SORRY, Elon. The most on-trend motors of the year are both flyweight two-seaters – and neither of them are electric. Electric car evangelists might want to flick through to The Champion’s sports pages, but a survey carried out by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed that 44% of Britain’s motorists can’t see themselves owning a zero-emissions car any time soon.
This makes Maserati’s new MC20 very much of the moment. Sure, it’s been designed with electric power in mind, but for now the oomph from this new mid-engined supercar comes from being clever with good old unleaded.
A decade or so ago if you wanted 630bhp you’d turn to a big V12 or a V8, but the Italians have opted instead for a V6 half the size, and strapped on a couple of turbochargers for good measure.
Coupled with carbonfibre construction, Maserati claims it’s got the best power-to-weight ratio in its class, which will help to keep the emissions down to EU-pleasing levels and save you a few quid at the pumps. It’s got nothing to do with aiding a 0-60mph time of 2.9 seconds. Or helping it to exceed 200mph. Honestly.
But should you not be convinced by an Italian supercar with scissor doors and two turbochargers, how about a big 4x4 instead?
Only the Suzuki Jimny isn’t really a big 4x4 – it’s just about the most petite mud-plugger there is, with a 1.5-litre engine deploying just 100bhp across all four wheels. Even so, increasingly mean emissions regulations meant that Suzuki had to think fast to avoid axing it from its showrooms. Now it’s back, but rather than repeat what they’ve done with the Swift and equip it with a hybrid petrol-electric system, it’s simply ditched the off-roader’s back seats.
Et voila – the Jimny is now a commercial vehicle!
Never mind that even with the rear chairs removed it’s got less room to lug things about than a Ford Fiesta Van does, but think of it as a Land Rover Defender Hard Top that shrunk in the wash, and you’ll start understand its appeal.
Then again, while a Ford Fiesta van can haul a 500kg payload to your mate’s warehouse, it won’t be able to lug 350kg to your mate’s log cabin at the bottom of a boggy field – and for that, virtually nothing else is going to roll up its sleeves up for the money.
Speaking of which, Suzuki hasn’t confirmed the Jimny Commercial’s price yet, but expect to somewhere around the £15-20k if its four-seater cousin’s anything to go by. Officially, its makers say it’s catering for professionals who need a really cheap van that can go off-road, but let’s not beat about the bush – it’s so it can keep the Jimny, a thoroughly likeable little car that’s been dogged by emissions regulations, in the showrooms.
So it’s a two-seater that weighs about as much as a shoe and uses a relatively puny petrol engine – rather than electricity - to achieve great things. A bit like a Maserati MC20, in fact.
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly