By Miranda Lightstone-Styker
With everything small?
At one point size mattered; and bigger was always better, no? Maybe I was grossly mislead, but I always thought the more you got out of something the better it was. Well, it seems in the year 2010, bigger is not better — far from it.
And what’s truly fascinating is that looking back at the history of cars, this isn’t something “new.” I mean, the PEEL 50 made its debut in the ’60s.
It dawned on me early this morning as I was driving to the gym. Cruising through my neighbourhood in my loud, brash Subaru WRX I always get sideways glances from the neighbours. My car is unapologetically there. The silencer is off the blow-off valve, the up pipe has been replaced for more air intake, and the stock exhaust has ben swapped for a Prodrive model that ensures a deep, growl-y symphony everywhere I go. It’s bliss.
And yet, it’s so against everything our society is right now.
From the dogs we buy to the cars we own; everything is getting smaller and more understated.
Let me explain.
As I was loudly cruising through my neighbourhood I spotted five men walking their family (I hope family) “dogs.” Not one of the creatures at the end of each leash look like it weighed more than 4 lbs (wet). Like walking little rats, these men looked ridiculous. However, there’s nothing abnormal or odd about their pets of choice. Small dogs are “in” — if it can fit in your purse, it can fit in your life, right?
From there I made it to the gym, and a smart car pulled in behind me and parked right next to me at the gym lot. I happened to glance over at the driver to see a rather large man maneuvering his way out of the vehicle. (Now, this isn’t a man-bashing blog, I swear). Clearly, he was not comfortable in the smart. Not at all. But, he’d made a smart (ha ha) vehicle choice, was saving money and the planet and blah, blah, blah. And he was doing it all in a very small package.
Next up, in the locker room, I spotted multiple women fiddling with quarter-sized iPods and squinting at iPhone screens as they fumbled on the screen with their fingers.
My point is; everything is getting downsized so rapidly. Everything from the animals we own to the cars we drive, the smaller it is the better it is. And yet, the more we’re paying for it all.
It always amazes me to think that an F-150 costs nearly $15,000 less than a MINI Cooper (here in Canada anyways where our car prices are uber skewed). If we looked at that with the old motto (bang for you buck) then clearly the MINI is so overpriced no one should ever consider buying it because you are not getting value for your money.
And yet, we pay for it. Just like we pay for the smart and we’ll pay for the i-Miev, and the Nissan LEAF, Mazda2, Ford Fiesta, Mazda MX-5 — you get the picture.
Of course, larger cars aren’t being obliterated, but they aren’t as popular at this point. And it’s clear that car companies are starting to focus on the smaller side of life. The smaller the package (and the more it can do in that small state), the more appealing it is to the buyer and the driver.
I’ll admit; I love smaller cars. My favorite? The MINI Cooper S. Why? Because it truly does drive like a go-kart and I just can’t get that feel from a bigger sporty car (i.e., the BMW X6M). In this case, smaller really is better.
However, on the other hand, we’re shrinking things down so much that they’re becoming impractical. I can’t tell you how many smart cars I’ve seen outfitted with idiotic “package carrier” extensions on the back — and surely just so the driver could cart their groceries home. How impractical is that? Smaller designs mean smaller buttons, knobs, accessories (just like the ridiculous iPod shuffle), which will become increasingly difficult to use. This might sound stodgy and “old” but think about it for a moment and see that I’m kind of right.
And I don’t know about you, but if I owned a teacup
rat poodle, I’d step or sit on him before the first day was up. Not so good for the petite pooch.