Hooniverse Asks: What Formerly Interesting Nameplate Isn't Anymore?

People are fickle and no more so than when it comes to celebrity. Whether it’s a high-flying movie star or consumer bauble that’s the flavor of the moment, there eventually comes a time when they are each asked, what have you done for me lately?
When it comes to cars that’s especially the case and as we’ve seen with such nameplates as the Thunderbird and Scirocco passions can become fleeting. What we’d like to  know today is which car brand or model has achieved that state for you. What were you once hot on, but today are not?
Image: NissanUSA

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45 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What Formerly Interesting Nameplate Isn't Anymore?”

  1. karonetwentyc Avatar

    Subaru. They used to be Japan’s Citroën in a lot of ways, trading hydropneumatics for 4WD in quirky (for Japan) passenger cars and trucklets. Now they just make crossovers, sedans, and a sports car that doesn’t really excite.
    Citroën. With the exception of the C4-Cactus, the rest of the range is a bunch of me-too hatchbacks and the we-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-it DS range. Please go back to sending us cars from Planet Citroën.
    While I do realise that I’ve singled these two out specifically, cars as a whole have become so homogenous (and built to a price point figured to the 5th decimal place) that it’s almost impossible to not point fingers at the entire industry. And I do understand that nobody wants to build the next Aztek, but manufacturers in general have become so risk-averse that ‘interesting’ almost seems to not be in their lexicon anymore.

    1. crank_case Avatar

      Small bit of hope for Citroen with the news that they’re working on hydraulic bump stops to improve the much criticised ride quality of late. I don’t know what it is with PSA the last two decades, they must have lost all their good chassis engineers a while back. After the 306, Peugeot couldn’t figure out how to make an engaging handling hatch for ages, then Citroens that have rubbish ride quality. That’s like Keith Richards waking up and finding he’s forgotten how to play rhythm guitar.

  2. Maymar Avatar

    Beating a dead horse, but the Maxima just isn’t a 4DSC anymore, it’s a Japanese Impala. And, I’m okay with a Japanese Impala, but it’s not that interesting, and it’s certainly no sports car.
    Also beating a dead horse, but Nissan already makes a RWD sedan, it’s legitimately (or was, I can’t be bothered to look up if the Q60 is still on the FM platform) related to Nissan’s real sports car, and it’d be neat with cloth seats and a simple radio. Unfortunately, the Maxima is stuck being crowded by the Altima, or crowded by Infiniti, and i guess Nissan doesnt want to infringe on a higher-profit model.

    1. Borkwagen Avatar

      And it’s not even a Japanese Impala SS.

      1. Maymar Avatar

        A Japanese Impala LTZ would be nothing to scoff at, but yeah, different beast.

  3. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    They might be selling a buttload of ’em, but now it’s just another CUV.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      Suzuki Vitara has gone the same way, it used to be the last hold-out ‘proper’ small SUV

  4. Tanshanomi Avatar

    Honda Civic. For years, the entire Civic line-up was interesting on some level, whether for economy, practicality, or fun. Wagons, hatches, sedans, Si or base: each one did what it was targeted to do well above expectations. Now it’s nothing but a goofier Corolla sedan.
    I saw a nicely-preserved 2nd gen 1500S on the highway the other day, and still it looked damned good.

    1. karonetwentyc Avatar

      Although I’m fairly far removed from being a JDM-all-the-things fanboi, I absolutely have to give Honda credit: these were remarkably well-engineered (and -thought-out) cars in their earlier iterations.

    2. kogashiwa Avatar

      It also used to be a *small* car.

      1. crank_case Avatar

        Everything in Hondas range has moved up, like most manufacturers I guess, but it seems more noticeable with Honda. when replacing my 2001 UK Accord (which is different to the American model of that vintage), I considered a used Jazz/Fit before settling on a new Mazda 2 as I realized I didn’t even need that much space. The Jazz/Fit, without exaggerating, has as much, if not more passenger/cargo accomodation than the old Accord did, and in a more useable shape for getting a bicycle or whatever in the back. The new Civic that’s on the way seems to pretty much replace the old Accord, the Jazz/Fit sort of does the Civics job, except it appeals to old farts who need a useful car rather than the young crowd that lusted after EK/EG Civics, and the Accord isn’t sold in most European countries anymore I believe, which sort of sums it up.

  5. Citric Avatar

    I remember the early ’90s, when Mitsubishi sold 3000GTs and turbo Eclipses and you’d sometimes hear whispers about a mad rally car they sold in Japan.
    Now they sell a subcompact that seems like it’s from the ’90s but is somehow on sale today new.

    1. Inliner Avatar

      Well, a lot of Internet people wish that any car company would just sell something from their lineup originally built in the 80s or 90s, and therefore basic, lightweight, and not loaded with unneeded options. Mitsubishi tried to be that car company.

      1. Citric Avatar

        Basic, lightweight and not loaded with unneeded options was kind of the opposite of what made ’90s Mitsubishi great though. They were pretty aggressively cutting edge at that point, and slightly prone to going overboard with technology.

  6. Borkwagen Avatar

    Saab, especially in relation to any attempts to revive it. I’ll stick with the memories.

    1. Van_Sarockin Avatar

      Seriously. Though you can still buy nameplates. Just not entire, brand new cars.

  7. Borkwagen Avatar

    And if I read the question rather than just projecting my fanboyness:
    From 4DSC to 4Dnopenope.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      Well it is still a car, for the last letter!

  8. Alff Avatar


    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      Yeah, talk about pathetic.

    2. crank_case Avatar

      A major fall from grace from a once innovative company, those ypsilons are nicer than the equivalent 500 in the metal though.

      1. karonetwentyc Avatar

        Haven’t seen one in the flesh, but that gels with what I’ve heard. Can’t help thinking that they look like the result of a Ford Puma and Peugeot 207 having a drunken moment of back-alley passion, though.

        1. crank_case Avatar

          Horrible in pics, works in the metal.

  9. mzszsm Avatar

    Oh man there is a Twingo III and it makes-up for the II – the glovebox turns into a purse! https://youtu.be/I81IaiaxTqM

    1. crank_case Avatar

      Shame the ESP and chassis setup what could have been a fun rear engined RWD car into a boringly uninspiring machine, just like the Smart it shares its mechanicals with. There is a GT version out soon, so we live in hope for a non-nanny Twingo.

      1. outback_ute Avatar

        Maybe smart will do another Roadster/Coupe from it? Or Alpine?

  10. JayP Avatar

    In the day Audis were good looking sedans, cool technology and a mid-sized AWD with a 5 speed. RS2 was the first nuts wagon, 200 turbo 20v quattro? Of course the ur-q started it all.
    WRC, SCCA, IMSA… then LeMans. That’s where it started to fall off for me. The street cars look the same, The tech in MY quattro was what kicked ass on the track. Diesels? Um…
    The occasional RS car is exciting. A3? Nope. A4? New one looks good finally. A6/A7/A8? Eh.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      I have a hard time telling their models apart, except maybe the A5/S5 (because two doors), and the R8.

    2. I_Borgward Avatar

      I’m with you there. The newer Audis look like different sizes of the same chocolate eclair to me.

    3. crank_case Avatar

      Initially, I would have been inclined to agree, as I have a dislike of Audis, mainly due to the sort of agressive tailgater people that drive them. However, they still make the R8, and the Audi SQ7 TDI is a much more mechanically interesting car than you’d give it credit. It features 48V electrics which enables two things: active dampers which push against the direction of roll, like an electric version of the old Citroen Xantia Activa and electric turbo charging which reduces lag by using a motor to spin up the turbos rather than solely relying on exhaust gasses. It’s the last car in the world you’d think would be so quirky, but there you go…

  11. dukeisduke Avatar

    Anything made by BMW. First it was iDrive, and now their cars are so loaded down with luxury features and nanny features that they’re no longer The Ultimate Driving Machine. Add to that the SUVs, including the FWD X1, bloated pigs like the X6, and electric crap like the i3 – now they’re about profit, not performance.

    1. Alff Avatar

      Why are you kidding? Did they become interesting again?

    2. Van_Sarockin Avatar
  12. Zentropy Avatar

    Toyota LandCruiser.

  13. I_Borgward Avatar

    Volvo. Much like Mercedes, they went from purveyors of drop-dead reliable cars that would go 300K without a problem to trouble prone, gadget-laden techno sleds that end up in the crusher half-unused due to some major component crapping out that costs more than the car is worth to repair.
    This is epitomized for me by a comment from a fellow who sold me a 240 parts car some years ago. He looked out at the 240 GLT wagon I’d drove up in, then looked over at his not particularly old XC90 and said, “I wish I still had one like yours. Mine’s a real piece of crap.”

    1. Senor smee Avatar
      Senor smee

      I bought an 850 based on Volvo’s reputation, what a huge disappointment, not to mention money-pit. I still have yen for a 240 though, Ugh.

    2. Sjalabais Avatar

      You know, Volvo strived to be mentioned in the same breath as Mercedes-Benz for countless decades.
      Mission accomplished.
      On a serious note, the one reason I don’t drive a Volvo now is that they are going for an entirely different clientele, which appears to be a good thing for the company. Fancy, expensive, stylish cars – that are still above average reliable – sell better than simply stuff at stiff prices. Otherwise, I agree.

  14. Jaap Avatar

    My first reaction is Alfa Romeo, told you allready, boring story. My second was a bit of a surprise: Fiat.
    Mid ninety’s, they had some funny and original cars, like the cinquecento, punto, barchetta, Coupė, Multipla. Now, they only make the 500 (you can’t go on with that forever?), panda, and some other things (500L, 500X) that all at least look like a pile of s***. Oh, and a badge-engineered Miata/MX/5 that was supposed to be badged as an Alfa Roneo.
    Where have all the great ideas gone?

  15. Guest Avatar

    Ford Taurus SHO.

    It went from a stand-out small sports sedan, with performance way better that anything in it’s class, to a large bloated thing, that while faster than original, isn’t that much faster than anything around it.

    Also, it went from manual only to automatic only, which says a lot.

  16. desmo Avatar

    Buick Riviera (one of my all time favorite american cars)

  17. are vee Avatar
    are vee

    How about Tesla Model S? I’m getting pretty tired of looking at those. And their as yet to be released new model that looks like a baby S already looks dated to me. Though 350k people on the waiting list don’t agree with me.

  18. Mr Smee Avatar
    Mr Smee

    I recall Nissan once advertising that every car they made had more base-model HP than any competitor. That’s a consumer benefit to get my attention.

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