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Top 5: The Most Polarising Cars Ever Produced

6 Feb , 2014  

Polarizing Cars - carwitter

There are some cars that almost everyone loves – and some that almost everybody hates.

Then there are the marmites of the car world, the topic of many an argument over dinner, the cars which completely divide opinion.

Here are just a few of the many cars that are both loved and hated by the British public.

Smart ForTwo

Smart fortwo Cityflame side - carwitter

Who else has an irrational dislike of the Smart ForTwo?

I know I can’t be alone, and a quick survey of our office confirms this. Even better, Consumer Reports confirm this.

The Smart ForTwo scored a measly 28 in their tests, making it the second worst car marginally ahead of the Jeep Wrangler Limited.

Sure, the Smart ForTwo can fit into the most ridiculous car parking spaces, and sure, it’s relatively economic, but this doesn’t make up for the shockingly bad drive it delivers.

Smart fortwo CDI Front - carwitter

It looks like it was made from an Ikea flatpack, and it feels like it too – not to mention that you’d probably be safer insulting a giant Scandinavian with a chip on their shoulder then travelling in a Smart ForTwo on a public highway.

And yet, the Smart ForTwo still sells relatively well – at least well enough that we see fair few of them buzzing around the roads.

Here’s a fun fact though – according to Bernstein Research, the Smart ForTwo sold at a loss of over £3,700 per car. That’s just what happens when you invest £2.8 billion in a car that is conceptually flawed.

Toyota Prius

MK1 Toyota Prius Front - carwitter

The Toyota Prius has something of a cult following. Favourite of the suburban eco-friendly family, who recycle all their plastics and would never dream of eating tuna that wasn’t line caught, it also caught the attention of the proud owners of gas-guzzling cars (read, “everyone else”).

Very soon after the release of the first Prius emerged the Prius owner stereotype – a smug and condescending type who tuts at you for not buying organic groceries.

MK1 Toyota Prius - carwitter

Whether or not this stereotype is valid (apologies to all the very nice Prius drivers out there) it permanently attached a stigma to the car that Toyota have never managed to shake.

Still, I’m sure that Prius owners are quite happily laughing everytime their neighbour has to fork out lots of tax money for their 4X4.

MK1 Toyota Prius Engine Bay - carwitter

BMW Mini

MINI Hatch Old Models Front - carwitter

The problem with trying to revive a classic is that you’re always going to upset the lovers of the original. How many times have we heard ‘the original was so much better’ from opinionated die-hards? Too often, that’s how much.

The Mini was no exception.

The problem probably began with the fact that BMW, a German manufacturer, tried to reimagine one of the most iconic British cars of all time. Not that I’ve anything against the Germans – we all know their cars are top notch – but no foreign country could expect to take a national symbol, reinvent it, and sell it back to the country themselves – it just seems wrong.

MINI Hatch Old Models Rear - carwitter

Nonetheless, BMW did just that, and actually had huge success, testament to the fact that, actually, it’s not a bad car.

Still owners and past-owners of the original Mini still complained – but then again perhaps they forgot the uncomfortable ride, that fact that it was prone to rust and tremendous air noise. Or maybe they’re just into that.

Ford KA

MK1 Ford Ka Front - carwitter

You could be forgiven for assuming that every female aged between 17 and 21 owns a Ford KA, because it certainly seems that way.

Pull up at your local bowing alley, and you’ll see crowds of Ford KA’s weighed down with five teenagers trying and failing to parallel park.

MK1 Modified Ford Ka Front - carwitter

Insult the KA and you risk a barrage of abuse from an uninformed teenage driver, who only recently passed their test, and thinks their car, who they’ve named Betty, is just sooo cute.

MK1 Modified Ford Ka - carwitter

Don’t worry too much though – once in the hands of these newly qualified teenage drivers, the Ford KA’s days are numbered – whether they are crashed, or just get too rusty for the mechanic (read “Dad”) to think about repairing anymore, more often than not for the Ford KA life after a teenager means being scrapped and repurposed into a recycled steel sheet.

MK1 Ford Ka Two Tone Front - carwitter

Fiat Multipla

MK1 Fiat Multipla Front - carwitter

The Fiat Multipla is something of a design nightmare – described as a “radiated tadpole” by one reviewer, the Multipla’s style is unlike anything else on the roads.

MK1 Fiat Multipla Green Side - carwitter

Despite its rather odd appearance, the Multipla was actually a very successful car, ferrying families of the nineties around in reasonable comfort and safety. Of course, this didn’t stop the barrage of abuse it received at the hands of critics, so Fiat swiftly updated and moved on to a much blander, mainstream look.

Perhaps they would have been better staying with the quirky design – for everyone person that hated it, there was someone who liked it!

MK1 Fiat Multipla Blue Side - carwitter

Written by – Louise Haines


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Owner / Editor of Carwitter - French car fiend, hot hatch lover. Freelance writer and car journalist I've turned my passion for cars into my livelihood.