From Rolls-Royce to Tesla, it's hard not to have a strong opinion on these cars.
A food product in the UK called Marmite embraced the fact people either love it or hate it with its simple advertising slogan: "Love it or hate it." The advertising and the brand are so prominent in British culture that the brand name is often used as metaphoric slang for something that polarizes opinion. Automakers don't typically and willfully create cars that will polarize opinion, but when the edges of design are explored, it becomes an inevitability. To us, these are the most Marmite of Marmite cars.
The most recent example of a love it or hate it car is the reimagined Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4. Some people love it as a stylistic tribute to the original but with modern power and performance. Others see it as a cash-grab by Lamborghini based on the 1980s-inspired nostalgia currently rife in pop culture. At least 112 people like the new Countach enough to slap down over $2.5 million for what's, essentially, a re-skinned Aventador.
If you don't like it or the idea of a modern Countach, you're not alone. Marcello Gandini, the designer of the original Countach, isn't a fan either. He made some dismissive comments, then followed up via his daughter's PR firm. "Thus, Marcello Gandini would like to reaffirm that he had no role in this operation, and as the author and creator of the original design from 1971, would like to clarify that the makeover does not reflect his spirit and his vision," says the statement, "A spirit of innovation and breaking the mold which is in his opinion totally absent in this new design."
Another recent divider of opinion is Rolls-Royce's first SUV, the Cullinan. It forgoes the typical grace associated with a Rolls-Royce's aesthetic design and goes for something more in your face. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but you can't deny the plush ride, and the interior is pure Rolls-Royce. Whether you like it or not, the Cullinan boosted sales for Rolls-Royce immediately and helped the brand sell 25 percent more vehicles in 2019 over 2018. Some of that may be based on the fact that if you can afford one, you're not likely to care what other people think when you're inside.
Ford's large crossover was generally either ignored or hated on the basis that it's a big boxy crossover/wagon with no off-road chops. However, those that bought them tend to love them and hold on to them. It might be boxy and boring to look at, but it's one of Ford's most practical cars in a long time for a family. It's as close to a minivan you could get while still not driving a minivan, which is the problem. The other people that tend to hate it are the "stop kidding yourself and buy a minivan already" types. Ford expected to sell 100,000 Flex models annually but never got even halfway there, and the last few were sold in 2020 before the crossover was discontinued.
The late 1990s release of the 996 generation of the Porsche 911 developed a great rift in the cosmos, pitting father against son, mother against daughter, and uniting Republicans and Democrats in their hatred for water-cooled flat-six engines. At least, that's what you would believe by listening to Porsche purists (read: snobs) at the time. They despised the move from an air-cooled engine to a water-cooled engine, while the more pragmatically minded enthusiasts went, "Cool. Better cooling efficiency means more power." The "fried egg" headlights are another bone of contention, and it's a matter of opinion whether they've aged well or not.
When the Alfa Romeo 4C was launched, it got slammed by a lot automotive journalists for the same reasons hardcore enthusiasts didn't get it. It's a beautiful car with a carbon-fiber tub chassis, two seats, and excellent handling. However, it didn't come with a manual transmission and all the amenities of its closest competitors, including offerings from Porsche. The rub came in the fact it mixed the old-school and the new school. Despite the hardcore enthusiasts' claims, many who buy cars didn't like a cramped bare-bones sports car with a fast-shifting paddle transmission but a crappy sound system. Despite all this, the 4C has a dedicated following and snuck into second place on Motortrend's Best Driver's Cars 2014 list, thanks mainly to race car driver Randy Pobst. We also gave it a glowing review.
There are two primary schools of thought for any of Tesla's cars. Either they are the greatest thing to grace the roads, or they're automotive garbage. The Tesla Model 3 is the volume car, and those who can see past a few quality issues and the wildly optimistic promise of autonomous driving love it. Those who see a car as being the sum of all its parts are starting to see its drivers as being as basic as poverty-spec BMW 3 Series drivers. As far as this writer is concerned, the Model 3 has become the automotive equivalent of a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. Your opinion may differ drastically.
Jeep sells a lot of Renegades here in the US, despite it basically being a Fiat 500L with Jeep's all-wheel-drive system. The split in opinion basically boils down to two points of view. It's either a My First Barbie Jeep™ or it's a great little run-around with some off-roading ability. We sit on the fence on this one as the 500L is fine, and the Jeep Renegade is an acceptable daily driver and a fun little off-roader if you get in the mood to explore some trails and have a nice picnic.
The Hummer H1 was respected for the military vehicle it was. When the Hummer H2 came along, it tended to be loved by those with body issues based on one particular measurement and a predisposition towards wearing garish jewelry, chewing on cigars, and talking loudly about "freedom." Everyone else despised the pointlessly enormous gas-guzzling chrome bedazzled monstrosities. There's renewed interest in them, though, now that it has come back as an equally bewildering electric vehicle that sets a new low bar for EV inefficiency.
As with all the "love it or hate it" examples here, the Honda Ridgeline has two camps for opinions. Either it's not a "real" truck, or it's the perfect truck for daily driving, household hauling, and adventurous excursions. We fall into the second camp, as a "real" truck is something with a truck bed, and the Ridgeline is still more truck than most truck owners need. Those who prefer the first opinion are having to rethink their logic, however, as the new Ford Maverick features a monocoque chassis like the Ridgeline, and if Ford says it's a truck, well, then it must be a truck, right?
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