Ranty Yan: Disappearing Trim Levels

I can’t make head nor tail of modern trim levels on cars. They usually involve some marketing guff that creates some meaningless name such as Eronomy or DreamSpiritEcstacyWaft which could be bottom of the range, a sporty little number or the most luxurious version you can get. One thing’s for sure, they’ll all look exactly the same.

Not like the good old days. Remember when a Fiesta could be had as a Popular or a Ghia? One was painfully lacking any sort of kit, while the other was plush and crammed with velour and a five-speed gearbox. Here’s a pic to show how easy it is to spot a sporty Fiesta against the complete poverty model – or perhaps austerity is a topical phrase to use.

Fiestas compared. Very obviously different.

How different can you get? Notice that the black XR2 has driving lamps, a bodykit, a sunroof and pepperpot alloy wheels. The Popular doesn’t even get a rear wiper. Or wheel trims. Or a passenger door mirror. It is very obviously the bottom of the range.

Here’s another comparison. First up, the Vauxhall Cavalier Mk2 SRi.

Sporty Cavalier goodness.

Undeniably sporty. Again, alloy wheels help give the game away, but there is a subtle chin spoiler and sill trims, while spotlights, headlamp wipers and side graphics ensure everyone in the sales manager car park knows that this is a premium product.

This is a Vauxhall Insignia SRi.

Sporty my arse.

This is a normal Insignia.

Yawn.

Ok, so it looks like front fog lamps still make a difference, but the SRi doesn’t really look sporty does it? The Design is what I think is bottom of the range – it’s one of those stupid non-name names. They should call it the Deluxe, or Fleet. There should actually be a difference!

Of course, it’s always harder to sell a bottom of the range car if it screams Austerity in the same way as a Ford Fiesta Popular, or a Vauxhall Astra Merit. Buyers don’t really want a car that shouts how much of a skinflint they are apparently. Or if they do, they just buy second-hand instead. But could they not make a bit more effort? Should a Vauxhall SRi not at least have a bit of red trim or lairy, Recaro seats? I know they have the sporty VXR models for those really desperate to try and look cool whilst catering for the family – a bit like putting alloys on your pushchair – but the SRi was always about having that sporty look without necessarily having that much grunt. It was a bit more trouser, but not the full blown latex shorts. At the very least, it was about looking different. Something manufacturers seem more and more scared of doing. Come on folks. Swallow a brave pill and give us back some actual variety.

What do you reckon?

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