Opinion: the future of sports cars is off-road


The era of the sports car may be over, but there is chance that a new generation of adventure vehicles will offer similarly affordable thrills. At the other end of the spectrum, autonomous vehicle present challenges that few designers are prepared to face right now. Nick Hull, associate professor at Coventry University and CDN regular, considers these contrasting typolgies 

There is something of an inherent conflict between promise of enhanced driving pleasure from a sportscar and EV powertrains – no visceral noise, no need for manual skills like gearchanging or understanding power curves and rev limits. But there are potentials here for new levels of acceleration and fascinating new EV soundtracks – the EV cars at Goodwood this year excited crowds more than trad petrol racers on both these counts.

In more general terms the sportscar is facing a bleak future: the affordable sportscar has almost disappeared now. Apart from MX5 what else? BMW Z4 discontinued, Audi TT won’t be replaced, Lotus Elise gone upmarket with Emira. Supercars still have a role as statement cars for very wealthy but face increasing contempt from environmentalists and apathy from enthusiasts – supercars increasingly seem all from the same mould, little groundbreaking design innovation to wow young designers in the way a Countach or F40 might once have done.

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