Well, what a great time of the year for getting outdoors! The sun is shining, the fish are biting, the days are longer than the apparent duration of a high school mathematics exam, and exactly the inverse square root in terms of sheer enjoyment. Those who haven’t experienced sand in their sandwiches, hot chips in a paper cup, the smell of warm sunscreen and the dapple of sunlight through water these past few weeks are encouraged to put down this paper and try it.
It’s top season for towing boats and hitting the road with tents, kayaks, dirt bikes, quads and other toys as well, which brings us neatly to one of the paradoxes of modern motoring.
The sports utility is ubiquitous right now, and every single one is being advertised as the must-have accessory to bring on a family camping trip.
More important than the bung for the air mattress or a working can opener. But take a look at the boat ramps and campgrounds, and what do you see? Most of the fanciest SUVs are conspicuous by their absence.
What we see instead is the predictably competent crop of modern utes, a selection of what would be considered ‘classic’ offroaders such as Land Cruisers and Patrols, and more than a few station wagons — a body style we’re told is as out of fashion as bright paisley bell bottomed trousers.
Certainly, the era when the luxury and crossover SUV was prone to getting stuck in a mild puddle are over. Every car maker is jumping in on the trend. Jaguar make the competent and comfy F-Pace. The marketing for the manly and hairy-chested Alfa Stelvio has to be read to be believed.
Volvo had two lux 4x4s in 2018’s NZ car of the year shortlist. Following in the path of the speedy but questionably styled Porsche Cayenne, you can now buy an off road Lamborghini, Bentley, or even a Rolls Royce.
Here’s the thing though. Your Bentayga is unlikely to back gingerly into the briny to launch a tinny.
Your Rolls Cullinan will never be seen towing a 1971 oxford caravan to the beach, but for a fraction of the cost, your Hilux Surf or old Navara or Falcon wagon will in true Kiwi style. So you can keep the ultra high end 4x4s this summer. While they pose on the roasting hot high street, other cars are having more fun.