horrid modern swollen Minis and bloated it further into an SUV version. Honestly, you've never seen an uglier vehicle. I'm still not sure I did see it, or whether it was a horrible paroxysm of my imagination. The sort of vehicle you're damned to drive down an endless boulevard in Hell in. With a radio that only tunes to smooth jazz and the inevitable screaming.

But on a serious point, the energy these behemoths impart in a crash is awful. And they have a secondary issue, and that's they make their drivers feel invulnerable, and they're the car of choice for people who think they have something to prove and it empowers them as bullies. And while cars generally may have got more efficient and emissions fallen, that's just been offset by them getting bigger.

I doubt the Germans will be successful in banning them, though I wish them luck. They're completely unsuitable for the road unless you need an actual truck or to drive off-road. I have several friends who have them, it seems a middle-class, middle-age thing. They're not even that comfortable once you've clambered into them, overstuffed as furniture showrooms.

I think in a decade or two, they'll be one of the things people boggle about, really they drive those?

Or I hope. I'd ban them. Or maybe fly around south London in an A10 Warthog and deliver my own justice via an extensive range of ground-to-air munitions and 4000 rounds per minute of sweet, depleted uranium sentiment.
!nataS pihsroW

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2019, 09:04:30 am »
Saw a used Rancid Rover for sale at an event I was at last weekend. £125,000 used.  :o

And when you look inside these things, it is only the top of the range that can get four adults inside, and none of them have interesting usefully sized boots. (The vehicles, not the people).
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2019, 09:24:12 am »
...
But on a serious point, the energy these behemoths impart in a crash is awful. And they have a secondary issue, and that's they make their drivers feel invulnerable...

It's the kinetic energy arms race.

A silly trope for sure but if you're driving Tilly and Tarquin to/from their school every day you don't want to be in a flimsy Nissan Micra if you get involved in an accident, you want to be in something that comes off least worst. That proliferates and soon the streets are awash with them.

"Have you seen Jemima's parents' car? Simply awful! How irresponsible to drive her around in a Y-reg Citroen Saxo. I don't think we should let Ptolemy be friends with her otherwise he might end up having to get a lift in that terrible thing!"

It's also a status/prestige thing.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

FifeingEejit

  • Not Small
Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2019, 09:55:50 am »
Thing is, the size/protection thing largely died shortly after euroNCAP came in.
It's why modern small cars are quite a bit wider than they used to be, because you can't get the side impact stars from a flimsy door.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2019, 10:31:25 am »
That might be correct but the psychological feeling is bigger = more protective. I think Greenbank has hit one of if not the biggest reasons for the popularity of this type of car. Though as always in popularity, a lot of it is simply fashion.

And it's not just Tilly and Tarquin nowadays, it's <insert stereotypical working class name here> too.
sideways bounding monkey lounging under fruit tree

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2019, 10:38:18 am »
They're completely unsuitable for the road unless you need an actual truck or to drive off-road.
They're not trucks, they don't have much load space, as Jaded's pointed out. And most of them only look like off-roaders. In addition to which, what do people drive on dirt roads? My parents-in-law lived on the edge of a village, surrounded by forest, a kilometre from the nearest paved road, with snow settled for several months of the year. In the distant past they had driven a "Big Fiat", then a clapped out Wartburg, then a late-80s Audio 80. All their neighbours drove similar. And, with appropriate tyres in winter, no one had any trouble on churned up dirt roads.
sideways bounding monkey lounging under fruit tree

Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2019, 10:59:45 am »
It's not just about perceived safety. The 'mini SUV' or whatever fancy marketing term they want to call it is higher up, it provides a perception of being able to see more - which is part of the massive pillar issue created by the NCAP thing - but also you don't have to stoop down to get into the thing. It's apparently more dignified to step up into your vehicle than it is to bend down into it. The boot is higher so you can lift out the tiny amount of shopping you can fit into it without generating a bad back - because you have never learnt to lift things properly - and the children can be lifted into the massive booster seat the law requires, again without stooping.

None of this was a problem when my parents bought cars and I'll never ever ever buy one but the car manufacturers want to tell you it is.

They are all crap off-road because they have the wrong wheels and tyres fitted and firm suspension because proper off-road suspension makes the children in the back queasy as it wobbles around all the time and it has to be really firm because the centre of gravity that high up creates a pendulum effect and the body wobbles around even more than a sensible height car.

I've never been off-road in a SMBT but have done lots of rallying (and other mucking around) in either standard or highly modified hatchbacks and saloons. With the right tyres fitted most people fail to understand what is actually possible even with the most basic suspension. The number of times I hear 'I needed an off-roader because it snows (one day a year here in Suffolk) and I get stuck in my drive' - no, buy winter tyres and learn proper clutch control!
Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2019, 11:12:44 am »
I had a Suburu hatchback in the US – in New England where they have actual snow – with snow tyres it was fine. It was traditional on the first snow day to count the SUVs in the roadside ditch as their drivers assumed that, given their vehicle, they could ignore the white stuff.

The problem with the safety angle is that you're likely to crash into another oversized car, and that's more kinetic energy looking for a place to go.

I didn't mention the antisocial angle either, that they're designed to be intimidating to other road users, doubly so for pedestrians and cyclists.
!nataS pihsroW

Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2019, 11:16:38 am »

I didn't mention the antisocial angle either, that they're designed to be intimidating to other road users, doubly so for pedestrians and cyclists.

This, in spades!
Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2019, 11:35:33 am »
Tilly, Tarquin and Jemima may only total 50kg in weight between them but their protective child seats require a HUGE vehicle to accommodate them.

(Tilly is 2 and weighs 12kg, Tarquin is 4 and weighs 16kg, Jemima is 7 and weighs 22kg).

Only the pixies on yacf approximate to 50kg and would occupy around the seat width of a single Small Child as they don't need all the padding of kiddy seats.

Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2019, 11:50:53 am »
Unpopular opinion: These things are only marginally bigger than normal cars, and just about all of the criticisms of them applies equally to any car.

FifeingEejit

  • Not Small
Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2019, 11:56:12 am »
That might be correct but the psychological feeling is bigger = more protective. I think Greenbank has hit one of if not the biggest reasons for the popularity of this type of car. Though as always in popularity, a lot of it is simply fashion.

And it's not just Tilly and Tarquin nowadays, it's <insert stereotypical working class name here> too.

You know my point then, it's a psychological fallacy, I just didn't say it directly.

They're completely unsuitable for the road unless you need an actual truck or to drive off-road.
They're not trucks, they don't have much load space, as Jaded's pointed out. And most of them only look like off-roaders. In addition to which, what do people drive on dirt roads? My parents-in-law lived on the edge of a village, surrounded by forest, a kilometre from the nearest paved road, with snow settled for several months of the year. In the distant past they had driven a "Big Fiat", then a clapped out Wartburg, then a late-80s Audio 80. All their neighbours drove similar. And, with appropriate tyres in winter, no one had any trouble on churned up dirt roads.

Look at old Volvos and SAABs; built with Swedish forest gravel roads and lots of snow in mind.
You don't need huge ground clearance on those sorts of roads, just a bit more than you need on a motorway.
You only huge ground clearance when you re genuinely going off road, i.e. into fields with a bunch of sheep in a trailer on the back.

I've never been off-road in a SMBT but have done lots of rallying (and other mucking around) in either standard or highly modified hatchbacks and saloons. With the right tyres fitted most people fail to understand what is actually possible even with the most basic suspension. The number of times I hear 'I needed an off-roader because it snows (one day a year here in Suffolk) and I get stuck in my drive' - no, buy winter tyres and learn proper clutch control!

The current FIA homologation list (what you're allowed to race in international competition) is published on their website,

https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/toutesvoitures_02.08.2019.pdf

the fact that everything in Groups A and N are normal sized saloon/hatchback/estates and that Group T is Defender/Land Cruiser style off roaders says a lot.

I also hadn't realized the 1.7x multiplier was still applied to forced induction engines.

I had a Suburu hatchback in the US – in New England where they have actual snow – with snow tyres it was fine. It was traditional on the first snow day to count the SUVs in the roadside ditch as their drivers assumed that, given their vehicle, they could ignore the white stuff.

I've got a hothatch with stupidly low ratio 6 speed gearbox; while I do have to shift off in 3rd in snow, and 2nd when its wet it still manages to work considerably better than I expected on winter tyres.
Not as well as the SAAB did right enough but...

And it's not just Tilly and Tarquin nowadays, it's <insert stereotypical working class name here> too.

What about Farquhar?
They usually are little Farquhars

Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2019, 12:03:00 pm »
Unpopular opinion: These things are only marginally bigger than normal cars, and just about all of the criticisms of them applies equally to any car.

And not very accurate. Many many cars have a smaller footprint that a full sized Range Rover - although it's true that a Mondeo/Galaxy covers as much real estate. They'll also accommodate as many, if not more, passengers and luggage, and have a far lower mass in the event of an accident, without offering less protection to the occupants. A marvel of modern engineering is just how mangled a car can be - even down to engines coming out - and the passengers walk away.

Our neighbours have one, it's used to take two small children to school. It used to park in their drive (which is between two houses) until the lady driver stopped as she had difficulty doing so, and kept damaging the (very expensive) wing mirrors.  It's now parked, most of the day, in the road in front of their house. This is a single narrow road through a linear village, and the nett result is that a lot of vehicles (refuse, heating oil delivery, John Lewis etc,) end up putting one set of wheels on the grass verge opposite and ruining that.
We are making a New World (Paul Nash, 1918)

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2019, 12:10:21 pm »
Tilly, Tarquin and Jemima may only total 50kg in weight between them but their protective child seats require a HUGE vehicle to accommodate them.

Exacerbated by car inflation meaning that modern cars are full of plastic, rather than useful space for fitting stuff in like they had up to the early 90s.

I also think there's a psychological factor, particularly amongst female drivers, that's rooted in fear of being lower than the surrounding intimidating vehicles, rather than any actual aggression.  (Some anecdotal correlation with being appalled by the lowness of recumbent bicycles.)


Unpopular opinion: These things are only marginally bigger than normal cars, and just about all of the criticisms of them applies equally to any car.

Being a fan of Fully Charged I've been exposed to rather more wanky Johnny Smith car reviews than I normally would, and have noticed that the terms "SUV" and "Crossover" often get applied to things that I would simply describe as a "Big Car", rather than anything with off-road aspirations.  (Case in point: Tesla Model X.  It looks like a normal modern car in photographs.  When you meet one it's enormous.)  Which isn't to say that they aren't tall enough to be a specific hazard to pedestrians, or have trouble fitting in roads and car parks.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2019, 12:29:42 pm »
Unpopular opinion: These things are only marginally bigger than normal cars, and just about all of the criticisms of them applies equally to any car.

And not very accurate. Many many cars have a smaller footprint that a full sized Range Rover - although it's true that a Mondeo/Galaxy covers as much real estate. They'll also accommodate as many, if not more, passengers and luggage...

Quite.

Just discovered (here: https://www.automobiledimension.com/) that my car (which is actually quite long for a saloon) is quite a bit smaller than a range rover but has the same boot space.

Range Rover: https://www.automobiledimension.com/models/land-rover/range-rover-2018

Seat Toledo: https://www.automobiledimension.com/models/seat/toledo-2012
L'enfer, c'est les autos.

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2019, 12:35:58 pm »
Tilly, Tarquin and Jemima may only total 50kg in weight between them but their protective child seats require a HUGE vehicle to accommodate them.

(Tilly is 2 and weighs 12kg, Tarquin is 4 and weighs 16kg, Jemima is 7 and weighs 22kg).

Only the pixies on yacf approximate to 50kg and would occupy around the seat width of a single Small Child as they don't need all the padding of kiddy seats.

Though this often seems to be the claim, I don't think this is true, we've fitted a modern baby seat in a teensy Ford Ka and there was space for another (on the other hand, you can't fit a Brompton in the boot and a faff getting them in, but it's a very small car with no rear doors).

If you've ever been in an Audi Q7 (basically a squashed SUV), there's bugger-all actual room inside.
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Basil

  • Um....err......oh bugger!
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Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2019, 12:37:54 pm »
There appears to be a reverse Tardis effect with these newer battle ships.
I hired something huge (can't remember what it was called) for the transportation of several aged rellies at my uncle's funeral. I was astonished at how little room there was inside.

Eta.  Hmm. X posted with several people, it would seem.
Quote from: Kim
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Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #17 on: September 12, 2019, 12:38:21 pm »
Cars have been getting generally wider and heavier since the early 80s at least but the growth in width seems to be mostly this century. Against that background, SUVs/SMBTs might be only a little wider and no longer than other cars but they are significantly heavier and much taller. Height might not seem important other than for the driver – after all, it doesn't take up more road space and they're not getting stuck under bridges – but in fact it's a detrimental road safety factor. A tall vehicle parked near a junction significantly reduces visibility. Obviously, this is a bigger factor the smaller you are, so children, old people and women (and recumbentists and sports car drivers, I presume) are more disadvantaged by it.

Vehicle height also has a social impact; it creates a barrier, literally, between one side of the street and the other, blocking sight and engagement.
sideways bounding monkey lounging under fruit tree

Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #18 on: September 12, 2019, 12:43:20 pm »
Some interesting numbers from the US:

https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/passenger-vehicle-occupants

Quote
The likelihood of crash death varies markedly among these vehicle types according to size. Small/light vehicles have less structure and size to absorb crash energy, so crash forces on occupants will be higher. People in lighter vehicles are at a disadvantage in collisions with heavier vehicles. Footnote1 Pickups and SUVs are proportionally more likely than cars to be in fatal single-vehicle crashes, especially rollovers. However, pickups and SUVs generally are heavier than cars, so occupant deaths in SUVs and pickups are less likely to occur in multiple-vehicle crashes.

More SUVs and pickups that roll over too easily = more rollover deaths:

Quote
Rollover crashes accounted for 45 percent of occupant deaths in SUVs and 41 percent in pickups in 2017, compared with 22 percent in cars.

I don't think it is just SUVs that roll over more easily, it seems to be more frequent in modern small cars.


Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2019, 12:45:30 pm »
If you've ever been in an Audi Q7 (basically a squashed SUV), there's bugger-all actual room inside.

Indeed, my A4 cost considerably less than a Q5, and had more usable space.
We are making a New World (Paul Nash, 1918)

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #20 on: September 12, 2019, 12:52:14 pm »
The rollover effect is another reason it was common to see them upturned like metallic tortoises in US roadside ditches.
!nataS pihsroW

Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #21 on: September 12, 2019, 12:53:15 pm »
And not very accurate. Many many cars have a smaller footprint that a full sized Range Rover

But very few SMBTs are Range Rovers these days. The “behemoth” from the original post was a Porsche Macan, which is not much different in size and weight to a Mondeo/Toledo/whatever.

Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #22 on: September 12, 2019, 01:02:43 pm »
The other emperor's clothes factor sitting alongside behemoth bloat is the astounding way manufacturers sell their mass produced output as "exclusive".

T42

  • Tea tank
Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #23 on: September 12, 2019, 01:04:44 pm »

I didn't mention the antisocial angle either, that they're designed to be intimidating to other road users, doubly so for pedestrians and cyclists.

This, in spades!

Especially in a convoy of four, all shiny black with darkened windows and Russian CD markings, moving out onto the autoroute in a block.
I've dusted all those old bottles and set them up straight.

Re: The Rise (and Fall) of the Suburban Main Battle Tank
« Reply #24 on: September 12, 2019, 01:09:47 pm »
And not very accurate. Many many cars have a smaller footprint that a full sized Range Rover

But very few SMBTs are Range Rovers these days. The “behemoth” from the original post was a Porsche Macan, which is not much different in size and weight to a Mondeo/Toledo/whatever.

https://www.automobiledimension.com/models/porsche/macan-2019

20 cm longer and wider than my Toledo. That's a lot in a parking space.

I can't see the weights.
L'enfer, c'est les autos.